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Favorite Poncho Tarp Setup
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Drew Davis
(drewnc2005) - F

Locale: Hillsborough, NC
Favorite Poncho Tarp Setup on 11/21/2006 19:24:15 MST Print View

I'm getting ready to make a poncho tarp after I found close to 30 yds of sil-nylon at Wal-Mart.

My question is essentially twofold:
What is your favorite way to set up your poncho tarp and what are the dimensions of the tarp you have?

Also, what dimensions do you recommend?

David Wills
(willspower3) - F
Re: Favorite Poncho Tarp Setup on 11/22/2006 21:16:19 MST Print View

I use a 5x9 tarp i made. Setup depends heavily on conditions. For rain, the A-frame works best IMO. I have about 8" or so of line between the tarp and the stakes on the corners. It's not too claustrophobic. I like the lean to when I have a fire or if its nice out. there are a lot of great ideas for tarp setups at
I tried the forrester setup he shows. Its great for ease of setup, and not too bad weather resistance.

If i stumbled over 30 yards of silnylon, I would make a 5x9 poncho for solo (8' is too short for comfort for me, being 6'2). then I would make a 9x10 tarp for 2-3 or 4 people (spooning?). Then, I would sell the other 20 yards of material to me for really cheap. Ground sheets, VB bags, packs, stuff sacks, water bags, etc. would also be cool to make if you dont I guess.

Good luck with your new find.

Aaron Granda
(Throckmorton) - MLife
Re: Favorite Poncho Tarp Setup on 11/27/2006 15:17:54 MST Print View

Have you seen Flyin' Brian's website? He has free plans for building a poncho tarp. Site is

Vick Hines
(vickrhines) - F

Locale: Central Texas
Re: Re: Favorite Poncho Tarp Setup on 11/27/2006 15:38:47 MST Print View

I have come to prefer the cape over the poncho. The cape has no hood; it forms one when you put it on. Strategically located snaps or Velcro do the job.

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With no hood, you don’t have to worry about cutting a hole in the middle of your tarp or about sealing it. The cape forms a sort-of cone instead of an envelope, so it doesn’t catch the wind as badly as a poncho

8.5x5 or 8x5 works for my 6’ 2” for hammocking and when set up on the ground. Instead of an A-frame or lean-to, I use a pyramid.
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You will notice the snap closures on one side of the front. The length of this cape is 8 feet and 4 inches, and that is the length of the floor space.

Whether you use a cape or a poncho, a handy way to deal with stake loops and lines it to make 6x6 reinforcements on the corners and sides that can be everted to form pockets for the loops and lines. That way, you don’t have to tie and untie lines every time you convert from poncho to tarp to poncho.
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Edited by vickrhines on 11/27/2006 16:14:24 MST.

Ron Bell
(mountainlaureldesigns) - F - M

Locale: USA
Re: Favorite Poncho Tarp Setup on 11/27/2006 16:39:21 MST Print View

DYI hole in the middle hood tips if you don't have one to copy:

About a 28-29" circumfrence hole is good.

Make the hood about 8" tall in the area from chin to edge so there is plenty of material to tie off in shelter mode and for seam allowance.

Make the hood base circumfrence 2" more (30") than than the hole cut in the poncho so that when sewing it in it will fit...the hood edge part will follow a wider circumfrence than the hood hole after seam allowance. About .75" will get used up making the chin seam before sewing it into the hole in the big sheet.

Layout small sharpie dots at 90,180, 270 degrees around the hood hole and the hood edge so that when sewing if it is not perfect you can see which part to stretch a little as you sew around.

Offset hood hole 6-10" to the front so it will have enough extra in back to cover a pack.

Hem Edges Tip: Tripple roll edge hem and make it 1/2-3/4 inches wide(not the tiny 1/4" somethimes used. The wider hew makes it so edge reinforcemnts are not really need on a small silnylon tarp like a poncho.

Hood Pattern Tip: Cheap 2mil painters plastic and scotch tape is quick and cheap when trying to get the pattern you like.
have fun!

Drew Davis
(drewnc2005) - F

Locale: Hillsborough, NC
RE: Poncho tarp hood on 01/22/2007 19:45:38 MST Print View


Do you advise putting this type of hood in over the roll up/slit hood you put in your ponchos?

