Many walkers when walking and camping in the wilds of Scotland seek to travel light while still remaining comfortable.
Often, most space in your rucksack is taken up by a heavy tent and a bulky sleeping bag leaving little room for your food and extra kit but there is an alternative to this situation.
I, like many walkers in Scotland, enjoy using a bivi bag when sleeping out on the hills but it can leave you a little exposed when the weather turns foul so some kind of additional shelter is often required. This is were a tarp comes to the fore.
A tarp (sometimes called a basha) is simply is a large sheet of strong lightweight, flexible waterproof material with an array of attachment points which allow you to use it for many different purposes. They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and are usually a very affordable piece of equipment.
Tarps can be strung up between trees to provide shelter from the wind or rain, they can be pitched like a tent flysheet and they can even be used conjunction with a hammock to provide a flexible sleeping solution.
DD Hammocks DD Tarp S
For the last year I have been using the DD Tarp S manufactured by Scottish company DD Hammocks. As their name suggests, the company primarily produces hammocks but has a range of tarps to allow people to sleep out in all weathers.
The majority of the tarps they produce are rather large and not really suitable for the walker looking to travel light and save space in their packs but they do supply the slimline DD Tarp S which is more suited to the walker.
The DD Tarp S measures in at just 2.8m x 1.5m with a weight of only 450g. It is made from a very durable 190T polyester which has a respectable hydrostatic rating of 3000mm which is more than adequate for the bivi bag camper.
The tarp is well manufactured with all the central seam being well taped and the edges have been will hemmed. The tarp has 19 reinforced attachment points 16 of which are located along the edges and corners with 3 located along the centre /ridge line. These attachment points are what gives the DD Tarp S it’s flexibility for the walker.
A clue to it’s flexibility is the inclusion of 4 tent pegs and 4 nylon guy lines which allow the user to set up the tarp in a number of different formats depending on the situation.
Now as walkers we are most likely to find ourselves on the hills so the question has to be asked about how you can pitch the tarp for use with a bivi bag without having any trees nearby.
In the photos shown you will see my typical setup which uses a single pole, 4 pegs and one guy line. This is a quick and easy to pitch and is surprisingly stable even in windy conditions.
I am using a lightweight basha pole in the pictured setup but you can easily use your normal everyday trekking pole instead. This set up makes the most of the the material available and gives welcome shelter from the rain and wind and has the added benefit of providing a groundsheet to give extra protection.
Now some of you will no doubt notice that this setup will only cover the upper part of your body but that is ok as when used with a good bivi bag this setup works really well. The format allows me to keep my head and upper body out of the wind and rain while giving plenty of space for my equipment allowing me to keep it protected and close at hand overnight.
This setup is also ideal for the solo walker out for a day’s walk wanting to quickly get some shelter from the elements.
The DD Tarp S has served me well for numerous trips into the Scottish hills and works really effectively with my bivi bag setup. The tarp is really well made and, thanks to the multiple and well placed attachment points, it can be used in so many different scenarios.
I have to say that I am very impressed with the DD Tarp S and I can see it serving me well for many more bivi bag adventures.
Review by Sean Makin
Material: 190T polyester
Hydrostatic Head: 3000mm
Dimensions: 2.8m x 1.5m
Colours: Olive green, Coyote brown
Accessories: x4 pegs, x4 guy lines, stuff sack
Available from: DD Hammocks