Pg 8: Questions and Answers
Question: "I have viewed the AT Gear Video and read about tarp set-up in Trail Life, but was surprised at how low you pitched the tarp on the video. Actually thought it would be pitched with more headroom.
Reply: The lower pitch was due to the very-early season, and the Spitfire.
The weather in the very-early season is typically cold and windy. So I pitched the tarp lower to block the wind. And because of the wind, I never had a condensation build up on the tarp's underside. Also, the colder the weather, the less condensation. So even without the wind, I could get away with a lower pitch.
In the warmer summer months I pitch the tarp higher.
How to tell? If a person experiences condensation on the underside of the tarp, that means the pitch was to low.
Now, because I was using a Spitfire, I didn't need much headroom. All I needed was enough space to accommodate the Spitfire. In fact, because of the Spitfire, my tarp did not even have lifters, as one might have noticed in the video.
Question: "Ray, Is there a difference in condensation with a tarp made of the urethane as opposed to silicon? I like the sound of the urethane being tougher but worry about condensation.? - Al H.
Reply: Condensation is the tiny beads of water that form on a humid night. This is not the real problem for a camper. Rather, the problem is the increased moisture emitted by the sleeper in a tent. This is a vapor, so it permeates one's insulating clothing and sleeping bag or quilt, and it absolutely sucks the heat out of them. Under a tarp, the vapor wafts away in the breeze, leaving the insulation dry. This is true whether it's raining or not. And whether the ground is wet or not.
Both the tent and tarp can form condensation, but it is only a tent that must be dried out during the day. The tarp works just a well, wet or dry.
However, with a tent you are pretty much stuck with the condensation. With a tarp you have a excellent option. Simply raise the tarp several inches.
In general, if your tarp is condensing, that simply means that you pitched it too low. Granted, there are situations where no matter how high, the tarp will condense; but in my experience these occasions are very rare. But under a tarp I have never had so much condensation that it drips on me. But then, I don't pitch the tarp low, unless the wind is strong.
The urethane and the silicone are pretty much the same as far as condensation is concerned. So is polyurethane sheeting and things like Gore-tex.
But again, if one's tarp is condensing, that simply means that it is pitched too low.
Someone posted this photo on the internet. The board was left out during the night, and heavy condensation formed, but only in the dark-colored areas. Under certain conditions, color makes a big difference. We have experienced the same phenomena with our Tarps. Our Cloud-White color condenses much less than the other colors. Silver-Gray is second best.
Question: "Are the kit tarps a catenary cut design?"
Reply: Some tents benefit from a cat cut, but not our tarps. With some (not all) tents, a catenary cut evens the stress and reduces wrinkles. But with our tarps, the stress is already evenly distributed due to the stretch in the nylon, which easily conforms it to the catenary curved ridge. A cat cut would offer no advantages to our tarps. It would waste materials somewhat, and would make them much more difficult for the average home-sewing person to cut out and sew. Imagine drawing a curve on a piece of nylon nine feet in length and only 1.5" of curve at its mid-point. The average person could not achieve that with any degree of success. A computer laser cutter could, but the finished results would be no stronger and no better looking.
Question: "On the tarp material, are the rip-stop lines perpendicular to the sides of the material? When I marked off 108 inches on both edges, one mark was off by few squares."
Reply: When rip-stop fabric is manufactured, the thin lines in the warp and fill are essentially perpendicular. But further processing usually distorts them. So the rip-stop lines are not to be used as guidelines. Jenny cuts the fabric at 90 degrees, or near enough. But depending on the persons sewing skills, the two panels can shift while sewing them together. So after you have sewn the ridge seam, you might find that one panel is slightly longer than the other. But even this is not a problem. Simply trim the excess.
Question: "I am wondering about using an iron on the tarp material"
Reply: The heat of a clothes iron, even at its lowest setting, would probably damage the nylon tarp fabric beyond all repair. Don't chance it. After you have used the tarp a few times, the wrinkles will relax on their own, and will be much less noticeable.
