There are some pieces of gear that cycle in and out of my kit.
I try something different for a while, but then cycle back.
Could be because the previous item seemed “sexier” but was more complicated than I needed. Or it failed more than once with a zipper. Or I just wanted to go back to something simple that works.
And one of those items for me is my simple 8’x10′ silnylon tarp originally purchased from Campmor. I bought it way back in 2001, used it on the PCT in 2002 and I still seem to use it. Other shelters come and go, but I somehow seem to grab this one.
I re-acquaint myself with the subtleties of tarp setups, but then I remember why I like using one.
Simplicity. Lightness. Versatility. Functionality.
The tarp is showing its use with little pinhole rips in it from use over the years.
And I’ve used it for activities other than backpacking.
But in the (mainly) bug free Colorado backpacking I do, the simple tarp works well. If I am going into a buggy area, or perhaps into deep shoulder season, another shelter would be taken.
But the 8′ x 10′ works well for most backpacking I do. The 8′ x 10′ tarp is spacious for one and covers a lot ground. At just under 14 oz, it is a light and compact shelter. Throw in some cord and stakes, and I have a very serviceable and versatile shelter for roughly 16 oz…or 1 lb.
The tarp is not perfect. It has grommets rather than tie outs. And silynylon is prone to sagging in wet weather vs the newer cuben tarps. And it is nearly double the weight of a cuben tarp as well.
But this old tarp works. When I finally retire the tarp, I’ll probably get a cuben tarp.
But, for now, this old tarp is like an old Honda Accord that always seems to run. I’ll run it to ground, use it until it finally gives out..but it may be a while.
Why I still use this gear: Simple. Light. I still have it. Can’t justify buying a new shelter…yet.
Would I recommend buying it?: If you want to go the lightweight tarping route without breaking the bank, it is a great little shelter. It received consistently good reviews in the past as a good “bread and butter” tarp. Nothing fancy. But it does the job well (again, like an old Honda Accord).
If you are going to do extensive tarping, and have the money, the cuben tarps are awfully tempting. About 2.5 times the price, but half the weight… Hmm…