Cooke, NRS or MSR Wing/Tarp

-- Last Updated: Sep-24-05 9:20 PM EST --

My wife is going to get me a tarp for our anniversery. I've never had a good one before and would appreciate some help with deciding what to get.

Right now, I am considering the the Cooke 15x15 Tundra Tarp

The MSR 19' ParaWing
the MSR Outfitter Wing

and the NRS Riverwing

Please share your opinions and experience.

Whatever it is, I hope to have it for the Raystown Rendevous.

Check out Dave Olsen’s tarps. I have 2 and I love them.

Most Options

– Last Updated: Sep-24-05 10:19 PM EST –

I have owned two of the above mentioned tarps and helped in the Paddler review of the other two.

In my opinion the Cooks 15x15 gives the most over-all options. As well being the simplest design it is the least likely to have repair issues. I have a 10x10 lighweight and a knock-off homebuilt 10x12, but I still would love to someday get a 15x15. It easily makes a picnic shelter for a group as well as being able to be a bone dry overnighter for 4-5.

Look into the Cliff Jacobsen Video "Forgotten Skills". He uses a tarp method that allows for numerous set-ups, depending on conditions.

The NRS would be the easiest for car camping set-ups but is awful heavy and bulky for back country use.

Both of the MSR's are nice, but they work best in wide flat areas and don't adapt well to heavily wooded areas, and again are signifigantly heavier than the Cookes.

msr parawing
Is the only one that I have experience with. It seemed big and heavy in the bag but sure made a miserable 3 days stuck on Triquet in driving rain bearable. The corners work great for gathering rainwater.

Went through the same process
about four-five years ago. I settled on a CCS 10x12 for the basic reasons that Topher cited --‘simplicity’ and versatility. Since I solo trip, the 10x12 is more than adequate for my needs; and has basically been bombproof.

Happy hunting.

MSR parawings…
I just got a MSR Fusion tent and was gonna get a Outfitter’s wing just for the hell of it since I can get this stuff at pro deals(?)pricing…

one more to look at
I saw a nice looking tarp from Snow Peak ( it is about 10 x 13, just another one to look at. It is basically the one I will be stealling my pattern from to make mine.


MSR Outfitter Wing
We bought a MSR Outfitter Wing this season. So far we’ve only used it about 15 times, but we’ve come to really like it and wonder how we did without it for so long. Once you get the hang of it (learning curve is short) one person can set it up very quickly. The wing itself has sturdy fabric and seems very well made. The shock-corded poles are extra stout, as are the stakes. The guy ropes have simple little metal rope tensioners and each corner has a fabric “pocket” with a Velcro tab for storing the guy ropes. Everything you need to set it up comes with it – no poles, stakes, guy lines to buy. And everything fits neatly in a stuff bag (included).

I considered all the wings/tarps on your list (and some others), but in the end decided on the Outfitter Wing. The tautness possible with a parabolic wing appealed to me, there’s no flapping in strong winds/rain. I wanted a wing primarily so that I could pitch over our 3-person sleeping tent so I could use the tent without it’s rain fly (improved ventilation) while at the same time it allows us to have a large covered area in front of the tent for days when we’re rained in. We’ve used it that way and also as a stand alone fly. This thing is BIG! It works out great for canoe tripping with my family and we’ve also used it a couple of times for car camping.

Obviously this is not a good choice for backpacking… which brings me to its down-side: This is the heaviest single piece of gear we lug around on the portage trail. But I feel the weight issue is offset by its utility - at least for me. Your mileage may vary.

Thanks for all the thoughtful responses
I appreciate your help. This morning I ordered the MSR Outfitter Wing. I like the idea of it being relatively idiot proof to set up taut and secure. For deep woods use, it certainly won’t be as versatile as a Cooke. But for our family use, the Outfitter Wing will probably be the ticket in more instances than any other. Some of its service will simply be for backyard family and neighborhood get-togethers.

Thanks again for your well-considered input!

All well and good
but Topher and I will be reveling in our arcane tarp setting skills, dutifilly searching for the best vectors for our multitude of guylines to follow.

Hey, everyone needs an obsession!


Should be fun
Sounds like we won’t have trouble staying out of the rain around camp. Should make for some cool pictures as well.

Counting down …

no question.

Tell your wife to get the new parawing for me too!!!

Dutifull Vectors of the Twisted Cog?
Hey Jim,

You wouldn’t happen to own an old set of those little rubber balls and key-holed clamps (can’t remember the trade name, think Colin Fletcher used them on his hike through the Grand Canyon), or, those white plastic guy-feed snaps with cog twists, a.k.a. Versa-Ties?

Man, do I remember a few oragami meets spaghetti-casarole explosions, back when we Boy Scouts used Vera-Ties to put 9X12 plastic together with parachute line.


Actually, I do!
Somewhere in my collection of old stuff I have a set of the rubber ball - dogbone wire devices. Way bac in the day we used versatarps, and these were great. I also have a set of the plastic doohickeys. Have not used either in 20 years. The rubber balls may have been reduced to rubber dust by now.

Clarion: WHAT RAIN?