4 to 12 stakes (4 minimum with trees for ridgeline tie outs, more stakes needed if windy, snow load or using poles for support)
2 trees, trekking poles, or tarp poles (use of at least one tree is easier to set up for one person, if using poles two people holding poles on each end really speeds things up)
6 cords @ 3′ on corners and middle sides of fabric panel
2 cords @ 6′ on ridge line (having some extra cord is useful for trees spread farther apart, and needed for tarps large enough for more than one person)
First attach the Ridgeline tie out to a tree or pole at a height that allows the netting to sit 4″ on the ground.
I like to use a releasable tautline hitch.
If using a pole for the ridgeline, tie a clove hitch around the top of the pole and then run the line down to a stake on the ground. Adjustable trekking poles make height adjustments easier.
Have someone hold the pole upright and go attach the other ridge line to a pole or tree.
Stake out the four corners at a height that maintains about 4″ of netting laying on the ground.
Adjust cord length using the tautline hitches and by moving stakes so that the tarp is stretched snug with minimum wrinkles. In a wind, you want the tarp to hum, not flap.
If needed, tie out center side points and four corner points on netting. Shepherds crook type stakes work well for the netting. The netting should be snug but not tight along the sides of the tarp (gentle on the netting) and loose on the pleated ends so one can crawl under the netting easily without having to remove a stake.
Built a batch of these for an outdoor school. Fold up compactly in the boat until you need to move gear up the beach or overland between lakes. Very sturdy of 420 Denier Nylon Packcloth. 2″ webbing shoulder straps. Handles on top and bottom. Over 3300 cubic inches in capacity.
I can build some for your School. As little as $40 in quantity.
Shower cap made of 70 denier ripstop nylon with a .5 oz silicone and polyurethane blend coating. 14 years continuous use. Coating still waterproof. No fraying. The elastic needs to be replaced, the rubber wore out.
The fabric is used in tarps and tents for hard use applications. Outdoor schools, rentals etc. Custom made in small batches or seasonally available in stock. Current color is yellow.
How to hang food using the counter balance with retrieval cord method.
Pick appropriate tree and branch. In bad bear areas a proper tree may dictate where you camp. As you near timber line there may not be tall enough trees, so you must plan ahead. The limb should be about 20+ feet from the ground. Higher is better as bears are less likely to jump off a limb onto the bags if they know they will take a long fall. The bags should hang about 10′ out from the tree. Where the rope goes over the limb, the diameter of the limb should be about the size of your wrist or smaller. Larger and they can climb out the limb, smaller and they can break or chew through the limb. Some bears can get any food hang too. Check with local authorities about food storage methods. Food hangs work best with wild bears that have some fear of humans.
Camping with groups, we had to hang as much as 200 lbs of food each evening. It can take several hours, and several trees, to do it right for that much food. A bear resistant canister may be a safer and easier choice for some folks.
Hear are some custom food hang bags by Oware. Ultralight silnylon and noseeum net made for BackpackingLight.com, and heavy Cordura ones made for various Outdoor Schools.
Note the bright orange throw sacks for holding a rock when setting up, and the cord when not in use. Orange is easier to find if you have a bad throw.
The heavy bags use a reflective loop on the bottom (for a retrieval cord) that can be quickly seen at night with a flashlight when checking for suspicious bear like sounds.