Tarp Testing

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Scott
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Tarp Testing

#1

Post by Scott » Wed Aug 19, 2015 12:02 pm

I was going to put in DIY, but figured even retail tarps need to be tested once in a while. I have not slept in the rain yet, but my brother in law and nephew borrowed my gear and got caught in a major rain event, and bailed to a supply tent at 2am. Methinks they did not have them set right, because my basic testing with hose shows them holding water well enough.

I have done some waterproofing on some DIY tarps. Some big 10x10 heavy ones, and some minimalist 7x7 lightweight. I am going to test them while I am laying in the hammock for a nap or something. I have two trees about 20 feet apart in my yard off in one corner. My son is in the process of digging a 3' hole that we will put a cut down cedar trunk into. (learning work=$$) That will give two spans of 15' for backyard testing. I found the tripod stands a little challenging to set tarps and such.

Back to tarps - what have y'all done to test the water proof ability, and maybe more importantly, effective coverage? I have a sprinkler I can set between the hammocks and let it 'rain', but the angle and force and such might not give the best duplication of a good rain. I have considered making a PVC shower, running a pipe above the tarp ridgeline a couple of feet, with holes drilled in it facing down to simulate a good downpour, and I could extend the 'rain' all the way to the suspension on the tree to see if my water breaks work on the suspension. I would not need them often, but good to have? I could then toss them on the back lawn and use them as regular sprinklers.

Thoughts or experiences?


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Re: Tarp Testing

#2

Post by Baby Huey » Wed Aug 19, 2015 12:13 pm

Testing the water proof ability can be done with a water hose like you have already done, the problem I think lies more in the wind that sometimes arrives with the rain. You have misting and blow by if you don't pitch your tarp low enough or do not have the luxury of pitching your gear with either end not facing into the wind. Also having decent length stakes can be an issue if you are posting up on soft ground. The shallow thin ones do not like to hold your tarp after it transforms into a sail due to high winds.
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Re: Tarp Testing

#3

Post by UncleMJM » Wed Aug 19, 2015 12:23 pm

Sprinklers, hoses, and shower systems sure make a lot of sense.

My initial test program was to watch the weather forecast and when rain was predicted, camp out in the back yard.

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Re: Tarp Testing

#4

Post by Scott » Wed Aug 19, 2015 1:53 pm

UncleMJM wrote:My initial test program was to watch the weather forecast and when rain was predicted, camp out in the back yard.
Not sure that is an option for testing in the near future here in Central Texas. ;) My yard went from over grown to crispy in a matter of days. Plus, I hope to test in the warm day time, so if/when I do get wet, it cools me off and my bedding is safe. Once fall hits I plan to spend several nights outside testing tarps, insulation, etc. I never figured my first insulation test would be getting CBS in Texas Aug 1st :roll: :lol: :roll:
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Re: Tarp Testing

#5

Post by UncleMJM » Wed Aug 19, 2015 2:19 pm

I agree TWOKAG about crispy yards and testing when the temps are safe. I think your ideas were much better than mine. :roll:

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Re: Tarp Testing

#6

Post by Scott » Wed Aug 19, 2015 2:33 pm

I did ask my wife the other day if she thought it was a bad idea to sleep in the yard with lightning. I mean, when we backpack, there is no house to run to, right? She didn't quite agree...
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Re: Tarp Testing

#7

Post by Roche » Wed Aug 19, 2015 4:31 pm

My money is on poor tarp set-up. Never had a problem with either a silnylon or polyester tarp, from the stock HH asym tarp to a Kelty Noah 12. The tarp is "snugged tight" if I know rain is coming. As long as there is adequate coverage even an inexpensive blue oxford weave tarp will keep you dry in the typical rainstorm.

