Lightweight Thru-Hiking Gear: Backpacking Tarp Set-Up with ZPacks Arc Blast


Back from my Sheltowee Trace thru-hike, I break down my gear, especially the “big three” — my backpack, shelter, and sleep system.

Backpack: ZPacks Arc Blast 60L

Shelter: Hyperlite Mountain Gear 8 1/2 foot square tarp (cuben fiber)

Sleep system:

Marmot summer down sleeping bag
Therm-A-Rest NeoAir XLite (small)
Mountain Laurel Designs Superlight Bivy
Non-slip rug pad (two small pieces)
Tyvek 1443 R
Reflectix

This was the gear I used on my recent Sheltowee thru-hike. The Sheltowee Trace is a 324-mile trail that runs (in the direction I hiked) from the Southern Terminus at the Burnt Mill Bridge Trail Head in the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, through Cumberland Falls and the Red River Gorge, then eventually to the Northern Terminus beyond Morehead, Kentucky.

For the videos of my thru-hike, see this playlist:

The videos referenced in THIS video are as follows —

Five Set-Ups for a Square Tarp:

Smoky Mountains Winter Backpacking:

Lightweight Backpacking Gear List for Summer Hiking:

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****CAMERA EQUIPMENT AND EDITING SOFTWARE*****

Filmed with an Canon G7 X; edited with Cyberlink Powerdirector 14. The video was shot at 30 fps.

**** MY INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT: MY DRAWINGS AND PAINTINGS (SOME FROM THE TRAIL) ****

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26 comments

  • Hi. You might want to look at the gossamer gear 1/8" or now they have a 1/4" closed cell foam rolls. They weigh virtually nothing and have several uses like you stated.

  • Borah gear has bug bivvy. Lighter, and less expensive.

    I tarp. At 6 6, I dont fit in a 1P tent. Once you throw down for a dcf tarp and a bivvy it isn't lighter than a zpak tent or that much less expensive. Any hammock that fits me is 3 pounds. It has to be a style choice.

  • What are the lengths of the extra rope you carry?

  • Did you hang your food on this trip? See any 🐻? I have been scouting out options for section hiking this trail south bound and lots of the campgrounds warn about bear.

  • Tip on food…you already made sizeable investments for your pastime/hobby, go ahead & buy yourself one of those air fryers with built in food dehydrater for a couple hundred bucks…well worth it compared to risking type 2 diabetes by increasing your refined carbs…you don't wanna be doing that. I just worked my butt off studying & doing what it takes to reverse my type 2 diabetes.You can prepare your own healthy dishes with some planning which you are already used to doing.If I were doing what you are doing on these long ass thru hikes, I would even consider looking into shipping myself a box of frozen fresh food prepared by myself to meet up with at a certain location or maybe arrange to have a trusted friend to send you a box on a certain date. The time, effort, money & everything else you put into this warrants you going ahead and dealing with this most important aspect of it ALL…your nourishment!!! If you want to protect your health then you must eat only fresh/ frozen whole foods & veggies not those poisoned refined carbs. Making big pots of Goulash using lots of good fresh veggies without the pasta will load you up with the proper healthy fuels the human body needs & wants…not that " frankencrap" the fake food companies keep coming up with that get n keep the whole population sick. You work too hard to mess up your health. Life tip for you….Just out recently and every human should own a copy.. Order on Amazon…Why We Get Sick by Benjamin Bikman…This book will become the Gold Standard for our Metabolic Health as a nation.

  • Dont think this would replace sugar completely – but creatine helps replenish the glycogen storage (energy reserves) in the muscles, so maybe worth bringing. The type i have got recommends to use 3g per day, so just 90g/3,17oz is enough for a whole month.

  • What kind of knot did he tie on the tyvek? Sheet end knot?

  • The way you're exerting yourself on these trips, I'd suggest MEAT, rather than all the sugars, natural or otherwise. Down-draft gasifier wood stove can make a very low-impact cooking system. A couple handfuls of small stuff is all you need.

