ZPacks 6.5 x 10 Cuben Fiber Flat Tarp

P1010155As 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.

P1010156

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.

P1010158

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.

P1010160

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!

UPDATE: 1-1-13

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!

~Stick~

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.

About Stick

My blog is essentially a record of my hiking career. Through it, I, and others, can see how I have evolved from a heavy weight backpacker, to a smarter, more efficient, lightweight backpacker. Through the use of video, still photos, and of course writing, one can see my progression, as well as check out some of the places I hike, and not to mention some cool, lightweight gear options. For me, my blog is a journal, but for others, I hope that it is an interactive learning tool to aid them in their own progression towards lightweight backpacking.
This entry was posted in Gear, Gear Reviews, Gear Stores, Tarps and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to ZPacks 6.5 x 10 Cuben Fiber Flat Tarp

  1. Robin D says:

    Hi Stick,

    I have pretty much the same tarp but I didn’t have any extra tie outs added by Zpacks. It’s been fantastic but now that I am about to use the tarp in more mountainous conditions, I feel as though some extra guy lnes might come on handy.

    I’ve been in touch with the guys at Zpacks who have recommend I use the stick on loops and stitch them on, probably with a small reinforcement patch on the underside and some tape to seal the stitch holes. I note that you say that they may be strong enough for panel ties as sold, which is reassuring.

    I basically wondered if you wouldn’t mind taking a couple of close ups of the Zpacks panel tie outs (and if possible the stick on loops), just to give me some ideas for attaching my own? Also, any thoughts or ideas would be greatly appreciated.

    Happy camping!

    Robin
    England

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Robin,

      I actually sold this tarp about a year ago… It didn’t get as much use as I thought it would, and I used the money for something else… As for the loops, I feel that the stick on (and reinforced if so chosen) would be fine in all but extreme conditions. The stick on loops I applied I did not reinforce, although, my tarp was never in extreme weather… A couple of nights in some windy, rainy weather, sure, and it had no problems with that. However, I would suggest using a piece of shock cord (3/32) and tying a loop through the tie out, and then attaching a guy line to the shock cord loop. This would allow the panel to flex with the wind, which would lessen the force applied to the tie out. It should hold just fine. It’s those sudden, strong gusts is what would cause it to fail. Also, the larger/longer the shock cord loops, the more the panel can flex. If I remember correctly, I used 12″ pieces of shock cord to tie my loops.

      Hope this helps some.

      ~Stick~

      Like

  2. Eljimberino says:

    How is the tarp now?

    Would the .74 cuben be better?

    Any thoughts on square tarps?

    As for the internal tie outs, are the adhesive ones good? Do you think it wise to have permanent bonded internal tie outs added by zpacks?

    Thank you

    Like

    • Stick says:

      The tarp is still holding up great. Not worried what so ever. However, I will admit, if I were to use it pitched A-Frame more often, I would have preferred to go with a cat-cut on the ridgeline. This would have allowed more of a tight pitch, but, I have come to enjoy using the half pyramid pitch more so, so it is beneficial to not have the cat-cut.

      As for the weight, “better” all depends on you. The 0.51 will be all that most need, however, some will prefer the little extra weight of the 0.74 for peace of mind. So, if you the want lightest weight, go with 0.51, if you want peace of mind, go with 0.74, or even higher. However, know that both of these weights will be more than sufficient for this application.

      Square vs rectangular, again, personal preference. I have never used a square tarp, and have no desire to do so. Rectangular shares are what I prefer, personally.

      The stick on tie outs are just fine for suspending things. Even for a panel tie out, I would say that it would be fine. However, for actual weight bearing tie outs, yes, you need to let ZPacks attach them. Otherwise, I find it more convenient to add some extra stick on tie outs to the cart, this way I can set it up when I get it, and figure out exactly where I want the tie outs myself, rather than guessing.

      Hope this helps!

      ~Stick~

      Like

  3. Nathan Lare says:

    Any long term thoughts on the MLD bug bivy?

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Nathan,

      I have only used it a few times since getting it. I still like it and plan to keep it though. Here are some general thoughts:

      I do like the top opening. It makes getting in and out fairly easy simply by undoing the head end. I leave the foot end pulled up. This way I simply spread the opening and sit down inside it. No wiggling into it like other bivies.

      It keeps the bugs away.

      It breathes as well as one would expect.

      I would prefer to go back to using a regular size air pad inside it as opposed to my large XLite (however, I cannot use a regular sized tapered pad). There is enough room for the larger pad inside, but the smaller pad does give it a little more vertical room.

