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I call it....The Draft Dodger
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Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
I call it....The Draft Dodger on 02/17/2012 01:15:27 MST Print View

Well, I won't be hiding from the army draft, but I hopefully will be hidden from the drafts while sleeping under a tarp.

While tarping this winter, I was using a simple plastic sheet as a groundsheet. Light and simple, but I often found my feet sliding off the edge, and drafts while tarping in the winter can suck. So, I decided to fix my problems.

Its essentially a groundsheet with an uncovered footbox, adjustable side walls, and a pillow pocket to keep your noggin dry and happy. I like the pillow pocket because I can put small things up there like my headlamp, gloves, and any other miscellaneous items that I don't want migrating onto the ground during the night. Tapered at feet and head. Could be especially helpful when using a quilt. But, um Travis, why don't you just use a regular bivy? I'm not an incredibly sweaty dude, but for some reason I've always pumped out a lot of moisture at night while sleeping. I have no need for extra trapped moisture. Plus, it will be added splash protection.

I used regular silnylon, some cord locks, shock cord, and a wee bit of grosgrain for a loop for the shock cord. I'd like to thank John at Bear Paw for the incredibly fast shipping of my materials.

BTW, I hate silnylon. Sewing it sucks. Some of you are magicians with this stuff, but me? Some of my hems look like I did this drunk. However, the hems are sturdy and sound, so that's what really matters. Oh, and sorry for the crappy pictures. It's late here so my cell phone camera isn't too keen on the dim lighting.

Anyways, it was a learning project and I hope to try the real world practicality of this out soon. Comments welcome, but if you insult me, you owe me a case of beer. :)

Oh yeah......135 grams.


Edited by T.L. on 02/17/2012 02:02:14 MST.

William Johnson
Please Sir, can we have some more? on 02/17/2012 01:29:44 MST Print View

Now that is an artful looking dodger.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: I call it....The Draft Dodger on 02/17/2012 07:10:55 MST Print View

Nice idea, Travis. I like it. Wonder who I can get to make me one in cuben..... ;-)

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: I call it....The Draft Dodger on 02/17/2012 07:14:41 MST Print View

Right on Travis, thanks for posting this.
This is exactly what I want to pair with my Solomid for heavy rain. Bivy would be overkill, this looks just right. Like the pillow pocket idea too.

I have a few yards of sil sitting around...this might be the weekend project.

todd h
(funnymoney) - MLife

Locale: SE
Re: I call it....The Draft Dodger on 02/17/2012 07:36:48 MST Print View

This is awesome Travis!

I think you did a great job, to heck w/crooked ... I mean character infused... seams!

Ben Wortman
(bwortman) - M

Locale: Nebraska
Sweet on 02/17/2012 07:45:38 MST Print View

I like it. I might have to sew one up myself - unless you patented it already..

tyler marlow

Locale: UTAH
Great job! on 02/17/2012 08:39:16 MST Print View

Travis, this looks great! Ive been dreaming about having Joe at zpacks make me one of these out of that 1oz cuben for quite a while! I really like that footbox, I was having trouble figuring exactly how I would do that.

Might have to whip one of these up with whatever i've got laying around!

A bug bivy based on this design is something else ive been thinking about for the hot summer months.

Diplomatic Mike

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Draft Dodger on 02/17/2012 08:59:12 MST Print View

It looks good Travis, if you are a settled sleeper.
I'm a restless sleeper, so would probably end up underneath it. :)

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Great job! on 02/17/2012 09:07:17 MST Print View

"A bug bivy based on this design is something else ive been thinking about for the hot summer months."

TiGoat already makes such a thing - a 'regular' bivy with an all mesh top. Works great.

Ty Ty

Locale: SE US
vs TT on 02/17/2012 09:10:28 MST Print View

Travis that is a cool idea, I really think it is creative.

Not trying to burst your bubble, more trying to understand as I am new to backpacking much less ultralight backpacking but this seems like deep bathtub floor. When you put a tarp over top of it, the only difference I see between this and say a TT Contrail is a couple of inches of bug netting around the perimeter connecting the tarp and the bathtub floor. Why mess with a tarp and a draft dodger? (love the name)

What does your tarp setup weight with the guy lines, stakes, etc? Curious.

