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Thread: Best options for a newbie?

  1. #1

    Default Best options for a newbie?

    So I have a 2 man tent and 4 man tent but I was wondering if I'd be better off with a hamock/bivvy and tarp or shall I just use a tent for now?
    If I was to get a tarp then what would you guys recommend? I have about £200 to play with when it comes to getting sleeping/shelter gear but I don't want to spend more money than I have to.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2014


    There's no one path to enlightenment, it is a journey of discovery.
    Nobody can tell you with any certainty what will work best for you, how you interact with the environment and what kind of experience you want will be unique to you.

    That said the paths of many travellers cross the same problems, Welsh weather being one of them.
    Most will heartily recommend the DD 3x3 metre tarp including myself, string it high in summer & fold into a tent shape for winter but their are other options.
    If you have a good tent and weight is not an issue then use it, nobody will appear from behind a tree and say that's not bushcraft! Couple of the homeless guys around Carmarthen use the cheap dome tents with the painters dust sheets from poundland over them to provide better rain protection. It's not ideal but it works for their situation.

    DD Hammocks Tarp 3x3m 850g £37.00
    Cheap Poly Camo Tarp 3.5x5.4m 1500g £10.75
    British Army BASHA 2x1.8m 850g £20-30.00
    Nylon Poncho 1.8x1.5m 200 £12
    Polish Lavvu (half-tent/rain cape) 1750g £15
    It may seem like a good idea at the time but never open a tin of beans with an axe

  3. #3


    Hammocking can be fun but bivvy and a tarp is much better imo. I have a DPM basha I suspend low to the ground then crawl in in a bivvy, makes a nice low profile camp. A tarp can usually be strung in different ways aswell, the other way i donut is to string it at an angle like one side of a triangle to serve as a windbreak - Now re-launched.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2016


    It's all personal choice mate.

    As for a tarp choice, as has been said a lot of people rate the DD 3x3 highly. Me Personally I'd look at some zeltbahn/shelter half designs but that's just the phase I'm going through atm

    Sent from my SM-G950F using Tapatalk

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Blog Entries


    Stick with the tent until you are sure you are having fun, look at other peoples' set ups, borrow a bit to try (if you can ) and work from what seems "right".
    If you go for the tarp option I recommend the DD 4x4 as it is simple, strong, gives good cover for a hammock set up in even bad weather or lots of space/pitching options with a bivvi bag ... for even worse weather
    Love makes the World go round......Lust makes it all go pear-shaped...

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2015


    One of the first things I purchased was a DD 3x3 tarp.
    I still have the same one now, they are a great piece of kit.
    You can use it to give yourself some covered living space when taking a tent, use it under your tent to protect your groundsheet and give yourself a bit of a mat to keep your gear off damp ground.
    String it up for lunchtime or a brew. Use it to cover a hammock a bivvy bag or just a sleeping bag.
    I think it is probably the most versatile bit of kit I have purchased for the hobby and at less than 40 quid it works out at around 10p a use at the moment.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2009


    The DD 3x3m is a great tarp, I also have the lite version, also good and packs down well. A tarp gives a great deal of versatility no matter how you choose to sleep.

    Bivi bags are not for me, I don't like to wake up with ground beetles in my sleeping bag or slugs on my face. My camping options are:

    4m canvas bell tent, great for a weekend out with Madam and the dogs.
    Vango Banshee 200, good light option that will just about cram 2 but not a very roomy tent.
    Hammock and DD tarp.

    This vid posted by Shewie is pretty inspirational and will probably lead you to a tarp purchase
    "Nature is an old lady with few suitors these days, and those who wish to make use of her charms she rewards passionately" Tim Krabbe

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2016


    Quote Originally Posted by nichiren-123 View Post
    I have about £200 to play with when it comes to getting sleeping/shelter gear but I don't want to spend more money than I have to.

    Use your 2-manner.

    You've just saved £200.

  9. #9


    I have the choice of a
    • 2-man Vaude tent,
    • 8-man polycotton Bison tipi,
    • Hennessey Hammock
    • UKHammocks Woodsman hammock
    • two Hex hammock tarps
    • one 2x3 sil nylon tarp
    • one 3x4 urethane/nylon True North tarp
    • a home sewn breathable bivi bag (does not zip closed)

    I am a huge fan of hammocks and tarps, but find that they are rather specialized and far from a good universal sleeping arrangement. I have found them excellent in southern Sweden and Norway (April to September for my trips). They fall down (pun intended) in most official camp sites due to the general lack of suitable support trees. For wild camping in the UK they aren't great either because permitted wild camping is mostly on moors, again not many trees. Even for non-permitted stealth camping (which we can't condone) they aren't great because of needing trees of a suitable size and spacing, and they can take up a fair foot print size.

