Thinking back over some of my “wild camping” trips years ago, camping out with my mates equipped with barely adequate provisions for even the fairest weather, let alone the unavoidable downpours of rain that always seemed to appear from nowhere. Those experiences taught me that learning something about shelter building, and having the right gear is the difference between getting a good nights sleep, and having to abort mission following an attack from mother nature.
“It’s character building son!” and “It’ll toughen you up a bit” my dad used to say, but actually I’d prefer to stay warm and dry, and I like my sleep too. So I always make sure that the gear I choose is up to job, I want to thrive – not just survive – and enjoy my time in the outdoors.
For this post, I have collaborated with www.aboveandbeyond.co.uk who provided me with a DD Hammocks 3x3m waterproof tarp to try. I chose the Multicam camo pattern (what else?), which turned up in a very small packet (!) A very good start, as I wanted something that would easily fit in my pack and take up very little room.
DD Hammocks have a reputation for producing exceptional equipment which is designed to stand up to the rigours of being used out in the field. The materials used are durable and hard wearing, and the thought that goes into the design of their products make them more than adequate for bushcraft or wild camping.
Their range of tarps has been very well received, and I am pretty chuffed about getting my hands on one for my own use. The DD Tarp MC comes neatly packed in its own matching camo stuff sack, tightly secured with a cord drawstring and toggle. As I mentioned before, it is very nice and compact, measuring approx 10″ x 6″ x 4″ in its sack. It is also very light and weighing only 790 grams, it ticks the first box with no problems as it fits in a side pocket of my pack with room to spare.
Click on images to ENLARGE ….
Materials & Design
The tarp comes ready-to-go and comes with 4 x guy lines and some metal pegs, I always like to make my own stakes out of timber as I find that they hold better but it’s great that the tarp can be used right out of the bag without the need for any other items.
The tarp comes neatly pre-folded in the stuff sack. DD Hammocks advise that you don’t fold the tarp the same way each time (change after 10 times) – I prefer to randomly stuff the tarp into the tarp to help preserve the strength of the material, and it’s quicker.
The 190T polyester material is very lightweight, and has PU (Polyurethane) 3000mm waterproof coating. To get the best life out of the tarp, it is advisable to avoid prolonged exposure to strong UV light which can cause the waterproof coating to degrade over time. Not a problem for me as I almost always camp in shaded woodland.
The design and placement of the attachment points on the DD tarp are the main selling point for me. Instead of metal eyelets (often the weakest point on some cheap tarps I have used) – DD have used strong nylon webbing loops that are double stitched (criss-cross pattern) through the tarp, also stitched through a very tough polyurethane material that reinforces each attachment point on the back. I gave each loop a good hard tug and they showed no sign of stress, all tension is held by the nylon webbing loops. I am very confident that these will hold without ripping the tarp under some pretty extreme conditions – very strong. All seams are taped and glued to add strength and keep the tarp waterproof, this has even been added to the centre ridge line.
There are 19 attachment points altogether, one on each corner, at measured intervals on each side, and DD have even added them along the centre lines so that a ridge line can be guided through the loops. The webbing loops are large enough to easily string onto a rope, paracord or bungee cords and will even allow a decent wooden stake to pass through. This allows the tarp to be put up and secured properly in a lot of different configurations.
I really love the Multicam camo pattern it blends in really well in the type of terrain that I usually like to camp. Maybe DD Hammocks will introduce some more camo patterns in the future?
Tarp Uses and Configurations
Being a square shape, the DD Tarp MC 3x3m can made into a number of different configurations (more so than a rectangular tarp). I most often like to use a simple A-Frame shelter, or perhaps a diamond configuration as a day shelter. Putting the tarp up is very quick and easy, the hardest part of the task it is finding a flat spot to make camp. As I mentioned earlier, I like to use my own cavred wooden stakes, which take no time at all to make with my axe, and hold better than the metal pegs (especially in soft woodland ground).
I usually find a spot between two trees at approximately 4-5 metres apart (so I can switch to a diamond configuration in the daytime). Then a will attach a bungee around each tree and run a line between the two trees. If I use bungees for the ridge line, I can often just hook them onto the attachment points midway along two opposite sides (just so easy!). For a diamond config, it is better to use a length of paracord so that you don’t get the dip along the middle of the shelter (caused by a concentration of tension across the middle when pegged).
I often like to string the tarp up at chin/head height during the day, and drop it down to chest height at night so that the sides can be pegged tight to the ground. There are a number of more complex configurations that I am currently experimenting with (low profile windproof designs) – but so far the trusty A-Frame has served me well so far.
As well as being strung up, the tarp is also useful for laying down as a groundsheet (being careful to remove sharp objects), or an extension to a tent or other shelter, and can even be used as a makeshift poncho in sudden torrential downpours.
The construction and design of the DD Tarp MC sets it apart from many of the other tarps I have used in the past. Now I can really have confidence in my shelter so that I can relax and get a good nights sleep,without having to worry about the tarp ripping away under the first gust of wind.
It is very affordable too and retails at £40.00 – a good price to pay in my opinion for a quality bit of gear. In contrast I could buy a cheap £10-£15 tarp but I could easily wreck it on a one-night outing.
The size of the 3x3m tarp is perfect for me, has enough room for 2 adults (in a cosy A-frame), or will fit me and my two sons underneath with no issues. On a solo trip it gives me a palace with plenty of room for my other gear underneath too. I wanted something lightweight, but a decent size, and that packs up small to go in my rucksack. Also needed to be hard wearing and of course waterproof – This tarp ticks all of those boxes and I give it a 5 out of 5 – Awesome product!
- Size – 3m x 3m
- Colour – Multicam
- Weight – 790g (excl. pegs & guy lines)
- Includes – Tarp 3×3, 4 x pegs & guy lines, stuff sack with drawcord closure
- 19 tough reinforced attachment points: 16 around the sides and corners, and 3 along the centre (ridge line)
- 4 x pegs and guy lines included in their own bag
- Made from 190T polyester with PU 3000mm waterproof coating, and has a taped central seam
A Big Thanks to:
A big thanks to the guys at www.aboveandbeyond.co.uk for the opportunity to try out the DD 3 x 3 Tarp. #AdventureTested