The ‘Jack of all Trades’. A cuben poncho tarp by Mountain Laurel Designs. Shown here in a-frame configuration.

In poncho mode, I find there are three different styles you can rock on the trail. From left to right, breathability is highest in the left most configuration, while coverage and protection is the highest on the right most configuration. On the far left I just have the 4 snap sets buckled. The middle photo I’ve unsnapped the set at waist level, leaving the ankle snaps attached and have used one of the guidelines to make a simple belt. On the right configuration, I consider this my full storm mode. Hood up, arms tucked in for warmth, and poncho fully wrapped around my lower body.

(above left) For maximum protection, I found it helpful to use a mini biner to cinch the front half of the poncho snuggly around my waist. It’s easy to pre-buckle the poncho and ‘step into it’ while putting the poncho on. (middle and right) Additional photos of full storm mode. I’m wearing a 30l pack underneath. With arms tucked in, you can see the amount of coverage and protection the poncho provides. Breathability begins to suffer in the configuration though.

Flat Tarp. My preferred configuration. Lots of coverage and easy to sit up underneath.

Modified Flat Tarp. One pole slightly lowered, for more protection.

Modified Flat Tarp. Only one pole utilized for maximum splash protection. Much less head room in this configuration.

Lean-to. Variation on the flat tarp. Good ventilation, but more potential for splash and spray.

A-Frame. Good coverage and protection, but very little room to sit up and move around.

A-Frame. A view under the tarp.

Detail of mini biners. For a few extra grams, they make the tarp much more ergonomic to transition into poncho mode.

How to close the head opening. I go with a goose neck tie off. Make sure to seam seal your tarp!