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Parachute material - uses?
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Tom Holbrook
(Zandar) - MLife

Locale: Central Coast of California
Parachute material - uses? on 09/07/2009 17:00:00 MDT Print View

Hi all,

I have just been given four large parachute panels, they are about 20 X 10 feet, plus or minus.

I thought if they were waterproof I could make tarps or...but they aren't.

So, I am looking for ideas on their use, and if it is possible to treat the material to waterproof it?



Michael Crosby
(djjmikie) - MLife

Locale: Ky
"Parachute material - uses?" on 09/07/2009 18:22:37 MDT Print View

What type of parachute are these panels from? If military T series, they have big pores and can not be waterproofed. I have made sun shades, hammocks, wind blocks, privacy screens and even a giant tepee with a whole one.

Tom Holbrook
(Zandar) - MLife

Locale: Central Coast of California
Parachute material - uses?" on 09/07/2009 18:33:27 MDT Print View

I don't know where they came from, and not sure how to describe the material. I did run water on it and it soak through instantly.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Parachute material - uses? on 09/07/2009 20:03:36 MDT Print View

Can you measure them up for area and weight?

IF the fabric has a tight weave you might be able to use it for containing down (maybe) or synthetic insulation. There are other possibilities as well, but mostly any outdoors gear you might want to make from such fabric really needs the stuff to have a *good* DWR finish. From your description, this does not seem to be so?


Thomas Gauperaa
(gauperaa) - F

Locale: Norway
Re: Parachute material - uses? on 09/08/2009 02:37:01 MDT Print View

How about stuff sacks/bags?

Ashley Brown
(ashleyb) - F
Re: Parachute material - uses? on 09/08/2009 03:09:32 MDT Print View

I suggest you make a parachute. ;-)

Rog Tallbloke
(tallbloke) - F

Re: Re: Parachute material - uses? on 09/08/2009 03:35:05 MDT Print View

Parachutes have to pass a certain amount of air for stability reasons. Material which fails the test by being either too tightly or too loosely woven is rejected, and comes onto the market.

It is a good 'poor mans' alternative to expensive tent cloth at around 0.9oz/yd. It is possible to waterproof it sufficiently well for it to be useful, using cheap materials such as diluted polyurethane varnish. This will flake eventually, but another coat each season works well. It does of course increase the weight of the cloth. It might also be worth trying proprietary 'wash in' waterproofers such as Nikwax.

It is also useful for making mockups and prototypes, where factors such as wind stresses and seam pulls can be assessed in the field prior to cutting expensive materials.

The panels look really cool pinned to your bedroom ceiling too. ;-)

Edited by tallbloke on 09/08/2009 04:00:56 MDT.

Michael Moccia
(MadMoe) - MLife

Locale: The Lone Star State
Help in material ID on 09/08/2009 06:31:23 MDT Print View

Hi Zandar

I'm a FAA rated parachute rigger. If you can post a picture I may be able to tell what you have as far as material. Sometimes you get the data patch on one of the panels / gores depending on the type of parachute. There may also be panel numbers on the lower edge. These can help identify the type of canopy and the material. We used to make all type of things out of emergency personnel parachutes when I was at the military survival school back in the day, still have a killer teepee made out of 1.1 oz ripstop, uncoated, that keeps light rain off well enough even though it is uncoated. The orange, white, tan and brown looks neat too.

Good Luck

Mike M

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
UL Hammerpants on 09/08/2009 06:58:37 MDT Print View


Parachute pants?

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: UL Hammerpants on 09/08/2009 07:34:09 MDT Print View

Exactly! Include lots of UL zippers.

Tom Holbrook
(Zandar) - MLife

Locale: Central Coast of California
Parachute material on 09/08/2009 11:32:53 MDT Print View

Too..funny .. "Can't touch this?....Hammer Time!"

Michael Moccia, I will take a few photos and send them to you, and maybe you will be able to identify the material.


Jon Danniken
(Jonnycat5287) - F
"Parachute material - uses?" on 09/08/2009 13:38:27 MDT Print View

If it was me, I would use it to prototype some lightweight shelter ideas. Otherwise, make some ditty bags and/or find someone who could use some of it.

David Olsen

Locale: Steptoe Butte
air force survival teepee on 09/08/2009 13:44:23 MDT Print View

You can make an excellent basecamp teepee from one like
the air force uses in their survival training. Use a very
tall pole, say 10' in the center and then guy out all around.
Fire in the middle to drive out
moisture and it will keep you dry in the slushiest of conditions.
Great if you have a bunch of scouts out building snow caves
and need to come back and dry out.

Troy Ammons
(tammons) - F - MLife
Parachute material - uses on 09/08/2009 20:58:35 MDT Print View

You could make bags out of it.
Forget it as a shelter unless you use it to build an inner tent with a fly.
I guess you could use it to build a quilt, but no DWR.
Maybe a sunshade.

Waaaay back in the early 70's I took off with a friend traveling around the country. We left with a parachute. Stopped at some friends on the way, set it up and thought we were good to go. Makes a huge tent and very tall.

Well it started raining and we got soaked. Needless to say the parachute was donated to the round bin and we picked up a proper tent later during the trip.

I dont know what material it was made of but it was a military issue parachute. I guess if you could
DWR treat the cloth somehow that would help.

Edited by tammons on 09/08/2009 20:59:27 MDT.