Chris Townsend spends some time under the lightest shelters for backpacking

The Competition Tarp is as basic as a shelter can be, just a flat sheet with eight attachment points on the sides. It can be pitched as a lean-to or a ridge tent. In either configuration it can be pitched high for good ventilation and headroom or low for better weather protection. The small size means it’s hard to get full protection though, unless you pitch it so low you have to crawl underneath it, which isn’t very comfortable and means you’re in contact with the fabric. I’d rather use it with a bivi bag and just have it covering the head end so there was space for cooking, sitting and gear storage.

The very low weight of this tarp means it could be carried to extend the porch of a tent or as a separate cooking shelter. I’ve carried a similar tarp on walks in grizzly bear country where it’s unwise to cook in or near your tent. This is not something likely to bother backpackers in Britain though!

First published: June 2013