I was fortunate enough to be given an Alpkit Rig 7 Tarp by a friend who no longer required it. For non-UK readers of this blog: Alpkit are a British company specialising in good quality hiking, biking and climbing gear who are highly regarded for the quality of their goods.
Here are some details of the tarp taken from the Alpkit website:
- Fabric: 30D PU coated siliconised Cordura fabric
- Attachment points: 24 reinforced hypalon rig points: 8 lifter tabs, 16 exterior tie down points
- Total Weight (inc. stuff sack): 550 g
- Open dimensions: 2.4 x 2.8 m
- Stuffed size: 8 x 18 x 18 cm
The Rig 7 isn’t the lightest tarp by any stretch but it’s not backbreaking and provides a palatial amount of room for the single backpacker. To be fair though the shelter is meant for 2 or 3 people so 275g per person is getting close to ultralight; add in an ultralight bivy and each person would be carrying about 500g each. I don’t think that is excessively heavy to be sheltered from wind and rain.
Mine has been used but I couldn’t see any signs of wear at all. Cordura is pretty tough stuff! The stitching is perfect and there is no sign of stress on any of the tieouts. The tarp has 24 tieout points so it can be pitched in a multitude of configurations. I should add the Rig 7 is a flat tarp so it’s very adaptable.
I’ve played around with some basic setups and I have to say I’m impressed with the coverage offered. These are shown the pictures at the end of the text. BTW: I’ve blacked out my partner as she didn’t want to appear in the published shots. I don’t pretend they are perfect pitches but they serve to show the sort of setups that can be easily done first time out. They did allow me to work out what else would be needed to make a taut, weatherproof pitch.
- 1. In the lean-to shapes the back wall is a tad flappy and, in the real world, needs guying using the tieouts in the centre of the tarp.
- 2. The lean-to’s all offer a huge amount of space to shelter under but they aren’t best suited for changing wind directions. They could be improved by bringing in the support poles and then dropping the outer segments of the roof.
- 3. In the third shot I created a little floor space but it’s only just wide enough to lay on. For comfort I think a length of polycro would extend this floor and make it more usable.
- 4. In the tent configuration it would be possible to shelter two hikers and kit from the elements on three sides. I am 5ft 10ins and I have plenty of overhead coverage but I think it might be a bit exposed for two hikers over 6ft tall.
- 5 I did try pitching it the A frame configuration but didn’t take a photo! In this shape the tarp provides a massive amount of coverage and can be set very low to the ground or with one end low and the other high for ease of access. I can’t imagine getting wet even in really foul weather if one side was pegged directly to the floor. In benign conditions a high pitch would allow great views and ventilation.
- In every pitch I tried there is ample room to shelter and cook without the dangers of suffocation or setting the tarp alight. Obviously care must be taken with flames.