As you saw in my recent ZPacks unboxing post, I recently picked up a new cuben fiber flat tarp. I have a silnylon 8 x 10 flat tarp, but it is rather heavy (by my standards) and more than big enough for 1 person, so I have been wanting to pick up a smaller, lighter cuben flat tarp to replace it for solo use. As well, I wanted to stick with a flat tarp since flat tarps are so versatile and can be set up in a number of different ways to accommodate most situations. However, the main 2 pitches that I plan to use with this tarp is the standard A-Frame (as seen in the above pic) as well as the Half Pyramid.
As far as size, for a while, I knew that I wanted a 6×9 tarp, however, as time got closer for me to actually order the tarp, I second-guessed this size. I plan to use this tarp mostly on the ground but would also like to (try to) use this tarp over a hammock (in warmer weather), so I decided that maybe 10 foot would be better for the length. As far as the width, I started debating a 7 foot wide tarp, but in the end couldn’t decide if I wanted 6 or 7 foot, so when it came time to place the order, I split the difference and went with a 6.5.
When I ordered this tarp from ZPacks I asked for the white (I have a thing for white cuben fiber), 0.51 oz/sqyd cuben fiber and with the 8 standard tie-outs (1 @ each corner, 1 @ each end of the ridgeline, and 1 in the center of each long side). In addition to these tie-outs, I also requested a single panel pull out located in the center of each side panel. As well, due to the way I planned on using this tarp with some other items, I also added 4 of the adhesive tie-outs to the cart so I could personally place them where I needed them.
So, when the weather is bad, I will use this tarp in the A-Frame pitch, and as a little (or a lot of) extra protection, I am planning to use my CloudKilt as a back wall.
This will give me 3 full walls of protection, as well as allow me to shimmy on down all the way towards the foot end of the tarp. Considering this, and the fact that this tarp is 10 feet long, I will be able to distance myself from the front of the tarp, and the weather, pretty easily. Another bonus is that with the Cloudkilt as a back wall, I don’t have to pitch either end of the tarp down to the ground and can pitch it high enough to still be able to sit up in (for the most part). This is also where the thought of a 7 foot wide tarp was lingering on my mind, of course the wider the tarp is, the taller it can be pitched. But now that I have it, I think I am ok with the amount of vertical room the 6.5 feet of width gives me when I pitch the tarp low, and in the A-Frame. (Also, in my opinion, the white cuben fiber makes the whole thing “feel” much more opened up…)
So, I had to figure out how to attach the CloudKilt to the tarp, which wasn’t too hard. The CloudKilt has loops on the bottom corners already, and I simply added a loop to both of the top corners. Once this was done, I attached the 2 bottom corners of the CloudKilt to the corner tie-outs on the tarp using some mini biners, and looped the cinch cord in the CloudKilt over the tip of the trekking pole. This held the Cloudkilt in place, but I still had to contend with the top, flapping corners of the CloudKilt. In order to fix this, I folded the corners of the CloudKilt over the top of the tarp, then marked this spot. Next, I attached 2 of the adhesive tie-outs (to the outside of the tarp) a few inches past those marks. After doing this, I looped a small piece of 3/32 inch shock cord with a mitten hook through the tie-outs. Now, when I fold the corners of the CloudKilt over, these mitten hooks will hook to the loops on the CloudKilt, and hold it in place. (I chose to use shock cord in case wind blew along the tarp and got caught in the CloudKilt. The shock cord will allow the wall to absorb some of the wind, and decrease the amount of stress put on the adhesive tie-outs.)
I also plan to use my new (to me) MLD bug bivy under the tarp, especially when the bugs are out and about.
I also wanted to be able to clip the bug net under the tarp rather than to the trekking poles at each end. This will keep water from running down the lines if it is raining, as well, it makes it easier for me to attach (or unattach) the bivy to the tarp when actually in the bivy. So, I attached the last 2 adhesive tie-outs along the ridgeline under the tarp. These tie-outs are positioned so that in bad weather I can lay the bivy closer to the foot end of the tarp (with the CloudKilt wall), or, in better weather, I can position the bivy the opposite direction and it will attach more centered under the tarp. (If that makes sense?)
