Ray's 1P tarp on his 2010 Appalachian Trail thru-hike in early season. Note that a cold wind is blowing, but the tarp is pitched with its ridge perpendicular to the wind, and the windward edge is pinned close to the ground. This orientation blocks the wind so effectively that it doesn't require a BatWing.
The Ray-Way Tarp allows you camp warmer and more comfortably in the wilds.
Our Tarp is simple in appearance, yet will outperform even the most sophisticated tents in a wide variety of weather and terrain, when used according to the instructions in The Ray-Way Tarp Book Essential.
This tarp is about a fourth the weight of even the lighter tents, and offers at least twice the living space.
And even though the tarp is open all around, it is probably warmer than the tent you are currently using. Why? Because of the tarp's superior ventilation. A tent traps moisture, and that moisture saps body heat.
The Ray-Way Tarp is probably warmer than the tent you are currently using.
Colorado: Ray's one-person Tarp and Net-Tent on the 2010-TransAm.
We offer Tarp Kits that you can sew yourself
Our 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).
The Ray-Way 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!
Order the Tarp Kit here!
To learn more about our tarp Kit see the next page of this article.
Why I Camp with a Tarp
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.
Wyoming: My 1P tarp on the 2010-TransAm. A strong wind is blowing directly into the tarp's interior, but I have pitched the tarp over a dense clump of sagebrush at the head end (windward end) and this is blocking the wind nicely, making the living space very comfortable. Without the sagebrush I would have used a Batwing.
Same Protection as a Tent
In our considerable experience, a Ray-Way Tarp offers the same basic degree of protection from the elements as does a tent, when used according to the guidelines in the Tarp Book Essential.
Just because you are leaving the security of your house and venturing out into the wilds, that does not mean you will automatically encounter a fierce storm. Despite all the corporate fear mongering designed to persuade you to buy their heavy-duty and hyper-expensive gear, most nights in the wilds are mild. But should a storm develop, the tarp can handle it - assuming that you follow the pitching guidelines in the Tarp Book Essential.
Quote from the Ray-Way Tarp Book Essential: "The tarp is not meant for use in wintry conditions with heavy snowfall and deeply snowpacked terrain. Many other environments are too harsh for the tarp, mainly those renowned for gale-force winds, very low temperatures, heavy rain, sleet and snow, and unaccommodating terrain. Places such as northern Alaska and Canada, and other countries circling the arctic, the Himalayas, Tierra del Fuego, and so on. The extreme conditions of these regions would call for something more substantial than a lightweight, three-season shelter."
I consider the weight savings crucial to my enjoyment during a high-daily-mileage thru-hike. If I were to carry a tent, rather than a tarp and Net-tent, then the extra weight would slow me down, I figure, by an estimated 1.5 weeks on a 3.5-month thru-hike.
While distance hiking I am not racing other hikers or the calendar. But neither would I enjoy dragging an anchor. Any excess weight feels like an anchor to me, not in terms of reduced speed, but miles hiked easily per day. So I have paired down my gear and simplified it, so that it doesn't detract from my hiking enjoyment. This way I can see past my gear, and focus, instead, on the natural environment surrounding the trail: the plants, trees, birds and animals - and the terrain and my place within it. And so that I can move through this environment with the least resistance.
Also, any unnecessary weight in the backpack increases a person's fatigue and made them more susceptible to stress injuries.
Simplifies camping and raises it to an art form. Wyoming: Ray's 2P tarp and Net-Tent on the 2011-Moto-Prudhoe. The 10-mph wind was not enough to require lowering the windward edge. But I did pitch the tarp ridge perpendicular to the wind, so that the wind would not funnel through the tarp's interior.
The Tarp is Warmer than a Tent
... when used day after day in uncertain weather, I find the tarp warmer - by far - than any tent. This is because a tent traps moisture released from a person's body and breath- even a tent with extra large vents. This moisture buildup permeates one's clothing and sleeping bag insulation, and reduces their ability to keep you warm - because this moisture conducts heat away from your body.
Because the tarp is open all around, your clothes and sleeping gear stay much dryer, and therefore you stay warmer.
The build-up of moisture inside a tent can be dangerous in extremely cold conditions, possibly plunging a person into hypothermia. Many people have died in tents, thinking that the tent was protecting them. A tarp does not trap the dangerous moisture build-up.
To compensate for the moisture accumulation in a tent, a person must use a thicker sleeping bag in cold weather. This more beefy sleeping bag is heavier to carry on the trail, and more bulky in the backpack.
No Need to "Air-Out" the Sleeping Gear
If using a tent, the sleeping bag or quilt must be "aired out" each mid-morning, to rid it of the absorbed moisture. When using a tarp, I have no need to air-out my sleeping gear, because my tarp does not entrap moisture. Rain or not, my gear stays dry. This saves me the bother of stopping and pulling out the sleeping gear each morning, spreading everything to dry, and then reloading things back into the pack. I enjoy taking rest breaks throughout the day, but not to empty my backpack of its contents in order to dry them.
