Tent vs. Tarp

This is probably one of the biggest discussions I have come up against in my search of the Ultra Light.  So far here’s my break down of the two…

Tent: heavier, cramped, and a bad weight to dollar ratio (aka to get the weight down you have to spend a lot more with tents than tarps), and you pretty much have to purchase one, but more fool proof weather and setup wise, and they add a degree of extra warmth as well as a layer between you and bugs.

Tarp: Harder to set up and can be really miserable late at night/early in the morning if you set it up wrong, they tend to be a tad colder, and you have a higher chance of bugs if no bug netting layer is added; but much lighter, a great dollar to weight ratio, amazing weather protection if you know how to set it up, and the best of all they are really easy to make and even if you buy one they are really easy to customize without destroying.

For me personally I like the idiot-proofness, bug security and the little extra heat of a tent but HATE lugging it everywhere and can’t stand pay so much for something I don’t actually need unless the bugs and weather are bad.  Fortunately for people like me there is a great and amazing third option that I’m quite fond of; the tarp-tent.  Low weight, low prices, just the right amount of bug and weather protection and several of them make setup very easy.  They are still heavier than a good silnylon tarp but most are under a 1.5lb for two people at right at to just a little over 2lbs for three.  My favorite brand is Henry Shires Tarptents, but there are many good brands including some of the ones I liked, Alpinelight Gear, Light Heart Gear, Bear Paw Wilderness Designs, and Mountain Laurel Designs.

There is of course the other option that many people choose which is Hammock camping but I find they are WAY too heavy for what you’re getting and if you’re backpacking with more than yourself not worth it at all, but I can see the advantage to it since you never sleep on the hard ground!

Right now I’m having to live with the Kelty Grand Mesa 2 due to it was the cheapest best backpacking tent we could get and still come in under our self imposed 6lbs for 2 people limit for our first tent.  Our next tent is going to be the Henry Shires Cloudburst 2, which will be 2lbs 6oz, easily beating our goal of 3lbs for 2 people.  I considered the Squall 2 for quite some time since we really don’t like hiking with a lot of gear on day trips without trekking poles, but in the end Richard is just too big a guy to try and fit through the opening that the Squall 2 had to offer and we are too concerned that he’d knock the poles down in the middle of the night or whatnot.  Besides I just prefer the setup and vestibule area of the Cloudburst.


About Joslyn

My name is Joslyn and I primarily hike with my husband Richard. We live in Northern Arizona with our dog, Jäger and love camping and hiking. We are continuing our adventure in backpacking inn this our second year and as always, striving towards going Ultra Light.

Posted on 16/03/2011, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

ASMR University

The Art & Science of Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response

Lady Light Travel

Women's travel with a single carry on. Tutorials, packing tips & techniques, clothing ideas, and more!

What A Ride

Navigating the peaks and valleys of this crazy, beautiful life

Adventure with The Triumphant Trio

Oh the places we will go

The Matt Walsh Blog

Absolute Truths (and alpaca grooming tips)

UL Gear Blog

- ultralight backpacking gear reviews


After 4 plus years of leasing a small house on a patch of land 20 miles outside of Atlanta, we moved 80 miles to our Forever homestead.

Home Yoga Practice

Practicing svadhyaya by reflecting on learnings in yoga class

Throwback at Trapper Creek

An ongoing chronicle of meeting the expectations of the land...


Hiking gear reviews for hikers with short attention spans.


"In the name of God, stop a moment, cease your work, look around you." Leo Tolstoy


A fun look at todays best hiking gear.


When BackPackin' go GreenPackin'

Intentionally Small

exploring small spaces and simple living

Hiking Acorn

Tales of Blisters and Bears

Loneoaks Ramblings

On going Hiking Adventures

Paddle In

New Journeys, Old Traditions

Catalyst Strength & Wellness

Strength Begins With Breaking


Hiking the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) Northbound in 2013- sharing my preparation for the hike and my day to day experience while I'm on the trail. Inspiring people to follow their dreams.


ultralight backpacking gear reviews, trail reports, wisdom and smack

living extraordinary small

compact living with responsible design

The Lazy Homesteader

The latest dirt from the Schell Urban Homestead

My Charming Beauty

You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you.

Makais Blog

Makais Blog

Randy's Outside Blog

Let's Go Hiking

Off the Couch and On the Trail

Preparing for Our 2013 AT Thru-Hike

Camp Smarts

Life in the outdoors


Just another WordPress.com site

Imagine It's Finished

Ramblings of a Frustrated Overachiever

patagonian dreams

live your dream, share your passion


...from the middle of nowhere

The Not So Empty Nest...

join me in my transition

Bedrock & Paradox

I dream of a hard and brutal mysticism in which the naked self merges with a non-human world and yet somehow survives still intact, individual, separate. Paradox and bedrock.

Fat Man of the Mountains

Combining three favorite pastimes: writing, hiking and running, slowly.

Minimalist Meg

one Megan on a mission.

Fat Eagle Scout

A journey into shape and back outdoors

Wilderness Backpacking Blog

A guide to backpacking in the wilderness

Not Molly

Rebelling in Very Small Ways

%d bloggers like this: