3 Tarp Ridgelines: Tied, Toggled & Hardware
A ridgeline is a line connected between two points used to suspend a tarp. Ridgelines can be built into the tarp, and all you have to do is attach a line to either side of the tarps peak, via grommets or rings. Where as other tarps require a continuous ridgeline, where a single line is attached between two points or trees and then the tarp is connected, typically using two prusik knots. There are several methods to set this up so lets start with the most basic, tying it up.
We begin by tying a bowline hitch, feed the working end around an object then form a loop on the standing part of the line with the working part on top, and then feed the working end underneath and through the loop, then wrap it under and around the standing part and then back through the loop again. I tuck a bight instead of feeding the line completely through making it easy to untie later.
On the opposing point we are going to tie a Truckers Hitch. First I wrap the working end around a tree and then form a loop in the standing part of the line by feeding in a bight from the working part, now then feed the rest of your working line through the loop, creating a 3 to 1 pulley and then finish it off with a slippery half hitch.
To finish this off we are going to add two Prusik Knots. Cut two pieces of line about 8″ long and create a loop, then wrap the two strands 2 or 3 times inside of itself and pull down on the inner strands, while making sure everything stays neat. Then attach the strands to your tarp using a simple overhand knot. To adjust this knot alone the ridgeline, grab it by the knot and slide.
As a bonus tip, if your tarp has torn out or is missing a grommet or tie-out, you can quickly remedy it with a non-jagged creek or river stone. Simply tuck the stone into the part of the tarp where you want to attach a line, and wrap a loop or prusik knot around the stone and attach it to your ridgeline.
Now we are going to cover toggles. I start this one out with a figure of eight loop, but any non-slip loop knot will work fine. Feed the line around the tree and then feed a bight from the standing part of the line into the loop and add a toggle or a strong twig between the two, pull tight and lock it into place. On the opposite side you can get creative with a toggle setup but a truckers hitch works just as well.
Again we are going to add two prusik knots but this time we are going to add toggles to each prusik using a girth hitch, which is like a prusik but you’re only making one loop and then attaching the toggle. For this to work you’ll need loops at either end of your tarp, I use soft shackles which are basically rope carabiners. Feed the toggles through your tarp’s loops and slide the prusik to add tension to your tarps ridgeline. The nice thing about this setup is taking it down is as simple as pulling the toggles out of the knots.
Finally, let’s finish this off with hardware. The point of using hardware is to provide quick attachment or detachment, improve adjustability and to reduce the friction caused by knots. Hardware such as carabiners or Dutch Hooks can replace anchoring knots like the bowline hitch or they can be used on prusik knots to quickly attach or detach your tarp. Products like the Nite Ize Figure 9 or DutchGear like his Tarp Fllz or Wasp can be placed anywhere on the ridgeline and used to replace a trucker’s hitch. There’s a few different products on the market to choose from, but you may want to avoid products that are overly complicated, heavy or have sharp edges. You can get Dutchware from his website www.dutchwaregear.com.
For those of you who are hammock campers, you may want to consider leaving a gap at either end of your tarps ridgeline. This is because your hammock is usually set up higher then the ridgeline and this will allow your hammock straps to hang in-between the ends of your ridgeline, reducing any stress added to either line. But it is not completely necessary.
One way of doing this comes from, Derek Hansen from theultimatehang.com. On one end, attach a carabiner to a fixed loop knot and then clip it to both the line and the peak of your tarp. On the opposite side attach a prussic knot to the working part of the line and a carabiner to the prusik, then clip it in the same way as before, adjust the line to where you want it, and then add tension to the line by pulling the excess slack through the prusik.