On Discovering Self

"Walk in Peace... Learn from Nature... Find Yourself...

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Tarp Shelters: Should You Have Some Sort Of Cover?

   When I first started on my BushclassUSA Basic lessons in the fall of 2011, what I soon discovered was that the lessons not only gave me a chance to continue to polish my skills in bushcraft, but they also gave me a good list of things to do while I was out in the bush. Each adventure came with a challenge and the effort and energy I had was used to focus on accomplishing something. It gave some needed structure to the activity. Not that I don't enjoy going out in the wilderness, with no plan in mind. In point of fact, a lot of my best adventures come from the unplanned explorations and discovering what skills I need to use along the way.
   But if you are going to go out with a purpose, then following the lessons for BushclassUSA is about as good a plan as any. Besides, you get course credit and that makes it a lot more interesting especially when you have to record the event for future postings to the Student Practice threads.
   One of the very first lessons I completed, really came about as a whim. I had my USGI Poncho with me, and I had some paracord of various lengths in my "line" kit. As I was out and about, and it was a little cloudy and looking like it might rain, I thought maybe I would just setup my poncho as a shelter and in so doing, accomplish yet another lesson for bushclass and maybe in the process figure out some other things I could put together in my "line" kit, like toggles and tent stakes and such. I also wanted to see just how fast I could create a shelter from what I had on hand. Here is what it looked like, once it was up.

I discovered that once I had all the pieces together that it took about four minutes to hang the poncho (or a tarp in any case) between a couple of well placed trees. The nice thing about the USGI Poncho is that it can also double as a piece of rain gear or if the poncho liner is tied into it, can act as a light duty sleeping bag with pretty good water repellency, almost like a bivy sack.
   I still carry my poncho around in at least one of my day bags, but since that time I have purchased the Bushcraft Outfitters M.E.S.T.
   That is the Multipurpose Emergency Survival Tarp . It is an amazing piece of gear and now goes with me on nearly every outing, freeing my poncho to be what it was meant to be.
   Flash forward to one of my latest adventures shared with some new bushcrafters practicing their BushclassUSA lessons. My good friend, Little Jon, decided to accomplish his "Student Practice for a Tarp Shelter" by hanging his newly purchased MEST for the first time. He also got to learn some valuable knots at the same time, and will most probably post that lesson up as well, just as soon as he can get some pictures taken. Here is a short video I made covering Little Jon's lesson this last Saturday. (I mentioned his other lesson of that day in the previous post)

   Shelter building is an essential part of the bushcraft skill set, and it is one that needs mastery in many different forms, from the simple tarp shelter to the simple debris shelter and then to even the larger wiki-ups for many more individuals. It begins with a good grasp of necessary knots, cover materials (nylon versus canvas, etc.) and a good understanding of natural materials and their insulating and waterproofing characteristics.
   I am sure we will explore more of these things in future posts, but I wanted to share what we have been doing lately and encourage you to try a few things yourself. Consider get the MEST as I posted the link above. It is a good piece of gear at a good price. Until next time, Happy Exploring.

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