And like I mentioned, I also plan to use this tarp in the Half Pyramid pitch when the weather is not so bad. There is not much to talk about on this pitch though since I have not mod’ed anything for this set-up, so it will be a regular half pyramid pitch. I have pitched it once this way since I got it (quickly), and I realize that I need to practice with it some more. So far, in my opinion, even at 6.5 feet wide, it may make the half pyramid pitch a bit awkward, but I can’t say for sure. In my experience though, the half pyramid seems to pitch better with narrower tarps…but I love the pitch.
Anyway, here is a video I did quickly today to show the tarp off a little in the A-Frame, with both the CloudKilt wall and the MLD bug bivy attached inside it:
So, that is a little about how I plan to use the tarp, so how about some real numbers? After all, going with cuben fiber means I am trying to go light…
- Measured width: 6.5 feet
- Measured length: 10 feet
- Measured weight (with stuff sack) before adding tie-outs: 5.5 oz
- Measured weight (with stuff sack) after adding tie-outs: 5.8 oz
The guylines that I plan to carry with this tarp is the LiteTrail GLine (in orange). The 50′ hank that I chopped up weighed 0.5 oz on my scale. I cut it into four 8 feet sections and four 4 feet sections. The total weight of the tarp (with additional tie-outs), stuff sack and the guylines comes to 6.3 oz.
I will be using an assortment of stakes, however, the stakes I plan to carry now is 2 of the MSR Mini Groundhogs, 2 of the Sorex stakes and 4 of Lawson’s Ti stakes (2 shepherd hook and 2 Ti-Eyes). The total weight of these 8 stakes and a Spinnaker stake bag is 2.2 oz. This brings the total weight of the tarp to 8.5 oz. (I will say though, I am debating carrying along 2 extra ti stakes. As I found out today, it may be worth it. If I do, this will add an additional 0.4 oz to the weight.)
The MLD bug bivy weighs 6.8 oz with a cuben stuff sack and the added shock cord lines, mitten hooks and the glow-in-the-dark linelocs. With the bug bivy, the total weight is 15.3 oz, however, I may not always carry the bug bivy with me. Sometimes, I will choose to simply carry a cut down piece of Polycro which measures about 96 x 36 inches and weighs 1 oz. Of course, if I carry this, the total weight of the shelter will then, only be 9.5 oz!
So, it all depends on the situation…
Last but not least, I would like to say again that I am very happy with both the customer service at ZPacks, as well as the items I have received. As I will mention in the disclaimer below, I am not affiliated with ZPacks, but I have purchased a fair share of items from the site and have had numerous interactions with both Joe, and now that Joe is out hiking, Matt. I have been quite pleased with the quick responses to my numerous emails, as well as their willingness to meet my needs, and all in a very timely manner, every time. For these reasons, I will continue to shop at ZPacks if they have what I am looking for, I will continue to use their gear when on the trail, and I will highly recommend them to others.
However, that is not to say that everything has been perfect from ZPacks that I have had. In the past, I have had one of their roll-top bags come apart at the seams, mitts that were a bit too small (can’t really fault them for this though since they are “one-size fits most”), the recent Blast Food bag I received is a different shape than I expected, and now with my tarp, there is one small detail that I am not overly worried about, but feel that it is worth mentioning.
When I set the tarp up, I noticed that in the middle of one of the panels, there appears to be a piece of paper stuck to the tarp (see picture above). I have tried to peel the paper off from both sides of the tarp, and well, nothing. It seems to me like the paper is actually inside the piece of cuben fiber, between the 2 mylar layers. At first I thought that it was maybe a piece of the one-sided tape that they sell which got stuck to it, but I cannot feel any edges anywhere around it, and it is not in the middle of a seam either. So, I am going to email Matt and ask him about this. Hopefully it will not be a problem though. I will be sure to update this post with what this may actually be once I hear back from Matt.
So, this is my new tarp! I am pretty stoked about it and look forward to using it, as well as how it works out with my added mod’s!
I just wanted to let everyone know that I did email Matt at ZPacks a little later in the day after I posted this article. He responded the next day and told me that the paper in the cuben is not a problem, and that it will not decrease the strength of the material, or affect it in any way. He said that on occasion, they will find a piece of paper like this in the material and will simply remove that material, however, being that this cuben was white it was not as evident and was looked over (probably also due to the holiday rush as well). Either way, I am completely fine with it and look forward to using this tarp!
Thanks for stopping by and reading!
Disclaimer: I paid for this tarp with my own money, although, I did have a 10% off coupon code that I won in a previous raffle,which I used when purchasing this tarp. I am not obligated to write about this item and the above statements are my own, and were formed after receiving the tarp.