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Be Tarp Smart!

A lightweight waterproof tarp, such as a Noah’s Tarp, may be a sea kayakers’ best friend in the coastal temperate rainforest of Southeast Alaska’s panhandle. Some means of shelter should be included in your kit on any outing, and the pack-ability of modern nylon tarps makes it hard to justify going without one, even on a day trip.

The following are a few suggestions for expedition kayaking with your tarp:

  • Make sure it is the last piece of gear that goes into your hatches, that way it can be the first thing out.
  • Practice setting up your tarp as fast as possible with the help of a buddy. When you pull into a camp at the end of a rainy day, you can quickly have a dry place to unload your gear into.
  • On a lunch break, just take your tarp and with a few buddies, huddle underneath it like the parachute in fifth grade gym class. You will have dryness, and WARMTH, in minutes!
  • On the wettest of days, your tarp can provide a dry sanctuary for setting up and taking down your tent. This takes the haste and stress out of setting up tents in a downpour, and ensures your tent body will stay reasonably dry. Same goes when its’ time to take it down the next day.
  • Keeping a tarp set up over your tent gives you more space for gear, and helps to keep gear & tents from becoming saturated with water, thus adding weight you have to paddle around!
  • Most importantly, make sure to stow your tarp in a way that it will be easily unpacked and deployed. This means coiling and tying up your guy-lines so they won’t be a tangled mess next time you need it in a hurry.

And, I will sum it up with a recent observation I have had on the ability for tarps to actually deter inclement weather. If you set up your tarp every time you make a camp, your days will be far drier than if you wait until it begins raining to set it up. Likewise if you forget your tarp on your next trip, it may be your rainiest trip yet! This is sound and proven advice from one of the wettest places in North America!


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