500g shelter for $5

infotechcoder

Russell Coight
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Just a quick little experiment to let me practise a taut line hitch. The tarp is actually my current ground sheet and is 430 grams in weight. It is rated medium duty. The stakes are borrowed from the tent and there are eight in total (estimated cost $1). I was going to use just six, but eight just seems a much better idea. The poles are for illustrative purposes only as I would replace them with a pair of sticks in the bush. And the rope was just a bit lying on the side of the road, so that was free. Cut the frayed bits off and melted the ends and its just fine. No ridgeline here, but it would surely have made a difference had my strings been long enough.

As for actual use, it was more of a kids play tunnel for the day. I can get in and out by crawling on my belly with enough room to roll onto my back without touching the roof but thats about all the space there is. Its 235cm in length and has potential to be pitched higher. Gave it a hosing off with the garden hose and it held up fine and the light wind and rain didn't bother it in the least. Was also unaffected with a tribe of ten year olds racing through it consistently for half a day (so effectively bomb-proof).

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Curious if this would be at all usable if combined with a sleeping mat and sleeping bag. Packed up the setup is quite tiny. Do you guys think I would be out of my mind using a $4.00 8x6 tarp as shelter?

Would you consider this a realistic backup?
 

Wentworth

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Nice job. It's definitely usable. I started out camping with a similar tarp setup. But I would set it up with a gap around the perimeter so you get a bit more ventilation and don't risk your shoulder hitting the tarp when you roll over.
8 by 6 foot is doable, but 8 by 10 foot is much nicer in heavy rain!
Let us know how you go.
 

Aussie123

Never Alone In The Bush
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A good experiment.

Another option is to lift just one side, that way you get a "wall" on the other side which can protect you from wind.
The open side can face into your camp area or the fire, which is very pleasant.

PS and if you have a bushcraft knife, you can make a few tent pegs out of bush sticks too ...
 

infotechcoder

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I was thinking about making some loops of shock-cord for each corner to lift it an inch or two - and hopefully fix any issues with tension.
 
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Aussie123

Never Alone In The Bush
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I was thinking about making some loops of shock-chord for each corner to lift it an inch or two - and hopefully fix any issues with tension.[/QUOTE

... also helps in there is a bit of buffeting from wind - A bit of camping Zen : "a tree that bends does not break ...."
 

Benny

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Nice. Doable but as Went said, if you go just a little bigger you'll a lot more comfortable.
 
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Top marks mate. With this configuration you could get away with 4 stakes if you wanted to be ultra minimalist or as stated make some. Many through hikers use tarps of similar dimensions. Good work.
 

AussiePreppers

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Great for a backup, but plan for smoothing it by adding something to keep the critters at bay. I have spent thousands of hours in the back of bumf... in the middle of the night finding creepy crawlies to take photos of, and they are EVERYWHERE! :) I'm sure you could add something that would still cost stuff all and be compact to take care of this... I really liked lepmeister's setup seen here:

http://bushcraftoz.com/forums/showthread.php?6014-Tarp-tent-what-do-you-think
 

MercuryFMJ

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That's basically what I use as shelter whenever I'm camping out, and it's definitely adequate for sleeping. I actually use a poncho shelter (military poncho), which is about the same size. I take two ponchos as my shelter, one of them to use as a ground sheet, they don't weigh very much at all.
It is very difficult to get in as you said, especially to get yourself in to a sleeping bag when you're under it, but once you get comfortable, for me at least it is just enough room to sleep in.
If you want a little more room, you can stake one side down using small guy-lines (~8 inches), instead of staking the corners directly, so you can set it up a little higher or wider. I do this every time except high wind, and I block the gap with my stuff, so that I have more room and most of my stuff is under shelter too.
It really takes a load off your back using one of these instead of a tent, and you can set it up all kinds of ways so if you want you can still make a more roomy (but less protected) shelter, to chill in.

Edit: @ AussiePreppers: Yes critters are a huge problem. I have a hooded sleeping bag where the opening is covered by a little zippy-up mosquito net, which is for me an extremely valuable feature. If I didn't have this I wouldn't be able to use my poncho tent in the warm times at all, you just wouldn't get any sleep on account of the mozzies. Unless maybe if you pack a big mosquito net that covers your whole body.
 
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Blake

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Well played mate. I started with a similar thing when I first started camping. It does the job just fine. Ive also set a tarp up in a similar to that which Aussie123 mentioned and hung a space blanket between the fire and the wall of the tarp which reflects the heat onto your back pretty well. Bit extra fiddling around but saves rolling around heating one side at a time :linguino:
 

infotechcoder

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It really is not easy to get an entire shelter system under 500g without spending a lot of money. I posted this mainly because I was surprised that this was a viable shelter. I have a DIY plastic tarp that would beat it for weight at 160 grams but it is a "disposable" shelter and I really wouldn't be confident in using beyond my backyard.

Absolutely agree about the different configurations, and the setup with bungee cord can really take some wind, but I am not a fan of the colour and don't see the same amount of wildlife as when using a less obnoxious colour or pattern.

What I did get was a better understanding of site selection and what it is like to relax without the bug nets or the security of a tent.

Incidentally, I use hammocks more often than not.
 
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