It is not necessary to purchase an expensive backpacking tent from your local sporting goods store, when you can make a lightweight backpacking tent yourself. The materials can be purchased at any local hardware and fabric store. For this project you’ll need: Nylon netting fabric, 6 feet wide, 20 feet long; tape measure, scissors, straight pins, needle, sewing thread, sewing machine (optional), 50 feet of cord, any kind; 6 hair clips, any kind; blue poly tarp, 8 x10 feet and blue poly tarp, 6 x 8 feet (optional).
Allot two days to complete the construction of the tent although this tent could be constructed in about half a day. Building your own backpacking tent will also give you a great conversation starter amongst your friends or family.
Place the nylon netting on a flat work surface with the 6 foot side to your left and the 20 foot side across the top. Measure out 10 feet from the left going to the right. Cut the nylon up the middle at this point, leaving you with two 6 x 10 foot pieces. Place the two pieces of nylon on top of each other and fasten the top sides together with straight pins.
Sew along the entire 10 foot length about 2 inches in from the edge with needle and thread. Your stitches do not have to be perfect. Shorten the time it takes to do this by using a sewing machine. When you finish, the piece will be 12 feet wide by 10 feet long.
Tie both ends of the cord between two trees or between a tree and another large non-moving object. Throw the netting across the tie rope so that both sides of the nylon mesh hang freely over the rope. Anchor the sides of the tent in corners with rocks or any gear you put inside the tent. Clip the front and back end closed with three hair clips. Throw the 8 x 10 foot tarp over the suspension cord. Stretch out the tarp on the sides and anchor it down with rocks so that it is tight on both sides. Do not fold the edges under.
Test your tent out in the backyard before doing a trial run out in the woods. If it isn’t raining, consider having a friend or family member spray the top of your tent with a steady stream of light water to mimic the rain. Alternately, you could purchase a brightly colored tarp which can aid rescuers in locating you in the event of a survival situation.
Do not intentionally trespass or camp on any personal property you do not have permission to be on. Do not carve out sections of any trees or other plants to help secure your rope.
“Backpacking Revised and Updated, Sixth Edition”; R.C. Rethmel; 1979