Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Make Your Own Gear: Tarp Guylines
Display Avatars Sort By:
Benjamin Smith
(bugbomb) - F - M

Locale: South Texas
Make Your Own Gear: Tarp Guylines on 11/20/2007 23:20:20 MST Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Make Your Own Gear: Tarp Guylines

Eric Smith
(ES) - F
comments on 11/21/2007 07:06:25 MST Print View


I made lines like this a while back & performed breaking-strength testing. You mention that it doesn't make them stronger, but I found that it more than doubled the strength. If your's aren't testing any stronger, then I suspect it's because the cuff length isn't long enough to completely grip the line, and the singed lump is being pulled into the splice, creating a weak spot. Also, your method of creating the loop differs from the way fishermen do it. It's hard to describe, but the other method involves forming the loop while turning part of the line inside-out, then threading the tool into the line a second time to capture the tail. This method creates a fixed loop which is even cleaner because there is no singed lump (the tail is contained inside the line), and I don't remember for sure but it may have tested slightly stronger. I used your method on one end of the line with an oversized loop because you can use it like a tautline hitch. You can pull on the tag end to adjust the size of the loop, & it will lock in place when the main line is loaded.

Instead of the needle, there's a tool you can buy at fishing shops that has a little gripper on the end (instead of just a hook). It's only a couple bucks & works very well.

BTW, I've mostly abandoned spectra lines in favor of a prussic loop arrangement using nylon mason's line which is much more versatile, especially for longer lines. My setup is different from anyone's I've ever seen - I've been meaning to post it. I'll check back after work & add some pics or links of the other spectra method & tool, and my setup.

Joshua Mitchell
(jdmitch) - F

Locale: Kansas
Eric's Technique on 11/21/2007 07:44:38 MST Print View

Eric, I'll definitely look forward to seeing your picture added to this...

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: Make Your Own Gear: Tarp Guylines on 11/21/2007 07:55:34 MST Print View

How does this stay together? It seems like the loop would just pull open under stress. How does it work?

Sure looks great! Thanks Jay!


Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: Make Your Own Gear: Tarp Guylines on 11/21/2007 09:09:50 MST Print View

Doug asked How does this stay together?

He must have had a "Chinese handcuff" free childhood;-)

Sheets on a sailboat (them are lines to us lubbers) use a similar technique except that nautical ropes tend to have two layers of braid and the eye loop is formed by snaking the core+inner braid thru the outer braid.

I too am wondering how well this'll hold (given the slippery nature of AirCore. I might try a comparison with 250lb braided kite line.

Lynda Swink
(llswink) - F
Hint for easy Shopping... on 11/21/2007 13:12:00 MST Print View

Depending on where you shop it might make it easier to find the needle if you know that it is called a CREWEL work embroidery needle. ;-)

Craig Lewis
(craigl28) - F

Locale: SoCal
It's in the Braid Design on 11/21/2007 13:25:00 MST Print View

The braid is manufactured intentially to open-up when you "scrunch" together a portion and tighten when the ends are pulled forcing an even tighter crip internally as more force is applied.
One option to consider is to make a few with plastic nylon fasteners that have a ring attached. Step one would be to pass the line thru the ring and continue with Ben's steps until the last step of using your hand to form the rope so that just a small amount of free play is remaining at the ring, then pull the ends tight.

Edited by craigl28 on 11/21/2007 14:30:47 MST.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: comments on 11/21/2007 13:51:35 MST Print View

Hi Eric

> BTW, I've mostly abandoned spectra lines in favor of a prussic loop arrangement using nylon mason's line which is much more versatile, especially for longer lines.
But the Chinese nylon masons line stretches significantly when it gets cold and wet. See:
for some experiments on how much stretch you get.


Eric Smith
(ES) - F
Spectra loop testing & Eric-Way method on 11/21/2007 23:05:02 MST Print View

Here’s a link showing the alternate method of creating a fixed loop, which also shows the tool with the grabber:
Here’s a pic of endloops made the way described in the article, but with oversized loops used for adjustment. The white line is in the initial condition – big loop, small tail. The green line shows what it looks like after tightening – small loop, long tail. It’s just enough to take out the stretch out after the dew falls.
adjustable loop

