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  1. #1
    New Member BookwormStorm's Avatar
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    Call me crazy...But only if you have to ;) (Talking about a DIY tarp idea)

    Hi all!
    So I have been brainstorming recently about some DIY ideas and I think quite possibly one of those bolts of lightning may have fried my brain.

    Has anyone on here ever used one of those wall panels for a pop up canopy as a tarp before? We have some around here that are for a canopy that the wind destroyed the frame of when we made the mistake of not staking it to the ground and leaving it out overnight. Anyway with the wheels churning I thought to myself "I wonder if I could turn those into a tarp..." This also led to looking up the ones that Wallyworld sells that are 12'x12' and behold they are CHEAP (I'm sure for good reason) I'm talking like $15 cheap. The specs say that it's made of "heavy duty 150D Polyester"

    Is this even worth trying as an experiment? I have to admit that if it's possible for it to work, I'm tempted to get a couple and try it out, I don't have much along the lines of money to be able to buy gear or the supplies to make gear (not to mention time). If it gets me and/or the fam out in the woods camping faster and more often I'm game for that! I only got to camp twice last year and it's been maddening! Anyway, any knowledge that people have on the subject would be helpful.

    I know that this isn't really something that could be used as a long term solution for tarps, but I thought that they could be something to use until we're able to make the investment in better quality tarps/materials/etc. and then maybe keep around as something to loan out to people who are curious, or to take car camping for some extra shade, or even to let the kids "play" with.

    Thanks guys!
    -Amanda
    "To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other, and to feel. That is the purpose of life." -James Thurber

  2. #2
    Member Treebird's Avatar
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    Heck yeah i say go for it, I am always looking for new ideas. You never will know unless you tryq.

  3. #3
    New Member BookwormStorm's Avatar
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    It's pretty much so affordable that it doesn't make any sense to NOT try it out lol, I think I'm kind of just wanting some validation that I'm not completely insane for considering it. Hopefully I remember to document the process so I can report back to everyone who wants to know.
    -Amanda
    "To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other, and to feel. That is the purpose of life." -James Thurber

  4. #4

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    Being out there with a recycled panel, or a Wallyworld tarp, is better than not being out there. If that's what you can manage, then go for it. Better your kids get the outdoor experience now than wait until you can get the best. Speaking as a former kid, I can tell you they won't care as long as it keeps them dry.

  5. #5
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    It's worth trying. I use a green hardware store tarp with paracord tieouts and old fashioned steel stakes myself.

  6. #6
    New Member BookwormStorm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thiel View Post
    It's worth trying. I use a green hardware store tarp with paracord tieouts and old fashioned steel stakes myself.
    I've used regular tarps from walmart or the hardware store many times in various ways while camping, no shame. I did notice though that it was really hard on the grommets to stretch it out and get it nice and tight when I strung it up for my tarp. I was wondering about this idea in particular because we are wanting to try out some overnight backpacking this year and need something a little more lightweight that takes up less room as well as being able to re-enforce all of the tie-outs on it. When I was younger I used to just hang a tarp up in the back yard and throw a sleeping bag out under it and see how many days I could go without going back into the house for anything, good times!
    -Amanda
    "To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other, and to feel. That is the purpose of life." -James Thurber

  7. #7
    New Member BookwormStorm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skater View Post
    Being out there with a recycled panel, or a Wallyworld tarp, is better than not being out there. If that's what you can manage, then go for it. Better your kids get the outdoor experience now than wait until you can get the best. Speaking as a former kid, I can tell you they won't care as long as it keeps them dry.
    My thoughts exactly, I'd say a good 80% of my favorite childhood memories are from camping related trips with various family members and I want to nurture a love of nature in my kids early on so that it maybe sticks with them. I don't think I was ever really worried about the equipment any of us had either. Kids don't care lol, I'm pretty sure at one point in time I wanted to be a hobo that carried all my stuff in a bandana on a stick!
    -Amanda
    "To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other, and to feel. That is the purpose of life." -James Thurber