      I have given up on trying to stake the corners down so much. When I do it seems like it pulls the bottom especially too tight and takes away from some of the ability to move my feet around. I can loosely stake them down and it does better, but I don’t see a need for this myself. At least so far. However, I do like to be able to use shock cord and attach them to the corners of a tent. This will make a pretty definite bathtub floor.

      I cannot really say much more about it at this point. Hope this helps some. If you have any specific questions, let me know and I will try to answer them.

      ~Stick~

      Like

  4. LVillanueva says:

    planning to make a shelter for 11 kids (grade school)…any idea what would be the size of the tarp I’ll use? enough for them to stand up and move around a bit. thanks in advance!

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Wow, 11 kids! I would get at least a 10×10, and a 12×12 probably wouldn’t be a bad idea. Is this just for them to get a bit of shade, or trying to get out of a storm or a food tent? Also, how do you plan to pitch it?

      ~Stick~

      Like

    • Keith says:

      Go to Harbor Freight, Northern Tool, Tractor Supply or Walmart and get a big, cheap poly tarp. At ~9 square feet per kid that would be about 10×10 or equivalent area. 12×12 or bigger even better. A little less if they’re smaller or you can keep them from swinging their arms around.

      Like

  5. Gerry Brucia says:

    Chad,
    Every time I view your posts, I learn something new! I have an MLD cuben hex tarp that I use mostly when hammocking. If I cannot get the right width trees, the hammock suspension cord can sometimes rub against my tarp which has caused some wear. John’s suggestion about adding the patches is something I will incorporate on my cuben tarp at those wear spots. I am also very impressed with your multiple use of your cloud quilt. I think I will make similar modifications to my GG SpinnTwinn and ULA Rainwrap!
    Thanks.
    Gerry

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Gerry,

      That is a good point, any kind of rubbing on cuben fiber is a bad thing sicne cuben fiber is not super abrasion resistant. When I set my tarp up on my recent hike, I set it up so that the pole was a little ways away from the tarp so there would be no chance of the 2 rubbing.

      And that is cool that you are going to try the rainwrap with the SpinnTwin. Let us know how that works out if you don’t mind, and pictures would be great! 🙂

      Thanks for stopping!

      ~Stick~

      Like

  6. Hey Chad,

    You and I have been talking about this exact setup for what seems like two years now, so great to see you finally pull all of the pieces together and make it happen!!

    I still feel like having five tie outs on the side edges is a smarter idea for those time when the wind comes up, so I look forward to hearing how the mid-height tie-outs work to keep the shelter stable in 35+ wind gusts.

    You should really consider attaching some patch material to the end guyline area if you are going to be using those snow baskets on your hiking poles. In the wind those stupid snow baskets cause an excessive amount of rubbing on the cuben fiber and they will eventually cause rips/holes. Know from experience on that one.

    Looking forward to your thoughts on the MLD Bug Bivy after you get a few nights spent inside of it.

    Are you planning on taking a ground cloth with you, or do you feel that the floor of the MLD Bug Bivy will be enough to keep the moisture away from the gear inside of it, should the ground be a bit wet ??

    Like

    • Stick says:

      John,

      I am glad that I am finally able to put all the pieces together and try it out. I think it will work out pretty well, however, it may take some time just setting it up and using it before I get comfortable (and quick) with it.

      As far as the wind, I did get to test out the tie-outs in some moderate winds this past weekend. (I did not have a device to measure the speeds, but I feel confident in estimating between 20 – 25 mph.) The tarp was set up in an (admittedly pathetic) A-Frame with the kilt on the back, and the winds were hitting it from the back and one side, which did happen to be guyed out by both the bottom middle tie out and the panel tie out (with cord only and elevated with a trekking pole). I will say that throughout the night, I did expect the panel pull out to pull out with the amount of wind (both constant at times as well as sudden gusts) but it actually held well. Upon inspection the next day there appeared to be no signs of stress. However, I am thinking about using a small piece of shock cord on the panel pull to help absorb some of the blow…

      Thanks for the tips about the baskets and the edge of the tarp. When I used it this past weekend though I actually ran the tip through the cord so that the basket did not rub against the cuben. Great catch though!

      I did not bring the bug bivy on this trip, instead I opted for just a small piece of polycro. And while the polycro was fine, due to the blowing rain I kind of wished I would have brought it just to help contain my sleeping gear from the wet ground. But, then again, this was my first time using such a small ground sheet in these conditions, and it worked out ok, but was a great learning experience!

      As far as the ground sheet with the bivy, I am not sure about that yet…

      ~Stick~

      Like

  7. Andy Amick says:

    Hey Stick, nice use of the kilt for the back wall. That definitely gives you a lot of options. Once you get used to it, the setup for the back wall probably won’t be too much extra time. And I’ll second what Keith said about using the adhesive tie outs for the bivy setup.

