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Sunday, July 1, 2012

GoLite Poncho Tarp

Part of my recent GoLite order included their Poncho Tarp for an amazing price: $44.99, but I haven't been able to set up until today because I didn't have any appropriate line, stakes, or line locks (I'm not very handy with knots). Those items were ordered from ZPacks, because I figured with a 7oz tarp, why weigh it down with a pound of line and stakes?

I don't have any experience with shelter building, my brain doesn't work like an engineer's and I wasn't a boy I do have a lot going against me facing the challenge of creating a shelter from a single sheet of silnylon. I do however, learn well from mistakes (most of which I hope to make in the backyard, not in the field).

With all the materials, I needed to find how to set it up. I found a few YouTube videos showing some configurations and I decided it was time to try out a few on my own. I'm a small guy at 5'7", 145lbs, so I favor the "cozy" configurations, giving maximum shelter without really sacrificing space. My favorite is pictured below which involves both of my trekking poles to give a little extra lift to the "roof". This is where the poncho hood comes out of the tarp.

From ZPacks, I used the 1.25mm Z-line Spectra cord, said to have a tensile strength of over 200lbs, which I don't doubt. For its weight, this stuff is strong. In lieu of knots, I opted for the super light Micro Line Locs from ZPacks which weigh in at only .025oz each and worked great at easily adjusting tension on the lines.

Full disclosure here...I did have to tie a few square knots on the ends connecting to the tarp or poles...I'm fairly comfortable with my abilities with this knot.

With the Tyvek groundsheet and all of the hardware, the entire shelter system comes in at 15.5oz (this doesn't include the yellow sleep pad pictured).

I plan to give the poncho tarp a try later this month out on the AT in either PA or MD. I'm hoping to set up camp somewhere with few bugs, but we'll see how that goes. I've got a bug head net that I can wear if absolutely necessary overnight. My pack base weight is now under 10 pounds, so I'm pretty excited to give it a spin!


  1. Hey man!
    have you tried running with this??? considering it for Fast Packing

  2. Absolutely. I've been able to pack this in the side (water bottle) pocket along with stakes and line in my GoLite Rush 20 pack, all less than a pound with stuff sack. You really have to consider the environment you're running in though. Here in the northeast it's hit or miss with rain and you really have to be choosy about your campsites with regards to drainage and wind. Overall great shelter for fastpacking.