DD Tarp 3x3, Cyote Brown
What better product to kick off this durability-review series than with DD’s 3x3 tarp, a product that is designed around function instead of looks or trends. These tarps come highly recommended within the community of survivalists because of their reputation of being so robust it could almost shelter you from a nuclear blast.
I used to travel with an old traditional tent. It was given to me for free and it worked, but it was heavy. Steel tubes, thick groundsheet, zippers… But the roof was made out of nylon. So I cut it off and put the rest in a nearby dumpster. It was an enlightment: 200 grams of fabric to keep me dry while allowing a 360° view. However it was too short and at some point it started degrading by the sun’s uv-rays.
With this experience in mind I knew I didn’t want to bring a tent when I was prepping for my first bicycle tour. Reading about on forums brought me to DD Tarps. The 3x3 looked to be the goldilocks of size, weight, function and sturdiness. It turned out to be much better than I expected; the amount of abuse it withstood is insane! I used it to shield myself from rain, wind, storms, sun and even some brighter-than-the-sun lights at a church’s parking lot.
The tarp is a medium weight, around 700 grams and is made of a thick polyester fabric, with a waterproof coating on the inside. It has 19 reinforced fabric loops sewn onto the corners, edges and center line, these are much stronger than the traditional eyelets; just don’t use anything pointy as supportbeam. The central seam is taped for extra waterproofness. The available colours vary from bright signal orange to earthy colours. ‘Cyote brown’ blends in very nicely in most settings.
On a self-supported tour multifunctionality is very important because it saves weight, leaving more room for food and water and increasing your mobility. Ease of use is another important aspect, especially when cold, exhausted, injured, or anything else that makes complex tasks impossible. Tie a string from tree to tree, drop the tarp over and tie the corners to the ground, done. For a tarp it doesn’t matter if the ground is flat or not, and without trees you can use hiking poles or even a bicycle, fence, lamppost, crack, etc. There are seriously tens of different ways to pitch this tarp, the most common and useful are the A-frame, the diamond for use with a hammock and the lean-to, but it can also function as improvised bivibag, groundsheet, sail or rain collector.
The open nature takes some getting used to, and some might never like it at all, as while it allows for a 360° view it also allows for wildlife to pay you a visit. The best case of this were two cute kittens, the worst was a 15cm centipede! But to me that is exactly what being out in the wild is all about.
- indestructible and versatile
- lightweight compared to tents
- 19 attachment points
- useful stuffsack included
- included pegs are weak
- no ridgeline included, only four guy lines
- not the lightest compared to nylon tarps
Even though this tarp is an extremely good example of function before design, there are some changes I would make. These are based on my own experience.
The attachment loops are very long. This is nice on the sides as it gives the possibility to wrap them around a hiking pole. But in the middle this makes them quite useless. When using them the tarp sags like hell, so in the end I always tie a line underneath instead of through the loops. This keeps the tarp nice and tight, but also damages the material over time. Shorter loops would be a great change here. Of course this is very easy to diy.
The PU coating and the seamtapes are tough, but once they starts to wear there isn’t much possibility for a diy repair. The best solution so far is to strip the whole coating and to replace it with silicone caulk thinned with white spirit. This is the same as they do with ‘silnylon’ tarps and tents.
As a third point of improvement: the pegs. The ones they supply are complete crap. They are heavy and because of their shape it’s impossible to hammer them without bending them. Simple straight aluminium pegs don’t cost a fortune to make. They’re for sale everywhere, but including them by default would make this product complete.
I own multiple of these now! It’s just a perfect product. It will provide shelter in even the harshest weather conditions and it doesn’t weigh you down like a tent. The open nature allows for perfect contact with the surroundings.
Link to manufacturer: www.ddhammocks.com