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Thread: Tyvek Tarp

  1. #1
    Senior Member Steve D's Avatar
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    Tyvek Tarp

    I've always said that there are three kinds of learners in the world. There are those that learn by listening, there are those that learn by watching, and there are those that just have to touch the electric fence and find out for themselves. Anyone care to guess which kind of learner I am?

    I've been wanting to give a tyvek tarp a try for a while now. I've done a several searches here on HF and on other gear and camping boards and read many of the pluses and minuses of tyvek for use as a tarp. I understand tyvek can sometimes tear and it doesn't pack down well if stuffed. On the other hand, it folds flat nicely, its water proof and best of all, its relatively inexpensive.

    I got lucky last weekend when I delivered a couple of PLUQs that I made for a friend and his youngest son. We were adjusting the PLUQs and talking hammock stuff when the subject of tyvek came up. My friend mentioned that he had a little bit of a roll left in his basement and that I was welcome to it if I wanted it. SCORE!!!

    Wednesday evening I finally got around to cutting off a piece to try making a tarp from. Now I had all intentions of making a cat cut hex tarp with a 144 inch ridgeline. But...somehow I managed to cut the tyvek about 24 inches too short (long story...). After I realized that I had goofed and that there wasn't enough left on the roll to cut another piece long enough, I had to figure out how to salvage what I had. The solution...an 8 x 10 rectangular tarp to be pitched asym. I'd still get pretty good coverage, it would ultimately be a little bit lighter and I'd only need two stakes to tie it out. Its the same size and shape as 5 other blue poly tarps that I've made for my daughters and friends so based on their experiences, I know the coverage is decent. OK, problem solved.

    I cut the tarp out and squared it up at my office. Glass-topped conference tables sure make nice cutting tables. I had all intentions of including cat cuts but I got lazy and decided to just go with a plain ol' straight-sided rectangle. Once home I tossed the piece of tyvek and a few old tennis shoes in the dryer, set it on low and gave it a spin for half an hour or so to soften it up. To my surprise, it was still pretty crinkly and crunchy when I took it out. It didn't take long to discover that I could take the crinkliness out pretty darn well just by twisting it and wringing it around by hand.

    Once I was satisfied that I'd done away with most of the crinkliness, I added the tie-out tabs. Rather than buy some pre-made tie-outs, I used fiberglass-reinforced strapping tape. To make the tabs I cut two pieces of tape, one 18 inches long and the other 6 inches long. I stuck the 6-inch piece of tape to the 18 inch piece of tape at the midpoint (sticky side to sticky side). The tape would be folded over and and stick to the tarp so that the edge of each end of the 6-inch piece just touched the corner of the tarp itself. I also added a couple of 6-inch pieces of tape along the edges of the tarp at the corners for reinforcement. The result looked like this...



    For a little extra protection from gusty winds, I added a piece of 1/8-inch shock cord to two of the opposing corners. All in all it took less than two hours to make and about half of that was marking, squaring and cutting the tyvek.

    I hung it up late this afternoon in my favorite hammock gear test site (aka the woods behind our house) for its first test drive.







    I'm pretty pleased with the way it went together. We'll see how well it holds up over the next several months. For those that are wondering how much it weighs...according to the postal scale at work, 17.2 ounces.

    I definitely can't argue about the cost - for all practical purposes, this one was free. But, if one was able to by the tyvek by the yard and pick up a roll of strapping tape to go with it, you would likely come in at $20 or so for a pretty decent tarp. Even a 144 inch tyvek hex tarp wouldn't set ya back much more than that...
    Last edited by Steve D; 06-22-2012 at 20:05.

  2. #2
    Hobbit's Avatar
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    Nicely done and the price is definitely right! Looks like it will provide great coverage. And the test site behind the house. Thats a great looking place to hang. Thanks for posting this.
    http://www.stc-hike.org/ Susquehannock Trail Club web site - PA STS trail info

  3. #3
    Senior Member Steve D's Avatar
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    The test site gets quite a bit of use...with the mild winter last year there have only been a few weekends since last October that there wasn't at least one hammock hanging up. A couple of weekends we've had as many as five...and we have trees for more...
    Last edited by Steve D; 06-23-2012 at 14:40.

  4. #4
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    cool

    Free makes everything better! I'm wondering though...would a dip in some dye help it blend in a little better? Not sure what kind of dye could be used with tyvek though...
    Does anyone know anything about this?

  5. #5
    Senior Member Steve D's Avatar
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    I asked about dying tyvek last week...

    http://www.hammockforums.net/forum/s...ad.php?t=54614

    General consensus seems to be that its not easily done but some leather shoe dyes can give fairly good results.

    May have to give that a try down the road...

  6. #6
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    Haven't tried it personally but check this link for dying....sounds simple and effective.


    http://tyvek-blog.materialconcepts.c...yvek-with.html

  7. #7
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    Looks good. My son's been using a 9x9 tyvek tarp on monthly camp outs for probably 2 years now and I've had mine even longer but it's only used as a loner now. Our tarps just use marbles (no rocks around here) and mason line for the corner tie outs. I've only had mine let loose once during a really heavy wind storm. No damage to the tarp, just lost my marbles.

    I've thought about making tape tie outs like yours using either actual Tyvek tape or duct tape but I'm concerned about duct tape slipping over time. You need to keep us posted on how well the fiberglass tape holds up and stays put.

    PS - The dryer technique didn't work for me either. The boys had a blast hand crinkling it with me. Making that much noise was a much fun as popping bubble wrap to them.
    You'll find me hanging somewhere in the sunshine state.

  8. #8
    millergear's Avatar
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    To soften tyvek it needs to be washed not dried. It must be done in a front loader. It will tangle in the splndle of a top loader.
    "My name is Millergear and I'm a Gearaholic!"

  9. #9
    Senior Member Steve D's Avatar
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    Time for a tyvek tarp update. I had the tarp up all weekend and even got an unexpected thunderstorm this afternoon for a weather test.

    First the good stuff... Everything under the tarp was high and dry when I got home to check on it (spent the day up in Rome, GA hiking the Simms Mountain trail, part of the Pinhoti Trail, with my oldest daughter) and the tie-outs on the sides held just fine.

    Now the not so good stuff. The fiberglass tape tie-outs that attached to the ridgeline have begun to pull loose. I'm going to have to rethink my attachment methods. Will likely use either the pebble/marble and mason line method or pick up a couple of sets of clip on tarp pull outs from Dutch.

  10. #10
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    Thanks for the word on Tyvek. Planning a trip to the Smokeys next month with my 12 yo son. 2 tyvek tarps, tyvek chaps and rain wear. Had 80' on a roll from a job still have 40' to play with.

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