    A 2x3 tarp is a bit small for use with a hammock, but offers enough dry space when pitched lower and used for a ground sleeper. The down sides are the lack of bug protection; ticks, harvest mites, slugs, beetles, midges and mossies, and that you very limited privacy when using camping fields/official sites. A bigger tarp, 3x3 and up, can give you a bit more privacy, if you pitch it right, but still not full 360deg the way a tent does. Tarp's big benefit is in how they can be ventilated, which you lose if you pitch low to the ground in a grass field. In that case the condensation and subsequent tarp-sag can be enormous.

    If you are looking for the most versatile solution, a tarp and bivi can be used together, or separately, and the tarp can be set up next to a tent to give you a nice food prep/eating/sitting area. The tarp can be used for a hammock, purchased later if you want.

    Not knowing what sort of 2-man tent you have, I wouldn't want to advise you stay with it, but tents are good choices for a lot of things in the UK. The challenge is getting one that is light enough not to be a burden without breaking the bank.
    "If you can keep your head, while those around you are losing theirs, you may not have grasped the seriousness of the situation."

    “Of all tyrannies, one sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies, for those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience...”
    paraphrased C.S. Lewis.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Mid Wales


    I have options of a bivvy bag (ex army), tarp (DD 3x3), bivvy bag and tarp, hammock and tarp, two-man Saunders Spacepacker tent.

    I'll be honest, if I know the weather is going to be torrential, I'll use the tent every time; we're not masochists. My preference, weather permitting, is to wake up with as little around me as possible so, usually, that's the tarp and a good sleeping bag on a lightweight self-inflating mattress. You get a much better sense of the fresh air than in a tent; I even enjoy the odd frosty morning! I have never ever woken up with slugs and other creepy crawlies sharing my abode but I do put a touch of insect repellant on my face and hands in summer.

    Stick to the tent, get out, talk to others (but remember people have a habit of becoming disciples for the latest gear they've just spent money on) and make your decisions as your experience grows.



  11. #11


    As you have 2 tents, I would treat myself to a 4 by 4 metre DD tarp. It will give you a "vast" living/working area and so transform your camp.
    I would also go down the DD Hammock route as this would transform the "style" of camp.
    I have had 3x3 tarps for a good while but when I got the 4x4 I was amazed by increase in working area.

  12. #12


    Since its going into winter i would stick with the tent and use the money you have to ensure your sleeping bag and mat are up to scratch. Tarps +Bivvys (or Hammock) are nice to have but if your not used to setting them up they can be a pain in the cold and damp.

    "I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion."

    Alexander the Great

  13. #13


    Try Alpkit tarps, from here:
    No connection just a very satisfied customer.
    Their customer service has always been excellent for me and equivalent products are often way more expensive.
    The Rig 7 bundle seems very good value and is a complete tarp kit except for tree huggers or straps.

    Anyone else use them?

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2013


    I use a dd hammock+tarp and i also carry a lightweight bug bivvy with it. As others have said, depending on find the right trees in the right location can be a problem sometimes, so i have the bivy as a backup.

    But if im intending a long day cycling/walking, i cant really fault the tent option for just sticking it up and collapsing inside it out of the elements, less fuss really.
    I do prefer the open aspect of tarps, but sometimes not suitable either.

    If you are just looking to go lighter than your 2 man tent, perhaps something like this?
    Kinda has the open feeling of tarp and bivy, and nice and light.
    Not cheapest mind you..

    As for what tarp, i have the 3x3. Big enough to cover my hammock in rectangle shape, and plenty of cover in diamond shape. Not sure i would like to go up to 4x4, i think that would limit options too much with choice of trees. Most times i have to set up in square shape as the trees are too close together for diamond, but obviously this varies depening on the trees.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Grand Cayman


    Use your 2 man tent, and use the money you have saved to buy something for your partner.

    If it is a two part tent ( inner and outer tent) I personally would use only the outer part during the warm season.

  16. #16


    Thanks for the help guys. I've decided to go with the DD 3m^2 tarp and the alpkit hunka bivvy and keep my tent for backup if it gets too cold to use the tarp.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Grand Cayman


    If you are happy to carry all that, why not?


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