Thursday, July 20, 2006

Camping Comfort


Anyone who camps knows what its like to get rained on especially if everything gets wet! Here's a handy tip for modifying a tarp to serve as a foul weather rain fly as well as a fair weather shade. For years, I used an ordinary tarp, tied to trees for a canopy over my campsite. I used to tie the four corners of the tarp off to nearby trees. No problem, as long as the weather remains fair. But when Mother Nature decides to throw a curve ball at you (usually in the middle of the night) the above mentioned tactic may not keep the rain and wind at bay. We all want to get out there and enjoy all nature has to offer, but when everything gets wet, the mood changes pretty quickly. Now, its no fun. In some cases, the average family may decide to pack it up and retreat. I managed to camp for a few years, using my old method of setting camp without mishap. But, one year, the rains came, the winds whipped, forcing me from my tent in the dark to try to tie things down better in the dark. My camp site got soaked, my tarp tattered, and my patience tried. Nothing was protected, and in the end, my stove would not light, my sleeping bag, soaked, tent flooded................
Here's a better way; cheap and easy.Get a tarp of decent quality, 10 X 10, 12 X 12, or so. This is enough room to make camp for a small party to keep dry under. Get a grommet kit. They are pretty cheap, and with a little practice, not hard to use. Spread out your tarp. The idea is to add a grommet inbetween all the existing ones in the tarp, doubling up on the number of grommets. In the middle of the tarp, the idea is to secure a flexible bungie strap to a thick leather patch, and sew and glue it to the center, creating a waterproof seal, and strong bind.
Select your camp site, and using nearby trees, secure two parallel lines to the trees with 1/4 inch line on each side of the fly area. If the trees are not exactly in the immediate area, use larger line to go the extra distance. Next, using thin line such as parachute cord, cut 12" strips, and tie them with a simple knot through each grommet. Begin tying the fly to the tree lines. At each corner, run the parachute cord around the tree line, and wrap each end in opposite directions around the line two or three times, and secure the ends with a simple shoe-tie bow knot. By wrapping the lines as I mentioned, the corners will not slide along the line. Once the four corners are secured, simply tie the remaining grommet lines to the tree lines using the bow knot, just as you tie your shoes. By placement of the tree lines at suitable angles, you can create a fly with some pitch to allow for rain runoff. Next run a third line in the vicinity of the center of the fly to attach your center bungie strap, thus creating a center peak in the fly. By adjusting the tension of the center cord, you can achieve the proper pitch to end up with a nice tight, windproof , waterproof canopy to set camp under. You should have enough room for your tent, a fire at one end, and you are apt to enjoy your camp in both sunny and rainy weather.

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