Sunday, 30 January 2011

Alpkit Rig 7 Tarp, Pitching with Paddles

Classic Lean-to

Although I still haven't managed to actually try the Alpkit tarp I was messing around trying to pitch it in different ways and as I'd like to use it on canoe trips I thought I'd see how it went using paddles rather than trekking poles. The only real difference is that you can't adjust the length of a paddle which would have restricted the pitching options but I managed to come up with a way around that problem. I've no doubt that my method is nothing new and there may well be better ways of doing it but this works for me.

The problem with tying the guylines around the shaft of the paddle is that they have a tendency to slip down the shaft so I managed to wrap the guyline around the shaft, bring it up over the handle and back down to the peg. While that worked ok the guylines really needed to be longer so I simply made two guyline extenders from paracord.

Guyline Looped around paddle to prevent slipping

In addition to the 2 main guylines I had initially only made 4 guylines for the lifter loops but added another 2. I think the more cords/guylines you have the better as it gives you more pitching options and the tighter you can get the tarp the better it is.

Same Basic pitch as above, I simply lowered the tarp at one end by sliding the rear guyline down the paddle

Obviously it's just as easy to pitch like a tapering ridge tent, wrapping the guyline around the shaft just above the blade at the low/foot end keeps the guyline from slipping down. One other thing I found was that in ridgetent formation if the paddle is angled to the side it helps to use a tent peg to stop the paddle from slipping sideways.

Basic Sloping Ridge

Paddle Pegged to prevent Sideways slip

3 Line Overkill, It Does need 2 Guylines though

Finally I tried it with both paddles tied together in A frame shape which is obviously very stable, again a peg keeps the paddle from slipping sideways. I used 2 guylines to pull the edges of the 'porch' closer to the paddles and in the pics below I've simply tied them off to the main guylines, while it worked ok I found that 2 prussik loops fitted Alpkit mini clipper carabiners worked better and allowed more adjustment, the prussik loop attached to the guyline and the mini clipper attached to the tie out loop on the tarp. Set up as below it's too short to use without a bivvy bag but it's very stable and provides plenty of space for cooking and so on.

Tarp Tensioned by tying off 2 secondary guylines to the main guylines. I've made prussik loops which to do the job much better.

I'm quite sure none of this is ground breaking stuff and there may well be better ways of achieving the same result but it's kept me amused trying different things. If I was using it in a forest or could find a few sticks I could increase the internal space by using the lifters as intended, without something to raise the guylines they really only serve to create some tension however if they're tightened too much they tend to flatten the tarp reducing internal space so.

To me a tarp is a bit like lego, there are few rules and seemingly no limit on the amount of configurations you can come up with given time.


  1. Seems like a versatile shelter. Functions well to keep the cat protected from rain, too :)

  2. The cats are very 'helpful' when I'm trying to pitch it, one of them stole a guyline and I haven't seen it (the guyline) since.

  3. "The cats are very 'helpful' when I'm trying to pitch it, one of them stole a guyline and I haven't seen it (the guyline) since."

    LOL Buggers aint they? I get same problem when pitching tents etc in my garden.

    Good pitch options you got there. Much more versatile than a poncho - which I use for a tarp. Another cracking product from Alpkit eh?

  4. Hi Terry, so you've benefitted from having a helpful feline then :-)

    The Rig 7 is a good product, it seems to have enough lifters in the right places, isn't too heavy and packs pretty small given the amount of shelter it provides. To be honest I've mainly tried the protection rather than space configurations but I'm sure there as many more variations that would work in sheltered spots.