I found some of my notes from break-strength testing. The line is Jerry Brown brand spectra fishing line rated to 200lb. It is probably very similar to the Aircore 1 sold on this site. I used the method shown in the link above (not what is shown in the article) to put fixed loops in each end, clipped them into carabiners and slowly pulled it apart.
Bowline: slipped at 30lb, cinched down on the biner and pulled through at 50lb. It didn’t break, rather the tail snaked its way through until it was untied.
Fig-8: broke <= 65lb.
Knotless splice: tested up to 187lb before breaking.
I found that if the cuff lengths aren’t long enough, it will break at a lower force, even if it doesn’t slip. For instance, one test which had a 20mm cuff adjacent to the loop and a 20mm captured tail, broke at only 131lb. I ended up settling on a 2” cuff adjacent to the loop, and a 1” captured tail. Longer doesn’t gain anything, but much shorter sacrifices strength.
I still keep a few of these type lines in my emergency kit, but I’ve replaced them on my tieouts with plain nylon line. Spectra is great if your lines are short and you can put a stake wherever you want, but I couldn’t figure out a way to make it as versatile as my nylon setup.
The setup described below has little or no knot tying in the field, is very fast to set up & take down, is adjustable during setup when rocks dictate stake position, is adjustable after setup without leaving the tarp, uses only the line itself for adjustment, and can eliminate the need for stakes by being convenient to attach to trees. It works particularly well for long lines attached to hammock tarps.

First, cut the line to the desired length. Tie a fixed loop in one end. In the other end, tie one stopper knot at the very end, and a second stopper an inch from it. Using additional line, make two prussic loops. See pic (2).

Attach one prusik loop to the line (with a prusik hitch) near the stopper knots, and slide it against the inner stopper knot. Attach the other prusik somewhere near the end with the fixed loop. Hitch the prusiks to the line so that the knot is farthest from the line. Use a three-wrap prusik hitch unless your loops are made from smaller cord than the main line. Pic (3).
Using the prusik at the stopper knot, girth the entire line onto the tieout point of the tarp as if the prusik was a fixed end loop.

For the longest line, when you can put a stake anywhere: simply stake the end loop.
For a shorter line, when you can put a stake anywhere: slide the free prusik to the desired length & stake thru the prusik.
When you have to hunt for a stake location: put the stake wherever you can get it, drop the prusik onto it, and pull on the tail of the line (the end with the fixed loop) while holding the prusik hitch until it tightens to the proper length. Use the same method without a stake to drop the prusik onto anything else that may be handy, like the stub of a broken branch on a tree.
To tie around a tree: slide the free prusik so it is between the tree & the tarp, take the end of the line (with the fixed loop) around the tree, grab the prusik and hold it as if it was a single strand (not a loop), and girth the fixed loop over the collapsed prusik (pic 4).
girth loose
When the girth is pulled tight, it will be caught on the knot at the end of the prusik loop (pic 5).
Now slide the prusik to adjust the length.
If the tree is closer to the tarp than half the length of the line, substitute a slip knot for the fixed end loop (pics 6 & 7).
A slip knot would not normally hold in nylon line – if used say, as a stake-down loop, but it works fine in this application because it’s only supporting a fraction of the main load, and there’s additional friction in the girth hitch. Since it holds well enough, a slip knot is preferable to a stronger knot since it can be quickly tied with one hand and pulls out instantly when no longer needed.
Later, to snug up the lines without leaving the tarp, grab the prusik hitch at the tieout, and pull on the stopper knot (pics 8 & 9).

Note: This pitching sequence was invented by me (Eric Smith), and is called the “Eric-Way Two Loop Pitch.” When teaching it to others, please refer to it by that name.

--just kidding Ray.

Edited by ES on 11/21/2007 23:08:48 MST.

James Rivet
(airjay1966) - F

Locale: Los Angeles, California
Eric Way on 11/22/2007 00:35:29 MST Print View

Thanks for your joke at the end. I have read Ray's way books and always thought, "wow, that's interesting . . . .he really wants people to remember him quite a bit." Sometimes you've got to wonder if he's serious or if he's just kind of messing with people's minds for his own enjoyment. Nonetheless, I enjoyed your jab.

Jim Yancey
(jimyancey) - F

Locale: Missouri
Very clever! on 11/22/2007 09:05:23 MST Print View

Eric, I like the versatility of your guyline system. It may be a bit heavier (by a minuscule amount!)than simple looped Spectra guyline attachments, but, to me, the extra few grams of weight are more than offset by the flexibility to adapt to variable field conditions. Good job!

