I've been happily using tarps for shelter, the various ways you can hang them makes them very versatile. But if there are no trees about it can make things a little interesting. I bought a Polish Lavvu last year and really like the way it goes up - a single pole and a few pegs and it is very stable and simple to erect. But weighing 3 1/2 kg is no fun if you are carrying it on your back for any distance. So, after my last overnighter which was next to the beach I started thinking about making a shaped tarp that could be put up if there were no trees around to sling up a ridge line.
I love using Sketchup to model things - its free and pretty simple to use and it pretty darn accurate. You can measure off complicated angles and sizes very easily, which really helped with this project.
I bought five meters of PU Nylon that was on special at Point North - £21 was pretty good, especially as its 1.85m wide It's the Danish camo pattern.
I made a paper scale model to make sure my measurements were correct and then made a full size one in polythene.
It's great to see it full size - it's the only way to know for certain you've dimensioned the thing properly.
I got stuck in with the wifes sewing machine and two evenings later it was done.
The main thing I wanted was to offset the pole - in the Polish Lavvu the pole is central and a pain as it infringes on the floor area forcing you against the edges. So my design is an offset pyramid, giving me maximum floor space for sleeping while maintaining the natural strength and rigidity of a pyramid. I use a walking pole as the central pole or I could cut a suitable stick on site (two sides of the tarp are 1.3m on their bottom edges - this is the height of the pole so I don't need to carry a tape measure!) Weight including carry sack is 950g.
So I'm pleased with the project - I can lay out full length with no fear of damp toes or face, I still get to see out like under a tarp and it means I can set up on a beach it needed! I have made up a small "storm flap" which can clip on to give a larger covered porch area in case of extreme downpours. The tarp is also big enough for two to sleep under in a pinch.
Making your own gear is a lot of fun - building models in cheap materials is vital to getting a good result and saves wasting expensive materials.
Hope you like