by Tim
(Louisville,KY& the road)

Emergency Preparednes Article # 1  TARPS

Emergency Preparednes Article # 1 TARPS

I camp every chance I get so this series of articles is based on tried methods and equipment. Sometimes I camp for a week to ten days at a time so this information can be used wihtout modification for extended disaster recovery,or to "BUG OUT".

With tornado season starting early this year and in my opinion tornado alley creeping east I felt this information needed to be shared. It will however require a means of transport for the required equipment. Whether it is a canoe, automobile, a motorcycle with a trailer or an ATV with a trailer.

SHELTER is one of the basic necessities for survival and needs to be attended to first. In this article I will cover a tarp system.

Over the years I have watched the "CAMPING TARP" evolve from many failures to ones that work. I currently use a heavy tarp that is 20'x20' square and of my own set-up design. A person could use larger ones but I have found that physics comes into play. The wind dynamics changes a lot even on 20'x30'. It becomes much harder to keep the corners from tearing out and the anchor pegs from pulling out of the ground.

I used a 20'x30' for a week long camp out in Alabama when Hurrican Katrina came ashore. It head up in 70mph winds, I did have one corner tear out but that was it. A lot of the store bought systems failed completely.

The tarp needs to be a heavier grade tarp preferably with reinforced corners and 1/2" grommets. This type can be bought at a TRACTOR SUPPLY store for about $80.00. The cheap ones just can't hold up to the wind wipping them. Mine is a silver/black one and a poly type not canvas. I haven't tried the canvas ones but I'm sure they would do well.

Next are the poles,mine are 1"x8' for the corners and sides and 1"x9' for the center and made of aluminum. The 1" is a must for the corners and center as anything smaller will buckle in the middle. The 1/2" steel ones will hold until the wind comes and then they fail miserably. I used the steel on the sides until I found the 1" on sale and bought four more 1".

I put a pole at each corner and another at the halfway point on the sides. You will need to add new grommets at the halfway point so the tarp tightens up squarely(kit is available at LOWE'S). This prevents sagging and flapping during gusty winds. The tallest pole goes in the center.

To keep the poles from pushing through the grommets you will need some washers with 1/2" holes in them. It requires 2 per pole x 8 poles = 16.If it is possible I like 8 of them to be cupped and 8 flat. The cupped one goes on the pole first cup down,then the tarp,then the flat washer and finally your guy line.

In the center of the tarp I place a 6" round x1/2" thick piece of plywood on top and bottom of the tarp. I then screw these together and drill three holes in them to thread a guy line through. This is important as without it the wind will lift your tarp up off of the center pole. When this happens the center pole falls over and then pierces the tarp as the wind pushes it back down. The guy line is tied through the discs and then pulled straight down to a peg in the ground.

The guy lines for the corners and sides need to be cut about 20' long. I tie a permanent loop in the middle and then a prussik knot on each of the free ends.This allows for easy adjustment without the need to untie and re-tie.

My choice for pegs are the 12" orange military pegs, they are a v pattern and get down into the solid soil below the soft topsoil in wet weather.They are also aluminum which saves some weight.

I set the tarp up in a pyramid fashion as I feel it gives the most rain protection and shade. It can also be set up as an A-frame to get more breeze. If you prefer this set up I would advise buying three 9' poles. One for the center and two for the ends.

During heavy wind and rain you will need to lower your 8 side poles as low as possible. This makes the pyramid steeper and more rigid.

My guy lines I keep in a shaving kit bag,and I use a second one for the pegs and washers. All of this then fits into large duffle bag with the tarp and a mallet for driving in the pegs.

I had a ballistic cloth bag custom made to keep my poles in.($30.00 Howie's Harnesses)

Some thoughts and comments on building and setting up my 20x20 tarp.

a) setting up my 20x20 tarp -I lay out the tarp and I start on the corner that I don't want to move, set your corner pole,pegs and guy it out.

