Parachute camopy for cover

Discussion in 'Shelter' started by dwightp, May 4, 2012.

  1. dwightp

    dwightp Guide Bushclass I

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    Parachute canopy for cover

    After looking at the photos of the hardwoodsman meet and seeing the big parachute they had that provide some protection from the sun, I am thinking of getting one for myself.

    I thought this would be a good time to discuss this....never seen it as a thread topic before. So, I'm looking to the ranks for tips, photos, etc.

    Some of my questions include:
    where to buy, how much to pay, what size to get, how tall a center pole to use, how many "tie downs" is adequate, tips on tying down, set-up times and tips, etc., etc.

    Thanks in advance.
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2012
  2. Wayland

    Wayland Scout

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    I've posted this before but this is how I go about it:

    There are occasions when it is useful to protect a larger space from the worst of the weather. A surplus parachute canopy can be effectively used to make a practical and economical shelter for a workspace or camp fire area and I thought I would show you how I set mine up for the first time recently.

    When you obtain them through usual sources, such canopies have often been rendered unserviceable by cutting the cords or in some cases the material itself.

    [​IMG]

    Depending on the condition such cuts are usually quickly and easily repaired with a sewing machine which leaves you with a large amount of useful material for making a weather resistant shelter.

    It is important to realise that the nylon material is not waterproof but it will tend to channel the water down the material to the lowest point which is usually round the edge. In heavy rain a certain amount will be forced through the canopy in the form of a fine spray but this does at least reduce torrential rain to a mere drizzle.

    On other occasions the same shelter may provide a shady area in the heat of a summer day without blocking the light and making it difficult to work under.

    [​IMG]

    I obtained a large “Irvin” canopy that I think came from a pilots emergency ejection seat from a surplus supplier in the UK. When it arrived there was a heavy net attached to the circumference which I quickly removed with a pair of sharp scissors.

    The next thing I removed was the drag chute and some internal lines, connecting the outer edge to the fifth radial seam, which were designed to scallop the canopy when deployed. For my purposes they just prevented the chute from hanging properly so I cut them about six inches from the seams. I used the attached residue of these lines to make simple loops that can now be used to spread the material when the shelter is set up. The remaining spare cord was useful for setting up and I'm sure I'll find a use for the other bits too.

    [​IMG]

    To set up the shelter I used two sturdy trees either side of our intended space and a good length of strong cord. I used a catapult with a heavy hex nut to launch a thin crab line over suitable branches and then drew the heavier cord over and across the space between the trees. The cords across the air vent in the centre of the canopy were then attached to this line with a strong karabiner and hoisted up.

    [​IMG]

    To spread the material over your working space you can of course just tie it directly to suitable trees or bushes but a much better way was suggested by Steve (Mesquite on BcUK). His idea was to make a perimeter line around the outside with another strong line and then attach the edges of the chute to this with lighter cord or even “bungees”. That's what I did here and it worked very well, allowing the cords to be anchored exactly where needed instead of pulling at odd angles.

    In use you will find that the outer edge drips as rainwater soaks though and anything attached to the inside of the chute will make a drip point too but as these are in a fixed position they are easily avoided. The loops left on the fifth radial seam were prone to this but I am reluctant to remove them at this stage because I think they will be useful to set it up in smaller areas on other occasions.

    We were working from this fixed location for just under a week which included heavy rain and hot sunshine. In both cases we found the shelter it provided very useful indeed. We did not experience much wind so cannot comment on that but my gut feeling is that it was certainly adequately secured this way to deal with normal breezy conditions, I would have to evaluate strong wind as it occurred.
     
  3. Davros

    Davros Guide Bushclass II

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    Awesome setup Wayland. In the first picture it looks dome shaped. In the second it looks more conical. Is that from the campfire? Hot air filling the canopy?
     
  4. Wayland

    Wayland Scout

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    It was a gentle breeze that kept filling and spilling that day.

    At night it looked like a giant luminous jellyfish trying to swim to the surface.
     
  5. Infidel

    Infidel Guide Bushclass I

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    Good topic. Ive been considering the same thing.
     
  6. dwightp

    dwightp Guide Bushclass I

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    Actually, I never thought about having a campfire under it.......thanks.
     
  7. uwharriebackpacker

    uwharriebackpacker Tracker

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    I made a call to a nearby surplus store this afternoon to see if they had any chutes. They said they had more than 20. Green is cheapest, white is more. They average around 60 bucks starting out for a decent one.
    This might be a good idea for our campsite at scout camp this summer.
     
  8. Wayland

    Wayland Scout

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    Actually they get a bit more waterproof as they smoke up.

    I guess it's the tar or something.
     
  9. jaybird14

    jaybird14 Tracker

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    Back in the stone ages,1970's, my scout troop used those for winter camping.
    we piled lots of straw inside, no fire, and froze to death.:)

    great times!!!
    JJ:43:
     
  10. fratermus

    fratermus Tracker

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    Wayland's setup (and write-up) is epic.
     
  11. skummdogg

    skummdogg Scout

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    Very nice write up! I've been eyeing chutes whenever im at a surplus store with something like this in mind. Thank you for sharing.
     
  12. Outsoul

    Outsoul Scout

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    I was considering using one of these as a cover for a tipi. This is a great thread. Also worth noting, in nearly every survival book I have seen, it is said that a hammock is easily made from a few of the panels of a parachute. When my funds recover, I will be looking in to parachutes. I know Coleman's has em.
     
  13. Pappy Frank

    Pappy Frank Supporter Supporter

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    I have seen websites that talk about making teepee's out of them. I have a survival book that tells about setting one up in much the same way Wayland is doing. They left the bottom on the ground then suggested piling up snow in winter weather around the bottom. An interesting idea. Thanks for the post, and thanks to Wayland for his input.
     
  14. MiddleWolf

    MiddleWolf Guide

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    No reason that it can't be hoisted up and treated with Thompson's Water Seal if it doesn't hurt the material. Could be applied with spray bottles.
     
  15. red elm

    red elm Supporter Supporter Bushclass I

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    I think that SgtMac made a TeePee type tent out if one IIRC? Maybe get with him and find out.
     

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