Simple Flies and Shelters
Sometimes the sheer volume of stuff needed to prepare can be overwhelming. When it comes to shelters, rather than looking for a specialty item to suit every situation, a few simple and versatile supplies may be a superior option. With only tarps, rope and tent pegs it is possible to:
- Set up a quick emergency shelter for people or supplies (click here for ideas)
- Provide additional rain protection for your tent in very wet weather.
- Provide additional groundcover for your tent on soggy ground.
- Set up a privacy screen for an outdoor shower or toilet.
- Protect a damaged roof until permanent repairs can be made. (Attaching with nails and 2x4s is preferable but ropes can be attached to corners, thrown over the ridge, pulled to position tarp to cover damage and overhang the ridge a bit, then securely tied. Useful when it would not be safe to walk on a roof.)
- Cover belongings on a vehicle luggage rack or trailer.
Considerations when purchasing:
- Tarps come in a huge range of sizes and thicknesses. Smaller and lighter may be preferable for including in an individual 72-hour backpack, but would be inadequate for a roof repair or family-size shelter. Purchase according to most essential needs first and add others as you are able.
- Some tarps come with a reflective side that can be useful in reflecting heat either toward or away from people trying to maintain a safe temperature.
- Military surplus 35 foot parachutes with the lines cut can often be found on the internet for around $75. These make very lightweight but strong emergency shelters and can protect a person from extreme cold by wrapping up in the parachute if a sleeping bag is not available. Air gets trapped between the layers of material which will insulate from cold.
- Rope also comes in various sizes. Packaging will typically list the product’s safe load limit in the specifications. Nylon and polypropylene are good and relatively inexpensive materials to look for. Paracord is more expensive, but very strong and lightweight.
- Large 8-12 inch nails or spikes at hardware stores make the best tent and tarp pegs. They don’t bend and can be driven into hard soil or wood without damage. We spray paint ours red to make them easy to spot. A hammer to nail them into hard soil with a modified claw to remove the spikes is also very handy. The hammer can be any cheap one with a wooden handle. The spacing between the two parts of the claw may need widening with a file or grinder.