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  1. #1
    cataraftgirl's Avatar
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    Color choice for tarp

    I have been using my OES 12 X 15 Silnylon tarp in light gray this summer on river trips. It's light weight and ease of pitching has been great. The size has been perfect for kitchen/group shade & rain protection for 4-6 people. We did notice one issue last week on the Main Salmon river in Idaho. The tarp gives adequate shade, but we could feel the heat coming through the tarp more than we can with the heavier MSR tarps we have used in the past. Our temps were in the upper 80s to mid 90s. We mostly were camped on sand beaches, so shade was important. Would the same tarp in forest green/black/or blue give better heat resistance than the light gray? Is the heat transfer just a trade-off for the light weight & packability of the silnylon?
    What say you, oh wise HF folks?????
    KJ

  2. #2
    Senior Member packeagle's Avatar
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    Wouldn't the darker colors absorb heat energy from the sun. Think solar pool covers they are always in black or other dark colors. I think the issue is how thin the material is, creating a greenhouse effect. I think maybe (and I'm no scientist) the thicker material did a better job because of its thickness. I had a tent once that had an aluminized side and a dark blue side to the fly. When it was cold the instructions said to pitch the black side out as it would absorb heat energy from the sun and the aluminized side would reflect the heat back. In warm weather the directions were reversed to reflect the suns rays.

  3. #3
    Senior Member DiscoveryDiver's Avatar
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    Darker colors are more efficient absorbers and radiators...I'd think that would mean you feel more heat as the other poster said...

  4. #4
    Acer's Avatar
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    I have a very large,,older tarp with telescopic poles that came with it,,its cat cut,,17' long, 12' wide one end, 9' other end,,about 12 yrs old used for car camping, a Walrus,,its 3.4 lbs and think nylon ripstop,,but huge,,and gives off heat about the same as my 10' x 12' silnylon and its tan in color, so I think all tarps will give off heat from the sun.. the same for my aluminum roof on the porch of my house,,it gives off a few degrees more heat in the summer cause its metal,,but the trade off to hear the rain is worth it on the porch. Your going to have alittle heat under a tarp especailly if there is no breeze.

  5. #5
    in it for the naps oldgringo's Avatar
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    I've pondered this...I have a dark green Chinook, and a white Guide Gear, both pu coated nylon...maybe I'll set them both up, and see if there's a discernible difference in full sun.

    This I know, however: there is simply no substitute for a shade tree.
    Dave

    http://www.uark.edu/misc/xtimber/rna/pattonsbluff.html

    It has always been my private conviction that any man who pits his intelligence against a fish and loses has it coming.
    John Steinbeck

  6. #6
    Acer's Avatar
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    If your camping and backpacking in the winter,,you would want a dark as color tarp as you can get,,cause it will retain heat,,just like the shingle colors on a house...the lighter or white,,reflects heat,,the darker absorbs,,and retains heat longer,,just my 2 cents.

  7. #7
    Senior Member millarky's Avatar
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    I have to agree with packeagle-darker might mean more heat transfer to you. I set up a Noah at Hecla Junction on the Arkansas in July one year. Light in color but thicker than syl. It did a pretty good job of keeping us a lot cooler in the 90* blazing CO sun. Noah's are priced to add to your gear so might be worth a try.

    On a side note-Do hard boaters join in on your trips? I've got a class IV boater friend who'd love to join your group sometime .
    The gene pool needs a life guard.

  8. #8
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    Oware has this to say about color choice (owareusa.com):

    "Navy - NOLS color choice for their Thelma Flys for blending in. Pros-blends in well at dusk and dark, doesn't attract attention from people or animals. Dries quickly in sunlight. Makes the best shade if an ample insulating air distance (3 ft) is kept between you and the tarp, Best projection from snow blindness.Cons-lets less light through, dreary in dreary weather, can be hot in hot weather if fabric is close to the body.Purple,Brown,RoyalPros-blends in well at dusk and dark, doesn't attract attention from people or animals. Dries quickly in sunlight. Makes the best shade if an ample insulating air distance (3 ft) is kept between you and the tarp, Best projection from snow blindness.Cons-lets less light through, dreary in dreary weather, can be hot in hot weather if fabric is close to the body.Grey - most popular with backpackers Pros-blends in well in many settings. Doesn't attract attention from people or animals.Lets lots of light through.Cons-dreary in dreary weather, lets radient heat through in hot weather (doesn't give very dark shade) gives little protection from snow blindness.Bright Orange or Chartruese- SAR and survival kit favoritesPros-cheery in dreary weather, easily spotted in emergencies or when returning to campin stormy weather. Lets lot of light through. Hunting safetyCons-shows dirt, may attract unwanted attention from people or animals, gives little shade, gives little protection from snow blindness.Leaf green - bowhunters choicePros-blends in well in many settings. lets some light through, good compromise for all around use.Gold - boaters pickPros-cheery in dreary weather, easily spotted in emergencies or when returning to camp in stormy weather. Lets lot of light through.Cons-shows dirt, may attract unwanted attention from people or animals, gives little protection from snow blindness.One thing to consider if you do snow camping and spend time insideduring the day, yellow lets in a lot of light which can lead to snowblindnesson a sunny day. Years ago REI did tests of colors and decided a dark orangewas best for mountaineering tents- they were cheery and easy to find, butcut down on light more to help stave off snow blindness.Most folks that buy our shelters and fabric prefer-bright colors if they snow camp,navy, black, green or gray if they trail hike (to hide from the crowds),black or navy for desert for better shade with high pitch,orange or yellow for emergency shelters and search and rescue,yellow for river trips for mood enhancement on rainy days,blaze orange, green or gray for hunters (depending on the type of hunting military tactical)gray or green for those in bear country ( to avoid visually attracting them)photographers like a bit of color in their photos."

  9. #9
    Senior Member AaronAlso's Avatar
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    I've dealt with this problem before by placing an adventure medical kits "heat sheet" reflective side out on the outside of the sunniest portion of the tarp. This reflects the light and heat away from the tarp and certainly reduces the greenhouse effect. In the winter put it over the ridge line under the tarp and reflect body heat trapping it in the tarp.

    The heat sheets are much more durable than a standard space blanket. I use gorilla brand duct tape to make tie-outs. I did see some aluminized ripstop somewhere the other day, guess I should have bookmarked it.

    EDIT: Found it! - diygearsupply.com has 30D reflective ripstop nylon @ $5.45/yd 60" wide. Think I'll pick up a yard or two myself.
    Last edited by AaronAlso; 08-24-2011 at 14:54. Reason: typos caused by my "not-so" smart phone
    "The more laws that are written, the more criminals are produced." - "The more laws and order are made prominent, the more thieves and robbers there will be." - Lao Tze

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  10. #10
    Senior Member ringtail-THFKAfood's Avatar
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    Tyvek

    I use a TYVEK tarp. Much better than silnylon in the heat.
    It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.
    - Mark Twain

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