Survival Strategies; quick and easy tarp shelters, part 2

Posted: 29/09/2009 in disasters, primitive skills, Shelters, survival
Tags: , , , , , ,

Last time we talked about the commonly available tarps, and parachute cord. The simplest and quickest shelter is the A frame style tied to a couple of trees and staked down with some stakes made from branches.

Another easy type of shelter is the Adirondack lean-to. This one is the best if you will be using a fire for warmth. This one takes a bit more effort, but it can still be done quickly, and it has more advantages than the A frame. You’ll need to cut four poles, a shorter pair for the back and a longer pair for the front. The poles should be of equal lengths in each pair, and the tips should be trimmed to fit into the grommets on your tarp.

Start by staking down the back edge of your shelter with the stakes described in part one. You’ll want to make sure that this is the shorter dimension of the tarp. Insert the two shorter poles into a grommet on each side, about 1 3rd of the tarps length up the side. Tie a length of cord around the post above the tarp, or through the grommet and tie the other end off to a tree near ground level, or via a stake at about a 90 degree angle from the tarp. This will give you a back wall that is straight up and down. You’ll be needing an assistant for this type of shelter in most cases.

Take the other two poles and insert them through grommets about a 3rd of the way from the other end and tie these off the same way, except that your cords should be tied off at about a 45 degree angle towards the front of the shelter. At the front two corners you’ll need to tie cords directly to the grommets and stretch them tightly towards the front. This will give you a pitched roof for optimum rain runoff. You’ll be able to build a fire in front of this shelter, and the back wall and roof will radiate heat back and down onto you.

Of course, if all you want is a shade cover for a picnic lunch, than a simple dining fly set up is all you need. Simply tie off the four corners and suspend the tarp over your dining area. Unfortunately, if there is any dampness, it will collect on the trap and concentrate into the middle, making the tarp sag down under the increasing weight. To circumvent this problem, cut a tall pole and stick it under the center of the tarp. This will result in abrasion and possible tearing, but that can be alleviated as well. Wrap a rag or other soft cloth around the end of the pole and tie it in place. this makes for a big ball and won’t tear through the tarp.

Windbreaks can be made with the traps as well. The best way is to wrap the tarp partially around a couple of trees, and then tie the two ends of the tarp to each other. This makes for a good strong wall, but you can always tie the tarps off to other trees as well if there are not two trees close enough where you need them. One of the points you should keep in the back of your mind here is to make sure you tie off your tarp so that it is neither too tight nor too slack. Experience will tell you how tight it should be for varied circumstances. If the wind is blowing strongly, and your tarp is too tight then you will have too much stress along the seams and grommets and end up with a torn tarp.

Tied too loosely in a strong wind and your tarp will flail like a banshee in the wind, becoming useless and possibly breaking loose and doing nothing to protect you from the rain, wind or sun. A lot of people make the mistake when the cover loads with tarps for protection from the elements of neglecting the potential for damage for these reasons. I’m sure you have seen trucks loaded with household goods tooling down the interstate with a big blue tarp flapping like an angels wings over the load. Tied too loose and not enough. Sometimes you have to use more than just the grommets as a securing point. there are many occasions where you will want to weave a long rope through the grommets and back and forth across the tarp spider web like.

By doing that you can secure the four corners, and then pull the tarp taut by pulling the two ends of the rope. This will keep the excess tarp close to your load. But experience is a great teacher, even though sometimes very costly, and I cannot give very detailed comments in a place such as this so, experiment and learn before or need disaster strikes, and when it does you’ll be prepared to survive the coming times.

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