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Thanks Andy! I have been setting it up in the yard playing with the setup, and different bivies underneath it. I like the MLD bivy with it, however, it will take a little while getting used to it, especially if it is pitched low, but I think it will be fine. I actually slept under it last night using my Borah Bivy strung up underneath it. It works well under it too (however, I am ending up with a lot of condensation between the bivy and my sleeping bag, so, I am going to have to look at a VBL to use with this bivy I think… maybe that sweet cuben fiber Epiphany from EE!) Anyway, I will be taking this tarp with me on a hike next weekend, but I am leaning towards just bringing a cut down polycro ground sheet for that hike. I imagine that the bug bivy may help a tiny bit as far as cutting a little wind or something, but not much…

      Anyway, thanks for stopping by, and I hope that everything is going well with you and your family!

      ~Stick~

      Like

  8. Ryan Irvine says:

    Happy New Year Chad! Love all the information you put out. I started hiking a year or so ago. I bought gear that was too heavy. Since Christmas i have gotten the western mountianeering highlite, Gossamer Gear G4, and a reg neoair xlite. I am looking forward to using them. have you used the Highlite or the G4? Keep up the great job.
    God Bless you and your family
    Ryan Irvine-Indiana

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Thanks Ryan, and Happy New Years to you too! And glad to hear that you have enjoyed my blog, thanks!

      As far as the gear, don’t worry about it, I think we pretty much all start off that way, and if you are like most of us, don’t expect to ever finish up getting new gear, or replacing it… it is addictive… 🙂

      I have wanted a WM bag for a long while, but I have always used my money on other things. But, they are on my list, just gotta wait for the stars to align… 🙂

      Also, I have no experience with the G4 pack, although it seems like a lot of the reviews I have read on it speak highly of it. But what matters right now is that it fits you as it should, holds all of your gear appropriately, and carries great!

      Have fun with you new gear, as well as planning out your future purchases! 🙂

      ~Stick~

      Like

  9. Joslyn says:

    Sweet setup! It’s just to sort of thing that almost talks me out of the Henry Shires TT I want… almost. Can’t wait to see how it works on your trip!

    Like

  10. Nathan Lare says:

    Thanks for posting this. I was really interested in seeing the video when I saw that you had ordered the tarp because I am debating on which type/size of tarp to get. I am trying to do something similar to what you have done by separating the shelter (tarp) from the living space (bivy or net tent) to allow for a drier setup in bad weather. I also want to drop weight from my sil SMD Lunar Solo.

    A couple questions… if you have the CloudKilt on the foot end, how short do you think you could make the ridgeline and still be covered at the head end in the event of bad weather? I was also curious if you had considered getting additional tieout points on the long side of the tarp in between the end and midpoint tieouts..and if so, what caused you to not get them?

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Nathan,

      I think that I could have gone with a 9 foot ridgeline and still been ok, especially since I can scoot almost all the way down towards the foot. Of course too, if I need to retreat under it, I can still just put the bivy down to have more room and then just deploy it when I am ready to use it. But, I went with the 10 foot since I would like to use this with my hammock some too, and 9 foot would not have been long enough.

      As far as tie out points, I wanted to keep it minimal (and light). The only one I will require will be the ones in the middle so that I can pitch it in a half pyramid pitch. On my other 8×10 tarp, I have more tie outs along the long sides, but hardly ever used them…

      Hope this helps and thanks for stopping by!

      ~Stick~

      Like

  11. Steve says:

    Stick,
    You could use the piece of paper in the tarp to leave notes on. Just kidding. The cuben fiber tarp is definitely light and will keep you dry.
    On another note I really enjoyed the video with your kids for the “Redneck Beer Cup” giveaway.
    Have a grand New Year and keep putting the videos on the blog site.

    Like

    • Stick says:

      That is a good point Steve! 🙂

      And glad that you enjoyed the videos! I do enjoy having them in the videos…

      Hope you and your family have a Happy New Years as well!

      ~Stick~

      Like

  12. Keith says:

    Nice mod with the bug bivy strung up inside. Very versatile set-up. Happy New Year, Stick.

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Keith,

      Thanks and Happ New Year to you as well!

      As far as the tarp, I will admit, at this point, adding the back wall and then the bivy underneath involves a little more prep time than just erecting than say, my Hexamid, which has everything already attached, but the trade off for me is as you say, versatility, not to mention slightly less weight. It has potential, but I will admit, it will take me some time to get used to it. I am leaning very heavily on taking this set-up with me on my upcoming (short) trip instead of my Hexamid…

      Thanks again,

      ~Stick~

      Like

  13. Bobby says:

    Happy New year and good health to you and your family.. Thanks for the great video’s and info .. Bobby

    Like

Leave Your Comment Here:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s