Feb 8, 2011 at 2:14 pm #1268880
Companion forum thread to:Feb 8, 2011 at 2:33 pm #1694145
Great article Jerry.
I have had great success with clear packing tape, usually 3M brand. I always have some around for shipping but have used it on a few pieces of gear. I used it to join closed sell foam together to make a koozie or insulator for my water bottle which I also use as a cup. The foam pealed off before the tape ever gave way.I have marked ounces and quarts on water bottles and playpus with a sharpie and then covered the writing so it would not rub off.
I have not tried it with polyethylene but bet it would work well. Could also use it to attach 2 pieces together and I bet is much lighter than duct tape.
Keep up the experimentation and good work.Feb 8, 2011 at 2:35 pm #1694148
Don't forget to recycle. Thanks Jerry.Feb 8, 2011 at 3:21 pm #1694160
@dsmontgomeryLocale: one snowball away from big trouble
I think the title should read "MYOG: 3mil Plastic Tarps." 3mm would be heavy duty indeed. :)
+1 on using mason's line for guy lines. I started with this stuff because I just had some around, but it's pretty strong.Feb 8, 2011 at 4:14 pm #1694179
@dangLocale: Pacific Northwet
Neat article. I've made similar tarps before. I agree the 3 mil is the perfect thickness, 2mm is a bit to fragile, 4mm too heavy. 3mm is a good balance.
You don't really need grommets for the corners, a sheetbend attachment is super secure and does not weaken the tarp corners or add weight. You can even eliminate the ridgeline grommets if you just run a line between two trees, though it's harder to get a tight pitch that way.Feb 8, 2011 at 4:41 pm #1694192
Just knowing someone would actually use poly for a tarp adds credibility to the idea. Nice!
A quick question: how, in your opinion, is using poly different than Tyvek? Both are light, and cheap.Feb 8, 2011 at 4:56 pm #1694202
@bestbuilderLocale: Pacific Northwest
Jerry, is good to see people are still thinking about how to do things inexpensively. One other option that would work for your guy lines instead of tape, pebbles, balls or grommets is to just tie a sheet bend knot with the plastic and line (a double sheet bend works even better). You get the total strength of the plastic and line and it can be placed right in the corner for a good tight pitch.
I started my scouts out with a piece of plastic and mason line and we use them for the whole summer. The boys re-used the plastic for ground cloths the next few years when the troop bought "real" tarps. I think some of them still are using the ground cloths. All in all the cost was minimal.Feb 8, 2011 at 5:30 pm #1694232
A Polyethylene tarp, a backpack made from a ForceFlex trash bag, a stove from a Budweiser can, and a sleeping bag from bubble wrap. And people will call you "trail trash"! :)Feb 8, 2011 at 5:51 pm #1694244
I just lost a few brain cells on that one…. ugh. LOL.Feb 8, 2011 at 7:47 pm #1694313
@newtonLocale: Southeastern Louisiana
On the silnylon version of your tarp with the catenary curves, are there 3 seams on the top section of silnylon?
In the picture the material seems to "gather" in the center of the footend of the tarp. It makes me think that there is a third seam.
Edited to add picture for clarification of my question.Feb 8, 2011 at 8:55 pm #1694341
Thanks guys. This week is KILLING me! No more errors on my part, okay?
Okay. Now off to bed for me. Night all!
AddieFeb 9, 2011 at 1:07 am #1694390
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
I haven't used PE sheet for an actual tent, but I have used rolls of it to make patterns for my tents.
Duct tape has a rubber adhesive, and this will creep. OK for quick repairs, but not for anything permanent.
Packaging tape comes in two varieties: cheap Chinese with a lousy adhesive which lets go, and expensive brand-name with a good adhesive. Brands like 3M, Husky, Nitto, Scotch should be fine. As it is a lot lighter than duct tape, try using a couple of layers.
However, really permanent-bonding anything to PE is hard to do without using really specialised adhesives which cost a LOT. Don't bother.
CheersFeb 9, 2011 at 8:35 am #1694449
@er1kksenLocale: The Western Door
Reinforced packing tape comes in a lot of varieties with different fibers, so I'd take a look around. I've used 1/2" wide no-name reinforced packing tape off the shelf of a convenient store as actual guylines to string up a sheet of plastic for a last-minute night outdoors, and they held up just fine. I imagine they'd be excellent reinforcements. Giving ridgelines a strip of tape and arranging it so that the tape (rather than the plastic) bears most of the load may provide even greater durability.
