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Advice on a tyvek tent
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Adam Littell

Locale: Ohio
Advice on a tyvek tent on 08/21/2012 20:25:08 MDT Print View

I used to love backpacking in high school, but once I started college, then got married, then had kids, I haven't done any. My 4 year old son has suddenly decided that he loves hiking and camping. After several long day hikes and camping out in the backyard, I'm trying to get some gear together to take him backpacking. We don't really have much in the way of money, so I've been trying to keep it as cheap as I can. I only have a couple of heavy sleeping bags that I'm kind of stuck with, so I'm trying to save some weight over our 8 pound giant tent from my young, stupid days of backpacking. I did order one of these from ebay:
bug tent
I'm also getting a hold of some tyvek from a friend who is having a new garage built. I'm trying to put together a tent, somewhat in the vein of the Shangri-La 2, only without the pole in the back. Something with a long triangle shape in the back to cover the bug net, and a small triangle in the front to form a small vestibule for our gear.

I was just hoping for a little advice. I can't sew, and we don't have a sewing machine anyway, so I was planning to use the tyvek and tyvek tape to form something that would be a little lighter than what we have, and might get us through a year or so to make sure my son doesn't drop his interest in the whole thing.

From what I've been able to gather, I would wash the tyvek a few times with some tennis shoes, then cut out the pieces and tape them together. Then reinforce a few spots for grommets, and put those in, and that would form a mostly waterproof covering for us, in case we get caught in some rain. What am I missing, or miscalculating?

David Miles
(davidmiles) - F

Locale: Eastern Sierra
Re: Advice on a tyvek tent on 08/21/2012 21:37:28 MDT Print View

I use Tyvek for the floor of my bivy sacks, which works well, but as a tarp it can be very noisy.

I have also found the Tyvek HomeWrap to be very waterproof but not very breathable.
Make sure you leave some good ventilation to prevent condensation.

That being said, Tyvek does give you a "no sewing" option that won't break the bank.
Before you rough up the Tyvek, apply Tyvek tape to form your joints. A layer of tape on each side will provide a good tie-out point.

I look forward to what you come up with.


Paul Ashton
(PDA123) - F

Locale: Eastern Mass
shelter on 08/22/2012 14:45:53 MDT Print View

If you have one nearby, join REI and get to their "garage sales" I scored a Quarter dome T3 for $25 last summer with just one pole section slightly damaged ($16 to replace). Otherwise, you could use the bug net you have with a largish tarp in a pyramid configuration (I got a kelty Noah 16 for $20 at an REI garage sale). I've made shelters with tyvek. They work well but as stated above, bad condensation and noisy. Also don;t pack down all that small compaerd with a nylon tarp. However, free is a powerful incentive.

Edited by PDA123 on 08/22/2012 14:48:44 MDT.

Adam Littell

Locale: Ohio
thanks on 08/22/2012 15:41:25 MDT Print View

Thanks for the advice. I would love to have an REI near by. Our closest one is 2 hours away in Pittsburgh. They have 2, and the last time I was in pittsburgh, I went to both just to check out what they had in the garage sale department. I agree a nylon tarp would be better, but I was hoping to have something a little more wind proof if necessary than most of the rectangle tarp setups I've looked at, plus the cost, of course. My son is a very cold sleeper, and cold in general, so I'd like to be able to tighten the tent down, if I need to, of course, then I'll have the condensation problems. So, should I tape up the tent first, then rough it up in the washer?

William Safley
(wsafley) - MLife

Locale: Eastern NC
tyvek in washer on 08/22/2012 16:22:50 MDT Print View

You can take this with a grain of salt - I have been playing with tyvek quite a bit recently, though I don't have any finished projects to show other than stuff sacks. But in my experience just crumpling up the tyvek a few times gets rid of the crinkly noise without having to put it in the washer. But I would do the taping first, so you get good adhesion of the tape to the smooth surfaces. Can't wait to see your finished shelter!

David Miles
(davidmiles) - F

Locale: Eastern Sierra
Re: tyvek in washer on 08/23/2012 00:07:46 MDT Print View


Like William said, I don't put Tyvek through the washer. It just prematurely ages the material. Tape first, and then just hand crumple a few times. This will take a lot of the noise out.

PS If you have a cat, don't leave the Tyvek out. Apparently it's a derivative of Catnip :(

Martha S.
(kitfox) - F
Golite Lair might meet your needs on 08/29/2012 21:23:05 MDT Print View

Hi -- I have a Golite Lair 2 tarp which I LOVE. It has fewer features than the Shangri La but you can pick one up on Ebay or from this forum for a LOT less, since it's been discontinued. Should meet most if not all of your needs.

(I also have the Lair 1 for solo trips, I like the design so much.)

I know that's not the question you asked, but fwiw... I made a Tyvek groundcloth, not a tent, and found it to been difficult to pack down small. YMMV though.

Good luck -- glad to know you're son is into the great outdoors!

P.S. My Lairs technically require poles front and back, but I hike with only one pole and have never failed to find a stick for the back when I'm ready to camp.

Adam Littell

Locale: Ohio
update on 08/31/2012 17:27:01 MDT Print View

I certainly appreciate the advice. I'd very much like to just buy a tent, and I'm hopeful that if my son keeps up his interest into next spring, maybe we can save enough money by then to get a real tent. Here's what I've got so far. The inner net I bought from ebay:
I set up the tent higher to allow for ventilation in the warm weather. Here's some pictures of the current set up:
The whole thing, with net, lines, tent, and stakes weighs in at 40 ounces, which is at least better than what I had, though it's a lot more cramped than a 40 ounce tarp tent would be, I imagine. I also certainly see what you guys mean about the bulk of tyvek. It's a big ball all rolled up.
I left it staked out for about 6 hours today, and it was a pretty breezy day, and it held up fine. Next I'd like to stake it tighter down to the ground, as a setup for a colder night and see how it functions. Thanks for all the advice so far, and any extra tips anyone has, I'd love to hear. Also, if you happen to hear of someone selling a nice tarptent in the $50 range, give me a hollar ;-)

Adam Littell

Locale: Ohio
update on 10/11/2012 18:51:40 MDT Print View

Thought I'd update, in case anyone else cared, that I've now used the tent with my son several times, both in the back yard, and on the trail. While it's still smaller when set up than I'd prefer, and bigger when packed up than I'd prefer, the price is right, and it was waterproof, and virtually no problems with condensation.

My son had a great time, and made 6 miles on our last hike, which I think is pretty good for a 4 year old. So, now I'm hoping to pick up a real tent before spring and use that instead, but this little guy served his purpose as a test tent pretty well.

Clint Wayman

Locale: East Tennessee, US
tyvek tester on 10/12/2012 18:35:21 MDT Print View

That's fantastic! Great looking tester and it's even better that the little guy enjoys the trips! Sounds like a win-win-win situation to me!
How has the tent held up?
Grommets holding?
Lots of noise?
Pictures of the whole thing packed up?
Keep the updates coming!


Edited by cwayman1 on 10/12/2012 18:35:52 MDT.

Adam Littell

Locale: Ohio
Packed Pictures on 10/13/2012 12:41:29 MDT Print View

Here are the individual pieces:unpacked tent
And all packed up in a stuff sack made from a tyvek fedex envelope.packed up
I don't find it to be annoyingly loud. In the rain you could certainly hear the rain hitting it, but it didn't keep us up or anything.

The tent is holding up fine, and the grommets are in great shape. I kept them 2 inches from the edge and put an X of tyvek tape on each side before I installed them. Seems to be in good shape all around. Of course, I camp in the woods in the east, not on a windswept ridge in the mountains.