Tarps in heavy rain

thegrouse

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Feb 11, 2021
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Texas
I was out last week and used my tarp. I am a new tarp user with under 10 nights in a tarp. Last week was my first time using it in heavy rain. It did not work as well as I had hoped. I have a silnylon 9' square tarp. I usually set up in an A frame configuration and use trekking poles. The first night I set it up with the sides about 6" off the ground. I was not expecting rain and didn't have any cell signal to check radar. The storm came from the NW where my open end of the shelter was located. The heavy rain got everything muddy and wet about 24" into the shelter. This covered my groundcloth and pad in mud. Rain was coming off the side and puddling on both sides, eventually the puddles came under the tarp. I was in a USFS campground and had to camp in a designated spot, so I could not camp in an area with better drainage. I survived the night and tried again a few nights later.

2nd night I checked radar and determined a storm was coming from the West. I ensured my open ends were facing N and S. I did not raise my trekking pole as high and secured the ends of the tarp all the way to the ground. The rain came and the tarp still did not stay completely dry. The area near the ends were wet due to the wind and rain. The rain didn't puddle like the first night, but it was not raining as hard.

What am I doing wrong? I like the weight savings of a tarp, maybe during Monsoon season a tent is better? I see many folks using a much smaller tarp. Any suggestions would be helpful.
 

rayporter

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Jul 3, 2014
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arkansas or ohio
i like a diamond pitch down against the ground and i try to leave a long beak.

with only one open end i usually find something to hang in the front. even a net will slow down the rain. a triangle of any nylon will do, also.
 

GunsAreFun

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Apr 18, 2019
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1,012
This is why I bought the Warbonnet Ground Tarp. It’s the same amount of material and weight as a 10x10, but it is used more efficiently. Both ends have panels that can be closed to block off weather.

If you’re going to continue using a flat tarp, check out the second pitch in this video. It’s very easy and weatherproof.
 
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thegrouse

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Feb 11, 2021
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Texas
That 2nd one looks interesting. It looks like it may be a little tight for my son and I. I do not think my tarp has that many tie outs on the perimeter
 

Where's Bruce?

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Sep 22, 2013
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5,596
You want a tarp that's multi-configurable with doors, the 11' Mega Ogee is the best I have found but hard to find. You can check em out on youtube.
 

mlgc20

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Oct 29, 2018
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DFW, TX
IMO, tarps usually aren’t worth the weight savings. I’ve tried tarps on and off for years, and have had nights like the one you described. Finally gave up. I just prefer the weatherproofness of a tent. I will carry the extra weight. My daughter and I just finished a 70 mile hike in Wyoming. We had rain 3 nights. Including one stint where we were stuck in the tent for 16 hours. Our Zpacks Triplex performed great. Can’t imagine how miserable that trip would have been with a tarp setup. If I were hunting in Central Oregon, or some pretty arid region, I could see where the tarp is fine. But, most of the time, just give me the tent.
 

sneaky

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I have an MLD Patrol Tarp duo in DCF. Closed back end, you can take the sides all the way down, and a beak off the front. Thinking about getting a piece done to be able to close off the front like an annex. It's about 12oz, plenty of room and storm worthy. I've had it in some 40mph wind and rain and didn't budge. Just dropped the front trekking pole down and snugged up the guy lines.

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Phaseolus

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Feb 25, 2018
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Palisade, Colorado
I started out with a Seek Outside DST, it’s a fine tarp. I graduated to a Seek Outside Eolus, for the same weight as the DST I gave a much better shelter. I sat and slept through 15 hours of rain in it last Wednesday the day before archery opener.
 
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thegrouse

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Feb 11, 2021
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Texas
I have been looking at the Eolus or an XMID. I just think there are situations where a tent is a better option.
 

Mike Islander

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Aug 10, 2019
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Lowcountry, SC
I use an 11 x 8.5 Dutchware Gear rectangle tarp. It's 8 oz. Run it to the ground if necessary, which can happen in coastal SC. Sideways rain is not uncommon.

I use a bathtub ground sheet from Zpacks and will put down a little cryo to set gear on if the ground is wet. Works great.

In your campground scenario you were forced to camp in the wrong place. Bathtub ground sheet solves the problems you had.
20210210_182651.jpg 20210210_182502.jpg
 
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mcseal2

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May 8, 2014
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I’ve been happy with my DST in some pretty good rains set up as a plough point. It definitely needs to be angled right and pitched low for rain.

If I know its going to rain a lot I’ll usually take a Kifaru Megatarp and sometimes the vestibule instead.

I don’t have a small light tent, but do use a bivy at times in the tarp.

I have not had great luck with the A frame set-up with a tarp when I tried it in my younger years.
 

Desk Jockey

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Apr 5, 2015
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I have a bathtub floor net liner and a bunch of ground tarps but if I think it is really going rain, a tent is usually my choice. Actually a tent and a tarp so I can have a place to shelter outside the tent. I am sure there are others who will disagree, but floorless in general is kind of a drag is super heavy rain when water is running under your tent.
 

WCB

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Jun 12, 2019
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I have the Mountain Smith Shade Tarp 12'x12'. Obviously I wouldn't use it in the winter but I have used it a bunch early season and have had zero issues. A Frame set up I have sat through 2" rains in a couple hours no issues. Wind picks up pull it low...lower my trekking poles and stake down one of the ends and pop up a trekking pole in the middle to close it off.

I like the 12'x12' it gives me a ton of room so a little moisture coming in on the ends in no big deal as long as I prep the spot properly for drainage. I can also keep ALL my gear under it and not feel cramped. If I was expecting snow or high winds constantly I would just bring my tent. But like this next week elk hunting tent is stay in the truck.
 

bowtech101st

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Aug 21, 2015
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Location
WY
All in all, with the Z-Packs Pocket Tarp, XL bathtub groundsheet, groundsheet attachment kit, and 8 titanium shepherd hook stakes the total weight comes in at 11.5 oz., which is lighter than most tarp set ups I've found. The pictures really don't do it justice, this Pocket Tarp is a lot roomier than I expected it to be.

I've had this out in heavy rain several times, and with the ability to pitch it tight to the ground, coupled with the bathtub floor, I've been able to stay bone-dry and not have to worry about my down bag getting soaked.

tarp 1.jpg tarp 2.jpg tarp 3.jpg
 
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