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The Lost Art of the Tarp....

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Just now, qwazse said:

Thanks @JasonG172. Any chance you know the replacement cost of the plastic height-locks?

'cause I'm pretty sure I can jury rig something in a pinch out someone's tick-picker. ;)

LOL that I do not sir, but at this cost I am ok with ditching to buy another if need be.  So far these poles have lasted 4 campouts and in two of those campouts there were some pretty good winds. 

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  • 2 years later...

Summoning this thread back from the dead to solicit updated feedback.

We are diving back into patrol method and I want full patrol autonomy including a dining fly per patrol.  What poles / tarps are people using with success?

Wood poles are best.  Time tested, durable, easily repaired/replaced.  I don't know if we have trailer space for them.  We have 5 patrols.  I also would like to have a no-trailer option if needed.  Conserving trailer space is a goal, being able to fit patrol rainfly poles into mom's car is desireable also if we can't (or don't want to) take the trailer.

What size tarps have worked best?
What material have you used with success? 


I have these for my own use:
I like these, they seem sturdy.  They are kind of expensive and I have concerns about the telescoping / locks failing long-term.  To buy 6 for a patrol (I know you can get away with 2, I want the option for a patrol to "stretch" on their camp craft foo) would be $120.  About the cost of a popup, if they would LAST it might be worth it.  But seems on the expensive side.

Looking at cheaper/modular ones on Amazon also.  Mixed reviews, but you could buy 3-4 extra sets for the troop trailer and replace sections vs. entire poles.  Allows patrols to make taller and shorter poles to create several 2-6 pole setups based on what the patrol prefers - giving them a little more to think about and try out. can support 32/47/63/78/93 inch tall options.  6 poles for a patrol for this would be $70 and between our 5 patrols we'd have enough extra segments to repair between the kits for a long time... I think?  If they are any good at all.  Will probably buy a set just to see and hold before going full bore, but curious about real world experience with this sort of pole.


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On 10/21/2019 at 8:17 AM, mrkstvns said:

Browing around on the Scouting Magazine website (scoutingmagazine.org), I came across a post about how to set up a dining fly. Very simple: if you've got a tarp and some rope, you've got the makings of a group shelter. Nothing to it.  

For some of us old timers, it's simply the way we setup our camps on each and every campout.  But as I was reading the article, it occurred to me, never once in the past 10 years have I seen my son or his friends set up a patrol dining fly that way.  The troop has several of these EZ-Up canopy shelters, and the boys just pop those up when we're at a campsite taht doesn't already have a permanent pavilion on site (as too many over-developed "camping sites" seem to do).

The tarp is an amazingly simple thing, so it can be used in myriad ways to adapt to whatever conditions you find yourself camping in...

1.  Bring some poles (or find appropriate length sticks) and you can set it up free standing.
     - 2 poles is good, 6 poles is even better (2 8' high poles and 4 6' high poles), but 1 is possible too...

2. If you're in dense woods, just find a few stout and heart trees, and tie a ridgeline between the trees, then tie some lines to stakes to keep it taut.  (remember that the ridgeline should also be tied with taut line hitches inside so you can tighten it up if it starts to go slack.

Here's a few pictures of how the tarps can be set up to make a patrol dining shelter:








Thanks for this reminder and idea maker.  I am going to give my SPL a "tarp challenge".  Have various items available, such as poles and line, along with the rope.  Include older tarps without metal rings and see how they might attach lines, and so on.  Could be a great exercise for a meeting and even more of a chaollenge on an outing.

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I use a tarp quite a bit. I do not bring poles for it, and rarely need them. I pitch the tarp using available trees. For raising the center in a dining hall style pitch, I typically use a center tie out and raise it up from an overhanging branch, or a run a ridge line between trees to which the center gets tied onto.

In the last 20 years, I have used a pole, but it was a dead branch I cut to length. 

I would encourage folks to have the scouts not bring tarp poles. For a variety of reasons:

The rigging of the tarp itself is an exercise in problem solving and utlizing scout skills.

Promotes alternative tarp pitch ideas.

Less weight to carry/store.


In general I fall into the camp of not buying gear when scout skills are an easy solution.

Edited by DuctTape
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One of my favorite ways to string a tarp is a diamond.  Run a ridgeline from tree to tree, use tautline hitches to pull opposite corners tight on the ridgeline, anchor one corner on or close to the ground, and the remaining corner high to another tree.  In wet conditions, you can use the high corner to shelter your fire.

Don't neglect the value of a tarp as a windbreak:


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