So You Picked Up a New Tarp. Now What?

Earlier, Ploss and I were discussing guyline lengths for use with my (our) new Mountain Laurel Designs Cuben Solo Pro Tarp. B/c he’s a jackass busy, Ploss was unable to offer anything quicker than a “before Memorial Day” estimate for when he could be bothered to measure the lengths on his pre-assembled returned demo insta-shipped tarp. Better find out for myself! Also, it’s so simple but I require a line lock refresher course. Hey!

It's probably the bypass liteline

Yes, the MLD Cuben Solo Pro Tarp, as previously “reviewed” by that Ploss guy, ships with 40′ of 0.7 oz. LiteLine and 8 mini linelocks. Like other people, the use of these things has variously escaped me – I have a dozen that I’ve used previously with my Six Moon Designs Gatewood Cape but mostly I’ve just tied very small loops at the ends of my AirCore Spectra guylines to attach to my TiStakes. Mostly. So how does one rock these things correctly?

Good to know! But what about the guyline lengths? Well, fortunately for McLovin reading really IS fundamental, and after a rigorous 1 minute search of…the MLD site…I had my answer:

For Most Solo and many Duo Tarps, we suggest cutting the line to these lengths to start:
Front Corners: 5′
Rear Corners: 4′
Center Side: 4′
Front Ridgeline: 7.5′
Rear Ridgeline: 6.5′

Seems simple enough; clearly you’ll want at least a little extra length for tensioning if you’re line lock-inclined. But isn’t there a much more complicated answer?

Pick ridgeline height(height of tarp at highest point).
This value = Y.
(y+1)^2 + x^2= r^2
a^2 + b^2= c^2
r + c + 1 = guyline length for that ridgeline (the extra foot is for a tautline hitch)

(2(y+1)^2)^(1/2) + 2^(1/2) + 1 = ridgeline length

Round the answer to the nearest whole number and you are done.

You need about 1.5 lengths of cord for the side guyouts. BPL doesn’t like tautline hitches, but a tautline is easier to adjust than a stake position. Tying off to rocks is a waste of time and I suggest not doing it. You may tie your ridgeline and lifters(if your tarp has them) to trees. Otherwise, you brought stakes anyway, so why not use them?

Certainly! To be clear, the MLD Cuben Solo has an integrated 9′ catenary ridgeline which renders much of this formula moot – and yet no less baffling. Thus I leave you with a more Zen approach from my man RJ:

OK, how about an alternative viewpoint.

Any dork can pitch a tent. They’re built that way, dumbproof. Insert poles here, stake there, the shape is self-actuating.

The tarp, on the other hand, now that is art.

Some folks can’t pitch a tarp for the life of them. It sags here, it droops there, the angle of a guyline is messed up, you know the deal. Most of the time it’s because people are too fast to pay attention to the pitch. Even when they arrive in camp at 4 pm and have all the time in the world.

Pitching a tarp should not be dependent upon speed records. Because like the child that spends 3 hours creating a Crayola masterpiece worthy of the fridge, the ultralight backpacker who can create a tarp worth photographing, and located in a pitch worth remembering, now – that’s beauty!

So, take your time. You’re not impressing your friends so much as creating art within the landscape.

Unless it’s raining really hard and you’re freezing and you don’t care and no one is around to take photos…then just nail the corners to the ground, crawl underneath it, and worry about all this aesthetic BS later.

If you’re feeling particularly thrifty enterprising, my man Steve Evans has produced this excellent How-To instruction for creating your own Cuben Fiber tarp; the finished product as seen in part two is quite similar to the MLD Cuben Solo Pro in both size and shape, yet while his weighs in (sans guylines/linelocks) at an impressive 51 grams (!) the MLD Solo Pro weighs in on my scale at double that – 110 grams, or 3.9 oz. I myself opted for the stealth color which is of a really subtle greenish gray hue. At the 4:35 mark of Steve’s second video you’ll find an excellent viewing of the completed tarp, assembled and set.

Given that this piece of kit is designed to replace my 11.6 oz. Gatewood Cape in conjunction with a +9 oz. GoLite Virga jacket, I’ve actually gained about 1.6 oz. with this rig, albeit with the added flexibility I find a rain jacket offers vs. the overall vastly more superior Gatewood Cape poncho. Ultimately when expecting rain my preference is for a jacket (and +1 oz. pack cover as well, it must be noted) over a poncho for total comfort.

I’ll have a full field review of the MLD Cuben Solo Pro Tarp no later than early June, and possibly as early as this upcoming weekend as I’m hoping to have an opportunity for a light test in the Gorge Friday. – MCL

About McLovin

Author: MCLOVIN. Age: 41. Disposition: Gimpy. Resident: Itinerary Obsessive. Ancestry: Dutch. Politically: Left/Side. Nutshell: Magellan, P.I. Philosophy: Kali Ma!
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