Field Tested: Hilleberg Tarp 10 UL

A lightweight and incredibly versatile shelter for canoeists

Ben Orkin reviews the HIlleberg Tarp UL 10, Canoe and Kayak Magazine

Hilleberg Tarp 10 UL

($200, hilleberg.com)
By Benjamin Orkin

The Hilleberg Tarp 10 UL takes the versatility of a tarp and adds the reputation and quality of one of the finest tentmakers. The result: a lightweight and incredibly functional shelter. The Tarp 10 UL measures 11.5 feet by 9.5 feet (110 square feet) and weighs only one pound 10 ounces. It compresses down to about three liters, which is bigger than I expected, but is still considerably smaller than a similar-sized tent. The Tarp 10 UL makes an ideal shelter for one or two people, but definitely not three. (For larger groups, Hilleberg also sells the Tarp 20, which provides 210 square feet of coverage.)

Constructed with Hilleberg's proprietary Kerlon 1200 silicone-coated fabric, the Tarp 10 UL has eight attachment rings with extra-long guy lines and includes a stuff sack that is connected to the tarp, making it impossible to lose. The classic rectangular cut of the Tarp 10 ensures maximum usable square footage, weather protection, and doesn't limit potential pitching scenarios; however, the classic cut also seems to perform worse in high winds than a catenary cut and it can be somewhat difficult to pitch in treeless camps. As there are no trees that far North where we tested the tarp, a typical set up for us was to lash one end to the side of the canoe and then put a canoe paddle or other pole in the middle of the other end and stake the whole thing out. (With trees, set up was a breeze). The tarp kept us (and the bugs) dry through relentless rain storms and provided much needed shade. On the windiest of days, orientation was key, but even then sometimes we were forced to move to our tent.

The tarp was a great addition to the trip as it allowed us to escape the weather, relax, and take in the scenery. It was nice to have a dry, well ventilated space to cook, and escape the sometimes claustrophobic tent. Unlike some other tarps, there aren't any features sewn into the middle of the tarp which eliminates annoying dripping. If the ultralight version is not your thing, check out the heavier-duty XP versions that use polyester rather than a silicone-coated fabric.

Unfortunately, the Tarp 10 does not come with any stakes and the pre-tied guylines seemed somewhat awkward to use so we ended up customizing them. As with any tarp, practice makes perfect and a little bit of customization goes a long way.


–Ben Orkin tested this and other items on a 90-day canoe trip in Canada's Northwest Territories last summer. Read more about the gear that got them through the 1,300-mile expedition.