The tent and tarpaulin setup covers all eventualities of the camp

If you’ve traveled extensively in a land of lakes and rivers, you know the issues that worry even the most seasoned wilderness traveller: overgrown portages, hungry bugs, storms, or coastlines forcing you to camp in less than ideal situations. For these reasons, a good tent and tarpaulin will keep you from ending your day cold, wet, and insect-infested. A dry tent in a downpour also serves as an oasis in the middle of a heavy cloud of insects. Just as a tarp can be your ticket to light a fire on rainy days, or enough time to add layers and escape the chill of a damp forest. For paddlers, a tent and tarpaulin are essential, and there are a few settings out there that will tick all the boxes required and cover any eventuality you might hope for.

Wakakimi Park. David Jackson

100 wing shelter

There’s a term we toss around that refers to the ninja skills and downright creativity that sometimes go into building a trustworthy plan. We call it tarpaulin. And while it may not be a real word, it is sure to find its way into your vocabulary after feeling the satisfaction of a well-placed, tight tarp. The tricks associated with upgrading are best learned through trial and error, but the need for a reliable tarp is essential.

Ontario canoe tarpaulinLake Nipigon, Ontario. David Jackson

Key features like the tight sewing of the lashing points mean you can pull your tarp tight until the strings play like a banjo without tearing any fabric or attachments. Tightness is crucial if you have wind or heavy rain, as a dense fabric free from sagging means less saturation for those below. At just over a pound, the MSR 100 Wing Shelter is the perfect combination of minimal, lightweight portability and bombproof toughness that you can rely on for paddling trips.

Jackson Plane CanoeLake Nipigon, Ontario. David Jackson

The A-frame design means that rigging can be extremely simple. The lashing points of the ridge can be attached to two stable anchors and lifted using metal eyelets either on a paddle, on trees or on walking sticks to create the center line of the tarpaulin. The eyelets mean you won’t risk propping up your tarpaulin with things that will tear the material, and that any additional lashing points can be securely attached to whatever is available, be it stakes, rocks or even a canoe. When the tarpaulin is wrapped up, it is slightly larger than a fist and sits slightly on top of a pack where it is ready to use.

Mesh houseWakakimi Park. David Jackson

Walk through Mesh House

The best thing about the 100 Wing-Plane is that it is not only designed as a stand-alone tarpaulin, but also as a companion to the ultra-light Thru-Hiker Mesh House. When you’ve turned your tarp into the perfect rig, you can simply put an A-frame insect screen underneath it. This will give you a dry floor to sleep in and a tightly woven bug net will keep black flies and mosquitoes out where they should be.

Mesh wabakimiWakakimi Park. David Jackson

With the freedom of not having to carry tent poles, you can set up the shelter in almost any setting. On starry nights you can lie in the safety of your insect oasis and still look at the world above you. It’s a shelter that we tucked into our backpack for the perfect nights because it only weighs 14 ounces, takes up so little space in our backpack, and can on nights when we only need a place to keep ourselves flawless we set it up in less than a minute and take it off just as quickly.

Mesh tent WabakimiDavid Jackson

The tarpaulin and shelter combination is a lightweight duo for paddlers, which means you can travel with less than 2 pounds of packed cargo, especially on shorter excursions where a little rain is predicted – with no poles to allow for the bag have to. Filling. And it’s one that will get you closer to the environment you love.

Wabakimi IslandWakakimi Park. David Jackson

Mutha Hubba

The thing about canoeing is that we need to prepare for everything we know: high winds, excessive rain, insects or cold. The battle is that if you are windbound you want a tent big enough to hang out inside comfortably. However, if a tent is too large and not designed to withstand severe weather, there is a risk that it will tear or be destroyed.

Tent raining MSRA rainy September afternoon at Sleeping Giant Provincial Park near Thunder Bay, ON. David Jackson

The MSR Mutha Hubba takes up a lot of space and puts it in a storm-proof Xtreme Shield case. The tunnel design allows the tent to be set up in such a way that it is exposed to the prevailing wind, which not only maximizes airflow, but also allows the wind to travel over the tent body without fear of collapsing. When the guy-outs are attached to the Easton Syclone poles, a virtually indestructible bond is created when attached to good lashing straps such as trees or large stones. In addition to structural integrity, the presence of two vestibules is the most important design feature that paddlers must look out for. The freedom to designate one area for wet gear or backpacks while the other side is for your view of the lake is one touch that makes a tent your home.

Canoe trip tent campingDavid Jackson

Apart from bad weather, tents are our humble abode on the doorstep of nature. Some evenings we read the crack of a moose in a nearby swamp, like a busy neighbor you love to hear. In other cases, a Swainson’s thrush song can put us back to sleep in the wee hours of the morning. The only thing that always amazes us is how often we look at our cozy tent, out of reach of sparks of fire or neatly tucked away in a cedar grove, our home in the wilderness we love, a tool for access to the inaccessible.

Tent canoe camp near the circuit of Lake Nipigon, OntarioDavid Jackson

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