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I'm in the middle of the country, in Kansas. Not a lot of trees. Most of the tarp camping setups always show camping in the woods. Wanting to try tarp camping, but I'll be mostly in areas without a lot of trees and those around would be smallish, mostly. At this time of year, we're very likely to have winds from the south. My initial thought was to do a plough point setup with the open side facing due north. But, would there be any better setups instead and why?

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    If you happen to read German: there's a long tradition in German scouting (and other youth organisations) of building tents out of special kinds of tarps, mostly called Kohtenblätter, with a lot of established forms that require only one stick, see e.g. here or here. I suppose those setups are quite well-tested. – phipsgabler Aug 21 at 8:02
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    As for poles: if you don't use walking sticks, there are very light composable systems of poles to carry separately for exactly this purpose -- I know them from military 1-person tents. – phipsgabler Aug 21 at 8:02
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It's easy to set up a tarp with either one or two walking sticks.

Nice weather tarp: Peg one side to the ground. Put the tip of the walking stick through a grommet on side adjacent to the pegged side. Peg the next corner. Run a guy line from the top of the stick to front.

Repeat for back end. Adjust.

Bad weather coming from known direction

Peg down corner in the direction of the coming storm. This is the Windward corner W.

Peg down one adjacent corner.

Peg down other adjacent corner, but pivot using W toward the kitty corner so that the tarp isn't flat. Raise the leeward corner and stake with your walking stick. Adjust the kittycorner pegs if needed.

Seriously bad weather.

Peg down two corners toward the storm.

Walking stick at the midpoint corner at the other side. Guy out the walking stick.

Adjust the height of the walking stick so the remaining two corners just touch the ground. Peg them there.

This is the best setup for snow.


Using two walking sticks as a bi-pod is more stable.

Some of these are really low. Use your pack to support the low end so that the tarp doesn't touch your sleeping bag.

A walking stick run to it's short length, with point in the ground, and spare pair of socks or a cup over the end to protect the tarp will also work, but is less stable.


Cheats:

In campgrounds, throw your tarp over a picnic table.

Or tie one corner to the roof rail of your car, and another to the front bumper.

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  • You don't say how you're travelling, and this answer covers some options for hiking with poles or driving. Similar to some of the trekking pole ideas are [some used for bikepacking (an old question of mine)] . They may be worth a look even if you're hiking - certainly the design I used would adapt easily to a single pole (it's almost the same as the second option in the answer, but with the main support moved a little under the tarp - I'd use a pole handle end upwards in that way) – Chris H Aug 19 at 7:32
  • Your second description (bad weather known direction) sounds like the plough point setup. Your first sounds like the diamond setup. Do I have that correct? – Bill Aug 19 at 19:29
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    Bill: Never heard of either so I can't say for sure. But they seem reasonable. – Sherwood Botsford Aug 22 at 21:16
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    Chris: I always assume I'm walking or canoeing with some need for traveling light. Exceptions above for car camping cheats. – Sherwood Botsford Aug 22 at 21:17

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