I've seen those in some pictures on this site and was intrigued. Looks like that might be easier as well. Any advice?

I've finished sewing the tarp and am very pleased. I'm just afraid to cut a hole in it for the hood now!

Ron Bell
(mountainlaureldesigns) - F - M

Locale: USA
poncho hood on 01/22/2007 21:08:30 MST Print View

The circle hole method is just easier to make, especially for a first time dyi'er.

David Passey
(davidpassey) - F

Locale: New York City
Re: poncho hood on 01/22/2007 21:49:45 MST Print View

Agreed. I was impressed with your slit-hood design and tried to mimic it--without having an actual MLD tarp as a model. It took quite a bit of puzzling to figure it out. I'm very happy with the results, but wonder even now whether I've truly got the secret of it.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: poncho hood on 01/23/2007 03:23:58 MST Print View

Whoa there,...Mr. Bell, your Avatar, is that to make us salivate anxiously awaiting your new packs?

Gene .

Locale: New England
Re: Re: poncho hood on 01/23/2007 12:14:57 MST Print View

PJ, I was thinking the same thing about Ron Bell's avatar... Now if Ron could rig that pack with another set of bungees UNDER the back pocket, that would allow the pack's main compartment to be tightened up WITHOUT reducing the usability of that outer pocket= MAGIC!

Peter McDonough
(crazypete) - F

Locale: Above the Divided Line
Re: Re: Re: poncho hood on 01/23/2007 20:48:15 MST Print View

Instead of doing a hood, may I suggest a collar?? The pattern is infinitely easier, and when using a rain hat, it is much more comfortable in the rain.

This is my poncho/tarp that appeared a while ago on the forums.
Neck gasket
with hood
bad weather

You'll notice that a slit rather than a circle was cut into the tarp to preserve integrity of tensile strength. Two webbing guyouts, once clipped together and pulled out, allow lateral stress to run directly across the slit. Webbing reinforcement and small pieces of sailtape were used to reinforce the section of tarp around the end of the slit.

Drew Davis
(drewnc2005) - F

Locale: Hillsborough, NC
Hood Construction on 01/24/2007 08:06:34 MST Print View


That looks awesome. Do you find that the slit method is easier than the circle? I know Ron says the circle is the easy way out but I can't imagine that just cutting a straight line where you want your hood and then sewing it in being too difficult. Maybe I'm missing something. Ron, Pete, others - feel free to correct me here.

I do, however, prefer a hood over a collar mainly because I don't have a rain hat and don't plan on getting one.

Ken Bennett
(ken_bennett) - F

Locale: southeastern usa
Re: Hood Construction on 01/24/2007 10:07:19 MST Print View


I like the collar idea, too. I will say that the most annoying thing about my Golite poncho tarp is the loud rattling of the fabric when the hood is up. (I suspect that the spinnaker fabric would have the same issue.) I much prefer using my Tilley hat and leaving the hood down whenever possible. I find that I can hear and see better, and feel more in contact with the world than when I am wearing a hood. I also have a Seattle Sombrero, but that's really only useful when it's raining.


Peter McDonough
(crazypete) - F

Locale: Above the Divided Line
Re: Hood Construction on 01/24/2007 10:09:49 MST Print View

Hmmm...the circle avoids some ingenuity in seam design one must work through with a slit, but that creativity will pay off in the end, as the slit engineered in a way similar to my design will retain most of the structural integrity of the tarp, something a circle cut cannot do.

The hardest part is dealing with the inevitable hole left in the end of the slit where the collar attaches. I sealed mine with a piece of sailtape.

It may or may not be more difficult to attach a hood to a slit....but as I said before, I believe the benefits of a collar and rain hat, plus retaining the structural intergrity of the system far outweigh the convience of a circular seam and hood.

David Passey
(davidpassey) - F

Locale: New York City
Re: Re: Hood Construction on 01/24/2007 17:26:57 MST Print View

Using a "slit" is difficult b/c there is no fabric at the end of the slit for attaching the hood, and you inevitably end up with some bunchiness as you sew out into the tarp to attach the hood. This is not a big deal--the poncho performs fine. In my experience, the only way to get the true MLD designs is make the tarp from two pieces of fabric and sew the hood into the ridgeline itself. This is not as easy as it sounds, but there are some nice photos on this website of the hood that give some clues.