MYOG Tarp Help: Is this a bad idea?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    MYOG Tarp Help: Is this a bad idea?

    With the help of my experience seamstress wife, I am looking to put together a tarp for bike packing. My idea is to design a tarp that could use the bike as the structure for the shelter, or it could be guyed-out. Basically, flip the bike over, stake the bars so it doesn't fall over, and then throw the tarp over that. The high points of the shelter will thus be the tops of the tires (keep the rubber side up), but this is also where we would put a couple guy-out points. The tarp would be asymmetrical so that the side of the tarp on the other side of the bike from me will slope fairly sharply to the ground, but the living-quarters side will be longer and depending on how I guy it out, could be an expansive shelter or a tight weatherproof nook.

    Attached is a very crude diagram of what I want to do, not to scale, but the measurements are based on testing with a bike and tarp in my back yard.

    Anyway, has anyone tried anything like this before? I could imagine a really dirty, muddy bike making this problematic... but other than that, it seems like a simply solution, much like hikers use their trekking poles.

    Also, how do people make guy out points? I was thinking some narrow webbing and guyline tensioners would make for easy set-up, but is that a sturdy solution when using sil-nylon?
    MYOG Tarp Help: Is this a bad idea?-img_0564.jpg
    Last edited by FishMan473; 4 Days Ago at 12:09 PM.
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  2. #2
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    Seems viable to me. If it were me, I'd probably do something to prevent the wheels from rotating (e.g. velcro one-wrap squeezing the brake levers) just to make setup a bit easier. Seems the tarp might want to 'roll off' the tires otherwise during setup.

    You might also consider reading and/or asking your questions on hammockforums - very friendly and welcoming group and I'm sure they'd have good ideas.

    https://www.hammockforums.net/forum/...Yourself-(DIY)

  3. #3
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    With hydraulic brakes, squeezing the brake levers with the bike upside down could result in air in the brake system depending on brake design, age and bike setup. Mechanical pull brakes, no problem.

  4. #4
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    Bugs and rain? I often ride my bike after setting up camp too. My big agnes HV 1 bikepacking tent is 2.5 lbs and compact.

  5. #5
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    Central, I thought of the brake squeeze thing too, but in a couple trial runs it didn't seem to matter much.

    Leeboh, I have a similarly, slightly older, slightly heavier BA Copper Spur UL1. Its a great 1 person tent. I have used it on a couple trips as a fly+footprint pitch (where/when there were no bugs), and its not too heavy, and still a solid shelter against windstorms and steady rain. But it could be lighter, and really the crux is the poles which are big and a PIA to pack, especially on my FS bike or my drop-bar bike. Its about packing space more than weight.
    Last edited by FishMan473; 4 Days Ago at 03:46 PM.
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  6. #6
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    The setups that I've seen that used the bike as the structure seemed really fiddly and not particularly well thought out.

    Not to say it can't work. More to say do your due diligence before cutting fabric. Or, even better, do that due diligence, cut, go use it, then come home and make it better.

    Then, share the results and plans so that others can do the same.

  7. #7
    A guy on a bike Moderator
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    I've never been a fan of tarps for camping. Wind seems to always find a way to push rain under them. They don't help if the ground is already soggy from a storm. Biting insects will haunt you at night. They can be REALLY loud in the wind.

    Bivy bags are lighter, keep you dry if the ground is wet, are pretty much impervious to horrible weather, and some even have bug netting. They are also nice and warm, which means that you can carry a lighter sleeping bag. The primary downside is that they can get wet from condensation if you get too warm, or it it's really humid and/or cold. They obviously don't have a lot of room for gear--although I tend to leave everything in my bike bags anyway. Positioning your head next to the trunk of a large tree can provide a surprising amount of protection from the rain for cooking or sleeping.

    Tiny tents are a great solution if you want a little more room to change clothes, sort gear, etc. They are heavier than bivy bags, but some models are shockingly lightweight. They are also warm, keep you really dry, provide nice ventilation, etc.

    All of that said, tarps can sure be nice for cooking or hanging out in the rain. If I'm not concerned with weight, I sometimes bring a small one that I can tie out from a tree or two. A bivy bag and a small tarp make for some luxurious camping! If you're camping where there aren't any trees, your bike-support setup seems like a great option. Not much headroom, but maybe enough?

  8. #8
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    I've seen this online before. I googled "bike tarp shelter" and found some of the images below.

    Topeak used to make a tent that incorporated a bike as part of its setup called the Bikamper.

    Seems like a workable idea. Good luck!




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  9. #9
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    I have my bulky and heavier tent, Big Agnes Copper Spur UL1, for when I need a solid shelter, expecting heavy rain or torrential mosquitos. Now I'm trying to set up a bivy+tarp system that could be modular for the specific conditions of different trips, and

    The two regions I do most of my trips in are in the Southwest and here in the upper Midwest. My experience in the SW is that insects are rarely an issue, wind often is and rain is hit or miss. I could use the tarp OR the bivy (if I was confident it wasn't going to rain). In the Mw, you can count on mosquitos and biting flies during the growing season (ranging from a minor annoyance to existential horror, and you should always be prepared for rain (though you can gamble if you're only out for a night or two).

    I think the tarp I have in mind would be pretty solid against rain and wind (time will tell), and I would have a light bivy like the Borah Side Zipper Ultralight Bivy to keep the bugs off, minor wind protection and insulation or solo for trips when I don't expect much wind or rain (or might be able to find basic shelter in the environment). I think a heavier-duty fully-waterproof bivy would have sever condensation issues in our humid climate here.

    But hey, tell me if I'm thinking wrong.

    Connolm, thanks for the photos. What I have in-mind is most similar to the second photo, except I'd have the tarp extended over the top of the bike and down to the ground on the drive-side too. Non-drive side could be down like that in poor weather or up and open in fair weather.
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  10. #10
    A guy on a bike Moderator
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    Quote Originally Posted by FishMan473 View Post
    But hey, tell me if I'm thinking wrong.
    People tend to have pretty different approaches to sleeping outside. Seems to me that if you get enough sleep, and you are happy with the weight, then you are doing it right! The key to finding that perfect setup is to try different things, since it's all a bit abstract until you actually get out there.

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