BTW, I also appreciated your Ray-jab! That's one of the things I like about these forums; everyone contributes freely for the enlightenment of all. Thanks!

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: Eric Way guy lines on 11/23/2007 12:13:13 MST Print View

Here's another approach to adjustable guy lines. It has advantages of 1) can be stowed fully assembled 2) is adjustable from near zero length to full length rather than half length to full length

Attach the line to the tarp with some excess free line hanging from the loop

adjustable guy line 1

Attach the short side to the long side using a tautline hitch

adjustable guy line 2

Here is how it might be deployed

adjustable guy line 3

Edited by jcolten on 11/23/2007 12:14:45 MST.

Dave Heiss

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Wouldn't it be easier if... on 11/23/2007 15:12:10 MST Print View

Does anyone use rubber tensioners to "automatically" maintain tension in their tent or tarp guy lines? I'm thinking small diameter bugee cord loops or sections of surgical tubing, or even rubber bands of a suitable size? Seems like these items would be fairly light and would keep reasonable levels of tension in the lines as the tent fabric relaxes.

michael trafton

Locale: South East
surgical tubing, as tenioner on 11/23/2007 16:51:47 MST Print View

surgical tubing, would be better then bungee cord. even lighte would be be banding used when they take blood. Most doctors or labs would give you some

John Haley
(Quoddy) - F

Locale: New York/Vermont Border
Re: surgical tubing, as tenioner on 11/23/2007 17:50:30 MST Print View

I've made 8 tensions from Thera-Band (green). The unstretched length is 10" and they expand to as much as 17" when fully tensioned before reaching the length of the spectra cord which I have inside. They can be put directly onto the cords, but I like the separate tensioners so that I can move them from one tent or tarp to the other.

Andrew Richard
(fairweather8588) - F

Locale: The Desert
surgical tubing, sort of on 11/23/2007 19:19:18 MST Print View

I have been using these latex tensioners, pre made and marketed as a fishing lure companion. With the large snap swivels and 80 lb breaking strength, its much easier than making your own and the price is nice too. These work GREAT for the hennessy fly and my solo tarp. I had a hard time sourcing latex surgical tubing. The answer, young Jedi, lies here:

Edited by fairweather8588 on 11/23/2007 19:20:28 MST.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Wouldn't it be easier if... on 11/24/2007 00:25:12 MST Print View

> Does anyone use rubber tensioners to "automatically" maintain tension in their tent or tarp guy lines?
Yep, on the end corners of my tunnel tents, ALL the time, summer and winter. Works extremely well. But I don't bother on the guys out the sides - the tension is not that great.


Daniel Benthal

Locale: Mid-Coast Maine
Guyline tensioners on 11/24/2007 17:43:26 MST Print View


What type of tensioners do you use?


Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Guyline tensioners on 11/25/2007 02:34:27 MST Print View

Hi Daniel

> What type of tensioners do you use?
First of all, I am using tunnel tents, not tarps. My summer tent can be seen here:
My winter tent is similar.

I use a sort of loop of 4 mm diameter bungee cord at each corner at the ends, and the 'loop' is about 8 inches from tent eyelet to stake.
I say 'loop', but really it is a single strand for most of the way, with a loop at the end.
< O           >===========#==
Peg . . Loop . . . . . . . . . . . Knot
The knot is at the eyelet on the tent corner. The loop is made by binding the two strands of bungee cord tightly together with light string - called 'whipping'.

But I think that a single strand of 4 mm bungee cord like this would be quite suitable for the main guys on many tarps as well, IF you need such a thing. In general I am not sure you do for a tarp. I use them on the tent because there is so little room to adjust the pegs if there are rocks in the way, AND I want that sort of elastic tension on each end anyhow.
Hope this helps.

Roger Caffin
PS: please excuse the lousy diagram. And it took about 8 tries to get it looking like this: the system kept deleting all the space characters I had put in! Mumble.

Edited by rcaffin on 11/26/2007 02:31:13 MST.

Daniel Benthal

Locale: Mid-Coast Maine
Guyline Tensioners on 11/25/2007 11:15:36 MST Print View

Thanks Roger,

I also use 4mm bungee cord as a tensioner on tents & tarps. For me, it's lighter and less trouble than making the surgical tubing version.

I've always used bungee loops on one ridgeline guyout for my tarp. It keeps the tarp taut as the silnylon relaxes.

I never thought of whipping loops into the ends. Good idea!