Tarp Set Ups
Tarps can make a very lightweight and versatile shelter. They are so convenient and can be adapted to a variety of pitches depending on the site, the need, and the weather.
Here are a few pitches that can be employed. I currently use a cheap 8'X10' tarp that can be bought at Wal-Mart or my custom Moonbow Poncho/Tarp. If your interested in once, contact Moonbow.
This is a very basic set up, only good in gentle weather. Use two trees as the supports and two stakes. If trees aren't available then you can use trekking poles and four stakes.
Modified Lean To:
I find this pitch to work in most weather well. It gives better protection than a normal lean to and better general cover area. Use two trees as the supports and two stakes. Then use trekking poles to add some support and lift to the tarp.
Also a simple set up, works better in bad weather than the lean to or modified lean to. To make an A frame you need two trees and four stakes. If trees aren't available use trekking poles and six stakes.
Modified A Frame:
A simple modification of the A Frame, and very similar to the modified lean to. The difference between the two is the modified lean to starts off as a lean to that you add support and some clearance using trekking poles in the center of the tarp. In a modified A Frame, you use trekking poles to bring up one side like a front porch. The A frame and modified A Frame are my favorites for hammock hiking when using a tarp. Set up requires four stakes and two poles.
Very weather worthy shelter that is easy to set up. Start by tying a corner to a tree. Then pull out the opposite (diagonally) corner to the wind and stake it down. Then stake down the other two loose corners. Climb in and use your pack or a trekking pole if you want more head room. If you don't have a tree, then you will need another stake and a trekking pole for the entrance.
More complex set up requires a little work. If you use a tree, then tie the center of the short side (8') to a tree, pull the tarp into the wind and stake out the far corners, then come back to the end against the tree and stake in those corners. Then use a couple of more stakes to secure the tarp sides where necessary. Once the tarp is set, move in and use pack or trekking pole to give a little more height to the tarp. If a tree isn't available, then you will need another stake and a trekking pole for the entrance. This is the most weather proof set up I've used.
The only time I have ever used this is in a group campsite as a cooking and eating area for the other campers in a rain storm. Basically you tie out the four corners at about waist to shoulder height then add a pole in the center, or tie a rope to the center and pull it up to a branch.