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#157812 - 11/25/11 11:34 AM A few questions about polyethylene tents...
Jackamo Offline
member

Registered: 11/06/11
Posts: 50
Loc: Central Oregon
ive got some plans for a simple tarp tent, and in the process of building and rebuilding it in my head, ive come up with a few questions.

Most of the polyethylene ive found is 4 mil, is that thick enough?

I was thinking, theoretically, that i could somehow use heat to join two layers of visqueen to strengthen pressure points like stake holes. i was thinking i could either use a heated piece of metal, like a coat hanger, to "spot weld" two pieces together, or maybe use a plastic bag resealer to bond them. Has anyone tried this?

thanks,
jack
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#157813 - 11/25/11 12:02 PM Re: A few questions about polyethylene tents... [Re: Jackamo]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3889
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
I'm not sure about "welding" visqueen.

For stake holes I've been using grommet kits you can find at Wal-Mart, and for reinforcing those, and bonding seams, I've used the clear duct tape.

I've used 3.5 mil visqueen, and that's worked pretty darn good. Right now I'm using 2 mil to make a new tarp I'm working on. I think it should hold up pretty good. I'll be testing it soon.
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#157817 - 11/25/11 02:35 PM Re: A few questions about polyethylene tents... [Re: Jackamo]
finallyME Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah
This might help

2 man shelter
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#157821 - 11/25/11 04:59 PM Re: A few questions about polyethylene tents... [Re: Jackamo]
Pika Online   content
member

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 1735
Loc: Rural Southeast Arizona
The fiberglass strapping tape you can get at moving supply stores sticks really well to polyethylene. I have used it to fabricate corner and mid-point stake loops and as reinforcements for lifter points as well.
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#157823 - 11/25/11 07:20 PM Re: A few questions about polyethylene tents... [Re: finallyME]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3889
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
That is a cool "How To" article!

I really like the "Detachable Floor" idea, and the "Silvered Polyethelene" material. I just bought some of that recently and it is more durable than mylar. I hadn't even thought about making a tent with it.

Now I'm probably going to have to make one of those smile

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#157824 - 11/25/11 07:26 PM Re: A few questions about polyethylene tents... [Re: Pika]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3889
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Have you used visqueen tarp, or are you talking about the "blue" tarps when you talk about polyethylene?

I've used the blue tarps for lean-tos a few times when I knew it was going to rain. The visqueen is lighter, but doesn't offer much for shade in the desert wink
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#157825 - 11/25/11 07:36 PM Re: A few questions about polyethylene tents... [Re: Jackamo]
DJ2 Offline
member

Registered: 01/06/02
Posts: 1347
Loc: Seattle, WA

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#157826 - 11/25/11 07:57 PM Re: A few questions about polyethylene tents... [Re: billstephenson]
Pika Online   content
member

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 1735
Loc: Rural Southeast Arizona
Visqueen and polyethylene are the same thing. The blue tarps are made of polypropylene I believe. Black polyethylene gives good shade but you can fry an egg on it when the sun is shining and it radiates heat from both the top and bottom.
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#157832 - 11/25/11 11:14 PM Re: A few questions about polyethylene tents... [Re: Pika]
skcreidc Offline
member

Registered: 08/16/10
Posts: 1590
Loc: San Diego CA
Good point pika. Black adsorbs a lot of heat energy and the releases it in all directions. In general, the darker the color, the more this is a problem.

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#157835 - 11/26/11 03:39 AM Re: A few questions about polyethylene tents... [Re: DJ2]
frenchie Offline
member

Registered: 10/05/05
Posts: 461
Loc: Lyon, France
White polypropylene tarp material exists. I have seen it only once (in Sweden...) and was tempted to buy some, as it was very cheap (even by swedish standards...) but couldn't because of the bulk...Trouble with this kind of material, is IMHO this bulk!

Polycree with taped junctions and reinforcements is quite effective for tarps. But forget shade and privacy!

