We all know that the whole lightweight thing can get pretty expensive, once you get bitten by the bug it can be hard to stop. If the bug has bitten, then spending large sums of money on something to save a bit of weight or because it packs smaller makes perfect sense! However, if the bikepacking bug is still to infect you but you'd quite like a dabble, the potential expense can be off putting ... in our quest to bring bikepacking to the masses we've already looked at ultra cheap and ultra light stoves, so now I give you the polythene tarp. Once again lightweight and much cheapness team up to bring you something which may or may not work.
A trip to the builders merchants to buy 2 polythene dust sheets was a little too successful and instead of returning with the 2 single dust sheets ... I returned with a 50m roll of polythene, which I'm sure will come in handy. For anybody who lives near 'normal' shops I'm assured that a 3m x 3m sheet will cost you around £2.50. I knew that the thing would have to be put together as simply as possible and the simplest method of attaching the guy lines was by using pebbles. A few minutes splashing about in the river resulted in wet feet and 8 small round pebbles. I'm hoping that 3 guy lines on each side (plus the 2 ridge lines) will suffice but there's nothing stopping you adding more if you want. I wrapped each pebble in the polythene a couple of times then gave them a twist (bit like a boiled sweet wrapper) before tying a piece of string around them. Just to be on the safe side I also gave each one a couple of wraps of duct tape ... we now had some guy line points.
A handy tree and a stick provided the points at each end to tie the ridge lines to and there you go, a poly tarp. I set it fairly low to the ground to help minimise any sail effect but this may be at the cost of water collecting on the flatter roof but we'll see. There's enough room in there for 2 plus gear or possibly 3 at a push. I've really no idea how well it'll stand up to the Welsh weather (or any weather) so I'm going to leave it erected and see what happens.
I haven't got any scales that'll weigh it, so let's just say that it weighs next to nothing ... it's the lightest 'tarp' I've ever picked up. If you don't carry the pebbles about then obviously it weighs even less. As for pack size, you can easily fold it up and put it in a normal jacket pocket. Is it worth bothering with? Don't know yet, we'll find out but for what it costs and weighs, it must be worth a go.