Does anone still use tyvek as a ground cloth?

Forum Posting

A Membership is required to post in the forums. Login or become a member to post in the member forums!

Home Forums Gear Forums Gear (General) Does anone still use tyvek as a ground cloth?

Viewing 25 posts - 1 through 25 (of 40 total)
  • Author
  • #1301929
    Ron Bell / MLD
    BPL Member


    Locale: USA

    I am curious, does anyone still use tyvek as a ground cloth?

    I know everyone, me too, used it ten yrs ago but with the super light and fairly strong clear shrink wrap style UL ground cloth stuff available all over now, polycro at gossamergear, UL Groundcloth at MLD, generic home window shrink wrap, etc.

    The UL stuff is about 4X lighter than tyvek a solo size piece is about 1oz vs the 4- 6oz tyvek pieces I see on some gearlists.

    Maybe the tyvek last a bit longer …don't know, but at only about 10 cents per user night for the clear SUL stuff, that's not really a factor.

    I sometimes see UL gear lists and the tyvek ground cloth is half the shelter weight…

    The clear SUL so much lighter and quite cheap, why use tyvek anymore? Help me see what I am overlooking.

    As far as sustainability vs durability – I would think the tyvek wold have to last many many times longer to cover any factor there since it is so much heavier and bulkier.

    Mark Verber
    BPL Member


    Locale: San Francisco Bay Area

    I haven't used tyvek for 8 years or so when I discovered GG polycro and then generic shrink wrap which is so much lighter and more compact. The two pluses of tyvek for me is that it's more permeable so in the morning it's less likely to have condensation under it with small bits sticking to it and you can sometimes pick it up for free. Other the other hand, there tend to be more condensation above me, and shrink wrap isn't that expensive, and given weight size polycro wins. I have found both to be very durable.


    Nick Gatel
    BPL Member


    Locale: Southern California

    Ah, a tough one. I now use polycro exclusively and it is not much wider than my sleeping pad. What I like about a wider piece of Tyvek is that it is easier to see your gear, especially small items. But Tyvek is heavier and much bulkier.



    Locale: The Cascades

    I use it as a movie screen on some trips, but, like others, have gravitated to polycryo for a groundsheet, as well as cuben for a groundsheet, where I go depends on which one I use.


    I would only use the Tyvek for some application wherein i need some breathability, but not for a ground cloth by itself. Not unless the tyvek was already playing both roles e.g. the bivy i made recently, tvyek homewrap bottom and feet/shin area, and bug net rest. Don't need a groundsheet in that case and the breathability of the tyvek is a definite plus. Despite that tyvek homewrap is a bit heavy, the bivy only weighs 11.4 oz. I don't know for sure, but i suspect that the Tyvek homewrap is noticeably more durable than the polycryo. Durability is almost as important to me as weight. I don't like contributing a lot to trash. Certainly doesn't vibe at all with LNT principles and philosophy.

    If i had the money, i would just go with 1oz cuben for many applications, including groundcloth. Planning on doing this in the near future when i have the money.

    BPL Member


    The first groundsheets I used were 'painters cloth' – 1 mil plastic sheetings that were cheap, light, compact and reasonably durable. After several years, I encountered tyvek for the first time — and marveled at how bulky it was in comparison! My immediate reaction was — no way I would ever use tyvek!

    Then I encountered Polycryo — and marveled at how much more compact and lighter still it is compared to my 'painter cloth'. I switched instantly and never looked back.

    Adam Rothermich
    BPL Member


    Locale: Missouri Ozarks

    I just switched from a GG Spinnsheet to polycryo. The biggest advantages for me are less noise (ugh, crinkly spinnaker) and being able to see what's under the groundsheet. The second point makes getting rid of all the twigs and rocks that much easier. I'm sold on polycryo ground sheets. I'm not so worried about the durability, I bought a big sheet and cut it in half so when this one wears out I've got a replacement in the wings. As for the cost, those of us with construction going on nearby can get Tyvek for free!