    I've said so, before: Like others, I do like your tarp and bivvy systems. I just think you eat too much junk.

  • Your AT documentary was the 1st one I ever saw. I'm still at the novice/ beginner stage but I hope to one day evolve to hammock/bivy/tarp.

  • Did you ever wash your clothes in a town while on the ST? Trying to figure out logistics when I hike this this June. Thanks!

  • Awesome vid very informative 😀😊

  • Evan, just finished watching your through hike of the Sheltowee Trace, and enjoyed you being "real". I just found out about this trail and thought I would check out YouTube to see if there was any information on it. BTW, I live up here in Clarksville.

  • I like your vids Evan, laid back, factual and informative. Got some good ideas off you there. It's a constant battle, this light weight search of new products to use. ATB 👍👍👍

  • You are a WIZARD with the tarp! Awesome to see so much variety I don't really take advantage like I could

  • Seam like all those parts add up to a lot more weight then a z packs tent. But I do like the idea of. Being able to see. Lot of the reason I use a hammock.

  • You're the only long-distance hiker "across the pond" I've seen use a tarp & bivvy. Fabulous!

  • Check out Bora Bivy,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,Lightweight, lower cost Bivy http://borahgear.com/index.html

  • Processed Sugar BAD……………………..Olive Oil 200 calories per table spoon Slow burning FAT instead of fast burning SUGAR
    Seeds and Nuts

  • Evan, great idea on the under carpet mesh! I lined all of my kitchen cabinets with the stuff, too; never thought to use it for camping purposes. Also, I like the idea of your securing the Tyvek corners. I love tarp camping on my bushcraft outings.

  • Hei sweet channel ☺ Keep it up!

  • Still think you’d prefer the Arc Haul vs Arc Blast? Have you made any changes with your packing/hiking style to minimize the abrasion you were experiencing? I’m looking at packs. Initial thought was the Blast but the Haul is tempting – couple ounces for a more durable pack

  • Forget the gear, let's talk about this killer house ! 🙂

  • Thanks for showing your gear. Scott Taylor sent me your way! Subbed

  • Not sure what material the bivy sack is exactly, but I wonder if putting hot glue on it would keep it from slipping (after the glue dries, of course)? Hope your hike is going well!

  • Great information Evan. I'm with you on the tarp; been using a tarp since 1998 and have no desire to go back to a tent. Since 2012 I've been using a silnylon Mountain Laurel Designs Trail Star and absolutely love it, although next year I plan on getting the cuben fiber version.

    For a ground cloth I'm using an 5' X 7' SOL emergency blanket, which cost $5.00 at REI and weighs 3 oz with some cords attached to the corners. It's not as durable as Tyvek and I go through about 2 – 3 a year, but that's averaging about 100 nights a year. You can see the SOL as a ground cloth in my review of the Trailstar: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-95q1l2Ml8.

    Instead of using the Reflectix and rug pad you might consider a Gossamer Gear Evazote pad. I used their 1/8" pad (19 3/8" X 59 1/8", 2.5 oz) for about two years. But recently I purchased their 1/4" pad (39" X 59", 10 oz) and cut it down to 30" X 59" and it's now 7.5 oz. I fold it in half and then roll it up and attached it to the bottom of my back, which is the Zpacks Arch Haul. I put the 1/4" pad on top of the ground cloth and then my sleeping pad on top of the 1/4" pad and no sliding around.

    Rather than a bivy sack I use a Sea to Summit nano bug net, which weighs only 3.8 oz, when mosquitoes are a problem. REI sells the bug net for about $50. In the Trail Star review video I also describe this bug net.

  • Congrats on your successful thru hike. It was one of the better documented thru hikes I have watched . I like the way and style of your narration, you can articulate yourself well and leave the viewer very informed as you go. Good job and thank you for taking us along. God bless. Clinton .

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