Trail tarp advice?

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I’ve just about talked myself into buying, or maybe making, an oilskin tarp / Diamond shelter. I’ll use it both for period camp and probably off my motorcycle. Seems like a good idea to get some opinions from those of you who’ve used them.

Tentsmiths, Panther Primitives, or homemade? 7x7 or 8x8? Any other thoughts or comments?

Thanks much for any guidance you can provide.
 

Loyalist Dave

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I’ve just about talked myself into buying, or maybe making, an oilskin tarp / Diamond shelter. I’ll use it both for period camp and probably off my motorcycle. Seems like a good idea to get some opinions from those of you who’ve used them.

Tentsmiths, Panther Primitives, or homemade? 7x7 or 8x8? Any other thoughts or comments?

Thanks much for any guidance you can provide.


Home made.

Dimensions depend on you. You should (imho) make it so that it forms a ground cloth, then folds to form a roof /\. I'd suggest at least 8' wide for a 6' tall person, which gives 12" of overlap at head and toes. I like 8x12

TARP SET UP.png

You also have to balance durability with weight. Heavy linen canvas will last longer, but need more oil to make it water resistant. Thinner = lighter, but you might be replacing it every few years.

The diagram shows the ground sheet a different color as I've seen this done with an oil cloth ground area, and then no waterproofing on the roof, relying on tension, (OR guys "cheat" and use thompson's water seal). On a light piece of linen the latter seems the most comfortable.

LD
 
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Thanks for the info guys. It actually raises another question... Back in the day we used plain canvas pup tents that did just fine in the rain (until you touched the sides). Is it really all that much better to use a treated shelter tarp? I just came across a thick plain canvas tarp I've had for a while that has ties all around the edges. Seems like I could use this and be period correct, maybe with a treated canvas ground cloth. Might suck for packing in and out, but it would sure be easier on my wallet. What do you think?
 

poker

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Id be leary of an untreated tarp getting mildew and rotting out. Its usually nice enough weather when setting up but sometimes it gets to be time to take it down and everythings wet. I guess you could roll it out at home and dry it all out, but we all know how that goes...
 

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Here's a pic of my trail tarp it's at my annual bird hunting camp up in the Big Horns. Its made of muslin, I got it from a theater supply house in Denver. Can't remember the name of the place. Its 8X9 I've had it for 20 plus years I dyed it and sewed it together, sewed in eyelets and that's it. Been out in all kinds of weather and no waterproofing. Alot lighter than canvas and PCHC dries real quick. Just hang it up when I get home. Most of the time it's dry before I take it down. Not unless its raining or snowing.
GEDC0093.JPG
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Id be leary of an untreated tarp getting mildew and rotting out. Its usually nice enough weather when setting up but sometimes it gets to be time to take it down and everythings wet. I guess you could roll it out at home and dry it all out, but we all know how that goes...
Dry, really dry is the key to longevity. I put one away once thinking it was dry. When I took it out a couple months later all I had was a glop of mildew. They can be left up outside when wet and should be until you can get it really dry.
 

Carbon 6

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Most of the Rendevous tent makers (RK lodge etc.) Sell Diamond fly's in various sizes, materials (like sunforger), And equipped with tie outs or grommets.

Just sayin, it's another option.
 

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my advise.
i have two. one is thick treated canvas, i don/t know the exact size maybe 10x10, which is good for a camp where you don't have to pack it far, heavy. i also have a thin one that i made years ago. it is about bed sheet thickness but of a canvas type cloth. it is packable.
if you are going to carry it far don't buy to heavy of canvas.
 

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I bought a decent painters drop cloth 10 x 12 and took it to a laundromat and washed (hot) and dryed it(hot). Yes, it shrunk some but tightened the weave. I have used this off an on for 10 yrs. as a diamond and it has served me well. I just tied a round ball in the edge where I wanted a "tie down".
 

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Thanks for the info guys. It actually raises another question... Back in the day we used plain canvas pup tents that did just fine in the rain (until you touched the sides). Is it really all that much better to use a treated shelter tarp? I just came across a thick plain canvas tarp I've had for a while that has ties all around the edges. Seems like I could use this and be period correct, maybe with a treated canvas ground cloth. Might suck for packing in and out, but it would sure be easier on my wallet. What do you think?

As I mentioned you can use just plain fabric such as linen or in your case cotton, but you need a good angle (which is why the soldier wedge tents have such steep sides) and you need to keep the fabric taught.

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While still playing army I often used just a GI poncho as a shelter and stayed dry in some violent storms. I'd usually see the storm coming and made my leanto with the sloped side oriented toward the storm. That way when it blew through the rain didn't hit me. You don't need much to shelter yourself. It's keeping the gear dry that makes a larger shelter desirable.
 

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You don't need much to shelter yourself. It's keeping the gear dry that makes a larger shelter desirable.

True, but that again is the "the rub". There's a bit of a difference between my using a poncho and a liner and keeping my modern, issued rifle relatively dry, and spending a night half-alert for either "aggressors" [training] or hostiles, and spending a couple of nights in a fixed camp with a long rifle...and I'm not a 25 year old Marine Corps infantry officer any longer. ;)

One of the chief ways to have a "tolerable night" is to protect yourself from damp coming up out of the ground, hence the crude illustration that I earlier posted.


The "floored lean-to" allows the user to lay fully extended, a modern method of sleeping it appears, but that's what we're used to, and because the ends are open it reduces the wind driven rain and the ground spatter that hits one on the feet or head. In a very heavy storm, IF the "roof" portion is more than taught cloth, it allows the user to pull down the covering and "cocoon" within until the storm has passed.

This also allows two persons to combine their lean-to's, and thus create a larger shelter.

LD
 
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I was an Army infantry NCO and commisioned officer, compared to Marines we're pretty hardcore. I'd still use just a poncho as a leanto in a storm. Problem is getting my arthritic old bones on the ground under it, and up again. For luxury living I prefer a 10x10 or 9x12 tarp.
 
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I think after all the advice and comments - thanks guys - I’m gonna try to make one. So now my question is how big a tarp do I have to buy to be able to shrink, treat, etc? I’d like to have something very much like you indicated, LD, or at least a 9x9 or 8x8 at the smallest. So what do I have to buy to get to that size after shrinking?
 
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What to buy? A canvas painters tarp. They come in many sizes. Choose one.

Do a search for canvas painters tarp. I just did and found them easily on Amazon, the first thing that came up. A local paint store should have them. I'd buy a 9x12. Wash it in the hotest water possible then dry it at the highest temperature to shrink it and tighten the weave. I'd do it twice. It ought to come out about 8x11. Dye it if you want. Buy a gallon of Canvak and treat it to make it waterproof. You'll probably want to add some grommets. To be authentic they should be sewn in rings, sailor style.
 
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I think I did a post here way back on making one from a sheet, I just went to Salvation Army Store and bought the highest thread count Egyptian Cotton Sheet I could find (I think it was a queen and about $5) added some loops for tent steaks, Linseed oiled it in a trash bag in a tote and dried it in a tree. . .couldn't have $20 in it and only used it about 7 years now.

IMG_0422.JPG
 
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What did you re-enforce your "loops" with? It looks like you did grest job sewing them on.


Don't look too close 🔎 that center one is off by a few inches.

Trying to remember without digging it out. . . I think it was just some scrap canvas from something else I made. All four corners, mid way along each edge, and then the somewhat center. Canvas on the inside and out of each one.
 
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