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PostPosted: November 22nd, 2021, 3:43 pm 
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Hi. We've been using MEC sil tarps for over 10 years with good results. But we wanted one big tarp and I understood Cooke made good tarps. So, I bought an expensive 15x15. After only 3 trips in moderate wind, one of the corner loops gave way. The other loops were almost cut through. I was using the Cooke supplied cord and also 4mm cord I have. Cooke agreed to repair under warranty but the package was stolen from my porch waiting to be picked up by UPS. So, by by $400 tarp. Probably a blessing in disguse because I am unsure I would trust the Cooke tarp and would always have to be inspecting it to ensure it's about to pop.

Can you recommend an actually good tarp, not a supposedly good tarp? MEC (Mountain Equiment) tarps seem good but I am also looking for other options. Obviously I want to focus on the quality of the webbing used as this is a real weak point apparently. The webbing Cooke used was laughably weak on closer inspection after this fiasco.

thanks!

Here is a list of the good ideas we discussed in this thread, to share with everyone to help with tarp decisions and set-up:

Camping Tarp Best Practices and Considerations

  1. Ensure the webbing of the tarp is of sufficient quality for the strains put on it. Compare the tarp webbing and tie outs to those on other quality gear to get a relative sense of it's capabilities vs assuming it's strong enough
  2. Check the tarp and especially the tie outs and especially the corners before you go on a trip with enough time to replace the tarp if it's too comprimised (eg. dont assume it will be ok)
  3. Dispersing the load over many connection points, look for tarps with loops equidistance from the corner to equalize from
  4. Look for tarps with edge loops closer to the corners in the event a corner breaks, less of the tarp cover will need to be compromised to re-set with an edge loop (or two)
  5. Rigging to shed water and wind as fast as possible (instead of collecting and fighting it)
  6. Use loops made from strong elastic cord (or bungee cords) on the appropriate guy lines allow the elastic to absorb sudden shifts of the tarp to otherwise prevent damage. This also enables the the tarp to quickly spill any huge gusts of wind by stretching those lines temporarily.
  7. Being ready to quickly re-rig if the weather changes significantly. Consider using tarp clips on the edge for this purpose.
  8. To prevent wear on the tarp tie outs, tie loops made of webbing to them and use the attached web loop instead. Enables use of reflective cord without worrying about sawing the tarp webbing
  9. Instead of one large tarp, have 2 or more that total the same area for increased flexibility and redundancy (and potential reduced replacement cost)


Last edited by plexus on November 22nd, 2021, 11:29 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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PostPosted: November 22nd, 2021, 4:14 pm 
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Have a read here for starters:
https://theprepared.com/gear/reviews/ta ... ket_mylist


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PostPosted: November 22nd, 2021, 5:27 pm 
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Joined: August 17th, 2001, 7:00 pm
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Location: Peterborough, Ontario Canada
You said "other loops were almost cut through". Is that how the first loop failed - it was cut through but the stitching etc. was still good?

Was the cord reflective by any chance? I've heard that some types of reflective cord can saw their way through webbing. Something about sharp particles in the reflective stuff.

Just wondering if the failure had more to do with the cord than the webbing. I too had always heard the Cooke tarps were really good, and also recently splurged on one. I'm happy with mine so far after several trips. I don't think I've heard too many negative reports about the Cooke gear so I'm curious.

Can't help with alternative recommendations, like you my old tarp is MEC.


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PostPosted: November 22nd, 2021, 5:41 pm 
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Mr Canoe Head wrote:
You said "other loops were almost cut through". Is that how the first loop failed - it was cut through but the stitching etc. was still good?

Was the cord reflective by any chance? I've heard that some types of reflective cord can saw their way through webbing. Something about sharp particles in the reflective stuff.

Just wondering if the failure had more to do with the cord than the webbing. I too had always heard the Cooke tarps were really good, and also recently splurged on one. I'm happy with mine so far after several trips. I don't think I've heard too many negative reports about the Cooke gear so I'm curious.

Can't help with alternative recommendations, like you my old tarp is MEC.


I used the cord they provided which was not reflective. I had the tarp up with a line from each corner. One corner gave way and was cut through by the cord. I don't inspect the corner loops before each trip so I am not sure what condition it was in before it ripped. But I then checked the other 3 corners and they were at various stages of being cut through as well. Cooke uses crappy cheap thin webbing on these expensive tarps so beware! Check your webbing quality and then compare it to other tarps and tents you have and decide for yourself if it's a risk or not.

I will now be checking the most used loops of all my gear before a trip because of this incident with Cooke. And now in my tarp shopping I am reaching out to the manfactures about their quality and warranty. The quality is most important because a warranty is not going to help if a tarp gives way in a storm in the middle of a trip. I can't have this confidence with Cooke anymore. The MEC webbing is far superior to what Cooke uses. I am really disappointed. You don't always get what you pay for that's for sure!