Question: "In reading the instructions, I see you request a flat-felled seam for the roof seam. My question is, if I offset the fabric 1/2 inch, won't that make one side shorter than the other?
Reply: No. According to our instructions, you offset one piece of fabric 1/2 inch, but then after sewing the first seam you fold (flat fell) the other piece 1/2 inch back. So the finished seam comes out centered.
Question: "I'm planning a December winter hike on the Long Trail in Vermont. Would your tarp kits be appropriate for this kind of winter backpacking?"
Reply: Throwing oneself into a winter trip with unfamiliar gear could get a person into trouble. I have seen it happen far too many times - with tents mostly. A winter trip can be much more rewarding, granted, but also more unforgiving. Mistakes are inevitable while learning to use unfamiliar gear - be it a tent or a tarp. So I recommend making one's mistakes in summer time, and then using the knowledge in winter.
As such, I discourage using a tarp in winter if the person has not become familiar with its use in summer. The same holds true with a tent, stove, compass navigation, and all the rest.
Another way to become familiar with the gear in winter is of course car camping. Pitch the tarp or tent near the car and enjoy a good night's rest while you let it snow. Then next time, pitch a ways further from the car, and so forth. A person might be happily surprised how fun this can be.
Question "Is there good thread available in white? I Would like to sew a second tarp in cloud white tarp but don't like the look of black thread on white material"
Reply: We use black thread on everything because it is stronger than other color thread due to it's special treatment which makes it lasts much longer, and also to give the project a home-made Ray-Way look. The color contrast is minor and we seriously doubt that anyone will notice. And we doubt that even you will notice as you pitch your tarp in a pouring rain. Whether it's raining or not, in our minds function always takes priority over fashion.
Question "You have storage bags for your quilts, but not for the tarp. Any suggestions?"
Reply: This is what we use to store our tarps at home. However, for carrying a tarp on the trail, we use a Ray-Way Tarp Stowbag Kit, as listed on our Order Form.
Ray-Way Tarp folded for storage. We have a whole pile of them, because we make a new tarp for every year's trip.
Question "Sewing one of your tarp kits, the beaks are sewn to the tarp--and it was going well up to this point--but there is simply no gap to feed the ridge pull through. That is not to say that the gap is sewn shut (I interrupted the stitches at the ridge as instructed), but that by forming the flat-felled seam that connects the beak to the tarp body, any possible gap is permanently closed by the spiral nature of the seam. In other words, how could the ridge pull be fed through a gap between the tarp body and the beak when the two are components of a flat-felled seam? I have made every effort to follow the instructions EXACTLY. Thank you.
Reply: If you were working with sheet metal, of course the ridge pull could not be fed through the flat-felled seam. But instead you are working with highly flexible nylon. So just follow the instructions without trying to reason it through. Thanks and best wishes!
Question "I purchased and sewed the net-tent to attach to my Ray-Way tarp. The instructions for sewing snatch tabs onto the tarp say "Sew a Snatch-tab to the underside of the tarp at each of the two side pulls". However, the net tent has only two side suspension lines, each coming from the center of one side. So, it does not work to attach the side suspension line to either of the two side snatch tabs of the tarp, since neither is in the center.
Tarp and Net-Tent by Moshe J.
Reply: The side suspension lines are not meant to hook directly outward, perpendicular (Except for the X-Large size which has four side suspension lines). If you look at the top right corner illustration on page 12, in our instructions, you might notice how the side suspension lines angle forward. You have a choice of connecting them forward, as shown in the illustration, or backward. This arrangement gives you a lot more flexibility in the pitch.
Question "I received a tarp kit a few days ago. The silnylon appears to have ridges in it (see attached picture). Is this still waterproof and workable?"
Reply: These ridges are wrinkles from being on a roll. The fabric is still waterproof. Just ignore the wrinkles while measuring, cutting and sewing. They will disappear as you work with the fabric and use the finished tarp.