Adding a M.E.S.T to your kit

Many of you know, I am really getting into utilizing tarps based on a previous post. Based on this, I had purchased a M.E.S.T. (Multipurpose Emergency Survival Tarp) 5’x7′ from because they did such a great job on the 10’x12′ coyote version I use for camping, typically in A-Frame configuration.

The M.E.S.T. stays in my pack for emergencies and as a ground cover or lean-to, should I need one. It is lightweight and fit nicely in my three day assault pack. However, something was missing. I know how to use tarps and make it a point to practice a few standard configurations each year to keep fresh, but I had not pulled this one out of the bag even after it arrived.

I trusted the gear, that was not the issue. The issue was, did I know how to use it. “Sure, I do”, I assured myself. But did I really? What would happen if it really were an emergency survival situation? What if I just wanted to go on a day hike and needed a small tarp for an event scenario?

Today was a perfect day to try it out since the weather was in flux trying to turn colder based on the wind blowing at around 30mph and temperatures getting into the low 20’s. Putting a tarp in play during those types of wind gusts would definitely be a challenge but I was ready for it.

While being a fan of the diamond configuration, it was originally configured for a square tarp. However, as you can see I have both a “diamond” and a makeshift “bivy”. Both are low profile and both work really well to block the wind and keep me warm.

“Diamond” from the back.


A look inside the “diamond” configuration.

While the diamond is good as a quick and higher profile shelter, it is a little tight for a 6′-0″ man. If you slide in at an angle, I can still get my entire body in and covered. To slide parallel to the ridgeline, leaves about one half of my head exposed. You have to slide in parallel to the longer side. In this case, that is the left side as viewed from the front.

“Bivy” emergency configuration


This is a very low profile configuration with about 2″ above my head once in. It allows for both flap open and flap closed configurations. In the picture you can see the left flap, viewed from the front, is folded back and ready for maneuvering. I brought both flaps to a point to give me a little extra leg room.

According to the Basha Tarp Designs, this is considered a “half pyramid free end” design. Regardless of name, it works!

I hope this helps with some of your survival gear and preps. Be safe and always know how to use your gear. Also, in my opinion, purchase gear that function for multiple uses, not just a single task. You will find, this will lighten the load in your bag and provide for easier maneuverability should you have to move quickly.

Until then,

Use your instincts to survive




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