Back to the Cooke: because he puts so many loops along the edges, you can create an equalization setup using the loops on either side of a corner, along with the corner, to take strain off the one corner loop. Seriously consider this kind of set up with a Cooke tarp because you dont want to rely on one of those loops alone, trust me.


Last edited by plexus on November 22nd, 2021, 6:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: November 22nd, 2021, 6:10 pm 
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https://www.dragonflytarps.com/tarps/

popular with the rafting crowd...


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PostPosted: November 22nd, 2021, 6:23 pm 
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Location: a bit south ofWinnipeg
I prefer not to rig a tarp from just the corners, and the bigger the tarp is the more serious I get about this. If I can’t peg guy lines directly to the ground I’ll rig lines across the gap and connect side lines off this framework using prussik loops that connect to the intermediate ties. One time we tied the lower edge of the tarp to the canoe. The wind was strong enough to pick the canoe up so we took it in turns to sit with a leg wrapped around a thwart. Nothing failed on the tarp though.

Tarp was a MYOG 10ft by 15ft.

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PostPosted: November 22nd, 2021, 6:29 pm 
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chris randall wrote:
I prefer not to rig a tarp from just the corners, and the bigger the tarp is the more serious I get about this. If I can’t peg guy lines directly to the ground I’ll rig lines across the gap and connect side lines off this framework using prussik loops that connect to the intermediate ties. One time we tied the lower edge of the tarp to the canoe. The wind was strong enough to pick the canoe up so we took it in turns to sit with a leg wrapped around a thwart. Nothing failed on the tarp though.

Tarp was a MYOG 10ft by 15ft.


Awesome, yes, we learn our lessons the hard way sometimes. Everyone has their own tarp strategy and so there are no real best practices out there as a guide. If the manufacturer doesn't say "do not rely on the corners alone" then, well, it's reasonable I think to rely on the corners alone. But, lesson learned. At the very least I will want to create an equalization off adjacent loops from the corner and so I want a tarp with close evenly spaced loops beside each corner. This is also a good spec in general in case a corner loop does break, you can rely on the side loops without much comprimise to the set up.


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PostPosted: November 22nd, 2021, 7:18 pm 
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Location: Peterborough, Ontario Canada
I use my 10x14 CCS tarp rigged with a ridge line, specifically as Hoop shows here: https://youtu.be/GqlFP8C_z10. So far so good, and it's very convenient having the ridge line going right through the stuff bag.

Of course there are many variables so this won't work in every situation but I do try to incorporate a few general principles illustrated there: dispersing the load over many connection points, rigging to shed water and wind as fast as possible (instead of collecting and fighting it), being ready to quickly re-rig if the weather changes significantly.

I'm sure the OP accounts for these things too, just thinking out loud and always interested to learn how others approach rigging their tarps.


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PostPosted: November 22nd, 2021, 7:26 pm 
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Mr Canoe Head wrote:
I use my 10x14 CCS tarp rigged with a ridge line, specifically as Hoop shows here: https://youtu.be/GqlFP8C_z10. So far so good, and it's very convenient having the ridge line going right through the stuff bag.

Of course there are many variables so this won't work in every situation but I do try to incorporate a few general principles illustrated there: dispersing the load over many connection points, rigging to shed water and wind as fast as possible (instead of collecting and fighting it), being ready to quickly re-rig if the weather changes significantly.

I'm sure the OP accounts for these things too, just thinking out loud and always interested to learn how others approach rigging their tarps.


It's always good to share ideas and tips! After my bad Cooke experience I will now equalize the corner load. For this I'd prefer a tarp with close equidistant tie outs from the corner. This disqualifies a lot of tarps unfortunately. I am now looking at custom build possibilities. I'd prefer the tie outs to be closer to the corner, like 10-20cm so that if one gives out, it doesn't comprimise as much of the tarp cover. With wider spaced tie outs more of the tarp will need to be bunched and tied to make up for a busted corner. Also, I will now buy 2 or 3 smaller tarps instead of one big tarp - with smaller tarps of the same total area as a larger tarp, they will be more versatile and redundant than one big tarp. The last item of note is a corner tie-out strategy to prevent wear on the corner loops, which are usually (but not always) critical: use webbing to tie a loop onto the tarp corner loop and use that web loop instead to tie out. make sure the tie between the loop webbing is tight to prevent rubbing and wear. If you don't want to do that, when you tie to the tarp loop, make the knot against the tarp webbing loop tight so it doesn't rub and wear.

I'll make a list of our ideas. Any changes/addition ideas let me know!

