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  1. #1
    Senior Member Cabmanhang's Avatar
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    Question How much do you REALLY save when you DIY a tarp?

    Okay, after looking through the history of my diy tarp builds, I am not so sure that I have saved a whole lot of money.

    Granted, when you diy you get the option of full customization.

    Which material?
    How large?
    Angle of "doors"?
    Angle of catenary cut?
    Type of ridgeline hem?
    Type of tieouts?
    Pole mods?
    etc..

    I've built several and love them all...

    20180401_193503_HDR.jpg

    20170730_154820.jpg

    But, I am looking at cost. How much do you really save? For most the variance in the angle of the cat cut or the type of ridgeline hem isn't really important.

    I have averaged around $110 per tarp in materials. This doesn't include any labor. I buy material from the outlet on RBTR either 2nds or just remnants, so I always buy fabric at a discount. Add in the tieouts, thread, grosgrain for the tieouts, silicone for seam sealing, and material for reinforcement patches and you've got some money invested.

    Is it me, or did tarps used to be a lot more expensive?

    https://hammockgear.com/the-journey/ -- $130 for a journey from hammockgear

    https://dutchwaregear.com/product/xe...size-and-color -- $150 for Dutch Winter tarp

    https://ripstopbytheroll.com/collect...ter12-tarp-kit -- $72.50 for a kit that still requires cutting, sewing and seam sealing and thread.

    When you look at the reality of saving $30 dollars, for the large task of sewing up a tarp, It may not be worth it to some. Tarps require a very large empty floor space. Sewing these fabrics can be very slippery and the long seams a challenge. You need a sewing machine. You need a template, or some way to generate a radius for the cat cuts. You need PATIENCE.

    Fact: Our cottage vendors make great tarps at the cheapest prices historically.

    Fact: DIY is highly rewarding and worth it, but you aren't paying yourself labor. If spending six to eight hours building a tarp is worth 30-50 dollars for you, I say go for it. But don't expect that the money saved is worth the time. Also, If you don't already have the means to sew, that adds a whole other realm of expense.

    Fact: Layout and cutting is one of the hardest parts. Getting this right is crucial.

    20180320_095502.jpg

    20170725_174009.jpg

    https://ripstopbytheroll.com/collect...nt=87197253658 -- $83 for a precut kit. This is probably the best diy option, saving most the headache of layout and cutting. The cost difference between uncut raw materials is less than $12. That'd be the best $12 ever spent.

    Fact: It is highly rewarding to diy your own tarp and when it comes out right and works for you in a hard rain, you feel like a little mini-Edison. (Who actually stole all of Tesla's work.)

    Anyhow, the point of this very long post isn't to discourage anyone from diy'ing their own tarp.

    It is tremendously rewarding and a great learning experience. It will make you appreciate how good our cottage vendors actually are. It is your creation.

    Consider the factors:
    Do you have a desire, which overrides the financial aspect, to build your own tarp?

    Do you have the ability and tools?

    Is 30-50 dollars worth it for you to take on this project?



    Supporting our cottage vendors is the next best thing to diy. You're buying handcrafted goodness that directly supports the hammock community and the families of the people who make this community better.

    If you are going to DIY, consider a precut kit. This eliminates the major headache that is layout and cutting.

    I have enough material to make two more tarps. Honestly, if it weren't for already having the materials, I would likely opt to buy from a cottage vendor. Hammock Gear seems like the best value. But having these materials on hand and fortunate enough to have the tools and space to do it, I shall once again start laying out, cutting, folding seams, stitching, reinforcing, stitching, folding seams, cutting, stitching, sealing, etc...

    The purpose of this post is two-fold.

    1. If you're set on DIY, hopefully this inspires you and you'll proceed with realistic expectation about the cost/benefit and the actual reward of doing it yourself.

    2. If you're on the fence about buying vs diy, please realize how great of a value our cottage vendors provide. Also, they do it for a living and likely produce a better final product than you or I could make.

