Most people think about tents when they think about camping, only a few hardcore minimalists picture a tarp hung over a bivy sack. But a tent combined with a tarp can revolutionize your camping experience
Kitchen and assembly zone
At the end of a long hiking or paddling day, you might find yourself in heavy rain, wet and chilled. In this case, the first thing to do is set up a tarp. Once up, you change into your dry clothes and pitch the tent underneath it while you stay dry. Once the tent is set up, you can move it to another spot if you don’t plan to sleep under the tarp.
While you’re dry and warm (and assured of staying that way), you can contemplate supper or start getting warmed with a mug of hot soup. Rain isn’t the only reason to put up the tarp. If you rig end one low to the ground or a windbreak, it can block gusts and make it much easier to cook and more pleasant to hang out.
Living room and porch
If you wake to bad weather or you’re taking a day off, you have a spacious refuge where you can hang out, sip coffee and observe changing weather, light and tides. You can even bask in the warmth of a wood stove or a small fire. Just try that in a tent.
A light, practical option is a lightweight nylon tarp impregnated with silicone. Water beads and runs off and they can be rigged in a variety of ways. An excellent option is the MEC Silicone Guides Tarp. It fits into a small stuff sack that’s hardly bigger than a 1L water bottle will provide a 4 x 3-meter space, big enough for two people to sit and relax.
Once you get used to adding a tarp to your camp setup, it will become as essential as hot soup or fine chocolate to your camping weekends and multi-day adventures.