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#157839 - 11/26/11 10:47 AM Re: A few questions about polyethylene tents... [Re: frenchie]
DJ2 Offline
member

Registered: 01/06/02
Posts: 1347
Loc: Seattle, WA
White tarps were quite common in the 70s and sold at REI. Not sure why they aren't available currently.

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#157848 - 11/26/11 03:12 PM Re: A few questions about polyethylene tents... [Re: DJ2]
twinmike Offline
member

Registered: 03/25/11
Posts: 43
Loc: Holbrook, AZ.
I found many different sizes of white tarps at the local flea market, right along with the discount tools but they are very heavy tarps, the prices starting around 12 bucks for 8 by 8 before trimmed out. I have not bought from them yet but tarpoutlets has all colors even black and camo, I am guessing that camo would be a very bad color to use for camping in crowded areas
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#157870 - 11/27/11 12:19 PM Re: A few questions about polyethylene tents... [Re: twinmike]
Jackamo Offline
member

Registered: 11/06/11
Posts: 50
Loc: Central Oregon
thanks for the input everyone, i havent given up on the idea of using heat to bond two layers together, it should just be a matter of melting the polyethylene enough for the "weld puddles" to mix without melting straight thru the tarp. once i get ahold of some visqueen i'll give it a try and post the results.

Originally Posted By twinmike
I am guessing that camo would be a very bad color to use for camping in crowded areas


is camo camping a faux pas? ive always preferred drab colors to bright, especially when camping. for one, it lets me be seen when i want to be seen, and not when i dont. for me, it also fall along the lines of leave no trace. if i can be 10 or 20 yards off the trail, and hikers/animals can walk past me without ever knowing i was there, it seems like less of an impact.

this is coming from someone unfamiliar with backpacking etiquette, just my $.02
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He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man.
-Samuel Johnson

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#157872 - 11/27/11 12:42 PM Re: A few questions about polyethylene tents... [Re: Jackamo]
DJ2 Offline
member

Registered: 01/06/02
Posts: 1347
Loc: Seattle, WA
"Most of the polyethylene ive found is 4 mil, is that thick enough?"

I use 4 mil for garden cloches(greenhouses) and it holds up fine for a couple years of continuous use. They will last longer if you get the much more expensive UV resistant plastic.

I typically make these long hoop houses out of Frost King rolls of plastic. The rolls are 10' wide and 25 feet long and cost about $7 in Seattle.

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#157878 - 11/27/11 02:21 PM Re: A few questions about polyethylene tents... [Re: Jackamo]
CamperMom Offline
member

Registered: 01/04/02
Posts: 1186
Loc: Eastern MA, USA
I've sealed bags using a clothes iron. For a tent project as you describe, I think I'd try sandwiching scrap between layers of aluminum foil and starting with a low setting, see if I could melt the pieces together. They will probably need to cool a bit before the bond is tested. Ironing on top of a strip of wood might allow control of the width of the contact points that become sealed.

Good luck!

CamperMom

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#158719 - 12/14/11 12:17 PM Re: A few questions about polyethylene tents... [Re: Jackamo]
Ffej Etaps Offline
newbie

Registered: 12/14/11
Posts: 12
Loc: Montreal, QC Canada
The transparent duct tape is fab! It relies on a plastic mesh structure which is much stronger than the standard silver cloth based duct tape. It also has greater UV resistance for longer life.

I have been making prototype hammock tarps using low density polyethelyn because of its higher resilience factor. However, I would dearly love to try using the high density poly, which has a greater strength to weight ratio. Instead of using a 2ml LDPE, one could go with a .7ml HDPE. Trouble is, I can't find what I need at the hardware store.

My two cents, blah blah blah...

Cheers

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#160697 - 01/20/12 01:02 PM Re: A few questions about polyethylene tents... [Re: Jackamo]
topshot Offline
member

Registered: 04/28/09
Posts: 242
Loc: Midwest
Originally Posted By Jack L
Most of the polyethylene ive found is 4 mil, is that thick enough?
Way TOO thick! It will be very heavy. See my tent based off the link someone else provided here. Very easy to make. Just a little time consuming to tape it.

