I was in the market for a good tarp, and after some research, the British Army basha caught my attention. I promptly did some eBay magic and found a good deal on it for $50 new, so I went for it. And boy, was it worth it. Tie-off points, grommets, and handles (so it can be used as a stretcher) everywhere! So without further ado, here’s my review of the amazing British Army Basha.
British Army basha specs
The British Army basha is a 2.56m by 2.16m (8′ 4¾” by 7′ 1⅛”) polyurethane-coated nylon shelter sheet, issued by the British Army. It is completely waterproof, and comes in three camouflage patterns: Woodland DPM, MTP (Multicam colors following a DPM-ish pattern) and Desert DPM. It weighs 1kg (2.2lbs for our friends across the pond) and has a ton of tie-off points and grommets, so you can set it up in a big number of shelter configurations. Comes with a 30cm x 16cm stuff sack.
Drawbacks of the basha
I will start with the cons of the basha, to get them out of the way. Like everything else in this silly world, the British Army basha is not perfect. The good news is that all of these cons can be fixed and relatively easy too.
The biggest drawback of this amazing piece of gear is definitely the weight. At 1kg, the British Army basha is definitely on the heavy side and not an ultralight tarp. A big factor of the weight are the incorporated handles, which means that should they be removed the weight can go down a lot. I like to use my stuff for a while before I make any permanent modifications on them. Should I modify the basha I will add a section in this post.
Another con is the stuff sack that comes with it. A pretty good stuff sack from the same material and camouflage pattern as the tarp it comes with, but not big enough to comfortably use with the specific sheet. Due to the fact that the basha has a ridge seam reinforced with nylon webbing and a ton of webbing handles all around, folding it in a cylindrical shape gets a bit challenging. Even when you manage to fold that slippery sheet with hard reinforcements into an awkward cylinder, you will have a very bad time putting it into the stuff sack.
This is unless you literally stuff the tarp in the sack without properly folding it first, but that’s not how I roll (pun totally intended). I like order, and also they say that stuffing it may cause damage to the tarp in the long run.
Fortunately there’s a cheap solution for this as well! I had a USMC ILBE radio pouch laying around from my ILBE set, which is pretty much useless for anything else apart from a tarp! The British Army basha fits perfectly inside one of those, folded in a rectangular shape. As an added bonus, you can also fit your tent stakes or other pitching and rigging hardware. The compression straps on the pouch are perfect to cinch it down.
You can buy these radio pouches on eBay for something like $5 a piece on eBay or Amazon. Plus you get to use the awesome stuff sack (which usually costs something like $7-8 on its own) for other items!
Now that we covered the negatives, let’s take a look at the good stuff!
The basha’s features
As I said, the basha comes in MTP, woodland DPM and desert DPM. Camouflage connoisseurs know that all British Army patterns are great for the environments they were designed for. For example, woodland DPM is great for UK woodlands and desert DPM is probably the best desert camouflage, period. Look at this screenshot I took off YouTube:
I got the MTP version because, well, let’s admit it: MTP is a Multicam rip-off and Multicam is awesome. It’s also worth mentioning here that color-wise, the pattern is the same on both sides, so if it weren’t for the sealed seam on top only, the tarp would be useable from both faces, from a camouflage point of view. I’m gonna do mad stealth camping under this tarp!
Tie-offs, grommets and more
As I said before, this tarp is a fantastic mix of handles, tie-off loops and grommets. In total it features 14 grommets, 9 tie-off points on the top with 2 more on the bottom (probably to hang mosquito nets, lamps or other items as I don’t see any other use for these) and 12 handles so that it can be used as a stretcher.
Along the ridge, there is a center seam, completely sealed with silicone, in the middle of which there is a very useful tie-off point. Add a piece of cordage there, tie it on a tree branch and pull, adding volume inside the tarp.
Here is a diagram of the top side of the basha (the distances of the middle grommets are a little off – they should be closer together):
One thing I do not understand about the British Army basha, is with what logic did they place the grommets (and handles), which do not keep equal distances from the corners and the middle. For example, take the four grommets in the long side of the tarp. The two middle ones have a distance of 33cm from the middle point of the side (the loop) and 95cm from the corners. This divides the side into three uneven pieces between grommets, sized 95cm – 66cm – 95cm. Same with the handles underneath the tarp. Maybe the answer is somewhere in the various configuration folds? If I figure it out I will let you know.
On the bottom of the tarp, we have a long ridge reinforcement made of webbing, the 12 stretcher handles mentioned above and two attachment points for lanterns or other items. In the diagram, I forgot to add that the two ends parallel to the ridge are reinforced as well.
Aren’t you convinced yet? Are you not entertained? For $50 shipping included, this basha has a crazy value for money ratio and is probably the best piece of kit the British Army has to offer. Got comments or questions? Leave them below! If you want more posts like this, follow my backpacking collection on Google+.