    Joshua Billings
    BPL Member


    Locale: Santa Cruz,Ca

    And proud of it. Seriously though, is it more puncture proof than polycro? I use air mats and leaks are trouble for good sleep. If polycro is good for protecting my mat from sharp stuff then i might switch. I have rolls of tyvec from work so i always have it. I always check first for sharp stuff but the tyvec seems like extra insurance.

    Josh Brock


    Locale: Outside

    polycro at GG is about 3.65 ounces?

    I dont usually use a ground cloth so I had to go look but if you compare that to the 4 ounce ground cloth out of tyvek Im confused? what dos the MLD ground cloth weigh? and if its that light How much protection could you possibly be getting from it? Protection for my pad being the only reason for me to carry one.

    For instance I have a piece of cuben at home .33 oz per sq/yd that could easily be used as a ground cloth. and it woud be the lightest ground cloth I could buy. the problem is that everything that can go through my pad can easily puncture the cuben.

    Also tyvek 1443r is 1.25 oz per square yards. so a how big are these tyvek ground cloths your talking about cause for one to weigh 4 ounces it would have to be atleast 9 square feet? so for 2.5 ounces you could have one that is 6 square feet which should suffice as a ground cloth.

    Jason Elsworth


    Locale: New Zealand

    easier to make a bath tub set up with tyvek??

    M B
    BPL Member


    The majority of AT hikers that stay in shelters use a ~3×7 piece of tyvek under them there, even though many dont use anything under their tent.

    Anton Solovyev
    BPL Member


    Locale: Colorado, Utah

    Here's an example:


    The ground is a mix of shale, small rocks and sand. The sand consists of particles from dust sized to regular beach sand. Everything alive has thorns. Tyvek seems tough enough and gives some nice separation from sand on the ground.

    I may try polycro in the future. Is it tough enough and easy enough to shake the dirt off?

    Thanks for pointing this out. I have been wondering what people use besides Tyvek.

    Adam Rothermich
    BPL Member


    Locale: Missouri Ozarks

    Josh, 3.65 oz is for a 6'x8' sheet. I bought a big sheet from MLD and cut it down to 30"x8' and it weighs about 1.3 oz.


    Alex H
    BPL Member


    Locale: southern appalachians or desert SW

    Still using the same 2X6 foot 3 oz. piece since about 2001.

    Josh Brock


    Locale: Outside

    Adam- That is saving you an ounce over tyvek 1443r of a similar size.

    My point is there is not such a big weight savings that warrants talking about tyvek as though its a heavy outdated option for a ground cloth. And certainly not "4 times lighter".

    Stephen M
    BPL Member


    Locale: Way up North

    I use a sheet of Tyvek under my Trailstar.

    M B
    BPL Member


    I usually use a 1.5 oz piece of space blanket.
    The good thing, is they are $3 at any walmart in the country.

    Stephen M
    BPL Member


    Locale: Way up North

    Oh, the reason I use the sheet of Tyvek is I got it for free with the Trailstar.

    Harald Hope
    BPL Member


    Locale: East Bay

    I saw all this talk about using tyvek some years back and ordered a piece, but it was massive, heavy, bulky, and then when I read about how non water resistant it is, particularly the lighter variant, is that 1433?, which you can quite literally see light through the holes if I remember right, I just put those away as an experiment. I, probably like many others, didn't believe polycryo would or could work, but it did and does, all I do is hose it off over a clothes drying rack when I get home and dry it and that's that.

    I do of course clean the spot first of sharp pricklies, but I always did that so it's not a difference in use.

    tyvek would be tougher for abrasion I think, but I just haven't found any circumstances where that toughness would be of much use to me.

    1.5 oz for polycryo, 5.5 for tyvek regular housewrap, you're right, not quite 4x heavier, only 3.6x?. Tyvek is too noisy too. If I want a tougher ground cover I'll just use a simple sheet of coated 70d nylon, it's not that different in weight from tyvek, and it's more pleasant.

    I really didn't believe that polycryo would work, and there's probably some cases where it's not great, like being pitched on solid rock for example.

