If you are a tarp enthusiast then you already know that a ridge line is the backbone and guy lines are the appendages of this structure. Guy Lines are tensioned cables or lines designed to add stability to a free-standing structure. In this video I am going to cover several different ways to set up guy lines so you can set up your tarp for maximum comfort.
There are a lot of different cordages that one could choose when setting up your ridge or guy lines, and some are better than others, but ultimately it comes down to personal preference. Traditionalists and reenactors typically use natural fibers, and survivalists and preppers tend to favor paracord. I’ve seen ultralight guys use mason’s line, many people in the hammock community use Lash-it or Zing-it line, and others will use whatever is available. After using a variety different kinds of line, my preference is Zing-it because it is lightweight, strong, it is not slippery so it easily holds friction hitches, and it has little stretch under tension.
Attachment to Tarp
One of the most common ways to attach your line to a tie out or grommet is by using a Bowline Hitch. Feed your line into the tie out, then form a loop in the standing part of the line with the working part on top. Now feed the working end through the back of the loop, behind and around the standing line and back through the loop once more, then tighten. Or, instead of attaching your line directly to your tie outs, you can tie a loop onto one end of your guy lines and either girth hitch it onto the tie outs or use small carabiners for quick attachment and detachment.
Attachment to Stake
In a previous video I showed how to tie off guy lines to your stakes, but in case you didn’t see it, here is a quick recap. A clove hitch, a marlin spike hitch and a round turn and two slippery half hitches are three great knots that will do the trick.
Now that we know how to attach our guy lines and tie off our stakes, lets take a look at how we can add tension to our lines using a variety of hitches.
Lets start this out with one of the most used knots to add tension to a line: a trucker’s hitch. This knot is great because you can add it anywhere along the line that it needed. It begins with a figure of eight loop. The working part of the line is looped around a stake or object and fed back to and through the loop, tension is added to the line and it is locked in place with two half or slippery half hitches. Instead of tying a figure of eight loop, I use a variation of a marlin spike hitch. Instead of feeding a bite from the standing part, I feed it from the working end. The loop will slide a bit until it is secured, but this will work fine for light loads and the knot comes apart with a slight tug. If you have enough line then don’t even bother tying a loop, just feed the line back to the grommet and finish it with two slippery half hitches.
Taut Line Hitch
The second method is using a friction hitch, also known as the Taut Line Hitch. To tie this, we wrap the working end around the standing line twice, taking two turns, towards the inside of the loop that we are creating, then cross the working end over the turns and standing line and finish it off with a half hitch. If you want to quickly untie this later use a slipper half hitch to finish it off.
Farrimond Friction Hitch
Here is a variation of a Mooring Hitch known as the Farrimond Friction Hitch. Form a loop with the working part keeping the working end on the bottom of the loop. Take the loop and wrap it over and around the standing line inside of itself two or three times attaching the loop to the line like a prussic knot. Then form a bite from the working end and feed it into the loop, tighten the knot, and adjust it along the guy line to add the desired tension. When you are ready to untie this hitch just grab the working end and pull.
Another trick using the Prusik Knot is to attach it to your guy line, then girth hitch, or tie it, onto the corner of your tarp. Now you can adjust the tension of your guy lines from the inside of your shelter.
So, now that you know how to tie all of these knots, lets look at some hardware that can easily replace much of what I have just covered. Keep in mind, you can only carry so much, every ounce counts, and having the knowledge of how to tie these knots can only be beneficial if the hardware is not available.
Tent line tighteners or tensioners are common and come with most tents. They are usually plastic, have three holes that line can be woven through, and are tied off on the third hole. Currently several companies are designing these in a variety of materials and configurations. The purpose of this piece of equipment is to work like an adjustable friction hitch. It slides along the guy line adding tension to the line.
The next three pieces of equipment all work like the Trucker’s Hitch, giving you a leverage point to add tension and a locking point to secure the line.
Nite-Ize Figure 9
Nite Ize makes some great products that can be found in any outdoor store. The Nite Ize Figure 9 is one of those products that can make your guy line and ridge line setup a breeze. They come in a variety of different sizes, and two different styles: a standard Figure 9 and a carabiner version. They are great for securing and adding tension to a line, but they should not to be used for climbing. Both versions can be attached anywhere along your line. On the standard version, feed a bite of the line through the eye, pull it over the hardware, and then tighten the line to secure it into place. For the carabiner version, start out the same way feeding a bite through the the eye and around the hardware, then take the standing line and wrap it at least once over and through the gate. Now you can wrap your line around an object and back to the hook system. The first hook is designed so you can add tension and the second hook locks the line into place. If you need to add tension between two different lines try their loop method. On the standard version, feed the working end through the eye hole, around the hardware and under the line, like a half hitch. For the carabiner just tie a strong loop knot such as the figure of eight at the end of the line and clip it into place. For both versions attach the other line to the hook system as you would have done before.
Uses: Adjustable Placement Material: Plastic or Aluminum Dimensions: Various sizes Weight: 2 grams to 54 grams Load Limit: 50 to 150 lbs. Rope Sizes: 1/16” (2mm) to 3/16” (5mm) Note: Not for climbing
Nite Ize is a great company, but I’m a huge fan of Dutchware and all of his cool gear. The next two pieces of equipment are constants on my tarp setup: the Dutch Wasp and Fleaz. I primarily use the Wasp on my Ridgeline and the Fleaz for my guy lines, but the Wasp can serve either purpose being that it is designed to be placed anywhere alone a line, and it is locked in place by hitching a bite over the tip of the tail. The Fleaz themselves aren’t as flexible in line positioning as the Wasp but when they are spliced into a loop the possibilities are endless. Both are made out of Titanium making them strong and light weight. The wasp weighs a total of 2 grams and the Fleaz weigh in less than a gram, and both are designed to be used with 1.75 mm line. The tension and locking system is similar to to the Figure 9. The head allows you to add tension to the line like a 3 to 1 pulley, and the line can be locked in place under the wings.
When the weather is nice, why not open up your tarp’s porch and enjoy it. Use either your trekking poles or find the right sized staves in the woods. A marlin spike hitch or clove hitch are great ways to attach a pole to your guy lines. I prefer the clove hitch because it holds onto the poles much better, plus it works great as an anchoring knot for ridge lines. Once the pole is secured set up your guy lines using any of the methods we have already covered. This is also useful when setting up a tarp in an A Frame configuration.
Keeping it Neat
I like keeping my line neat and tangle free for when I need it so here is a tip how you can do this. Start out by looping one end of your line around your thumb, then wrap the line in a figure eight motion between your thumb and your pinky finger, leave enough line so you can wrap up the bundle and tie it off with one or two half hitches.
In the next installment of this series I will be covering five DIY elastic tensioners you can add to your guy lines. Until then keep your eyes and ears open and your powder dry!
Where to get the Gear: