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Using a AMK Emergency blanket as tarp?
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Dan Johnson

Locale: PNW
Using a AMK Emergency blanket as tarp? on 03/04/2011 17:19:50 MST Print View

Ok, so with my first child on the way I don't have the money to buy a "real" tarp. Currently I use a 8x10 blue tarp from REI and with stakes and all it weighs 28oz. I like the coverage but the bulk I hate. So I am trying to figure out what really inexpensive material I could use to make a lightweight tarp. I already have the emergency blanket (it's the two person model) and was wondering if this would work for a few overnighters. Obviously site selection with such material is very important but I have seriously convinced myself it's possible.

I would use Gorilla Tape for reinforcements on the corners and all guy outs too. For safety measures I would run a continuous cord under the center of the tarp to lessen any stress on it.

Has anyone tried this with any success? If even I could make this work for a handful of nights I think it'd be worth it for me.

I'd love to hear your input!

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Using a AMK Emergency blanket as tarp? on 03/04/2011 17:34:40 MST Print View

Stick with the blue tarp. I would use the AMK to weatherproof a brush-and-sticks emergency lean-to, but I have my doubts about it holding up in any real wind. Tyvek is a possibility, but I'd rather use the blue tarp.

Erik Danielsen
(er1kksen) - F

Locale: The Western Door
Possible on 03/08/2011 07:32:44 MST Print View

If you're not expecting really heavy precipitation or high winds it could work, but you're going to want to use more than just gorilla tape at the corners: You want a network of tape running around the edges and out to all major tieout points and along the ridgeline, so that all stresses are placed on the tape (reinforcing the ridgeline with some sort of cord between the blanket and tape is also a good idea, with the cord taking the actual load). Reinforced packing tape (the kind with fibers running through it) would be lighter and stronger than gorilla tape, as well as having more waterproof adhesive.

Something like that should still weigh less than your blue tarp by a good margin, probably in the weight range of most silnylon tarps. Of course it'd be less durable than silnylon tarps, but it would also end up being a heck of a lot less expensive.

Kevin Tjaden
(ktjaden) - F

Locale: West
stretches then breaks... on 03/08/2011 10:45:35 MST Print View

I did exactly this as an experiment and spent the night in the backyard. I spent quite a good deal of time making the reinforced corners and set it up in a half pyramid like I would my 5x9 silnylon tarp. It was too small in this configuration so I changed to an A-frame with the four corners tied out. Looked pretty promising at first. But as the night went on the material started to stretch until and it became increasingly less taut. eventually a mild wind came up and the corners started to rip past the reinforcements until it simply failed. So my experience was that it didn't work because the load doesnt spread out like other materials.

Here are a couple of cheap solutions that I have tried that did work:

1) Shower curtain from the Dollar Store. These are a roughly 12 ounces. The ones at the non-dollar stores are heavier and more expensive. I tapped grommets into the four corners an one center on the side to set up like a half pyramid. Only issues is that you have to find an "Extra Long" size because the standard was only 6 foot long.

2) SilNylon can be found relatively cheap. Buy three yards and just roll and sew the edges. Add the tie-outs and tack them in. If sewing is intimidating you can use grommets instead. It costs weight but you can also roll the edges in duck tape as an alternative to sewing. The goal is just to stop the edges from fraying.

3) Once in a great while I will find cheap versions of the blue tarp in 5x7 at our local hardware store. This is much thinner and lighter than the REI and normal blue tarps. I think the painters request them. But they are much cheaper, $2.50, and much lighter. Though I have only seen them in one size; 5x7.

4) If you can find a used tent or throw away tent, you can repurpose the fly with a little modification. Pretty simple for most flys, but they are usually heavy material. I found a tent without poles at the local thrift store for $5.00 that had a could moderately light fly with it. Gave the tent away and cut the fly in half and sewed the edges. Two tarps for $5.00.

I live in fairly dry country so tarps for me only see light duty and about 2/3rds of the time just get used as a ground cloth. If a light rain comes in I will just roll up "burrito" style to keep the bag dry.

One final alternative. I didn't want to spend money on a bivy sack and bought the AMK bivy that is made out of the same material. On sale it was very cheap. I have used it a half dozen nights and it has worked fine. Waterproof, adds additional heat, fairly light and packs up reasonably small. Like the blanket though it is pain to pack back up once unfolded.

Happy hiking.

George Geist
(geist) - M

Locale: Smoky Mountains
Re: Using a AMK Emergency blanket as tarp? on 03/10/2011 16:16:47 MST Print View

> Has anyone tried this with any success?
> If even I could make this work for a handful of nights
> I think it'd be worth it for me.
> I'd love to hear your input!

Hi D

Yes, I have done exactly what you are thinking of trying.
Even built a tent out of AMK material that I and scoutmaster
used for the two weeks at Philmont. Worked fine since on
our scout outings. Details of construction ideas using AMK are at:

You may find some of these ideas helpful.

Douglas Ray

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Cheap tarp on 03/12/2011 23:08:08 MST Print View

You should check out the current thread about wallmart gear.

Sam Duckworth
(SamD) - F
tarp on 03/14/2011 15:00:53 MDT Print View

Consider making a tarp from Tyvek. Light and cheap too!

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: Using a AMK Emergency blanket as tarp? on 04/09/2011 16:42:51 MDT Print View

> Has anyone tried this with any success?

Sorry for the late reply, but I've also done exactly this thing. I even made a video of it and the Rockies trip where I used it. You can learn a lot from this thread. Don't use Gorilla tape for one - way too heavy!

Feel free to PM any questions.

Edit: in fact, my avatar is me inside it with a view of Elephant Head in the Wind River Range.

Edited by topshot on 04/09/2011 16:47:32 MDT.