  8. #8
    SilvrSurfr's Avatar
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    I'd call that crazy. The only reason I do, is because I was crazy like that once too - I didn't want to spend the money for a decent tarp. I started out trying a tent fly - that was a disaster. Then I tried another tent fly, even put money into it with seam sealer, another disaster. Then I bought a couple of $25 Grand Trunk Funky Forest tarps off Amazon - they weren't a disaster but the coverage was inadequate for the weather we experience here in the Northeast, and they were heavy as heck (they were nevertheless waterproof, and suitable for my kids). Then I read here on the forums about the Guide Gear 12 x 12 tarps, supposedly the greatest tarp you could buy for $20, so I bought a couple. They leaked like a sieve, and are now relegated to use over the campfire when it's raining (don't really care if they get burn holes because they weren't waterproof anyway). You don't hear much about the Guide Gear tarps any more - I think the folks who thought they were a great deal here had never actually taken them out in a real rain storm.

    I finally found a usable tarp, an HH Hex, for $20 off Amazon. Don't bother looking - I haven't seen that kind of deal in the last three or four years (and it was a GOOD deal, though the tarp is heavy). Eventually I made my own silnylon hex tarp using Ripstop-by-the-Roll fabric that I won, but I put at least $30 into that tarp, despite free fabric. I would guess that if I had paid for the fabric, I would have spent about $70 on the tarp.

    You'll hear plenty of folks talk about $25 tarps on Amazon (Yukon Outfitters comes to mind), but they're tiny, and I've seen the quality - I wouldn't let my kids use them in a downpour, especially in blowing rain. Fair weather campers gravitate towards those kinds of deals. If you're a fair-weather camper, a no-name Chinese tarp might be fine for a drizzle, but I wouldn't trust it in a real rainstorm. And there's no way I would allow my kids to use some no-name tarp in a real rainstorm. I knew that one night of getting wet would sour my kids on camping for a lifetime, so I avoided the whole cheesy no-name Amazon tarp idea like the plague.

    A Wallyworld blue tarp will work fine when first starting out. It's just that they're bulky, heavy, and not very durable (if you get 15 trips out of it before it leaks, you're doing better than me). A decent tarp is probably the single most important part of hammock camping, so look for some place else to save money (insulation, hammock, suspension, etc.). If you get wet, it is dangerous and you will be miserable!
    "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." Ralph Waldo Emerson

  9. #9
    SilvrSurfr's Avatar
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    And by the way, I never took my kids car camping, so I was looking for foolproof, waterproof tarps because packing up and going home just wasn't an option. The closest to home I ever took them was a two-hour drive and a four-mile hike, but we also drove eight hours to the Adirondacks and went on 22-mile canoe trips. I just couldn't afford to allow my kids to get wet, because I never would have heard the end of it from them or their mother.

    Obviously, you can take more risks with cheaper tarp solutions if you're in the back yard, or car-camping, where packing up and going home is a viable option.
    "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." Ralph Waldo Emerson

  10. #10
    New Member BookwormStorm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SilvrSurfr View Post
    I'd call that crazy. The only reason I do, is because I was crazy like that once too - I didn't want to spend the money for a decent tarp. I started out trying a tent fly - that was a disaster. Then I tried another tent fly, even put money into it with seam sealer, another disaster. Then I bought a couple of $25 Grand Trunk Funky Forest tarps off Amazon - they weren't a disaster but the coverage was inadequate for the weather we experience here in the Northeast, and they were heavy as heck (they were nevertheless waterproof, and suitable for my kids). Then I read here on the forums about the Guide Gear 12 x 12 tarps, supposedly the greatest tarp you could buy for $20, so I bought a couple. They leaked like a sieve, and are now relegated to use over the campfire when it's raining (don't really care if they get burn holes because they weren't waterproof anyway). You don't hear much about the Guide Gear tarps any more - I think the folks who thought they were a great deal here had never actually taken them out in a real rain storm.