    I got some of the lighter, kite type, tyvek to check it out, but when I saw that it had basically zero hydrostatic head, ie, it has visible holes in it, I decided that was it for tyvek and me. Maybe for cowboy camping where you have no tent floor? I don't know, I guess it has use for some people, I can't see it myself though.

    Ron, nice to see you factor in the sustainability/durability component too, that's something it is often ignored with ul gear. I just treat these as if they all basically are made out of oil, so whatever the weight is is roughly how much oil it took, give or take, crudely. That's somewhere lighter materials do better too as long as they are not disposable, most people don't wear their gear out, they usually just stop or don't use it enough to wear it out.

    Justin Baker
    BPL Member


    Locale: Santa Rosa, CA

    I tried 1 mil painters plastic, but it was so thin and flimsy that it stretched out or ripped if I didn't step on it very carefully. It was also so light that if I slid my leg across it, it just dragged the plastic with it. I didn't like that.

    Is polycro tougher than that? I like having a larger ground sheet to give myself a dry and clean living space to set down my gear. And I want to be able to walk over it.

    I'm considering doing tyvek because it's more like a tarp material and I don't like using flimsy crinkly plastics.

    They are both cheap so I probably end up trying both. I normally use a piece of nylon but it's double the weight.

    Jay Wilkerson
    BPL Member


    Locale: East Bay

    I no longer use Tyvek-I did in the past. I have been using the MLD Clear Mylar since 2011. Significant wait savings and the material is just tough enough. I really like the see through aspect because you pick and preen the objects from underneath your ground cloth. I have a piece cut for a YAMA 1.25 bug shelter and it ways 1.5oz!

    Barry P
    BPL Member


    Locale: Eastern Idaho (moved from Midwest)

    I use the indoor window wrap. The outdoor wrap is about 50% heavier—though tougher. And I cut it big and let it shrink in the sun before I go out and use it. And March and April is when I find it on sale.
    I do wish Tyvek was as light as polycro. Polycro is always wet on the underside in the morning and takes a while to dry. So I usually continue drying it at rest stops. Since it is damp, it holds a little more dirt and twigs so it’s harder to shake off. This is where tyvek is nice. But the weight and pack size of polycro keeps me using it. And I’m glad it’s tough stuff.

    -The Rockies and IL bogs were made for Tevas



    Locale: Northeast Oregon

    Several years ago I bought a Gossamer Spinnaker Ground Cloth – 30" X 84"' @ 2.0 oz

    I have used it exclusively for at least 100 nights and it is still going strong. There are no punctures or tears. It is 100% waterproof. I do not remember what it cost but it was about double or triple the polycro. I suspect I will easily get another 100 nights with it. So when it comes to sustainability it is far superior to polycro. Apparently Gossamer Gear didn't sell many because they no longer offer it. Too bad. It is a great piece of gear.

    Rodney M

    Mark Ferwerda
    BPL Member


    Locale: Maryland

    I really like the spinnaker ground cloth also, but after a couple of season (@ 50 nights for me) it is no longer waterproof.

    Matt Dirksen
    BPL Member


    Locale: Mid Atlantic

    I usually use Tyvek, although I decided to use use a 24x72inch piece of Reflectix the other weekend on the AT. I really enjoyed this, especially considering my only choice was to sleep over top of briars blended with some furry looking (poison ivy flavored) roots. It was a great supplement to a NeoAir.

    Since I have several rolls of leftover Reflectix in my basement from a remodeling project, I have decided to other uses of the stuff. I now think ill cut pieces to fit all the undersides of my tents. When I car camp with the family, I've been bringing a stack of kiddie snap together foam pads to use under the tents. It has been a wonderful form of both protection (for the tent and my knees), as well as great insulation. It is rather bulky and cumbersome, so I think the Reflectix will be an improvement.

Viewing 25 posts - 1 through 25 (of 40 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.
Forum Posting

A Membership is required to post in the forums. Login or become a member to post in the member forums!

Get the Newsletter

Get our free Handbook and Receive our weekly newsletter to see what's new at Backpacking Light!

Gear Research & Discovery Tools