Dan Johnson

Locale: PNW
Re: I call it....The Draft Dodger on 02/17/2012 09:33:26 MST Print View

This is something I really want to make! I love it. I'm curious though. Does anyone think that the tall perimeter of silnylon will create some or any condensation? I know it can breathe from the top but doesn't body heat also escape from the sides?

Brad Walker

Locale: SoCal
Nice work on 02/17/2012 09:46:35 MST Print View

It looks like you can still do some trimming where you formed the footbox to drop a few grams :)

Thom Darrah
(thomdarrah) - MLife

Locale: Southern Oregon
I call it....The Draft Dodger on 02/17/2012 09:50:29 MST Print View

Oware also has a full bug net topped bivy, the Hot Weather Solo Bivy.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
VS. Contrail @ Ty Ty on 02/17/2012 10:26:52 MST Print View

Don't know about Travis' explanation, but here's my take (as a former Contrail owner).

I'd like something like what Travis has made to pair with my MLD Solomid.
The Solomid, seam sealed, comes in at 14 ounces. If I can sew a "draft dodger" for 4 ounces, I'm now at 18 ounces. I carry trekking poles for both, so that's equal weight. Solomid, "draft dodger", and stakes would come in at 20 ounces. My Contrail came in at ~32 ounces, seam sealed, with stakes.

The Solomid is a full coverage shelter capable of handling nastier weather (even snow loads) than a Contrail. And it packs smaller. And the entire setup saves almost a pound. Bugs? If they're an issue, I can cope, I use a .5 ounce headnet.

In addition, I always found the Contrail pretty finicky in the setup. Never cared for the rear struts and guyline tension issues....tricky to setup on uneven ground sometimes. I also had issues with water pooling on the fly over the foot of the Contrail at times.

The Solomid goes up really fast and easy, has a nice small footprint, and is rock-solid. It's also possible to re-tension from inside.

Ty Ty

Locale: SE US
Re: VS. Contrail @ Ty Ty on 02/17/2012 11:02:31 MST Print View

I have a Contrail on the way to me now, website says it is 24.5 oz with stakes and stuff sack so I will be disappointed if it comes in at 32 oz.

I see your point on the snow load, setup etc. What if you just put a bathtub flood in a solomid and connected the top of the bath tub floor to the inside walls of the solomid a couple inches from the bottom with mesh? I've always thought MLD should offer this as an option.

I just don't see the point in having all the different components, fuss of setting up the different pieces. If a current Contrail is 24.5 oz with stakes you are at 21.25 oz for solomid, draft dodger, stakes, headnet and you have no bug protection on hands, feet, arms and such until you are inside you bag/quilt. Also you are strapped into a draft dodger (great name, in one thread it's already becoming common nomenclature).

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: VS. Contrail @ Ty Ty on 02/17/2012 11:40:44 MST Print View

I might be wrong on the weight, it was a long time ago.
But I seem to remember t being about 30-32 ounces with everything.
Maybe that was also including one easton pole....

Anyhow, I'm happier with the Solomid for what I do.

The Contrail is a smart little tent though.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Re: Re: VS. Contrail @ Ty Ty on 02/17/2012 12:12:18 MST Print View

Ty Ty - my Contrail came in at 24.5oz on the nose with 4 easton pegs and no seam sealing.

Regarding snow loading. If you use the middle end strut or alternatively use your trekking pole for this service, it should do just fine in shoulder season snow.

Regarding the Mid designs. They aren't perfect either. As snow accumulates, the ends bow in significantly reducing usable length. At least this was my experience.

Ty Ty

Locale: SE US
Re: Re: Re: VS. Contrail @ Ty Ty on 02/17/2012 13:12:37 MST Print View

I don't have to worry about snow much, I am in Georgia. I do plan to use the 3rd end pole every time.

I know the contrail is not perfect and not for everybody. I just don't see how a tarp and a bathtub ground sheet is anything different than a contrail. Maybe you prefer a different shape/design of tarp but I dont think you get much weight savings with a tarp, ground sheet, bug head net. If you are talking the same size tarp or roof of your tent then literally the only difference is the little band of bug netting joining the two...hence the 2-3 ounce of weight savings, all you are saving is the little bit of bug netting.

David Wills
(willspower3) - F
Re: I call it....The Draft Dodger on 02/17/2012 13:19:43 MST Print View

"Some of my hems look like I did this drunk."

