[pct-l] General Gear Questions

Bill Batchelor billbatch at cox.net
Wed Jan 10 20:03:21 CST 2007

Alex Said:
(copying the pct-l in case others are interested)

bill i have a tarp that I used with my family in the Sierra's last summer.
it sleeps 5 comfortably. its almost a tarp lodge. :) my question is about
adding bug protection to a tarp. what method have you found for adding bug
protection to just a plain tarp? we sorely needed bug protection last

I have used the bug tent that hangs from inside a tarp.  It is also from
This works well, but being zipperless (extra long flap in front) you need to
crawl into it very low.  It is hung on the inside of the tarp, not
permanently fixed.   So, you can use it or not depending on where you are on
the trip.  You do have room in it to move about a bit, which is nice.   If
you think this is worth a try, I have only used mine twice.  I will sell it
to you for half price plus shipping.  If you pop it up and decide it is not
for you, send it back and I will refund minus shipping.  We could use paypal
to make it easy.
Another popular choice is the bug bivy.  I have not used this, but its
functionality is easy to predict just by looking at it.  This was the choice
I was leaning toward along with my tarp when I opted for the Henry Shires
Tarptent instead.  Still not sure I made the right choice, but I did like
the idea of being able to sit up, read, or goof with my gear in bug safety.
Here is the bug bivy
<http://www.thru-hiker.com/reviews.asp?subcat=12&cid=32> &cid=32
Others have sewn a bug net to the edges of their tarp and let it drape down
onto the ground.  This is basically what the HShires floorless version is.


From: Alex Harvey [mailto:alexanderharvey at gmail.com] 
Sent: Wednesday, January 10, 2007 2:00 PM
To: Bill Batchelor
Subject: Re: [pct-l] General Gear Questions

bill i have a tarp that I used with my family in the Sierra's last summer.
it sleeps 5 comfortably. its almost a tarp lodge. :) my question is about
adding bug protection to a tarp. what method have you found for adding bug
protection to just a plain tarp? we sorely needed bug protection last


On 1/10/07, Bill Batchelor <billbatch at cox.net> wrote: 

Let me quickly answer 1 and 3.  I am guessing my base weight will be about
12 pounds.  I will be using a quilt, synthetic, rated about 25 degrees (made
it myself).

     2. Tarp or tent
        (Considering a tarptent to be a single-walled tent ) 
        And if a tarp, then do you carry any bug protection.

I spent a load of time on this question.  I am an avid tarp user.  I have
spent time in wind, rain, snow, etc. all in my GoLite Tarp.  Thru-hikers 
have used tarps, tarp/tents, and various lite tents extensively.  All will
work, it is a matter of style.  You seem to have some of the same questions
as I did with regards to bugs.  Here is what I ended up with.  I came down 
to the GoLite Tarp vs the Henry Shires Tarp/tent Virga 2.  In the end I have
chosen the tarp/tent.  Here is how I got there.

Weight:  The tarp is lighter at first glance by almost a 3/4 of a pound (if
I recall correctly).  Then the details start to creep in.  The tarp takes 
more stakes to setup/secure than the Virga. Also, the tarptent specs
included stake weight and the GoLite tarp did not. So a few ounce for
stakes. With the tarp, I am compelled on a thru-hike to carry some form of a

net for bug protection.  The Virga it's built in.  The tarp it is not.  So,
add ounces to the tarp configuration for bug protection.  If you use the
tarptent w/o floor and use a ground sheet, the floor weight is equal.  If 
you compare a floored model tarptent to the tarp, you need to include the
ground sheet in the tarps weight to be a fair comparison.  End result, the
tarp is only slightly (about 3 ounces) lighter when you consider bug 

Virga Pros: 1. The built in bug protection of the Virga is not ad-hoc.  When
using it there is room to sit up, journal, work with your gear, change
clothes, etc. All in a roomy comfort of a bug free room.  I have not found 
the add-on bug protection options to have any of that.  I like the idea of
being able to retreat and have some room.  2. The bug protection is zippered
making it easy to enter and exit.  3. It is easier and faster to set up. 4. 
I like to be able to close off the world a bit at my head and feet (leaving
room around the bottom for ventilation when necessary).  I hike solo and it
is the kid in me, but I like to shut out the world while still having enough

head room to sit up. This is my hiking equivalent to pulling the sheets over
my head for safety.  To shut both ends of the tarp you need to pitch it very
low. So in a tarp I can get isolated, but give up almost all mobility inside

due to the 18" ceiling that the low configuration leaves me.

Tarp Pros: 1.  You do not need to carry bug protection the entire time.  You
can leave the bug protection in the resupply for the sections you need it. 
This could save about 4 or 5 ounces (depending on the solution you choose).
2. The tarp ounce for ounce has more living space.  3. The tarp is better at
adjustable configurations for shade, high winds, etc.

As for with or without the floor, I went with no floor.  I will carry a
ground cloth.  Here were my reasons.  1. On nights I want to sleep out
without the shelter, I can use the same floor to sleep "cowboy style". 
Without a separate floor, I must sleep in the shelter, on the dirt, or bring
a second ground cloth.  2. The most abuse taken on the tent is the floor.
Having a separate floor will make replacement easy along the way and for 
years to come. 3. With a separate floor, I have more configuration options.
With the floor attached you can not spread the tarptent out wide (the floor
will stop it from expanding laterally).  With the floor detached, if I leave

the tarptent's bug zipper open I could pitch it wide and low in high wind,
or string it up really high and as flat as possible to make shade in the
desert.  These variations will not be as elegant and the tarp's version, but

will get the job done.

So there you have it.  This is what you get when you spend seven years
thinking about a thru-hike and spend countless hours on trails testing
ideas.  You get an over-thought, over-engineered, beaten to death set of 
opinions that you are so friken proud of when in the end all you do is put
your *&^% in your bag and walk on!

I hope you find that useful.

BillB (Ezhno)

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