I have been thinking about getting a flat tarp! I have used the Zpacks Hexamid Pocket Tarp before and I really enjoyed it! So I would love to hear your experiences with the Hyperlite Flat Tarp and if you enjoyed it!! I have been wanting to get it for a while to test it out but I would love to hear from all of you!
I am a big fan of tarps in general and have used them for many years. For me the HMG Flat Tarp excels in terms of coverage-to-weight ratio. Meaning the 8x10 size I carry is spacious for two but it's so darn light I don't have to scrutinize carrying it for just me. And that is a plus for things like solo bikepacking as I can incorporate my rig into the shelter and have TONS of room to spread out gear as needed. When it rains I can comfortably sit up beneath my tarp, watch the the drops roll off the canopy, and consider myself lucky I'm not cramped into a squat little shelter.
Since you've used the Hexamid Pocket Tarp you've embraced the general advantages of a tarp set-up like simplicity and light weight. Flat tarps, however, simply can't be rivaled in terms of versatility. So unlike a tarp shelter which is designed to be pitched in a specific manner, the ways in which one can deploy a flat tarp are endless. Each night's camp is a blank canvas!
The pitches using my bike above are brilliant examples. I also have camped at spots that have trees, large rocks, or other obstructions that don't provide a large enough footprint for a tent or tarp shelter. A flat tarp can be pitched over and around obstacles so that all one truly needs is a flat spot the size of a bedroll. I enjoy incorporating nature's "obstacles" into my pitches in fact. Trees are great since only one is absolutely needed:
Of course there is the traditional A-frame pitch many people think of when they conjure an image of using a tarp:
Back to versatility though, I appreciate partially open pitches that a flat tarp allows. These protect one from wind and weather. Every outdoorsperson's mileage may vary but I find tarps to be enjoyable in moderate winter conditions when pitched low and enclosed:
One final thing I will mention. For most of us ultralight adventures aren't the only means by which we spend nights outside. I use my flat tarp when canoe tripping or even car camping when otherwise I plan to sleep in a tent. The tarp covers a picnic table perfectly so it can be suspended to create a dining fly in wet weather. It functions as a groundsheet if needed. I've also pitched it vertically between two trees to make a windbreak when the weather is howling.
Flat tarps rock! And the HMG is one of the best I've ever used. It's a fantastic piece of kit that covers the bases from UL solo treks to group base camping. I can't think of many other pieces of gear that are quite so versatile and adaptable.
Happy trails! -- Fleck3
I've spent a few nights or so under flat tarps (mainly 8'x10' and 7'x9') and overall have had positive experiences! Like Tesoro above, the biggest advantages for me are the versatility of pitches and weight/packability. There's nothing like having a baseball-sized shelter in your pack (much like the packed size of the pocket tarp).
I'd say one of the biggest advantages the HMG tarps have over other tarps are the number of tie-outs that are available. Other ultralight tarps I've used tend to have minimal tie out options (4 corners, 2 ridgeline, and maybe 2 edge tie-outs). Having the additional mid-panel tie outs really comes in handy when you're doing some flat tarp-origami and could really use a few extra inches of livable space in a storm. Plus, the two underside tie outs are ideal for using a bivy underneath. I used a Borah Bug Bivy under a 7'x9' flat tarp without underside tie outs on the AT and the hot nights with bug pressure were pretty damn miserable with the mesh laying on me, rather than being suspended above.
That being said, it's not all sunshine and roses. Unfortunately, I learned the hard way that site-selection and being overly aware of the overnight weather is key when flat tarping. Flat Tarping also leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to livable space (moreso when in inclement weather/bug pressure). Hilariously, someone once said to me, "There are two types of people on long-distance trails; Thru-Hikers and Thru-Campers. Which one are you gonna be?"
I think my answer is heavily dependent on the day, haha3
I've been thinking about using a tarp for light and fast mountaineering as a sort of bivy alternative. I've wondered about the size/ability to set it up well, but I have a hunch a little creativity and it would be a life saver. That is if I don't just start using the Ultamid 2 as soon as I can afford it haha0
The flat tarp can be rigged in storm mode which is a good fit for high and windy places such as just below a glacier remnant at 6,000'2
I used the 8x10 flat tarp for my AT thru hike this year and loved it! The versatility of it was my favorite part, being able to pitch it in any configuration imaginable depending on the conditions. When the weather was fair I would always have it wide open so I would have plenty of room to spread out. A few times I even shared it with a second person if tenting options were sparse. In bad weather it preformed awesome with a low wide pitch. Here are some pictures of a few of my favorite set-ups.1
THAT is some solid tarpin', @Patch96 !1