Tarp set Up

Submitted: Thursday, Jan 30, 2014 at 23:15
ThreadID: 106021 Views:7719 Replies:7 FollowUps:6
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Hi Guys

I'm new to the whole camping thing, wife's latest idea (she thought it would be good for the kids), anyway, I've been googling and buying, getting ready for our first trip, but I'm a little stuck on the tarp.

We have a 6 x 3 tent and I understand it's a good idea to put a tarp over the top of the tent to help in the heat. Every video I've watched has a centre pole on the ridge bar ... How do I put in a centre pole to support my ridge bar without putting a hole in my tent? Or can I do away with the centre pole altogether?

Cheers in advance
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Reply By: Malcolm 02 - Friday, Jan 31, 2014 at 00:39

Friday, Jan 31, 2014 at 00:39
I use to put a plastic cup over the centre pole.

AnswerID: 525444

Reply By: Member - Mark (Tamworth NSW) - Friday, Jan 31, 2014 at 07:09

Friday, Jan 31, 2014 at 07:09
6 x 3 tent I guess you mean 6m x 3m?
If so, no problems just get a spreader bar (normally adjustable) and put that in the middle, a guy rope off the vertical support pole at either end of the spreader bar.
Using these spreader bars keeps the down forces you apply to the tarp off your tent and save your tent support system.
You should be able to get these spreader bars at most larger camping stores.

Tarp over the top isn't mandatory, but a good idea, especially if it rains as it keeps the areas immediately outside the tent dry, as well as the tent cooler in summer.
Before you know it you will be progressing to a camper trailer!
AnswerID: 525450

Follow Up By: Clouseau - Friday, Jan 31, 2014 at 13:42

Friday, Jan 31, 2014 at 13:42
Hi Mark

Yes, I meant 6m x 3m . Do you mean I use the spreader bar in place of the ridge bar?

I'm already working on the wife about a camper trailer . :)
FollowupID: 807407

Follow Up By: Member - Mark (Tamworth NSW) - Saturday, Feb 01, 2014 at 10:15

Saturday, Feb 01, 2014 at 10:15
Clouseau, I probably over simplified it, you will also need vertical poles on the sides of the tarp no more than 2 metres apart if you expect wind, but you won't need a centre pole. We haven't on our 8 man tent with such a set up.

So assuming you get a tarp say 8m x 3-3.5m, you will need 12 poles and 16 guy ropes around the perimeter of the tarp and the ridge bar somewhere near the middle (doesn't need to be exact). You should have two guy ropes off each corner.
Cost starts to add up with all those poles, but if you do it often and for years, it makes your camping so much more enjoyable.
FollowupID: 807464

Follow Up By: Clouseau - Saturday, Feb 01, 2014 at 12:04

Saturday, Feb 01, 2014 at 12:04
Thanks for that Mark ... thats the sort of info I'm after.

I'm not so much worried about costs as I am about being caught hundreds of kilometeres from home in 3 days of rain ...
FollowupID: 807471

Reply By: Member - Chris_K - Friday, Jan 31, 2014 at 09:20

Friday, Jan 31, 2014 at 09:20
We've also found it best to have springs attached to all the ropes that hold the tarp down to the pegs...we've found that tarps with spreader bars tend to catch a lot of wind. At least with the springs, they don't tend to rip out the pegs as easily!

AnswerID: 525460

Reply By: Member - John and Val - Friday, Jan 31, 2014 at 09:43

Friday, Jan 31, 2014 at 09:43
Hi Clouseau,
If your tent already has a ridge bar you possibly wont need a centre pole, unless you have a heavy canvas tarp. It you are using a polytarp you should be OK. Just make sure your tarp is well pegged down.

Don't get too hung up on what "how to" videos tell you. There are many different ways to do things when camping (or anywhere else). Watch what others do and use a trial and error approach and you will soon find what works for you.

As others have said, an extra tarp is good when it is raining. In hot weather you need to have a decent air gap between your tent and tarp so that the hot air between tent and tarp can blow away.

Hope you all enjoy your camping. I agree with your wife - it will be good for the kids, provided you approach it in the right spirit.


J and V
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AnswerID: 525463

Follow Up By: Clouseau - Friday, Jan 31, 2014 at 13:47

Friday, Jan 31, 2014 at 13:47
Thanks John and Val

It will probably be a poly tarp (haven't got it yet) .... I'm understand how important it is that it be pegged down properly. I want the tarp mainly for the heat.

Wife says thanks for agreeing with her, but she's not surprised .. she's always right! haha. One positive I've already found with camping, just the promise of taking the kids camping ensures they are at their best behaviour. .. not sure how long that will last.
FollowupID: 807408

Follow Up By: Member - Mark (Tamworth NSW) - Saturday, Feb 01, 2014 at 10:06

Saturday, Feb 01, 2014 at 10:06
John, Val & Clouseau

Yes ridge bar= spreader bar. John & Val, the reason you still need a stand alone spreader/ ridge bar is that without one when tying the tarp down you put too much strain on the tent and bend/ break the tent frame (from personal experience and cost) and as you say John, you need to keep the tarp off the tent to create the "tropical roof" effect.

You don't need the tarp, we did it for a few years without one, but it is better with one. As a family over 25 years we have gone from a 3 man K Mart tent to a four man tent, to a 8 man tent, to a cheap camper trailer and now as our kids are leaving home to a up market 2nd hand "couples" camper trailer.

Family camping is best when you go with friends/ relatives with similar aged kids. They enjoy it much more that way, therefore you get to enjoy it double as much
FollowupID: 807463

Reply By: Krooznalong - Friday, Jan 31, 2014 at 14:34

Friday, Jan 31, 2014 at 14:34
G'day Clouseau

Most likely you will not be spending too much time in the tent during the day, in which case no need for the tarp (assuming tent is waterproof). You are possibly better off having a tarp as a separate stand alone item near the tent to create a nice shady place to sit and ponder, enjoy a drink or whatever else you want to do. Also somewhere to get out of any rain.

Why not initially try the tent itself sans tarp and see how it goes?

With camping never rush out and buy stuff just because you think you might need it.

If getting a tarp for the heat get a good quality one with a nice reflective side.
AnswerID: 525496

Reply By: chisel - Friday, Jan 31, 2014 at 15:35

Friday, Jan 31, 2014 at 15:35
Putting a big tarp over a big tent is a lot of effort for not much reward, in my opinion. As others have said, you're not in the tent in the middle of the day (unless you need to have a baby/toddler nap in there?) so why worry if it gets warm.
AnswerID: 525501

Follow Up By: Clouseau - Friday, Jan 31, 2014 at 18:17

Friday, Jan 31, 2014 at 18:17
I have a toddler, 21 months,and a four yr old.
FollowupID: 807437

Reply By: Todd K - Friday, Jan 31, 2014 at 23:53

Friday, Jan 31, 2014 at 23:53
Hi clouseau,
My partner and I and kids have spent a lot of time camping and trying different things, we both agree that a tarp for heat is really a lot of effort for little reward. If any at all. Open windows and peg out to allow breeze but still shading inside tent is just as affective. Oh if the wind blows you will spend your camping chasing a tarp all over the place. Good luck with it all. It's all trial and error :)
AnswerID: 525542

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