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Reviews > Shelters > Tarps and Bivys > Jacks R Better Cat Tarp > Test Report by Chuck Carnes

Jacks 'R' Better
Cat Tarp
Cat Tarp

Initial Report: January 16, 2009
Field Report: February 20, 2009

Long Term Report: April 22, 2009

Biographical Information
Name: Chuck Carnes
Age: 39
Gender: Male
Height: 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Weight: 175 lbs (79 kg)
E-mail Address: ctcarnes AT yahoo DOT com
City, State, Country: Greenville, South Carolina, USA
Backpacking Background
I love the outdoors – I’ve spent time camping in the outdoors since I was born, and have been actively hiking and backpacking since then. I consider myself a lightweight hiker, usually carrying 20 – 30 pounds (11-13 kg) for hikes up to a week in length. I hike at an easy pace, averaging 2 mph (3 kph). I am a one-man tent camper for now. I like to carry a single trekking pole when I hike to help relieve stress to my legs and knees. I like to get out on the trail as often as I can.

I N I T I A L    R E P O R T
January 16, 2009
Manufacturer: Jacks 'R' Better
Model: Cat Tarp
Color: Olive Green
11 ft. x 10 ft. (335 cm. x 305 cm.)
Year of manufacture: 2008

Listed Weight:  19 oz (539 g)
Actual Weights: 19 oz (539 g) 

MSRP: $119.95
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Picture courtesy of Jack's 'R' Better

The Jacks 'R' Better Cat tarp is a 1.1 oz. silicone impregnated rip stop nylon cordura. JRB suggests that the user seam seal the ridge line of the tarp before use. It's big enough at 11 ft. x 10 ft. (335 cm. x 305 cm.) to cover a huge area to be protected by the elements. The tarp has 12 tie-out tabs that give it many different ways to use this tarp and in many different locations. The 11 ft. (335 cm.) length is long enough to cover most camping hammocks and provide adequate protection. The 10 ft. (305 cm.) length is long enough to pitch the tarp in an 'A' frame fashion and have plenty of head room for a 6 ft. (183 cm.) tall person. Also, the 11 ft. (335 cm.) side has dual catenary cut edges. This gives a better taught pitch and saves a little bit of weight. The tarp can be put up with Jack's 'R' Better self tensioning lines which can be purchased separately or with most any nylon cord. The nylon sack that the tarp comes in is 10 in. x 5 in. x 2 in. (25 cm. x 12 cm. x 5 cm.) when stuffed. 

I was very impressed at the small nylon stuff sack that the Jacks 'R' Better Cat tarp came in. I wondered how in the world such a big tarp could fit in such a small sack. I removed the tarp from the sack and sure enough, the tarp was huge. The material felt thin yet sturdy enough to withstand wind and rain. I was able to spread it out to inspect it a bit but the two trees that I have that are remotely close together are about 9 ft. (274 cm.) apart. On one side of these two trees is a sidewalk. So first of all, I didn't have room between the two trees to get a very taught pitch and second of all, I would not be able to stake out the side at the sidewalk.

I did, however, look over the tarp for any loose threads or picks in the fabric. The web loops that are sewn to the corners and sides seem very sturdy and well sewn.  The edges of the tarp are rolled smooth with very little extra stitching of added weight. Putting the tarp back into the stuff sack was very simple. I really thought the sack looked too small for it to fit in but I knew it had to fit if it came out of it. I plan to get the tarp in the field along with the JRB Mountain Bridge Hammock where I have plenty of room to fully set it up so I will have more information in my Field Report. 

F I E L D    R E P O R T
February 20, 2009
I took the Jacks 'R' Better Cat Tarp on a two night trip to Paris Mountain. This was a very close walk up site that I stayed at for two nights with my son and a few other people. The temperatures at night was around 35 F to 40 F (1 C to 4 C) with not breeze or rain. The elevation was 1,050 ft (320 m) according to my altimeter.

Although the camp site was close I still packed the tarp in my pack as if I were going on a long backpacking trip. It packed very nicely in my 3800 cu. in. (62 L) backpack. After getting to the sit and setting up my hammock I guyed out the tarp over the hammock. On this trip I did not try setting it up in any of the other fashions that this tarp can be set up as. I set it up in the normal 'A' frame style as seen in the picture above.

I am so impressed with this tarp. This thing is huge and at the light weight that it is, to me, it's a no-brainer to take it with me every time I go on a trip. I didn't have enough time to play around with the different styles of setting it up but I am looking forward to that. For this time the set up was easy. I wrapped the ridge line cord around the trees and tied it off at both ends. I wanted to give myself plenty of room over the hammock so I tied it off as high as I could reach which is about 8 ft (244 cm). This was a good height because it gave me a little bit of room to stand beside the hammock to get in and not touch the wall of the tarp. At this height the bottom edge was off the ground about 2 ft. to 3 ft. (61 cm to 91 cm). Since the bottom of the hammock was above this, I was not concerned with it getting wet or wind blown if such weather came around.

I did not experience any rain so technically I did not need the tarp but there is something about having it over me that made me feel protected. There must have been very good ventilation as neither morning did I find any condensation inside the tarp.

Overall I am very happy with the Cat Tarp. I am looking forward to more nights out with it to set it up in different styles. I really like the self tensioning lines as the tarp stayed taught the whole time it was up. It was nice not to have to check the lines all the time to keep the tarp taught. It packs and unpacks very easily in the stuff sack and it fits great in a side pocket of a pack. I like the size of it and how much coverage one can get from such a lightweight tarp.

L O N G   T E R M    R E P O R T
April 22, 2009

Unfortunately, the two trips that I was supposed to go on with the tarp got canceled due to weather. 

I have a few trips planned for the spring and summer and will amend this report after those trips are logged.
This concludes this test series.
Check back in June or July for an amended report
Thank you Jacks 'R' Better and for this opportunity.

Read more reviews of Jacks R Better gear
Read more gear reviews by Chuck Carnes

Reviews > Shelters > Tarps and Bivys > Jacks R Better Cat Tarp > Test Report by Chuck Carnes

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