A High Tech Tarp

Brooks Range Ultralite Mini Guide Tarp
Brooks Range Ultralite Mini Guide Tarp

If you’re like me, you want a Plan B when you’re out hiking. A tarp is one key item that will come in handy in many situations! Tarps can be used for shelter, wind breaks, gear protection, and a lot more. Backpackers love them because they are so light weight and can be used instead of a tent.

I had the chance to test the Brooks Range UltraLite Mini Guide Tarp, a super high quality tarp that is ultra light (hence it’s name!). It weighs just 9.8 ounces yet can be a suitable shelter for 2 people, and when opened it is a spacious 6.75 feet by 9 feet! There are lots of cool features, which I discovered during my testing and explain below.

Pros:

  • Easy to Set Up. The Ultralite Mini Guide tarp is relatively easy to set up because there are convenient nylon tie loops, so it can be attached to trekking poles or tied to trees.
  • Attaching the tarp to a trekking pole
    Attaching the tarp to a trekking pole
  • Extremely durable fabric. As with other Brooks-Range products, the quality of their materials is very high. This tarp is made with wind and water resistant 20 denier nylon, so it is lightweight yet super strong. It can get a bit noisy when flapping around in the wind, but so do all tents/tarps I’ve ever used!
  • Water resistant to withstand a heavy rainstorm. Since I haven’t had a chance to test this in the rain yet, I tested it under a simulated rainstorm with a garden hose… Moisture beaded up under what I would consider moderate simulated rainy conditions.
  • Well designed velcro around all the edges. A layer of velcro is stitched on to the outside edges of the tarp, making it highly versatile. The velcro makes it easy to wrap up the tarp and make it like a bivy sack. It also makes it easy if you want to use just a portion of it.
  • Well-secured velcro around all the edges
    Well-secured velcro around all the edges
  • Packs down small As all avid hikers and backpackers know, this is a key feature of any piece of gear. The Mini Guide Tarp packs down to just 4 inches by 8 inches, making it easy to include as a piece of emergency gear on a hiking trip, an extra convenience item in addition to a tent on a backpacking trip, or a replacement for a tent for the ultralite backpackers out there!
  • The tarp easily packs into a small 8 inch x 5.5 inch bag with a secure velcro seal
    The tarp easily packs into a small 8 inch x 5.5 inch bag with a secure velcro seal

Cons:

  • Price. The Brooks Range Mini Guide Tarp retails for $115. This is a steep price to pay, however, the quality is evident. For a piece of gear this lightweight and strong, it is worth it.

Specs:

  • Size: Unfolds to 6.75 feet by 9 feet!
  • Weight: 9.4 ounces.
  • Packed size About 4 inches by 8 inches
  • Price: $115

Do you use a tarp instead of a tent? Would you take it along as an emergency item? I’d love to hear what Hiking Lady readers think!

Happy trails!



See More Hiking Gear Reviews:

Essential Gear
Essential Gear

Apparel Reviews
Apparel Reviews

Footwear Reviews
Footwear Reviews

10 comments

  1. Hiking Lady says:

    Thanks for the input, Ron. For people willing and skilled enough to modify gear, I agree with you. I know a lot of ultralight backpackers who definitely sew their own packs, but also know others who buy everything pre-made (at a premium usually) because they don’t have the time, skill, or interest in making gear themselves.

  2. Ron Wagner says:

    Velcro could be added, anywhere you decide, very easily. Save your money. Unless you have more money than time.

  3. Ron Wagner says:

    Come to think of it. Ordinary cheap, small tarps are fairly light. You might have to cut one up to get the size and weight down. Just tape the edges and add more grommets as desired. Colors are usually blue, green, or camo.

  4. Ron Wagner says:

    Great item to have with you. If you are not willing to pay that much, you could easily make what you need. There are many light, tough materials. Buy some good duct tape for the edges. Buy a grommeting tool. Place grommets where you want them. Take nylon cord with you, and some light weight tent stakes. Tarps can be used in many configurations. They are useful to reflect heat back to you, keep the sun off of you, keep you dry, keep you out of the wind, protect your body heat, collect dew or rain for drinking, a poncho, etc.

    When I was in the army we had ponchos that could be made into a small tent. Two soldiers could combine them for that use. They may be available dirt cheap,but might be a little heavy.

  5. Donna says:

    I’ve always used a tent but this tarp sounds like a good idea especially if there is a chance the weather could really change on you on a shorter hike.

  6. Thanks. I’ll have to try it next time I’m out. I like how it’s useful for different types of shelter. I think the new site you’re referring to is another one. But, yes, his is nice. Thanks again.

  7. Hiking Lady says:

    Very cool that you won one! I propped mine up using my trekking poles and then tied it to a tree using some guylines from my tent. I will take more pics next time I set it up. This time I was just zooming in on the details of the tarp. The velcro around all the edges is great. If you hike with trekking poles you probably won’t want to add the extra weight of stake in your pack to use the tarp…the poles should be more than sufficient. Have fun out there! I like your new website!!

  8. I actually won one of those recently in a Brooks-Range Facebook contest. I meant to try it out on a recent camping trip, but didn’t get a chance. Would you recommend line and stakes to make it a shelter? I’d like to have it with me, it’s light enough to be worth it.

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