I know there is a heavy-duty transparent duct tape that is also useful for its UV resistance, but since it does have a rubber-based adhesive (similar to normal duct tape but more durable) it's probably less useful for projects involving poly (sticks great to mylar, though). Perhaps you can find a packing tape brand with extra UV resistance?Feb 9, 2011 at 8:55 am #1694456
@dparkLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
Would Gorilla tape have a place here?Feb 9, 2011 at 9:19 am #1694462
Prototyping is definitely the way to go (at least until you're pretty competent at design and construction, and you have a pattern you're confident will work.
I prototyped the '5yds to UL' tarp using cheap nylon (£2/m vs £7-8/m for silnylon), documented here:
I learned a huge amount, and I'm very happy I didn't use expensive fabric for my first version.
(I'm also envious of the access you Americans seem to have to light, cheap, technical fabrics!)Feb 9, 2011 at 10:01 am #1694486
>Would Gorilla tape have a place here?
Gorilla tape hasn't slipped in my applications, but it is heavier than most duct tape. Good-quality packing tape sticks to plastic well, and is significantly lighter. I made pack straps from non-reinforced packing tape and stuck them onto a 40-pound bag of wood pellets, and they held fine (total weight of pellet-bag pack, after dumping the pellets: 2.1 oz; waterproof, too).
Also, the comments about using a sheet bend on the corners are right on: no need for tape or grommets, and tension is distributed through material better.Feb 9, 2011 at 10:25 am #1694495
I've used 3m packing tape inside my dishwasher to seal off a vent which was steaming into our kitchen cabinets and affecting their finish. It's been in there for ten years. If you smell the adhesive when you apply it it smells like vinegar. To say it is water resistant is an understatementFeb 9, 2011 at 10:46 am #1694506
@tpeterson1959Locale: Pacific Northwest
My very first camping experience was when I was only four years old, circa 1964. My dad took my mom, my little brother and me camping along the coast of the Olympic Peninsula. We slept under a plastic sheet every night. I remember waking up to rain on Agate Beach and being amazed that we were dry – that was definitely "the moment" for me!
I agree with Tad, too; it's great to see you using inexpensive, readily available materials. I often wonder how many people never even try getting out because they just can't bear the idea of spending up to several hundred dollars on the gear that's "recommended" in some of the popular magazines.
Again, great article!Feb 9, 2011 at 12:20 pm #1694546
Reminds of my childhood camping with the old school tube tents!Feb 9, 2011 at 12:28 pm #1694551
In day glow orange not doubt!Feb 9, 2011 at 1:24 pm #1694582
@er1kksenLocale: The Western Door
Come to think of it, this reminds me of a REALLY old outward bound video we watched in an Outdoor Education class I took. It was at a camp up in the Rockies, and each student went on a solo trip for a couple days sometime during the course of the program. Their state-of-the-art shelter was a piece of plastic sheeting (like these) draped over a ridgeline strung between two objects, with rocks used the same way as the styrofoam balls here to guy out the corners.
Sometimes you've got to step back and give the staying power of the low-tech some appreciation.Feb 12, 2011 at 1:54 pm #1695905
Do you have some pictures of where the pole meets the tarp? I'm working on making a tarp tent and haven't figured out the best way to reinforce the area where the pole meets the fabric (the peak). If anybody has any ideas , this would be greatly appreciated. I will post a full write up on my new tent after I get it completed just in case anybody wants to copy. ;)Feb 12, 2011 at 5:09 pm #1695974
Retiredjerry, great article. Some neat enginuity here. Thanks for sharing. I bet it sparks some ideas in the tent makers that frequent this site. Well done.Feb 13, 2011 at 4:00 pm #1696250
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
Just got back from trip on beach of Olympic Peninsula – great place for winter trip – too busy in summer.
I'm surprised there was so much feedback – not made of Cuben or anything.
I'll have to try clear 3M tape next time, I think that might work better than duct tape. Or Gorilla Tape – there's so little used the weight probably doesn't matter.
Tyvek would probably work, I've only used it a little as a ground cloth. Is it wide enough for a tarp without having to sew pieces together? The beauty of poly is they make it in huge sheets.
There are three seams on my catenary curve silnylon tarp. The two ridgelines are cat curves. I keep playing with this. Currently I have a short center pole at the bottom – the two ridges with cat curves don't make sense but it doesn't seem to make any difference. What I should have done is make the tarp with two pieces and one seam down the center, same as other similar tarps, like the Cuben one that BPL sells.
Sheet bend at corners – then the edges of the tarp aren't under tension so they flap around a little, but so what I guess.
I have some bubble wrap, not sure yet what I'll make out of it, maybe a vest, 3M tape should be of use.Feb 13, 2011 at 4:06 pm #1696254
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
Jason, I don't quite understand your question
The last three pictures show a pole through a grommet at the edge of the tarp.
Somewhere in the middle it has a closeup of pole without grommet. That's a pretty common way to do it, I believe.
What do you mean by the peak of a tarp tent?
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