The goal was/is to make a lager and better tarp for my shelter for camping as a broke full time student and father. I can't afford silnylon or any of those other fancy tarps. For over a decade I have used the humble hardware store bought cheapo plastic tarp, and that was what I used on my last solo camping trip (see: above, the pic of the green shelter) and it worked great even though a mild snow storm.
The new shelter I built is bigger than my green tarp, lighter, and with the space blanket also adds extra warmth and insulation from wind/water should there be say, a small hole or rip in the garbage bag.
I actually had planned on making another shelter, this was just my first run before I could find the clear plastic. But I finally found the clear plastic and this week will be making the UL version of the Super Shelter. And yes the space blanket really is effective, I love the stuff. For inside sleeping bags and for shelters mainly, but can also be used for singaling too.
Check out this video to see the kind of shelter I aim to have:
And thanks for the tip on clear plastic tape, I made sure to pick some up! :)
Thanks for the feedback, good to know that others have also used garbage bags and seen how tough they can be. I am conflicted about doing my shelter half garbage bag, half clear plastic or all clear plastic. The garbage bags are tougher and would provide some better shade, but the clear plastic would allow for more radiant heat to pass through like the sun or a campfire, plus it is also lighter I think.
We'll see, I am leaning towards doing an all clear plastic. I will test out both this coming weekend. I am going with my camping club from my university, so there will be some good guinea pigs to help test things out. I think the all garbage bag with a centered space blanket is good for a solo trip with either a small or no campfire for warmth (relying more on sleeping bag and clothing for warmth). But I often go out with groups and we have a big campfire, in which case the clear plastic with the space blanket on one side would be good for warmth. Plus you can see what is going on outside your shelter too.
Good tips, thanks, but keep in mind that you can do improvised shelters with only one stick (a sturdy ridge pole). You just tie it to one tree and then have the other end lean on the ground or a log or something to form a triangle type shelter. Just make sure to trim the stick so that it won't damage the tarp. As a hybrid bushcrafter / lightweight backpacker, I always have either a good knife, a good axe, or both, so this is not a problem for me. But I could imagine that a more resourceful and die-hard UL person could find the right kind of rock and smooth out a ridge pole, with much more difficulty and time, however.