Thursday, May 31, 2012

Using a tarp for backpacking

Most folks who do canoe or kayak trips are familiar, or should I say really, really fond of tarps. On a paddling trip there is no excuse for leaving a tarp at home - there's plenty of room in the boats and the weight is not on your shoulders. When a rainy stretch of weather rolls in a tarp is the difference between having a party together every day and hunkering down in individual tent sub-groups. And hey, one of the main reasons we go out on wilderness trips is to enjoy time with friends. So a tarp (or several) is one of the keys to comfort on paddling trips.

But on most backpacking trips tarps are not frequently found. This is understandable to some degree since we're all trying to go as light as possible when we have to carry the load on our back. But the weight of one tarp for the group, such as our Exped Scout Tarp Extreme (about 28 ounces) can make for a much more comfortable and jolly camp when it rains. The photo above is from an outing we did last fall. The tarp in use is the one that comes with our Ergo Hammock Combi, which one of  us was sleeping in on the trip. It rained one night and the following morning and the scene beneath the tarp was simply great. Raingear and hoods were optional, everyone was together, and the sound of rain bouncing off the tarp made us feel like we were cheating.

So next time the forecast is looking a bit wet for your backpacking trip, consider bringing a tarp in addition to your tents. You might just get to know your friends better!