I have always loved to go camping and recently started getting into backpacking, specifically with a hammock. I scoured the internet in search of reasonably priced gear and was pleasantly surprised how affordable it was, until I came to the rain protection. The first few trips out I went with a standard medium duty tarp that you can just about find anywhere that sells anything. It's a very cost-effective solution but it can be large and clunky. When looking at my favorite online shopping site, I found some very cool looking tarps that start around $50. For what it does, it didn't really seem all that worth it so I started another search for a DIY project.
I came across a very insightful video on youtube by FloridaAdventurers. Now he said he was able to make his for $3, but I went with a thicker material (3.5 mil as opposed to his 2 mil) and I included the cost of the paracord and duct tape, as well as my tarp is a little bigger.
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Step 1: How Long Do You Want It?
I found a roll of Plastic Sheeting at my local Home Depot. It measured 10 ft x 25 ft. For this tarp I wanted to make a 10 ft x 12 ft tarp that would be a little more than the length of my 10 ft stretch-out hammock.
I measured out my 12 ft, marked it and cut it.
Step 2: Cutting the Angles
The roll comes folded up so that it's about 1 ft wide. To measure for my angled cuts, I complete unfolded it and then folded it in half down the center where my ridge line would be.
I didn't want the angle to be too steep, so I measured in 3 ft from the edge on either side and made a mark. With a very large straight-edge I drew my line from the mark I just made to approximately 1 in. from the top corner. I left the 1 in. space for the duct tape that would eventually hold the center line in place.
Once I had my lines drawn, I used tarp clamps to hold the edges of the tarp together while I made my cuts. Once I cut one side I cut the other and removed the scrap.
Step 3: Laying the Lines
Next thing I wanted to do is run paracord (type III 550 7-strand) throughout the tarp providing a pseudo skeleton. Due to some space limitations indoors, i clamped the middle of the first line to the center of the tarp and strung it to the corner.
I used some white, Scotch Tough, duct tape to adhere the line to the tarp. The tape itself comes in a roll of 135 ft and cost around $8, which is enough for about 3 tarps. I put tape from about 1/2 in. from the clamp and 1/2 in. from the edge of the plastic.
Once that half of the line was done. I removed the clamp and repeated this process for the other line going to the other corner.
Step 4: The Flipside
After I was satisfied with the lines on one side of the tarp, I flipped it over and clamped both lines to the center of the tarp.
One at a time I placed the same amount of tape from center to edge.
Step 5: Ridge Line and Finishing Touches
Once the cross lines were in place i unfolded the tarp and laid it out so that the center line would lay flat.
I placed last rope that would be the ridge line and secured it in place on each point and the center with a small piece of tape. Then, going from the center out to the point, put a long piece of tape. I repeated that for the opposite side of that rope.
With all the lines in place, I wanted to add some extra strength to the edges of the tarp. I pulled out some duct tape that would be long enough for one side and laid it upside down (sticky side up). I gently raised the plastic up and pulled it half way over the tape. I folded over the remaining tape.
After I edged all 6 sides I basked in the glory that was my new 6-sided tarp. Enjoy