Why we like it Standard tarps can be maddeningly futzy to pitch, but the rectangular (137-by-114-inch) Tarp II comes with knotless guylines that make rigging as simple as hooking a D-ring.
Setup The key upgrade: Adjustable guylines wrap around an anchor, then clip to themselves using claw hooks, and tighten with a buckle. “So much easier than tying knots, especially in cold weather that causes fumble fingers,” says our tester, who found that its ease of use made him more likely to pitch it. When rain threatened, his group of packrafters deployed it preemptively to guarantee a dry, comfortable lunch stop. Plus, all those hooks facilitate multiple setup options: A-frame, slant wall, L-shaped—you name it.
Protection Two people can sleep dry beneath Tarp II, and, during a rainy trip in Alaska’s Gates of the Arctic National Park, a group of five used it as a cooking shelter. The 40-denier polyester fabric didn’t sag when wet, and dried fast. One tester even dragged it over scraggly creek-side shrubbery while trying to erect a dining shelter.
$179; 1 lb. 13 oz.; exped.com