    I hope this is helpful for those on the fence about whether DIY is worth it for them. No matter what you do, get a tarp, get out in the woods, and get back to nature. We are all going to return to it someday and the most important part, whether you diy, or give business to our great cottage vendors is to get out there and have some "Happy Hanging".
    "If we lose the forests, we lose our only instructors. People must see these forests and wilderness as the greatest educational system that we have on the planet. If we lose all the universities in the world, then we would lose nothing. But If we lose the forests, we lose everything." -- Bill Mollison

  2. #2
    MAD777's Avatar
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    Great post! I love to DIY as much of my gear as possible, which represents the majority of my gear. But, I do not save much money, probably not enough to pay myself even a dollar per hour.

    I do use premium fabrics, down, etc. as I pursue the lightest weight possible. I could save a bit with bargain basement closeout materials. But even that assumes you already have a sewing machine and the other odd tools necessary,and that you're willing to work for minimum wage.

    When I bought gear it was because I needed it fast and did not have the time to DIY, or in the case of my Cuben tarp because I was afraid to mess up such expensive material.

    My reason I DIY is solely the satisfaction of getting the piece of gear exactly as I want it and the satisfaction of using gear I've made with my own hands.

    Sent from my Pixel 2 using Tapatalk
    Mike
    "Life is a Project!"

  3. #3
    Well said, Cabmanhang.

  4. #4
    Senior Member ecologito's Avatar
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    Great post. I do believe most DIY'ers do it for the pride they will take on their finished product. It is hardly ever a money saver but a sense of accomplishment.
    If you are under control, you are not going fast enough - Mario Andretti

  5. #5
    Senior Member
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    I've built several and love them all...
    This is what really kills the cost savings: it's far too addictive.

  6. #6
    New Member MattB's Avatar
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    DIY rarely returns on the investment of time, equipment, money, and the opportunity cost lost during a DIY project.

    Do it because it's fun. Or a challenge. Of for bragging rights. It's rarely a monetary saver, especially when you put opportunity cost in the equation.

    For me, it's fun. That's why I'm 2.5 tarps, 5 netless hammocks, 2 removable net (chameleon compatible) hammocks, 3 full length APEX underquilts, and countless huggers and slings/suspensions into the DIY side of the hobby. It would have been much quicker and less expensive when equipment is counted into the equation to just buy full sets of gear from cottage manufacturers for my family. Making something with your two hands and using it in the woods is a rush.

  7. #7

    Join Date
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    I don't own a sewing maching,and it I did,would have no idea what to do with one.However,I do own some metal snips so I set out to make my own Caldera Cone for my alcohol stove.It was a an effort and a bit of a learning curve!I wound up buying a tool to make a bend with also.

    Once I got it done and thought about how much material I went thru I realized it's usually cheaper to purchase but I do have some sense of satisfaction for having made one.No,I don't use it because I have since switched to the BRS 3000 and a cannister.(I want my meal or coffee NOW!)

  8. #8
    GilligansWorld's Avatar
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    A fresh perspective - I started DIY to save $. But as mentioned above, in my journey I discovered that in creating my gear I was becoming much much much more educated in how materials and hardware work. I am not smart, but through sheer determination and now practice I am beginning to learn new techniques in how to actually sew. I now have a skill that I can use outside of gear creation. I'm getting ready to tackle a jacket build. I now am creating things that are unique and highly personalized and it's a lot of fun.

    I have successfully transformed a mummy bag to an under quilt off of pure guesswork and trial and error. Again $ would mean if you found a free - see that again - free down sleeping bag and had somebody convert it for you the labor would still make that converted bag cost over $150 in labor costs alone And you're almost at what a brand new underwuilt would cost only your converted one is using fill power down that's much less packable then our standard 800 850 fp.

    My reward in DIY is getting to work with materials nobody has used yet, designs that aren't mainstream, and being able to make a mistake and say I can fix that.

