Winter is coming. As I wrote this the mercury is reading 0C and my thoughts are turning to getting my backpacking gear ready for when Spring comes.
I’m a fan of tarps and poncho tarps for three season backpacking and I’ve been pondering for a while now how to make the transition from raingear to shelter quickly. Thereverse too. There were two problems I wanted to solve:
- To attach and remove guylines quickly. Walking while wearing a poncho tarp festooned with guylines is a trip hazard so they need to be removed. It is possible to roll up the guylines and fasten them up but, in my experience, they always come undone. On the other hand, attaching guylines to your shelter that doubles as a waterproof needs to be quickly or you get soaked when it raining or cold when it’s windy. Having cold hands doubles the “fun”!
- It’s nice to be able to retension a tarp without leaving the comfort of your shelter. Silnylon always sags after a while and when it’s wet the sagging is worse.
I’ve dealt with the first problem by using guylines attached a mini carabiner but the retensioning has proved to be more difficult to solve. The options seemed to be either use a clove hitch at the peg end (a la Ray Jardine) or to use a lineloc (or a sliding tension knot) as a guylines tensioner. However, all these solutions mean leaving the shelter to faff about with knots or the linelocs which is not good when it’s raining.
Then I found the Nite Ize CamJam. They come in packs of two complete with 12 feet (3.7m) of reflective guyline and are very light. I’ve not tried them in anger but they appear to be incredibly strong – I can’t stress them under any load that I can put on them – so I think they will do the job of holding a tarp down in strong wind.
The design is sheer elegance. The carabiner part clips onto the shelter’s guylines attachment points and the line runs off to the peg. Simply tie a loop knot to slip over the peg and you’re done. The guylines can then be tensioned as it passes through a simple offset cam on the carabiner. Once you’re in the shelter retensioning is easy because the cam is part of the carbiner body attached to the tarp. At most you’ll get a hand wet reaching for it. Problem number 2 solved! To release the tension all that is needed is to pull the guylines to one side. Simple, quick, easy to use and light!
A picture is worth a thousand words so here’s a picture I’ve taken from Nite Ize’s site that makes the concept very clear.