DIY Silnylon Tarp


Today's guest blog is from Dave Morales, and  he tells us just how easy it is to build your own Silnylon Tarp.

I’ve been a DIY fan since I can remember. Over the years, with varying degrees of success, I’ve built an electric guitar, dabbled in small electronics, done house projects, made my own beer, and now I’ve started on my gear making kick. Enter project number one: a silnylon tarp.

After pondering and studying it for a year, or more, it was finally time to make the plunge (I’m the greatest procrastinator you’ll ever meet. I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow). I’d looked at all of the different designs out there and cherry picked what I thought were the most important/useful aspects of them and put them all together. I was ready to go! Uhhh….hold up. I didn’t know how to sew. So, I scored an old sewing machine, took a one night class, and read everything I could on how to sew silnylon. I ordered the materials.

Rule number one about silnylon: it’s the most slippery stuff imaginable. Hard to sew, but not impossible, and after a solid night or two of practice on scraps, I dug into the real project. The key is to take it slow. When I felt myself burning out, I stopped for the night. I didn’t really keep track of total time, but it went faster than I thought it was going to. While it’s far from perfect, it’s something that is uniquely mine. I can tell from the stitching how I improved over the build. The moment I finished the detail work of seam sealing it with Gear Aid’s SilNet was one of total satisfaction. During a recent rain shower, I set up the tarp and just sat underneath it. Nary a drop on the inside.


Emboldened by this, just today I ordered the materials for a homemade backpacking quilt. With attention to detail, a regular old sewing machine, and the drive to create something unique, anyone can make specialized gear comparable to what’s out on the market. Believe me, if I can do it, so can you.


Dave Morales is the kind of guy who could just blather on and on about himself and will not be stopped. He likes to backpack and hike and used to mountain bike, but lost interest somewhere along the way. He likes to make and drink beer and enjoys a well crafted Perfect Manhattan. Dave hangs out in train stations and has a new passion for sewing outdoor gear. His wife frequently tolerates him and his dog is generally confused.


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Comments (2)

  1. where can I find DIY Sil nylon.

    timothy d. neff
  2. Hi Tim,
    There are a couple of places you can get sil nylon. Check out Thru-Hiker, Ray Jardine's page, and Seattle Fabrics. Thru-Hiker especially is geared toward the DIY type. A few of the cottage manufacturers also sell the materials they use. A quick internet search for "MYOG" and whatever you're interested in making will turn up what you need. MYOG stands for Make Your Own Gear. There are some good sites devoted to that and there are many opinions out there, so just fish around and cherry pick the things that work for you.

    Dave Morales
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