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  1. #1
    Senior Member slbear's Avatar
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    Lighter Tarp options

    Maybe I'm just trying to do my due diligence before buying a SF, but I would ask that the SF super fan army at least count to 10 before replying they have a SF and love it. That seems to be the common response to most tarp questions here.

    I'm not sure I need a 4 season tarp, because (1) I live in So Cal and camp mostly in So Cal below snow level, and (2) it rains once in a blue moon. I've only been hammock camping since May and only needed a tarp once because the fog was dripping from the trees. I will take a clear view of the stars any chance I get. Granted, it's an epic drought out here right now. Good news is that it rained this weekend, and they are calling for a wetter winter this year, so I realize I do need rain and maybe wind protection sometimes.

    I have an 11' gathered-end hammock, and purchased a HH Hex tarp from REI for car camping (but never used it). Now I'm looking at backpacking with my son and maybe his scout troop and the HH Hex with snakeskins weighs almost 2 lbs. My son has a HH Expedition with a standard ASYM tarp, which I estimate to be ~10oz, and if he's tenting with the scouts I can use that, but I'm looking forward to some backpack trips with him and I'm willing to invest a little more in a nice light tarp so we both have necessary coverage without carrying too much weight.

    I've found two classes of Hex tarps that seem like reasonable (lighter and cheaper) options to a SF:

    1. Smaller Hex - WL Tadpole, Warbonnet Edge, AHE Shangri-La - $85 to $99 and about ~11oz, different shapes, but generally narrow and without panel tie-outs. The Tadpole has options for tie-outs and a 12' ridgeline, but the cost and weight are then increased.

    2. Larger Hex - Warbonnet MJ and AHE Toxaway - $110 and 14 oz, different shapes, and much larger tarps, the MJ has panel tie-outs

    Feedback on these models is greatly appreciated. I'm also open to suggestions for other vendors or shapes (asym and diamond would be OK) with a similar/better value. I wish I had known about these cottage vendors before buying the HH Hex.

    Thanks in advance for the feedback.
    Slbear

  2. #2
    Senior Member pgibson's Avatar
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    Just to interject one little note, Regarding your #2. The Toxoway can have panel pulls. They are added as an option in the tarp customization item.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member Boston's Avatar
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    For the situation you described, it sounds like you don't really need the Superfly. If you think the stock HH asym tarp will do you fine, then I'd consider something like that, or the Edge sized tarp, plus a sock or undercover for wind protection if needed. I'd say this is a good 3-season set up in the climate you described.

    My experience with a smaller hex tarp was splash was more of an issue than anything else. But while I used that tarp I never camped in an area where high winds would cause sideways rain either.

    Or you could do a MJ plus a door kit. It'll cost more, but it gives you options. A lot of people like to only take 1 set of door's, so they can close off 1 side of the tarp from the wind if needed.

    I'm actually working on developing a single panel that can be attached to the tarp to close off 1 side of a tarp right now.

  4. #4
    Senior Member slbear's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pgibson View Post
    Just to interject one little note, Regarding your #2. The Toxoway can have panel pulls. They are added as an option in the tarp customization item.
    Thanks for the quick response and duly noted on the options. I did not notice that before, but now see the pullouts on the images of the bright orange Toxaway tarp.

    If you don't mind, when would you steer someone to a Shangri-La or Toxoway tarp? Cost and weight are always a consideration, but what conditions would warrant the larger tarp and/or pullouts? BTW...I do like the idea of the wider head coverage on your tarp designs.

  5. #5
    Senior Member slbear's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boston View Post

    I'm actually working on developing a single panel that can be attached to the tarp to close off 1 side of a tarp right now.
    Thanks Boston...I would love to see your design when you are ready to share. I'm nervous about tackling a tarp project given some comments I read about working with Silnylon, and my sewing skills and experience are minimal to say the least. Plus, when I look at the buying the fabric for a DIY tarp, it's not that much less than a professionally made one. A single panel door might be a better starter project than the cat-cut long-ridgeline DIY tarp designs I've seen.