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Re: Tarp Testing

#8

Post by Scott » Thu Aug 20, 2015 2:39 pm

UncleMJM wrote:I agree TWOKAG about crispy yards and testing when the temps are safe. I think your ideas were much better than mine. :roll:
Looks like your idea may have been better, except I don't have the post in yet, and I am still at work, but it has been dumping on us in Austin for the past hour.
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Re: Tarp Testing

#9

Post by UncleMJM » Thu Aug 20, 2015 2:42 pm

So how many other hobbies send grown adults out in the rain to play?

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Re: Tarp Testing

#10

Post by Scott » Tue Sep 01, 2015 12:51 pm

How water proof is silnylon?

I tested out my DIY converted tent fly to hammock tarp. I assume nylon of some sort. Previously I had water proofed it with silicon/mineral spirits. I did not brush it on, I soaked it, and hung it tight to dry.

When I use the hose, water beads up and rolls off, at least that is what it looks like. Being the over tester I am, I got in my hammock and let Austin spray the tarp. I let him just let the water run out of the hose on it, and I had him make it 'rain'. Mostly I stayed dry, no major leaks. BUT, there was a fine mist landing on me, with some random drops. If I put my hand up I could not really feel it, but my face could. I don't think it would drench me, but I would not be able to sleep through a major rain. I think it will work great for a group cover or gear cover. Just not a sleeping cover.

Is this how silnylon is? Misting with some dripping? or is it better?
Is the hose going to overpower any fabric? I want something I can count on far from the car.
Did I mess up and my silicon treatment 'should' have done better?

For car camping and short jaunts I will use a blue tarp for cost and ease of use for now. For longer trips to the high country, lighter is better. Note that everything I do I start cheap and work my way up. One reason is then I can tell the scouts I work with what they can reasonably expect at different price points as some are on a very strict budget.
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Re: Tarp Testing

#11

Post by UncleMJM » Tue Sep 01, 2015 4:50 pm

Scott, the silnylon tarps that I have do not mist.

I have ridden out some long steady rains for several days as well as some pounding thunderstorms and been high and dry.

Here's an example of the dry footprint one of my sil tarps left after a weekend of rain.
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Re: Tarp Testing

#12

Post by Scott » Tue Sep 01, 2015 9:02 pm

I tested Austins tarp tonight. bone dry. his is the top of an old cheap popup. Not they heavy ones, but one that is blue on one side and silver on the other. not UL, but definitely packable, and dry. So he is covered. more testing to come for me.
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Re: Tarp Testing

#13

Post by DuxDawg » Mon Sep 28, 2015 3:48 pm

Recently had water coming through my tarp. Good news is none of the water touched anything other than the tarp.

We experienced constant buffeting from winds off of Lake Michigan that were 20mph gusting to 35mph. Hard driving rain for much of the night. Temps went from mid 60sF to low 50sF during the night. Car camping so among other tarps, I brought a Chinook 12'x9-1/2' and a Chinook 14'x12'. Chinooks are polyurethane coated tafetta.

Pitched the 14' end to the wind and closed the doors. Had the sides taut enough to not rattle around too much but not super tight. There was very little condensation on the inside and it did not seem as though any rain was driven through that tarp that night.

Pitched the 9-1/2' across the wind fairly tightly but the breeze soon convinced me to string up the windward side as tight as I could. The leeward side I pitched fairly tight but the wind loosened the knots a little and it would shimmy from time to time. In the morning I could see that the windward side had 3x the water on the inside of the tarp as the leeward side.

Did pitching it so tight open the weave? Was water being forced through inevitable, no matter how tautly or loosely it had been pitched?

Difficult conditions to prepare for as such weather only happens a few times each year hereabouts. When through hiking I have to be able to soldier on in any weather so the quest to figure out and prepare for those conditions has begun anew. One thing I will say for the cheap poly tarps over more expensive tarps is the poly ignore all weather. They were in the vehicle just in case, thankfully did not need them.
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Re: Tarp Testing

#14

Post by Scott » Mon Sep 28, 2015 5:12 pm

looks like another afternoon in the hammock so I can test if too tight opens the weave of my tarp. camo poly from hardware store for $7 is in the plan for testing as well.
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