Go to the next corner that you don't want to move and repeat. I then repeat for the last two corners. Go in and insert the center pole in the wood discs and lift the center. You can the add you side poles, this will help make the structure more rigid and less likely for a corner to pull out as you adjust the height. As you adjust the height start with the poles that you don't want to move,then the side poles between these, then the next side poles and work your way to the other corners. As you do this you will see what I mean when I say to start with the pole that you don't want to move as the final corners and sides will creep out as you adjust them. This could cause you to take down ,move it over and start again.

Finally adjust the center and anchor it with the center tie down rope. The center tie down rope is very important as it prevents wind uplifting the tarp off of the center pole and then impaling it on the pole when it comes back down and collapsing the tarp.

b) side panels - I have used duct tape on a 10'x10' tarp before but it doesn't seem to hold well in hot temperatures. I would recommend using contact cement like is used for formica countertops. It is waterproof, temperature resistant and holds well. Simply apply it to both surfaces and allow it to get tacky, then put them together.

I would suggest rolling the side up and unroll it as you assemble the two sections due to the fact that generally when the pieces touch they bond instantly. I would also apply the glue in 5' or 10' sections to give you time to work and ensure a good bond. So it doesn't dry out on the far end and you get a band bond that fails in the bush.

I have explored caves for the last 25 + years and we re-inforce the toes and stiching on our boots so I know it is waterproof as our boots sometimes stay submerged for hours. We do re-apply every so often but you can imagine the abuse our boots get and they can last up 10 years and the tread always wears out before the uppers.

If you use 20'x20' tarps and cut them down for side panels and then put the cut edge on top to be glued it would afford you a 6' piece of material to glue together. This would also allow you to make your sides 5' or 6' high etc... The side panel needs to be glued on the under side so it doesn't create a water dam at the edge.

You will need to poke a hole or add grommets were the corner and side poles go. These grommets could possibly be sealed up to prevent leaks by contact cementing pieces of inner tube over the holes on top. By doing the side flaps this way it will provide you with grommets along the bottom edge for pegging it down. The end grommets would allow you to join the corners and allow in fresh air and or the ability to roll the sides up to let smoke out or during warm weather.

In order to tie the sides up would require a few ropes to be passed thru grommets to keep it in a rolled position up out of the way.

c) As far as a door you can again use the contact cement but by a zipper without the self - adhesive. The contact cement cannot get into the fabric of the zipper cloth to get a good bond and would peel off of the self - adhesive.

d) If you look up Panther Primitives.com ? they sell a cloth flame retardant stove insert fairly reasonable for your stove pipe. It could be installed using contact cement as it is cloth and can be left attached to the tent.

e) WWW.GOLDNUGGETSURPLUS.COM they sell mosquito netting by the yard, it is 48" or 60" wide and can be used for the side s .


Emergency Preparednes Article # 1 TARPS

Emergency Prepardness # 2 TENTS/SHELTER

Emergency Preparedness #3 WATER

Emergency Preparedness # 4 LATRINE/ HOT SHOWER

Emergency Preparedness #5 PORTABLE KITCHEN

Emergency Preparedness # 6 BEDROOM

Emergency Preparedness # 7 COMMUNICATION

Emergency Preparedness #8 TRAVEL/NAVIGATION

Emergency Preparedness #9 DEFENSE/HUNTING

wilderness survival

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Where is the picture of your tarp setup?
by: Nathan

I like that you have written an article on this topic, I am also happy that you have included a picture of your equipment laying on the ground. However I think the most important picture(s) would be of what your tarp setup looks like after it has been set up and ready to use, rather than just sitting on the ground. I can't quite visualize how you built your shelter just from your text description. I would find it very helpful to have a picture of it set up and ready to live in.


Very Kool
by: Karen O'shanahan

Hey Great article! I am planning my next backpacking trip for 2 more weeks I am super exited. I got my camping tarps from Tarpsplus.com and I'm pretty exited because they sell camouflage tarps and I bought one of those which I totally love, But I totally love this I'm gonna print it and take it with me haha.

