Poly Tent by The Ultralight Hiker on the Cheap:

As part of a series on economy backpacking, I bring you my new poly tent made from a ‘standard 8’ x 10’ poly tarp bought from the local Churchill Australia $2 shop. This one cost me A$7.99 and took only minutes to make. Mark out the tie-out positions as shown. Use Tarp clips (eg http://www.theultralighthiker.com/easyklip/ or polystyrene balls http://www.theultralighthiker.com/worlds-lightest-tarp-clip/ as tie outs – so actual tie out position will be about 2” inside the fabric edge. Tie Apex to an extended hiking pole (4’ height) as shown. Peg out Rear point, then two End points approx 6” forward. Then loosely tie out two Front points (as shown) then two Side points about 6″ further out. Cut 2′ slit. Attach tie downs to Flaps for closure. These make a perfect guy lines: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-perfect-guy-line-for-a-hiking-tenttarp/ Place ground sheet, (dog and grandson) inside. Enjoy. As you can see it has my grandson’s and Spot’s ‘seal of approval’.

Fully open.

Interior: inside 6’ x 4’ poly tarp ground sheet – so plenty of room for two, plus gear!.

Fully open.

Storm mode.


Made in minutes from one of these.


PS: You can make the ground sheet into a ‘bathtub’ by placing straight sections of fallen timber underneath the edges. Total cost: Tarp $7.99, Polystrene balls (Spotlight) $2.99, String $2, Ground Sheet $2.99 = $15.97!

This tarp weighs about 600 grams, but that includes the grommets, doubled edges, bits you don’t use etc. I guess that if you cut it to size, reinforced the cut edges at the top front with bias binding, hemmed the edges and sewed on gross-grain tie-outs it would weigh somewhere about 500 grams – and would last you many years!

The thing is you could make this tent out of any material (cuben fibre if you wanted – in which case it would weigh probably less than 6 ounces or 180 grams). You are getting the pattern for free and can make one up in a couple of minutes out of a cheap poly tarp to see how well it would work for you before you invest lots of money on expensive materials.

I usually carry a (approx A$3) mylar safety blanket as part of my (survival/emergency) kit anyway. I find that they work quite well as a ground sheet and only weigh 50 grams.

Here is another cheap DIY tent: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/clearview-tent/

After you have tried the poly tent for a bit you might really break the budget and try one of these great little Aricxi tents (316 grams) plus a bug net/floor. My latest DIY tent  (The Grey Flyer) weighs 476 grams complete with floor, pegs and guys:

See also:

Aricxi $30 Tent Review


















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