The videos of it show some of the changes I'll do for the next version also.


Edited by topshot (01/20/12 01:03 PM)

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#160700 - 01/20/12 01:27 PM Re: A few questions about polyethylene tents... [Re: topshot]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3889
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Nice!

I'll have to follow those links and threads and read up on what all you did. Thanks!!
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#174282 - 01/24/13 02:20 PM Re: A few questions about polyethylene tents... [Re: topshot]
topshot Offline
member

Registered: 04/28/09
Posts: 242
Loc: Midwest
Continuing some discussion from this thread....

Originally Posted By billstephenson
Quote:
No, I rarely make fires for LNT reasons.


Yeah, having a campfire has a lot to do with where you camp. You can have a fire here and LNT. The NFS does controlled burns every few years and it's really amazing how fast almost every trace is gone. I figured that since you're in the midwest you might have tried it out.

All you need is a small fire made with sticks, and that's easy to burn down to ash and scatter when you're done, then recover the spot with the same mulch you removed when preparing your spot and you've pretty much left no trace and what you have left will be untraceable after a rainstorm or two. You can't get away with that in most of the Sierras, but you can in the Ozarks.

You might want to try it in your backyard just for grins. If you make a clear plastic (visqueen) panel for the door, like your storm door, and pin the tarp down close to the ground it should work great as a "Super Shelter". I use bubble foil as a ground cloth in my campfire tent, but a heat sheet should work about as good.

I've been thinking of making one a lot like yours (I'm pretty sure I have watched your video before) because it's so much faster and easier to pitch, but the room in the Baker's Tent design is so sweet that I've not been impelled yet. (therein lies my real motivation for prodding you to try yours wink )

Bill,
It's not that I can't make fires, I just choose not to for personal LNT reasons. Every now and then I get a hankering (the pyro Jekyll coming back out), but it's pretty rare.

You're correct that a polycryo door would trap heat from a fire to a degree in my design. The problems with my half-mid design are you can vary the opening so much it's hard to get a door to fit unless you pitch it exactly right. Or maybe you could attach the door first and then pitch it? I've only used the door twice that I can recall (but I don't get out a lot either).

Anyway, you're also correct my first design was pretty cramped. That was because of the base material I used coming in 4x6 sheets so I taped 2 together for a 6x8 tarp. When pitched to the ground, it's quite tight. I did buy some heatsheets that are larger but don't like the orange color (LNT again). The one I made from polycryo is 6x9 which is better. I may even go larger since it's so light. Note: I don't use a bivy so the tarp is my only storm protection. Only real downside is no shade.

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#174612 - 02/03/13 02:29 PM Re: A few questions about polyethylene tents... [Re: topshot]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3889
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
I would think that unless you have a lot of drafty air in your tent that it would still be warmer than most similar set-ups. I've haven't tested mine to see if the inside retains more body heat than other materials do, but it would seem that, at least in theory, they should, and that smaller designs would be warmer than bigger ones.

I'm going to do some experimenting with using candles to heat my tent too. I'm not sure I'd want use them while backpacking, but I'm interested in finding out if the tent can retain much heat from them, so I'll be testing it in my backyard first.

I mostly backpack in cold weather. Now is prime time for the Ozarks. No ticks, chiggers, mosquitos, or poison ivy to worry much about. But the nights are long, and the mornings are cold, especially if you're camping in the bottom of a hollow near a creek, which is usually where I camp.
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#174614 - 02/03/13 02:47 PM Re: A few questions about polyethylene tents... [Re: billstephenson]
CamperMom Offline
member

Registered: 01/04/02
Posts: 1186
Loc: Eastern MA, USA
Bill-

Back when I used a tent (Now I hammock.), I sometimes stuck a candle lantern in my shoe for short periods of time to warm as well as illuminate the inside of my small tent. It heated up the area surprisingly well and the shoe helped keep the hot lantern away from other meltables/flammables.

CM

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