Saturday 7 June 2014


I've been playing in the garden with my Alpkit Rig 3.5 Tarp in preparation for the Big Wales Thing.

I have opted to use this small Alpkit tarp as my main shelter on my run, along with an Alpkit Hunka bivvy bag and an As Tucas quilt.

I hope to be able to find some perfect spots to bivvy on my way up Wales, with lovely views to wake up to and to marvel at as I brew up, still lying in my warm snug bed.   Ideally I'd like to sleep with just the Hunka, as I love seeing the stars in the night and the feeling of closeness to nature that it brings.

But sometimes a bit more shelter is required, so I'll be taking the Rig 3.5 along too. At 2.4 x 1.4m it is not the biggest tarp in the world, but it packs small and weighs just 270g (plus pegs, guys and poles).  I needed to have a play with it to experiment with different setups, for different conditions, ranging from proper rain through to just keeping the dew off my face. I also needed to discover how many pegs, poles and guys would be optimum.

I originally planned to take a lightweight walking pole with me to use as a tarp pole,but have instead decided to use some poles from an old tent. I took three 50cm poles, and sawed one of them in half, giving me two 50cm and two 25cm poles . These can be assembled in a range of combinations, giving me, for example:
  • a single 150cm pole
  • two 75cm poles
  • one 1m pole and one 50 cm pole
This afternoon's experiments suggest that I should take:
  • two short guys
  • two longer guys
  • two larger load bearing pegs (aluminium v-pegs)
  • six smaller pegs (I shall use the metal tipped carbon fibre stakes that came with my Laser (4.5g each!), with the caps supergled on, to circumvent the well known problem of the tops coming off!)
The total weight will be 525g, made up of:
  • Tarp - 270g (including stuffbag)
  • Poles - 140g
  • Pegs - 70g
  • Guys - 45g
With the Hunka at 375g, that makes a total of 900g for a very flexible setup, that can range from just using the Hunka, to an open shellter to a small but weatherproof ridge tent. 

Here are a few of the rigs that I managed this afternoon:

Simple Ridge Tent

(Picture at top of post)

This rig used a single 75 cm pole at the front, and a second pole used as a lifter at the back. The rear end of the tarp is pegged to the ground, providing a small, but fairly weatherproof enclosure for use in poor weather.

[And earlier version that I tried a few weeks ago, pictured below, allows the front ends to be pegged closer to provide additional weatherproofing if required. ]

High Ridge, with open sides

This open rig is pegged at the back end, with a single 125 cm pole at the front, and the front edges pegged wide, lifting them off the ground.  It could be improved with a lifter at the bottom, if a suitable stick was available.

Asymetric Open Rig

This rig uses two 75cm poles, one at an end, and another a third of the way down one side.  The opposite edge is pegged to the ground, giving good wind protection from that direction. The open side and end provide lots of space and good views.

Simple shelter

This rig uses two 75cm poles on one edge, with the corners of that edge pegged to the ground, to provide shelter at the ends. The other edge is pegged to the ground.  This provides a smallish shelter, suitable for sheltering my head and keeping the wind off. Perfect for dewy nights.

Of course, if the weather is perfect I'll just use the Hunka on its own, and the Rig 3.5 will serve as an extended (if slightly shiny) picnic blanket for my sumptuous meals!

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