Why didn't you? I thought all MYOG projects required an ice cold malty beverage to smooth out the appearance of mistakes.

Good project though. I may have to make one with netting on the top like the Suluk 46 bug bivy to go with my MYOG Duomid.

Gregory Petliski
(gregpphoto) - F
re on 02/17/2012 15:15:14 MST Print View

What an awesome idea. I like it for the potential of eliminating a groundcloth, using this under my tarps to keep my bag dry should water be running underneath. Do you have plans for how you put it all together? I'm not concerned about the pillow pocket so much, but the other aspects of it are perfect.

Clayton Mauritzen
(GlacierRambler) - F

Locale: NW Montana
"I call it....The Draft Dodger" on 02/17/2012 15:25:41 MST Print View

Awesome project! I may imitate something like this once I finish my tarp. It has me thinking, would it be possible to make a detachable top to something like this to turn it into a true bivy if weather dictates? It seems like it could have a nice modularity to it. Or would that even be necessary?

Seriously, love the innovation.

@Ty Ty, Travis lives in Wisconsin. I would imagine that his snow issues would make the Contrail a less useful shelter, limiting it to a smaller portion of the year.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Reply on 02/17/2012 16:15:15 MST Print View

William- Thanks!

Doug- You don't have cuben bed sheets, do you? :)

Craig- It wasn't too hard to design and I'm sure you can figure something out, but I can post dimensions if you want.

Todd- "Character infused seams." Love it!

Ben- No patent. I'll put the pattern up when I get around to it.

Ty Ty- This will mostly be used in winter and shoulder seasons where bugs won't be a problem, so a netted shelter isn't a concern for me. I use a mesh inner and tarp or a Double Rainbow in buggy conditions. I either use an MLD Trailstar or HMG Echo I tarp. I have full bug inners for both of those, but my groundsheet will be used when bugs are gone.

D Johnson- I am also curious to see if the tall walls will have a big effect on condensation. Time to test it!

Brad- Thanks, yeah, I could cut off that extra fabric where the seams were made. Could save 3 grams!! :)

Ty Ty (second post)- "I just don't see the point in having all the different components, fuss of setting up the different pieces." The nice thing about this is that you just throw it down like a ground sheet. No fuss! I only plan on pulling up the walls if necessary.

David- I should have had some beer DURING the process, not just after. I'll get nice and buzzed when I make my wife's. :D

Gregory- Thanks, and yes, I can put the plans up.

Clayton- Yes I think you could add a top for modularity, but since I always sleep under a tarp I don't think its too necessary. However, I thought about making a mesh top for it for bug season....

RE: Contrail- I really still like that shelter and had I the slightest need, I'd get one. It would serve a different purpose than a groundsheet and tarp though.


1. This takes 3 yards of fabric. All measurements include a 1" seam/hem allowance because I ended up double rolling my hems.
2. For the pillow pocket, I finished all edges then folded it up on itself so the pocket is 8" long at each seam. Since the groundsheet is tapered, it creates more of a pocket when you sew this together.
3. for the foot box, I matched up the corners and measured in 3.5", then sewed at a diagonal down to where the bottom corner was. Note that some edges weren't finished because they didn't need to be. This is "inside out" to clarify.


Edited by T.L. on 02/17/2012 17:17:47 MST.

Gregory Petliski
(gregpphoto) - F
re on 02/17/2012 20:09:46 MST Print View

The best things are indeed simple. Thanks for putting the plans up. You should market this idea!

Edited by gregpphoto on 02/17/2012 20:11:41 MST.

wander lust
condensation on 02/18/2012 03:35:56 MST Print View

I would end up with a lot of condensation on the sides and on the footbox using your draft dodger. The silnylon touches quite a bit of your sleeping bag.

Heck, I even get some condensation touching the no seeum stuff.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: condensation on 02/18/2012 09:25:07 MST Print View

That is indeed an issue Im afraid of, but most of the time the walls will be down. Only when it gets windy or sloppy enough will there be a need to have the sides tight around the bag. I have thought of making the sides out of a very breathable material to minimize any condensation, which I may do if it proves to be an issue.

