When loading our backpacks for a western hunt, we’re always looking for gear that’s lighter, more durable and serves a very tangible purpose. It’s event better when a piece of gear can meet even more than one critical need.
We get excited about innovative new gear, and we know a lot of you do too. For that reason, we’re extremely excited to introduce you to the new Caribou Gear Hunter’s Tarp. This tarp serves a number of purposes for hunters in the field. It’s durable. It’s waterproof. And it weighs a mere 4.3 ounces.
Intrigued? Let’s get into the details…
For years, we’ve been looking for a way to carry a tarp in the field on backcountry hunts. Most tarps are either too heavy to realistically carry in a daypack. Or they simply weren’t tough enough to withstand the jobs we needed them to do. Most tarps also lacked the features we wanted to make them a truly multi-purpose item. So, we set out to design one.
We started with a lightweight rip-stop nylon material as the foundation for our tarp. After a great deal of research and testing, we found a material that met both our durability and weight objectives – two factors that are often at odds.
Next, we set out to determine the right waterproof coating. Of course, cheap PVC wouldn’t do. Not only did it have to be waterproof – it had to be durable enough to withstand the heavy weight of something like an elk or moose quarter. Plus, we didn’t want blood to soak through, even under this type of heavy weight. In the end, we landed on a double coating of silpolyU™ on both sides of the tarp – four total layers.
We knew this type of construction wouldn’t be cheap. But for this combination of performance and lightweight design, it was something that we would feel confident carrying in our own backpacks on a hunt. Therefore, we opted not to cut any of these corners.
In addition to the basic construction, we had specific features in mind that we wanted to see on a tarp. First, we wanted durable stake loops attached in convenient locations. This would allow us to stake out the tarp neatly for processing or deboning an animal. Stake loops would also allow us to pitch the tarp as a field shelter for glassing or stormy weather.
We discovered that these loops should also be light reflective. When hanging the tarp over a cache of meat for shade or weather protection, reflective loops would allow us to find the meat by headlamp if we returned in the dark for a second load.
Next, we wanted to include a waterproof stuff sack. This had to be ultra lightweight, not adding any significant weight to the total package. But when putting the tarp away after use, a waterproof stuff sack would be important to ensure that neither precipitation nor blood would get inside the hunter’s daypack.
Finally, we came to the conclusion that we needed to include four lightweight aluminum ground stakes. With these, the ultimate versatility of the tarp would be possible. And the entire package would still be just a little over 5 ounces.
The Final Design
When it’s all said and done, the Caribou Gear Hunter’s Tarp met each of our required specifications. The tarp alone weighs only 4.3 ounces. With the waterproof stuff sack and four ground stakes, the entire packed weight is only 5.6 ounces. That’s easily light enough to carry every day of a hunt – particularly considering the usefulness it provides.
The tarp is 5-feet by 4-feet, which is large enough to make a suitable glassing or storm shelter, or to debone elk quarters on the ground – while not being any larger than necessary to minimize space and weight. The packed size is a mere 4 inches by 4.5 inches.
How to Use the Hunter’s Tarp
As we’ve already mentioned, there are a variety of uses for the Hunter’s tarp. First, it can be pitched using trekking poles or a tree branch along with guy lines and the included stakes. This makes an ideal shelter when glassing for long periods in the sun or when waiting out a mountain storm. With four layers of silpolyU™ coating, the tarp is totally waterproof.
Next, the tarp can be staked out flat on the ground to provide a clean surface for placing meat quarters or deboning those quarters. If you’re processing an animal on a steep slope, you can stake one corner folded back uphill, creating a pocket. This allows you to place a quarter on the clean surface without it sliding down.
Once you’re ready to haul meat, the Hunter’s Tarp can be used as a backpack liner. Whether your backpack has a meat shelf or if you’re placing quarters inside the pack bag, swaddle each game bag in the tarp. Due to the highly waterproof coatings, blood won’t soak through the game bags even under this heavy weight.
If you’re hanging meat in the backcountry or at a base camp, you can suspend the tarp to create shade and to keep the meat dry.
The Hunter’s Tarp is Available Now
We currently have the new Caribou Gear Hunter’s Tarp in stock and ready to ship. We’re offering fast, free shipping on all orders from CaribouGear.com. In addition to the Hunter’s Tarp, make sure you have game bags and other essentials for this hunting season.
Most importantly, please send us your feedback and photos! We’d love to see the new Hunter’s Tarp in action this year and hear your feedback on its performance. Best of luck and have fun out there this year!