Exped Scout Tarp Extreme 2011

Exped kit tends to be robust, functional and ready for the worst of conditions. Expeditions need low weight too, and this tarp has a good balance between all these points, as well as being a multi-person shelter.

Design
The Exped Scout Tarp Extreme has the familiar plain rectangular outline of a tarp, but it’s actually quite complex. The edges have regularly spaced webbing loops to attach guy lines and pegs, and at the centre there’s an extra loop to suspend the Scout from above. On the inside face of this loop is an integral stuffsack, which also acts as an anchor point for an internal support, such as a pole or an oar, which the Scout needs if pitched fully in an A-frame style. The outside edges have shock-cord running through them with adjustment points. This aids tension once pitched. Guy lines are supplied, and these have small brightly coloured mesh sacks attached for stowing the lines after striking camp. Pegs are also supplied.

On the hill
The Exped Scout Tarp Extreme packs down well: it doesn’t fill its integral stuffsack, so you can squash it down into the corners of your rucksack. At 990g it is the heaviest model in our test, but it is also the largest tarp here with enough room for four sleeping bags and some gear storage. The Scout can be a handful to erect on your own, especially in the wind, but with two pairs of hands it goes up quickly. It features more adjustability than others, which you need to get the large area of fabric tight. The multiple guy points and guy lines give a secure pitch, and if you roll the lines into their mesh stuffsacks when you pack the Scout away, when you next unpack it, it’s a tangle-free experience. The most unusual feature is the shock-cord around the hem. It helps to cinch in any loose fabric when pitching, but I’ve found it also allows a little flexibility in the wind. Tarps are very vulnerable to high winds and if the tensioned shock-cord is stretching in the gusts, then the pegs aren’t being pulled out of the ground quite so easily. One niggle is that although using the integral stuffsack to secure an internal support does protect the fabric from abrasion, it does wander around a little, especially if you nudge it in passing, which can affect the tightness of the pitch.

Fabric nylon
Sleeps 1-4
Total fabric area 350x290cm
Weight 990g
Packsize 25x15cm
Made in China
Stores in the UK 20
Stockists (015396) 25493; www.exped.com

The Exped Scout Tarp Extreme has a well-thought-out design with good detailing; shock-corded edges are a good feature; roomy; comes with guy lines and pegs. But it’s heavy for a tarp and tricky to pitch without help; centre support location inside the integral stuffsack works, but needs refining. Overall, the Scout Tarp Extreme is the choice for tarping trips with company; the features that add the extra weight give it decent bad-weather performance.

Review by Peter Macfarlane
First published in Trail magazine Spring 2011