The Ray-Way Tarp Book Essential

How to Camp with this Versatile, Lightweight Shelter - Safely and Enjoyably

Ray's book #8, 2011

Ray Jardine

TBE - Introduction page 2 of 3

This book is for everyone who delights in the simple pleasures of camping. Whether you enjoy backpacking and hiking, or bicycle touring, canoeing, river rafting, sea kayaking, small sailboat tripping, motorcycle traveling - or just about any other form of outdoor recreation that calls for portable overnight shelter from the elements - this book will show you how to put more FUN into your camping trips.

The most common type of camping shelter is, of course, the tent. The main reason for the tent's popularity is its resemblance to a person's home, in miniature. Yet despite its widespread use, the tent exhibits a number of shortcomings, usually overlooked but nonetheless real. In this book I describe these problems, and detail something that I think works much better in most cases: The Ray-Way tarp.

The use of the tarp dates back to antiquity, when early peoples took shelter under a few animal hides sewn together with sinew, or mats woven of plant material. Today we can only imagine these primitive shelters slung over poles lashed between trees, and looking wild and crude. But we do know that tarps have been around a long while, and for good reason: they are simple and effective.

My own history with tarps dates back to 1970, when I began using them on summer-long wilderness programs in the Colorado Rockies. That was over four decades ago, and since then I have camped in the wilds more than two thousand nights; about half of those have been under a tarp.

Initially my tarps were quite basic. But because the weather was sometimes intense, with strong wind, heavy rain, and even snowfall, I began improving the basic design, making my tarps more weather-resistant and lighter in weight. Aided by my aerospace engineering background and seasoned with many years of trial-and-error experimentation, I arrived at the tarp I use today, known as the Ray-Way Tarp.

The term "Ray-Way" is not something I came up with. Rather, it was coined by a couple of Pacific Crest Trail hikers who had read my first book; and it was later used as the title of an article in a national magazine. The term became in such common use by the lightweight hiking community, that I adapted it for use in our sewing kit business; and have furthermore used it in this book in places where I wish to differentiate my designs from those of other people.

Because of the manner in which the design, itself, evolved, every aspect of the Ray-Way tarp is there for a reason. So anything a person changes, adds, or removes will only detract from the tarp's performance. As such, the information in this book applies only to the Ray-Way tarp.

To try using a tarp for yourself, we offer tarp kits that you can sew. These kits come with detailed sewing instructions that guide you through the sewing process, step by step. Our kits are cheaper than if you were to purchase first-grade materials elsewhere. And due to a special process, we guarantee that our silicone-coated nylon tarp material will not pass a fine mist in a heavy downpour (mist-thru). This tarp is simple in design and construction, and those who have not tried sewing one may be surprised how easy it is. And as thousands of first-timers who have constructed these tarps would attest, the results are well worth the effort. For more information, visit and navigate to the tarp section.

In the larger picture, I see camping as a means of reestablishing one's bonds with the natural world. Lying down to sleep on nature's bed with a tarp overhead, I might hear the wind whispering through the trees, or perhaps the call of an owl. At the same time I can see out both ends of the tarp, and under the sides. So while I am protected from the elements, I can still be a part of what is happening all around. I take great pleasure in this, because it leads me to a greater appreciation of nature, and a heightened awareness that I, and many others - both past and present - refer to as the "connection." Certainly, the tarp facilitates this connection, and this to me is one of its more significant advantages.

This book reflects my findings that a Ray-Way tarp allows for a simpler, drier, warmer and more comfortable and connected approach to wilderness camping. Even so, I detail this tarp and its use, only as an alternative to the tent. Read the book, study the features, advantages and pitching methods, then spend a few nights camping beneath a tarp. Only then will you be able to make a more educated decision - based on actual experience about what type of shelter works best for you.

The story has 3 pages. This is page 2.
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