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The case for groundsheet protectors!

imageSome people might think that a ground sheet protector is an extra weight to carry and not worth buying. From our experience most tent groundsheets these days are not robust enough to prevent damage from stones, rocks, thorns etc. Ok if you are always camping on grass and are scrupulous about checking the ground you would probably get away with it. Unfortunately if you travel in wilderness areas then nice grass sites aren't always available and your only choice is a rock strewn area. That's where the groundsheet protector comes into it's own and it is well worth the extra weight. However we weren't expecting this on our 10 day horseback tour of the Wasur - Rawa Biru National Park in southern West Pupua (formerly Irian Jaya).

We were camped near the river Mar and had camped there for 2 nights. On striking camp and rolling up the inner tent on our groundsheet protector we noticed that the groundsheet protector was peppered with holes which ranged from 1mm - 6mm in diameter. We just couldn't believe it, we checked the ground and and vegetation that we had camped on to see if there was anything that could have caused the holes. There were no obvious signs of any insects that might have eaten it or plants that might have been crushed that might have produced an acid that might have caused the holes. My wife's sister who works for the WWF out there was camped next to us, her tent groundsheet had been unaffected. Apparently she had camped in that spot several times before and had never seen anything like it. Eddie our Papuan guide, a native of the area was also mystified as to the cause.

The only conclusion we could think of, was that it was some sort of insect that took a liking to the fabric of the groundsheet protector. We nicknamed it the 'New Guinea Boring Beetle'!

Inspecting the damage and checking the undergrowth for the culprit!
Close up of the damage to the groundsheet protector.

Luckily for us the groundsheet protector took the brunt of the attack. There was only one slight hole in the groundsheet of the actual tent, we were able to do a temporary repair with some waterproof tape. The groundsheet protector was our saviour as we were only 6 days into our 5 week visit to West Papua, if the actual groundsheet had been holed we would have had a very soggy tent on some of the later nights and I wouldn't have had enough tape to have covered all of the holes!! When we got back to the UK we sent the tent and groundsheet protector to Terra Nova the manufacturer of the tent. They did a good repair to the small hole and reckoned that if it had not been for the groundsheet protector they would have had to have replaced the whole groundsheet which would have been quite costly. They asked us if they could keep the groundsheet protector as an example of why they are a good idea!