Getting ready to embark on a backcountry camping and hiking trip? If so, it’s time to consider what you’re going to pack. The weather, terrain and how far you’ll be venturing should all be factors in what to bring along. Among the necessities there’s one thing you should never be without — a survival pack. A map and compass, knife, water and fire-starting kit are some well-known survival essentials, but one important item that many hikers forget to pack is a tarp. Here are a few reasons why this simple item is a must to have in your backpack!
Cheap and Lightweight
Tarps come in a variety of weights and sizes. Some of the most common types include:
Some are lightweight, while others are heavy-duty. If you’re backpacking, you’ll want to stick to a lightweight version. Less weight and bulk makes it easy to carry and leaves more space in your pack for other gear.
Let’s face it — a lot of outdoor gear is pricey, especially weather-ready backcountry tents that can sustain gale force winds and high-elevation terrain conditions. But a tarp costs a mere fraction of most quality tents. This makes it a good economical choice to add to your backpack.
Keeps You Dry and Warm
A tarp can serve as an additional layer of protection from the elements in place of, or addition to, your tent. In a really heavy downpour, a tarp strung above your tent will keep most of the rain off it. In an emergency you can wrap it round you to keep rain and wind out. This can prevent hypothermia from setting in. Tarps can also provide shelter for your food or gear to keep things dry.
Tarps can also serve as a makeshift tent, providing shelter and keeping the glaring sun at bay. It can also fill in as an underlayer or sleeping surface for rocky, wet or sandy ground.
It Makes a Durable Cord
Did your bungee cord break? Or maybe you lost it along the hike? If so, strips of tarp can serve to secure loose items or gear. Braid it up for additional reinforcement to secure bulky or cumbersome items. It can also be used in a pinch for climbing walls and getting across creeks and unsteady terrain.
Make Sure It’s Nice and Bright!
When choosing a tarp for your expedition, choose a brightly-colored one. This comes in handy in case you ever find yourself in distress and can’t make it back to base camp. If you’re unable to send out a flare or signal, the tarp can fill in. It provides an added visual for emergency crews, making you easier to spot in a search and rescue situation.
There are plenty of things to prep for before hitting the backcountry trails. Tent, check. Water bottle, check. Non-perishable food, check. Make sure you’re ready for any weather condition and obstacle that comes your way by stocking up your survival pack. Aside from catching a glimpse of the infamous Bigfoot on your adventure, don’t forget a tarp. You never know when it will come in handy.
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