When I'm able to do some testing I'll be sure to report my experiences here.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Shock cord placement on 02/19/2012 23:50:34 MST Print View

In the pictures you can see that the lower shock cord is 2 feet from the end of the ground sheet. After laying in it in my living room and moving around a bit, I found that the footbox liked to fall down. I ended up moving the lower shock cord down to 13 inches from the footbox and I like this placement much better. It keeps the footbox up where its supposed to be and allows the side walls to lay flatter.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Final weight on 02/25/2012 13:48:12 MST Print View

I put stripes of silicone on the groundsheet because, well, you know why. This of course adds weight.

One came in at 153 grams (5.39 ounces) and the other came in at 167 grams (5.89 ounces).

The heavier one probably got a bit more silicone, since the sizes were pretty identical.

Overall, I'm happy with how they turned out, and I can't wait to use them, especially with some Tim Marshall quilts I have coming in the next few weeks. I'll post any comments I have after I use them, especially regarding condensation.

tyler marlow

Locale: UTAH
Condensation issues? on 04/24/2013 22:22:21 MDT Print View


how did these work out in testing? Any condensation issues? Changes you would make?

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Maybe just sew quilt to ground sheet on 04/25/2013 07:54:21 MDT Print View

Then there are fewer drafts

tyler marlow

Locale: UTAH
re: jerry on 04/25/2013 11:35:02 MDT Print View


I'd thought about something very similar. I considered sewing one side of the groundsheet directly to the quilt and putting a zipper on the other side for a sort of hybrid quilt/sleeping bag/bivy.

Never made it off the planning stages though

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: re: jerry on 04/25/2013 13:44:33 MDT Print View

I've used mine for years

One problem is there's an air draft channel on your sides. I put my sleeping pad inside.

Another problem is around my neck there's a huge draft channel to the outside, but I put a couple flaps that close that off.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
This vs Quilt and Bivy? on 04/25/2013 13:54:32 MDT Print View

What is the advantage of this setup over a quilt and bivy when used with a tarp. My bivy is under 8 oz, provides draft protection, ground cloth duties but also provides full splash protection under a bivy. What am missing here, there has to be a big benefit that I'm missing given the reaction to the idea? By the way, looks like a good idea for those that already have a sleeping bag they like.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: I call it....The Draft Dodger on 04/25/2013 14:42:44 MDT Print View

It's half bivy. I like this!

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: This vs Quilt and Bivy? on 04/25/2013 14:56:52 MDT Print View

seperate quilt and bivy is a good solution

with a quilt/bivy hybrid, you save the top piece of fabric - maybe 2 ounces - not a big deal

I like to have a zipper on the top going half way down, attached to both the quilt and bivy. Convenient to open when you're too warm. If you had a zipper in both quilt and bivy that would be an extra zipper, but people are happy with a quilt without zipper.

When the quilt and bivy are sewn together, the quilt won't shift around, it will always cover you perfectly.

Maybe it's more of a personal preference thing than weight or warmth

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Condensation issues? on 04/25/2013 20:37:32 MDT Print View

I've used these several times under a tarp in winter and shoulder seasons before the bugs come out. I did make a change and that was the placement of the shock cords. I moved the top one closer to the foot about 12 inches. It was a small refinement that kept the shape better.

As far as condensation goes, it's not been that bad. Actually, I don't recall ever seeing a buildup of moisture in the footbox, but I guess that doesn't mean that the condensation isn't being trapped in my insulation more than usual. Whatever the reason, it's not proven to be an issue so far.

Does anyone know if there is a chimney effect where the EE quilts cinch up at the feet? There's a little hole there and I've been wondering if much of the water vapor from sweat gets sucked out that little hole due to the temperature differential.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: This vs Quilt and Bivy? on 04/25/2013 20:42:15 MDT Print View

My reasoning for this design was to have some of the benefits of a bivy while lessening the chance for condensation. Now to be fair, I've never actually used a full bivy, so my reasoning was pretty hypothetical. At any rate, it's served well as a groundsheet that keeps my quilt and pillow from sliding onto wet or dirty ground, and can help snug up my quilt just a bit more when the temp drops or the wind picks up. I can't prove in any way that this is better than a true bivy, but it's decently light and serves a few good purposes.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Re: I call it....The Draft Dodger on 04/25/2013 20:42:50 MDT Print View

>It's half bivy. I like this!

Thanks, Justin!

george carr
(hammer-one) - F - MLife

Locale: Walking With The Son
NIce! on 05/01/2013 17:05:56 MDT Print View

Clever idea Travis! I like it!