    I finally found a usable tarp, an HH Hex, for $20 off Amazon. Don't bother looking - I haven't seen that kind of deal in the last three or four years (and it was a GOOD deal, though the tarp is heavy). Eventually I made my own silnylon hex tarp using Ripstop-by-the-Roll fabric that I won, but I put at least $30 into that tarp, despite free fabric. I would guess that if I had paid for the fabric, I would have spent about $70 on the tarp.

    You'll hear plenty of folks talk about $25 tarps on Amazon (Yukon Outfitters comes to mind), but they're tiny, and I've seen the quality - I wouldn't let my kids use them in a downpour, especially in blowing rain. Fair weather campers gravitate towards those kinds of deals. If you're a fair-weather camper, a no-name Chinese tarp might be fine for a drizzle, but I wouldn't trust it in a real rainstorm. And there's no way I would allow my kids to use some no-name tarp in a real rainstorm. I knew that one night of getting wet would sour my kids on camping for a lifetime, so I avoided the whole cheesy no-name Amazon tarp idea like the plague.

    A Wallyworld blue tarp will work fine when first starting out. It's just that they're bulky, heavy, and not very durable (if you get 15 trips out of it before it leaks, you're doing better than me). A decent tarp is probably the single most important part of hammock camping, so look for some place else to save money (insulation, hammock, suspension, etc.). If you get wet, it is dangerous and you will be miserable!
    Quote Originally Posted by SilvrSurfr View Post
    And by the way, I never took my kids car camping, so I was looking for foolproof, waterproof tarps because packing up and going home just wasn't an option. The closest to home I ever took them was a two-hour drive and a four-mile hike, but we also drove eight hours to the Adirondacks and went on 22-mile canoe trips. I just couldn't afford to allow my kids to get wet, because I never would have heard the end of it from them or their mother.

    Obviously, you can take more risks with cheaper tarp solutions if you're in the back yard, or car-camping, where packing up and going home is a viable option.


    I hear you, it's not that I don't want to spend the money on a good tarp or on the supplies to make them, we just can't right now unfortunately. We don't really plan on taking our younger two kids out backpacking overnight (They are 2 and 3 years old) especially since we don't have really any experience with it ourselves. And luckily we are really close to a state park that has tons of short hikes or car camping options so packing up and heading home is actually a viable option much of the time. But I wouldn't take them out in anything that I hadn't thoroughly tested myself, and if this doesn't work, then we will have to be patient until we can get the right gear, I don't want to be cold or wet myself, and I definitely don't want the kids to get cold or wet either, although, I do have unusual kids and I doubt that it would ruin them on it completely lol. I'm mostly curious about weather the material itself would work if I added a few features to it and made them as a winter style tarp. We are also lucky enough to have a big yard that I can do tests in as well so that if something goes horribly wrong with my gear I can just call it and run back inside, then make whatever changes I need to after I kick myself in the butt for being so silly! I'm brand spankin' new to hammock camping and haven't spent much time camping since I was MUCH younger, but have really wanted to get back into it for a few years now. And by brand new I mean, I own a hammock, but I've only been able to use it on one trip, but man was it soooooooo comfortable! I have had the bug ever since and while I know the value of good gear, with our financial situation, it just isn't always doable, especially when buying for a whole family to get out, hence trying to find DIY options using supplies that we may already have around here. If it's what it takes to be able to get us outside around the campfire and spending time together, as long as we're safe, I'm okay with it That being said, when I do have the money to spend on better quality stuff, I'm really excited to start making some things as well, I used to sew and craft a lot and I miss that hobby too. I also probably wouldn't take any of these things out in a crazy storm anyway, that will definitely have to wait for some better equipment.
    -Amanda
    "To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other, and to feel. That is the purpose of life." -James Thurber

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