What Can You Make Out of Tyvek (Camping Tips & Tricks)

A building insulated by Tyvek wrap

There are many ways you can improve your camping gear with materials you can find in your local Home Depot. If you’re up to it, you can even make various pieces of camping gear using these items. One of the most popular materials for both improving and making outdoor gear is Tyvek. Camps and backpackers have been experimenting with it for a long time now.

You can make a lot f useful outdoor items with Tyvek. Tarps, tent footprints, and even sleeping bag liner are just some of the gear that you can make from Tyvek. However, this material is notoriously difficult to sew without compromising its integrity. You’ll need to be careful when if you want to use Tyvek for your outdoor gear without damaging the fabric.

What is Tyvek?

Tyvek is a material made from flash spun, high-density polyethylene fibers. It is manufactured by DuPont and is a registered trademark of the company. People use it to make a variety of items. It is most commonly used in the construction business, for protecting uninsulated buildings from water damage. In addition to this, the material is used for making protective suits used in the medical and sanitary industries. Tyvek comes in a single color – white.

What Are the Properties of Tyvek?

People employ Tyvek in various situations because of its properties. The material is:

  • water resistant
  • lightweight
  • durable
  • breathable

Where Can I Source Tyvek?

You can get this material from a lot of sources, most of which are readily available. For example, in the United States, most priority mail is sent in envelopes made from Tyvek. This is done to protect the contents of the envelope from the elements and preserve the contents.

Unfortunately, envelopes provide a small amount of Tyvek and can’t be used for your basic camping needs. However, you can sew them together and create a pouch to keep your things dry.

If the small size is the problem, you can source larger Tyvek sheets from construction sites. Make sure you get permission from the people on the construction site and only use the sheets they would’ve thrown out anyway.

Finally, you can buy Tyvek pretty cheap in stores like the Home Depot. They have Tyvek sheets in various sizes suitable for any adventure in the wild.

What Camping Gear Can You Make Out of Tyvek?

Because of its properties, Tyvek is sought after by more than construction sites and sanitary institutions. Campers and hikers all over the world use Tyvek on their adventures. You can make a lot of camping gear and camping utility items from this material. And with a little skill and practice, you can even make some basic waterproof garments.

Using Tyvek With Your Tent

The most basic, and probably the most common, camping use for Tyvek is to employ it as a tent footprint. Since the material is extremely waterproof, it will completely protect your tent from any residue moisture.

You can also use Tyvek as a simple ground cloth inside your tent. Since it is so breathable, it won’t hold any of your body’s natural moisture in. By sandwiching your tent’s floor between two layers of Tyvek, one outside and one inside, you can prevent any damage to it and prolong the lifespan of your tent.

Finally, if your tent has a vestibule, you can use Tyvek to make a ground cloth for your vestibule. Why keep your boots and pack protected only from the top, when you can place Tyvek on the ground and protect them from all sides?

Tyvek Can Be a Tarp

If you’re looking for a chap, lightweight replacement for a tarp, look no further – Tyvek makes amazing tarps. It is highly water-resistant and will keep you dry even in a downpour.

Additionally, the material is very breathable. This will allow you to sleep peacefully, and not worry about condensation under your Tyvek tarp, which can be very useful, especially when camping in high humidity and damp weather.

Finally, you can use Tyvek as an awning for your tent. It will provide some extra protection from the elements and a dry place in front of your tent. You can use this to keep your fire out of the rain and ensure no water gets in your food when you’re cooking in the wild.

A tent under a Tyvek awning

Tyvek Can Provide Protection for Your Gear

You can use Tyvek to keep your pack, and yourself, off the ground. Carry a piece of Tyvek in your pack’s side pocket, and lay it onto the cold or wet ground. Now you can sit down or place your gear on the floor without worrying about it getting wet.

This also works well if you like hammock camping in wet or snowy conditions. If you lay a square of Tyvek under your hammock, it provides a nice spot to store your pack and shoes. It will help keep your gear dry and ready to use. This way you won’t have to wait to dry out your boots before putting them on in the morning. And that’s time saved you can use to continue your adventure or brew that first cup of coffee.

Line Your Sleeping Bag With Tyvek

If you’re planning on sleeping in damp conditions or in a place where it rains often, you’ll want to ensure your sleeping bag is waterproof. Most sleeping arrangements are made from silnylon, which is highly water-resistant itself, but it does let some water in. Lining your sleeping bag with Tyvek will ensure you stay dry in your sleeping bag, and get a good night’s rest.

Since Tyvek is perfectly breathable, it won’t cause any condensation inside your sleeping bag.

While it will protect you from water seeping into your sleeping bag, Tyvek can do little when it comes to thermal insulation. So, if you’re camping or hiking in very cold conditions, don’t think you’ll be able to use your regular sleeping bag, even if you line it with Tyvek.

Using Tyvek to Make Garments and Protectors

If you’re looking to experiment with this material, you can make highly water-resistant clothes from it. By cutting a hole in a square piece of Tyvek and stitching the sides you can get an improvised poncho. Sure, it will look completely bootleg and make noise enough to wake hell, but it will keep you dry and allow your skin to breathe. This will prevent sweat and, in turn, keep you toasty warm.

Additionally, you can use pieces of Tyvek to protect your clothes and gear. By covering the zippers on your jacket, pants, or pack you’ll make them virtually waterproof. Also, if your gloves let in water, or you need to touch something very wet with them, you can use Tyvek to reinforce them and prevent any water from reaching your hands.

These methods will not only improve the water resistance of your gear but will also prolong its lifespan.

Cons of Using Tyvek in the Wild

There are a lot of useful applications for Tyvek when camping. Unfortunately, the material isn’t the solution to all the conditions you might encounter in the wilderness. If it were so, all outdoor gear would be made from it. It has some drawbacks that can be deal-breaking, depending on the type of adventure you’re planning on having.

  • It is very loud – it makes so much noise. The noise resembles a piece of sheet metal being shaken violently. While there are ways to reduce this, they never completely work, and the material will remain loud.
  • Comes only in white – you can paint the material, but it will take a special type of oil-based paint. This will greatly increase the weight of the sheet. So, if you’re planning a stealthy adventure and don’t want to stand out in the wild, Tyvek is probably not for you.
  • It’s brittle – while Tyvek is almost impossible to rip, it will crease even from the smallest bends. If you like your gear to look good, this will probably be a turnoff.
  • Sewing with it can damage it –  putting holes in the material can ruin its water resistance and make it leak. If you don’t do something to seal the holes, it will let water in.

How to Remedy the Disadvantages of Tyvek

Most of these disadvantages are fixable, at least to a certain degree. To reduce the noise you can crumple up the material and spread it out again. Repeat this process and you’ll be able to quieten it down some. Another method for achieving the same effects is to wash in the washing machine. Be careful when taking it out, because the material will not absorb a single drop of water. Thus, there’ll be a lot of water left in the machine. This process also puts a lot of stress on your washer, so it would be ideal if you had an old washer you can use for this.

When sewing Tyvek, you’ll need to cover the holes made by the needle if you want the material to keep its properties. You can employ a variety of methods such as silicone caulk, seam sealer, and beeswax. It is not uncommon to waterproofing a tent zipper. However, the sewing will ruin the integrity of the material and the chances of it ripping will increase along the seams.

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