Ray's 1P tarp on the AT, 2010 in early season.
The Tarp Offers a Wider Selection of Camping Choices
.. Because I can pitch it over bushes and small trees when necessary, and sleep comfortably in my Net-tent nestled between the greenery, the tarp offers a much wider selection of camping choices.
I coined the term "stealth camping" to mean camping away from established campsites, and have used the concept for decades. During my second and third thru-hikes of the Appalachian Trail, I stealth camped with my tarp almost every night, and experienced no problems finding places to sleep anywhere along the full length of the trail. Again, that was because I could pitch my tarp over bushes and saplings when necessary. I could not have done that with a tent. The Appalachian Trail has comparably few places to stealth camp with a tent, away from the designated shelters, because of the dense vegetation.
On the Appalachian Trail, I would not dream of choosing a tent over a tarp. One reason is because of the relative lack of possible tent sites - compared to the vast tarp camping potential. Many times during my AT hikes, the weather would deteriorate rapidly and I would need to find a place to camp pronto. Because I carried a tarp, this was much more easily done. For me at least, a tarp opened up huge possibilities for safer camping.
Virginia: Ray's 1P tarp on the AT, 2010 in early season. A soft bed of dried leaves makes for a very comfortable night's rest.
More Living Space
The tarp provides far more sheltered living space than a small "lightweight" tent, so the tarp has room for backpacks and other gear. This is especially important rainy night, and if I need something from my backpack, I have it right there handy.
Not including the beaks, the two-person tarp shelters an area 106" long by 92" wide when pitched with a roof slope of 30 degrees.
In this configuration, note the size of the two foam pads, each measuring 20" wide by 72" long. This tarp offers outstanding coverage!
Our one-person tarp shelters the same length, and 75" wide. As an example, for someone 20" wide at the shoulders (which is my own measurement) this tarp would give them 27" of additional coverage to either side. This shelter would be more than three times their width!
If you cannot find a camping place this wide, which would be very rare, simply pitch the tarp with a steeper slope to its roof, so that the sides don't spread out as much.
Colorado: Ray's 1-P Tarp and Net-Tent on the 2010-TransAm. Notice the excellent coverage after a heavy rain - despite the steeper roof pitch so that the sides wouldn't contact the trees on ether side.
I Much Prefer to Camp in the Rain with a Tarp rather than a Tent
Rain is a simple fact of the outdoor experience. The tarp is easier for me to pitch in a heavy rain, without getting the rest of my gear soaked. The tarp has much more room to accommodate my gear, so I don't have to leave anything out in the rain. It has plenty of space also for cooking a meal, and I don't have to worry about dangerous stove fumes accumulating inside a tent and possibly causing asphyxiation. Best of all, I find it much easier to break camp in the rain. I can load my gear into the backpack while still under the tarp, and then at the last moment I can step out, take the tarp down and stuff it into an outside pocket of my backpack, and begin the day's hike.
Normally, one pitches the tarp higher, with the ridge further above the ground, for better ventilation. But in stormy weather the tarp is pitched lower, with tarp's sides close to the ground for better protection. This is a simple matter of raising or lowering the ridge, then adjusting the side spread narrower or wider by lengthening or shortening the side lines.
Also, the lower the pitch, the more the beaks angle downwards to help shelter the interior. And if the wind is blowing rain into the tarp's interior, one can fit a Bat-Wing (Tarp-Door).
A Tarp is more Reliable in good Weather or bad
In the wilds for weeks at a time, I depend on my shelter. I don't want to risk a tent pole buckling in strong wind, which would render the tent immediately unserviceable. My tarp has no poles, so the risks of a shelter failure are much reduced. Instead I use trees or stout support sticks found naturally in the forest. In the same light, I don't have to carry those tent poles all day when hiking or biking.
A Ray-Way Tarp is Stronger than a Tent
I have camped in winds so strong they might have flattened just about any backpacking tent. But in such conditions I simply pitch my tarps low lying, to reduce the effects of the wind. So in effect, the lower I pitch the tarp, the stronger it becomes.
The Tarp is much more Economical
A Ray-Way tarp is more economical than a tent. Yet despite its low cost, the tarp is surprisingly durable. So durable, in fact, that it lasts for many years of hard use. The durability is important to me because my outings tend to be hard on gear - mainly due to the boisterous weather and rugged alpine terrain.
The Tarp can be Easily Home-Made
The Ray-Way Tarp is simple in construction, so it is easy to make.
I like to make my own hiking and camping gear for a certain sense of gratification and a better sense of belonging in the wilds due to the more thorough preparations.
Ray & Jenny's 2P tarp on the 2003-IUA
A Tarp Gives a better Sense of Openness
Best of all, I enjoy camping with a tarp because of the sense of openness it provides. A tent shuts out the world. If I want to do that, I can remain at home. When in the wilds, I like to be more aware of what's happening all around - and enjoy the natural beauty, even when in bed.
An open tarp enables a person to remain more in tune with the surroundings.
A tarp Increases the Fun of Camping
Lastly, camping with a tarp is simply more fun!!!
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