For those campers who grew up with free-standing dome tents or self-erecting/inflating tents, even the term “Y”stick may be foreign to them. As a Boy Scout, that letter-shaped stick was used for so many fixtures around our camp. It was the upright support for a lean-to cross member, a brace for a pot hanging on the end of stick over the campfire and, relative to this article, a stick used to prop up the edges of our tent tarp. That was especially useful when the nearest tree we could tie our tent guidelines to was twenty feet away.
You see, a “Y”stick changes the angle of attack needed to keep tent line taut. Having a snug line shooting out ten-fifteen feet from your tent pole creates a walking hazard, and depending upon the height, could even “clothline”you as you race across the front of your tent without looking.
Placing the stick a short distance out from the edge of your tarp (or window flap) raises the direction of pull but then enables you to quickly drop the line to a stake rather than continue the extended length out to the nearest natural tie-down.
A second advantage is that by using a slip/locking hitch knot such as a tautline hitch, you can adjust the angle of drop of the tarp throughout the day by loosening the knot and shifting the “Y”stick forward or backward along the line. This also enables you to to quickly tighten up the tension on the lines individually, and at any time.
Should you have access to a secure tie-down that requires a line stretching through a campsite traffic area, the “Y”stick can be used to raise the line, forming a peak under which one can easily walk.
The “Y”stick is a simple gadget that can make your tarp or other gudeline applications more diverse and manageable throughout your campsite.