Camping Tarp Best Practices and Considerations

See first post...


Last edited by plexus on November 22nd, 2021, 11:19 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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PostPosted: November 22nd, 2021, 7:47 pm 
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Location: Peterborough, Ontario Canada
That is a good idea to add a sacrificial loop onto each webbing loop, especially in the corners, which I agree are usually critical. That would also enable use of reflective cord without worrying about sawing the tarp webbing; I think I'm going to do this.

You might consider whether tarp clips could help, depending on your tolerance for extra weight. I have used these on a very large fly over a full-size wall tent, and they do a good job of grabbing hold of fabric at the edge. The stronger the pull on them, the greater the pinching force they exert. https://www.leevalley.com/en-ca/shop/home/storage/ropes-bungees-and-tie-downs/71427-easyklip?item=00K0905. You could carry a few of these and simply move them to whatever position the current setup calls for.

Speaking of the wall tent (essentially a giant sail just begging to be blown away), we also use springs on the corner guy lines in order to allow the tent to quickly spill any huge gusts of wind by stretching those lines temporarily. I wonder if strong bungee lines of some sort might achieve a similar shock-absorber result for a tarp with less weight penalty.


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PostPosted: November 22nd, 2021, 9:54 pm 
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To make a sacrificial loop I cut a four foot length of paracord, thread it through the tarp webbing to the mid point- two feet either side then tie an over hand knot to make loop big enough for a peg and leaving two tails. You can put a peg through the loop or tie the tails around a rock. If you would like to add a longer line, tie through the loop or make a bend in the tails and tie off with a Lapp knot.

I tie one of these on each of my webbing tie outs

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PostPosted: November 22nd, 2021, 11:23 pm 
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Mr Canoe Head wrote:
Speaking of the wall tent (essentially a giant sail just begging to be blown away), we also use springs on the corner guy lines in order to allow the tent to quickly spill any huge gusts of wind by stretching those lines temporarily. I wonder if strong bungee lines of some sort might achieve a similar shock-absorber result for a tarp with less weight penalty.


Yes! This is something I do with bulk 6mm elastic cord - tie loops to lines so the cord absorbs the fast jolts. in fact you could do both the sacraficial loop and the elastic loop with the same loop! Just bring some spare elastic cord with you incase one pops. I prefer the bulk cord instead of bungee cords because its more versatile and easier to pack. I consider it a "consumable". also useful for attaching paddles and things to the canoe and whatnot.

I added all the latest suggestions to the list and moved the list to the first post.

Keep the ideas coming! ...


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PostPosted: November 23rd, 2021, 8:37 am 
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Location: Freeland, Maryland USA
We have had a 10 x 14 Tundra Tarp for at least 15 years, used on almost every trip including coastal trips with severe winds, once strong enough that they flap shredded a Hennessey Hammock tarp. We had the CCS set up with one end angled / down for some windbreak on that trip. The wind break slant bowed severely, but the webbing and stitching held and it didn’t leak afterwards.

Same Tundra Tarp, with a rushed beat the storm windbreak / side, and so little tent space that I was forced to erect the tarp partially over the tent. It poured buckets for hours that night and I awoke with something pressing against me. It wasn’t a comforting weighted blanket. My hurried tarp set up had pooled water on the still-angled but flatter “roof”. Think a literal bathtub full, sagged nearly to ground level. It didn’t leak, and the webbing was still fine

ImagePA060096 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

I do use a (non-abrasive) ridgeline and prussics, and have sacrificial paracord hanging off all of the side webbing loops because I do use potentially abrasive reflective cord for those guy lines. If I need to stake down one side as a / windbreak I don’t want the sil-nylon or webbing directly on the ground.

I just checked the webbing ties on that Tundra Tarp; 15 years of hard use, zero visible wear.

I can’t imagine that Cooke started used cheaper webbing, his products have a reputation for constant material and design improvement. I’d buy another Tundra Tarp in a heart beat, kinda want a 10 x 10 for solo use.


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PostPosted: November 23rd, 2021, 8:50 am 
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That is an unfortunate experience. Cooke is a one man shop. E mail Dan and share your unhappiness. He is a paddler too.

I have had a Tundra Tarp for 15 years and only need to buy another as I hate blending in.. I have green I want yellow.

Don't use reflective cord.. Reflective tape is good.


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PostPosted: November 23rd, 2021, 9:54 am 
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Thats great your tarp shows no webbing wear. The only thing I can think of is he changed webbing. The webbing on my tarp work through after 3 trips. If he did change webbing hopefully he changes it back.

I did contact Dan. Details in the OP. I will not be using CCS tarps moving forward as I can no longer trust their tarps. Tarps are a critical part of our camping experience.


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