  6. #6
    Senior Member pgibson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by slbear View Post

    If you don't mind, when would you steer someone to a Shangri-La or Toxoway tarp? Cost and weight are always a consideration, but what conditions would warrant the larger tarp and/or pullouts?
    Like you mentioned the weight consideration tends to be one of the main factors for most. Coverage is different but not so much that it's a huge issue to most folks with a little experience under their belt. A couple factors to consider are things like how often you hang in areas with really hight winds that you would not be able to use terrain to help shelter you. Thats when the pullouts are a nice addition to have. And from there just how much you will be hanging in consistently bad weather. Less consideration to actual storm protection from one to the other, but that a larger tarp just "feels" better in bad conditions...you have a little more room for you and your gear under a larger tarp, especially with panel pulls, and that can give you a sense of not being closed in so much.

    For me personally 90% of my trips the tarp never comes out of my pack. I greatly prefer to hang ah-natural then to set up the tarp on nights where I don't need it. I find terrain features to block wind when possible, with or without the tarp set up.

    Hope that helps but let me know if you have any further questions at all.
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  7. #7
    SilvrSurfr's Avatar
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    By all means get a smaller tarp than the SF if your typical camping conditions warrant it. I have a 4-season HG Winter Palace cuben fiber tarp (8.5 oz.) that comes with me on all hiking trips, or car-camping trips with possible wind-blown rain. However, I don't want to wear out such an expensive piece of gear so I recently made a silnylon hex tarp using Fronkey's instructions. If it's a short trip with predictable weather, that's the tarp I take. If the weather is going to be nasty, I really like doors, though.

    The Superfly is one tarp for all seasons, but if you are a fair weather camper, and not a 4-season camper, go for a smaller tarp. The only issue will be if you become a foul-weather, 4-season camper, you'll probably end up buying a 4-season tarp anyway. Then you'll end up being "that guy" who has multiple tarps. I think I have eight tarps but I'm not gonna go count 'em!
    "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." Ralph Waldo Emerson

  8. #8
    Senior Member craige's Avatar
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    You could make a hex from top quality materials for around $50. There are definitely savings to be had. Saying that, it is also a lot of work to commit to and some practice to improve sewing in a straight line.

    I think you've got your best options narrowed down tbh. I like having 5ft side panels because I'm tall and like to pitch the tarp as high above the hammock as I can get away with given the weather conditions. Maybe something else to consider?

  9. #9
    Senior Member Boston's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by slbear View Post
    Thanks Boston...I would love to see your design when you are ready to share. I'm nervous about tackling a tarp project given some comments I read about working with Silnylon, and my sewing skills and experience are minimal to say the least. Plus, when I look at the buying the fabric for a DIY tarp, it's not that much less than a professionally made one. A single panel door might be a better starter project than the cat-cut long-ridgeline DIY tarp designs I've seen.
    It's coming along. The trick is providing space for the hammock suspension with a single panel. Still working on how to sew it "pretty", but I've got a way that's passable.

    DIY is really not too bad. A tarp was my 3rd DIY project after a couple of hammock's (there may have been a few stuff sacks thrown in there). I've never had a problem manipulating sil, either. Just take your time, plan it out fully, and go slow. I've made so many now, it's old hat, lol.

    The good news is tarps sell really well. So your loss is minimal if you decide you want something different later.

  10. #10
    Senior Member slbear's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by craige View Post
    ... I like having 5ft side panels because I'm tall and like to pitch the tarp as high above the hammock as I can get away with given the weather conditions. Maybe something else to consider?
    This is good feedback. I think it should also help with privacy versus an asym, diamond, or shorter hex. I've deployed a rectangular tarp in porch mode before, but it had brass grommets spaced around the edges, so I was able to have one side to the ground (for a wind break), and the other side high above our hammocks, but I had used grommets 2/3 of the way on the hammock - not the center. It occurs to me that with the center-line hex it will always have to be strung on the center since I don't want to stretch the tarp over the ridgeline.

    Thanks all for the feedback.
    Slbear

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