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Trail Tip: The Lightweight Dining Tarp


Aaron Zagrodnick
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Aaron Zagrodnick

The image of a heavy blue tarp stretched above a picnic table at a car campground is often the first image that comes to mind when a "dining tarp" is brought up in conversation among backpackers. While many lightweight tarps are on the market, they are primarily showcased as shelters and their other uses are understated, if depicted at all. Often left out of the pack, and understandably so in many situations because of the added weight and limited function, there are certain circumstances where packing a lightweight dining tarp can be an addition – similar to packing an unnecessary but well-appreciated favorite beverage of choice – worth many times its weight. One of my most cherished backpacking memories is of an afternoon...

Something many lightweight oriented backpackers may not intially think about when packing for a trip, in Issue 37 @Mark details the trips where a lightweight tarp, in addition to your main shelter can be beneficial and the potential uses of such an addition to your gear list. Take a look from Issue 37's trail tip below:

Trail Trip: The Lightweight Dining Tarp

The Lightweight Backpacking Dining Fly - Tarp - Trail Tip

Issue 37 Page 1

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  • 3 weeks later...

I spent the money and bought a Rab Siltarp 2 a few years ago thinking I surely would get some use out it in the quick changing weather of the Rockies. Two years laters and it's still brand new and never been used though I've taken it with me on every backpack trip.

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Mark Wetherington

Once you do put it to use, you'll probably be pretty glad you bought it :) 

In the meantime, I guess you can count yourself lucky that the conditions have never warranted actually using it!

I usually only bring my tarp on trips where there is consecutive rain in the forecast and it definitely got more use in the Southeast (especially the Smokies) than it does up here in the Northern Rockies. Definitely not something I bring on every trip, but it has saved the day (and evening, and morning) on more than a handful of trips for me.

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  • 5 months later...

Great idea. If you bp in places like the PNW or Alaska or anywhere wet, having a free standing tarp to put over your fire and have a place to see out is very important.  I always bring a tarp for raft and canoe trips.  Good for shade on hot days. 

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