Philmont Scout Ranch is a BSA High Adventure Base offering an extensive program of treks for Scouts.
Here is how to rig a 12×12 tarp (a method I have heard called the Philmont dining fly tarp) to stand up to strong winds and rain. This rig will keep about eight people (who get along fairly well) out of the rain.
The side guy-line is about 30 feet long and is threaded through the grommets on the tarp and staked down with three stakes. It is passed around the center stake as shown below and finished with tautline hitches on the ends.
The ridge line extends from all the way under the ridge, it is made fast to the poles with clove hitches and leads through the center grommet on the ridge, is looped around a stick, lead back through the grommet and then lead to the other end of the ridge where the process is repeated.
The stick keeps the ridge taut without stressing the grommet; in a strong wind the stick would break before the grommet blew out.
Campmor offers a basic 12×12 tarp of reinforced nylon with waterproof urethane coating. Grommets at all corners and about 3.5 feet apart on the hems. Wt.: 42 oz.
Jerry Schleining says
I had not pitched a fly like this till we went to Philmont. It worked great. And yep we got the whole crew under it one night for Roses, Thorns, and buds in a driving rain. Worked great… and I have not laughed that much since… well I can’t remember.
It really did work great and we had rain every day at Philmont and the fly kept stuff dry. We would get it set up before we hung bear bags and set up tents. It was a nice place to get things out of the elements.
We used trekking poles to the poles, worked great and no extra equipment to carry.
Walter Underwood says
I don’t understand how this is a good storm pitch. It uses fewer tent stakes, which increases the stress and makes a failure more likely. Running a continuous line means that a single failure loses the tension for one whole side of the tarp. With tension on only one side, the end poles aren’t stable. So if one stake pulls out in a wind, you will most likely lose the whole tarp.
A traditional storm pitch would use a separate stake for each grommet (five per side in that drawing), two lines spread at an angle for each pole, so that they are laterally stable on their own, and pullout lines in the middle of each panel, rigged up to trekking poles to lift out the sides. For a 12×12, use two of those per side. The Cooke Custom Sewing Tundra Tarps have plenty of pullout tabs.
That spreads the load over 18 stakes instead of the 8 used in the recommended pitch. The pullouts mean there are much shorter stretches of unsupported panel, which also reduces the stress on the fabric.
In addition, twice as many stakes means that you can set up the tarp twice as tight. Increased fabric tension makes the tarp much more stable in wind and reduces the flapping and jerking that can cause stakes and grommets to fail.
Take a look at the pitches that Colin Ibbotson uses for Scottish winter weather: http://www.andyhowell.info/trek-blog/Colin-Ibbotson/Colin-Talks-Tarps.pdf
The parent posting has lots more discussion: http://www.andyhowell.info/trek-blog/2008/12/01/colin-ibbotson-on-using-a-tarp-in-the-uk/
FOr more ideas on storm pitches, check out “Camping and Woodcraft” by Horace Kephart (1916). http://www.amazon.com/Camping-Woodcraft/dp/0870495569/
K Singleton says
Campmor has them
Larry Tuck says
On our treks we have always used a couple of trekking poles for the dining fly. Mine extend to about 48 inches, which is high enough to sit under.
I loved Philmont both times I have been there. I really think this is a great way to make a dining fly, I have been trying to aquire some of these aluminum poles. I love these poles. They are simple, and so useful. However, I cannot find them anywhere.