    Sent from my Pixel 2 using Tapatalk
    Be The light in Someone's Darkness - Change the World one Act of Compassion, One Act of Kindness at a Time - We are All Living on Borrowed Time

  9. #9
    Senior Member Cruiser51's Avatar
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    I don't think you can just "pigeon hole" the whole DIY arena with a comparison of costs and vendor offerings.

    I agree there are plans/kits now offered by vendors, plus the cottage folks make high quality products that are cost effective ... so why bother with DIY at all?

    You don't likely need to do more than some history mining on this site to realize that a lot of the innovations available today came from DIYers, some who posted their projects and others who turned them into businesses (some doing both). DIY provides a better understanding of the gear and a challenge to make it the best you can, there is an inherent satisfaction in learning to make something, make it well and make it the way you want it.

    I believe that DIY fuels innovation and change in this area, the "learning how" empowers people to express their ideas and not just take what someone else offers ... but to take what they learn, what they read on sites like this, what ideas pop into their heads and marry the lot to create new ideas and products.

    I think the DIY demand created opportunities for a lot of the suppliers and cottage vendors and that this is not an "either or" situation, where you have to be on the DIY or the vendor side of the fence. You can freely move between buying and making ... depending on what motivates you. There is a trove of learning/innovation available if you decide to try making your own gear, suppliers to give you great building products and cottage vendors giving quality benchmarks to strive for ....

    The question of DIY could be extended to more than camping gear, think about home garden plots, woodworking, metal working .... in all cases it would be largely more cost effective to buy an existing product, so why DIY?

    For me, it's about the journey, not the destination ...


    Brian

  10. #10
    Senior Member Cabmanhang's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cruiser51 View Post
    I don't think you can just "pigeon hole" the whole DIY arena with a comparison of costs and vendor offerings.

    I agree there are plans/kits now offered by vendors, plus the cottage folks make high quality products that are cost effective ... so why bother with DIY at all?

    You don't likely need to do more than some history mining on this site to realize that a lot of the innovations available today came from DIYers, some who posted their projects and others who turned them into businesses (some doing both). DIY provides a better understanding of the gear and a challenge to make it the best you can, there is an inherent satisfaction in learning to make something, make it well and make it the way you want it.

    I believe that DIY fuels innovation and change in this area, the "learning how" empowers people to express their ideas and not just take what someone else offers ... but to take what they learn, what they read on sites like this, what ideas pop into their heads and marry the lot to create new ideas and products.

    I think the DIY demand created opportunities for a lot of the suppliers and cottage vendors and that this is not an "either or" situation, where you have to be on the DIY or the vendor side of the fence. You can freely move between buying and making ... depending on what motivates you. There is a trove of learning/innovation available if you decide to try making your own gear, suppliers to give you great building products and cottage vendors giving quality benchmarks to strive for ....

    The question of DIY could be extended to more than camping gear, think about home garden plots, woodworking, metal working .... in all cases it would be largely more cost effective to buy an existing product, so why DIY?

    For me, it's about the journey, not the destination ...


    Brian
    There was obviously a disconnect between what the post stated and what you interpreted.

    If you read the post, it essentially agrees with everything you said. The true value in DIY lies outside of the cost savings that many perceive to be the prime benefit.

    Further, I am well aware of the history of innovation that was spurred on by the DIY folks, many of whom have gone on to start the cottage businesses which feed this community.

    There was no critique of DIY and certainly no "pigeon holing".

    The purpose of the post was to outline some facts for those who may be deciding whether to embark on a DIY journey. If you do it for the cost savings, you'll be missing out on the greatest rewards which come from making your own gear. There was no advocacy for someone to not diy, only the suggestion that our vendors really do provide great products and their prices are fair. DIY reveals this to you.

    Anywho, to each their own and HYOH.

    Respectfully, Cabmanhang
    "If we lose the forests, we lose our only instructors. People must see these forests and wilderness as the greatest educational system that we have on the planet. If we lose all the universities in the world, then we would lose nothing. But If we lose the forests, we lose everything." -- Bill Mollison

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