Thank You,

Karen O'shanahan-23

by: Stephen Swem

A GI rain poncho is very good for carry as it can double as a protective garment and as a very durable shelter. It is constructed of rip-stop nylon with a very thick coating of rubber on one side and dual sided snaps with grommets. This allows use in many different configurations to accommodate different scenarios. This article must be genuine as there are many cheap spin offs. It rolls pretty compact and fits well in small packs. It can be strapped to the out side as it cannot be damaged by the elements.

by: Nomad

I use a jungle hammock for emergency use, with no trees available it can be supported with two sticks. My "MIGHTY TARP" as you call it is for car camping or an atv with a tiny trailer. I shared this information for emergency preparedness scenarios. All servival situations are not in remote wilderness. Hurrican Katrina victims as well as anyone caught in the aftermath of a natural disaster would be greatful to have any shelter. They were in a survival situation, they had no food,potable water or shelter. They were cast out into the elements and flood waters with just the clothes on their backs. As anonymous stated he had his entire family displaced, an 8x10 tarp is great for the individual but not a family or small group. This setup allows one to stand and perform dailly functions comfortably and for long term. A person could also add screening along the sides by simply duct-taping it on.
Thanks for your comments.

Mighty Tarp misses the point
by: Anonymous

Two kids, wife and myself were victims of Katrina. Had no place to go save for open space where tents could be pitched. How I wish we had a very large tarp to get out of the sun and rain. We were out in the middle of nowhere with few belongings sleeping in our car and sometimes on the ground in blankets. Bugs were terrible. Managed to buy two 8' x 10' tarps from a store. Helped some. The point I want to make is that in times of disaster most people are not prepared and sites like this one are a tremendous help. The owner has shown me how to survive using cheap material that can be easily obtained. Guys like Mighty Tarp just don't understand. No doubt he has expensive gear and can brag about what it takes to be a REAL camper. Try living with a 9'x12' tarp with four people and you'll understand that big tarps are necessary in disaster areas.

mighty tarp
by: Anonymous

this is supposed to be a wilderness survival site who on earth but a car camper wannabee will have a 20by 30 tarp. 9 by 12 silnylon at the most for a tarp

further instructions for tarps
by: Nomad

The poles that I use are available at DICK'S sporting goods or CAMPMOR. They are 1" and the upper tips taper to 1/2" similar to a center fire rifle cartridge. This allows them to pass through the washers and tarp for securing. The washers are there to prevent the downward pressure from from the guy line bending your grommets which causes them to separate and tear out.

The wooden disc that I use in the center is actually two 6' disc's, one on top and the other directly below it with the tarp sandwiched in between them. Find the center of your tarp and place the disc's as described then secure them with 3 or 4 drywall screws. they will now be a permanent piece. Next I drill a 1/2" hole in the center of the two stacked disc's and tarp, this allows the insertion of the center pole and prevents it from falling out and over. The final step is to drill two 3/8" holes, one at 3 and one at 9 o'clock but in from the edge. I pass a 2' piece of rope through these holes from the bottom of the tarp. I then tie a 10"+ piece of rope to the center of this V-loop. This set allows you to pull the center of the tarp straight down and secure it to a tent peg at the base of the center pole. By doing this the tarp cannot be lifted off of the center pole.

I hope this helps answer your questions, I not a computer wise and wouldn't know where to begin to add photos or diagrams. If anyone has any further question's about this or any of my other articles they can e-mail me directly at drifter1902@hotmail.com.

Good luck and thanks for your interest.

diagrams needed
by: Anonymous

It is unclear how washers fit onto 1"x8' poles in your instructions. Also how does the 8- 8' poles attach to the 6' round x 1/2 piece of plywood. A diagram of your instructions would be a great asset to your instructions. I'd like to build your tent but need more info.

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