I typically go for tents over tarps and always told myself it was for ease. I've only used a tarp a couple of times in the passed so Snugpak challenged me to get back out but with a tarp and prove the tarp is the easier set up and not that bad after all so I gladly accepted the challenge and Snugpak sent over the All Weather Shelter and Stasha.
Now most recently I've bought the Backpacking Lite Hex Peak F6a tipi and wondered if I could build a similar structure with the tarp. Several hours of research and playing I've found two that worked and both are super easy set ups and the idea of going out with just a tarp now isn't that daunting. In fact I prefer it as it's so lightweight and flexible in its use.
The All Weather Shelter is a 3x3m tarp and the Stasha is a smaller 2.4x1.6m pocket sized shelter. Both designed for bush craft and wild camping and provide versatile protection from all weather elements. I used the Stasha as a ground sheet to compliment the AWS and the two combine weigh a mere 1.3kg which is super light compared to tents and can compact down to the size of a 700ml flask and using a walking pole as the main support it's an easy set up for anywhere.
For both set ups all you need is the AWS Tarp, Stasha (optional), two carabineers, pegs and a walking pole.
Both are super easy set ups and only need the pegs provided in the pack. Both are enclosed shelters so suitable for most conditions but one is better suited to stormy conditions and high winds.
*Carabineers - I would recommend ones with locking nut rather than the simple clip as in the demonstration here. They are generally tougher and more secure.*
Square Pitch Set up
This first style resembles the tipi style but more square and it's worth noting It's better suited for people shorter than 6ft.
Over 6ft as I am is a little tight and the material will touch either your feet or head. With this set up you won't be able to use a inner fly sheet due to the structure so the Stasha is recommended as an extra with this set up.
Peg out two in from the corners on one side
Put your pole inside at the desired height (recommend 120) - Use the peg bag to tie at the top to keep the pole more sturdy until the shelter has been built.
Repeat on the opposite side - Pegging two out in from the corners.
With the material left, join the two loops with a carabineer and peg out from each.
Repeat on the opposite side.
This set up requires 6 pegs for basic set up but will require a further 4 to storm proof and stop the extra material from flapping around in the wind.
Any of the four points you've pegged out can act as the door way, personally I would use the point with a carabineer so you can slide the loop on and off with ease.
For poor conditions and a faster set up I would try the next set up. Equally if you are tall likemyself I would skip this set up and try the following.
Enclosed Triangle Set up
Easier to pitch and construct compared to the first style. You can pitch out all of the points before you put the centre pole in which makes it very helpful in high winds and poor conditions. Lots of room inside and you could fit a smaller one man fly sheet inside that you get from the likes of Hex Peak etc. However for a minimalist style the Stasha is a lighter set up.
Spread the tarp out flat and pitch the corner eyelit or with the guyline if you have attached.
Repeat on the opposite corner to form the diamond shape
On the shorter edges left - Join the two loops together using a carabineer or pegs and peg out
Now the tarp is securely fixed to the ground, climb inside and insert the pole at 135 to secure by pushing in to the ground (Spike facing down)
If windy, take the spare material from the two connected points in step three and pitch out on the outside to form an arm at a 45degree angle.
This style is a lot more storm proof and requires four pegs for a basic set up or six for a more secure stormproof option and is better suited for the taller people 6ft2 plus.
You could make the tarp further secured by pegging down the remaining loops around the tarp and guylines to make a very strong shelter.
Both these styles are secure and suitable for different needs. My favourite being the enclosed triangle as it is a much easier set up, especially in poor conditions. Both are enclosed so the doorway is a little more awkward but for this reason both are very warm inside and protect you from the elements.
As lightweight options go, the tarp can't be beaten. Yes it lacks an inner which during mosquito season causes some issues but with a enclosed shelter it's a little easier to keep them out. Personally this wouldn't bother me as I tend to pitch on mountains rather than near water sources or lower ground.
Certainly for Spring - Autumn I will consider the tarp for camping over the tent. It's so much lighter and smaller but offers the same protection and warmth I need for these seasons. I am looking forward to trying more set ups with the tarp which I will add to this list as I take the tarp out more.
Transparency Notice: Please note that I am a Snugpak ambassador and receive the products for free to review from Snugpak. The review is no guarantee of endorsement. I receive no monetary gain from Snugpak from the reviews.