Ripstop nylon is an awesome material. It does have some limitations though. It will melt if it comes in contact with flames, sparks or intense heat. Sunlight (UV) will over time wear on the fabric. Even with these limitations ripstop nylon is well worth looking at using for your many needs as an avid outdoors person. There are many different types of nylon fabric for sale. You can buy plain nylon fabric but it will be more susceptible to tares and holes. I prefer ripstop because if the fabric gets a hole or slight tare in it the ripstop sewing pattern helps to limit the hole or tare from getting bigger. That is a huge advantage.
There are many different weights available as well. I generally like to use 1.1 or 1.3 oz ripstop nylon for my projects. You can get ripstop nylon that is uncoated, coated with silicone, silicone impregnated or urethane coated. I like to buy the uncoated ripstop nylon and spray it with a waterproofer myself when I’m done. If you use the uncoated ripstop nylon it’s easier to find in your local fabric store. For making a tarp for camping I would recommend using either one of the silicon coated ripstop nylons. I’m not sure how the uncoated nylon with waterproofer sprayed on it will hold up to an all out down poor. I have used the uncoated for tarps but have yet to be out in a down poor. Feel free to test it out though. Here is a site where you can buy any materials you might need for your project, if you are not able to find what you need in your local fabric store.
They have a lot of good information on their site and if you don’t want to make something yourself you can just buy one of their products. I am in no way affiliated with the website and do not receive any money for recommending them. I have just found them very useful over the years. You will need small sharp needles for your sewing machine and Gutermann polyester thread works the best. I like to use “hot scissors” or a soldering iron to cut the fabric. This way your edges are sealed as you cut them. I cut on top of a piece of glass for safety purposes. I also like to use shock cord or 550 cord for my projects.
Here are some ideas for what you can make out of ripstop nylon. This list is by no means complete. It is just a list to get you started thinking about what piece of gear you could make instead of buying.
Ditty Bags (easiest thing to start with) Lightweight Backpack or Day pack
Tarp Sleeping Bag Cover
Lightweight Shirt Pants
Sleeping Bag (with added insulation) Gaiters
Jackets (add insulation) Backpack Cover
As you can see this is just a small list to get you started on your way to making some of your own gear. If you are not familiar with sewing I’m sure that there are plenty of YouTube videos out there that can show you how to use a sewing machine. Do your research first and learn how to use the sewing machine you have. If you don’t have a machine, check garage sales for a used one, craigslist or ask anybody you know if they have one you can borrow or buy. Many people have one but don’t use them, so you might be able to get a free machine or at least borrow one. If you want to buy a new one and have the money don’t let me stop you, but research the machines first and ask questions about the machine you are about to buy. Let the sales people know what you are planning on using it for.
Enjoy the journey to making your own gear and good luck! Always remember that it doesn’t have to look perfect, and it won’t at first, but you will get better with practice and time. As long as whatever you make is functional and works the way you want it to, who cares if it’s not perfect. It will have character and you’ll have a sense of accomplishment. Feel free to ask me any questions you might have and have fun. What gear do you intend on making over the next year?