Model: Tarp 5
Why we like it: A number of pitch configurations allows you to adapt protection to changing conditions.
Shape: The five-sided shape let us pitch the tarp to suit the terrain and weather, and testers appreciated increased coverage at the head. Stake one side or the other to the ground to block wind. “I cinched both sides to the ground during a windy and rainy evening, and I stayed completely dry,” said a tester after three nights in the Adirondacks. Trekking poles prop up the head and the foot, or tie the ridgelines to a tree in lieu of poles.
Weather protection: The Kerlon 1000 fabric (see Hilleberg Niak for details) withstood 10- to 15-mph winds in upstate New York with only a trace breeze sneaking in (though our tester did experience some loud flapping). Tradeoff: Space is tight for one when two sides are battened down.
Setup: As with all tarps, this one takes fiddling to get the pitch taut. “Once I got the hang of it, I could set it up in 10 minutes,” says our tester.
Packability: An integrated stuffsack makes camp cleanup quick and easy. The entire tarp packs down to the size of a Nalgene. Smart: The stuff- sack converts to an interior pocket when the tarp is pitched.