Why? Why Oilcloth? Why a Tarp?
Outside of the bushcraft world many people don’t know what oilcloth is and have even more questions about why anyone would even carry a tarp. Today, we are going to fix that by answering some commonly asked questions about oilcoth tarps:
Q: What is oilcloth?
A: Oilcloth is cotton canvas material that has been treated with waterproofing agent that, to the touch, resembles oil. Traditionally, oilcloth was made with linseed oil and alum. That combination created a water resistant cloth that was extremely heavy and messy. Thanks to technology we don’t have to worry about that anymore.
Q: Does oilcloth get other things oily?
A: No. The treatment has a very slight wet feel to it but it does not transfer and ruin other items it contacts
Q: My oilcloth looks like it lost all of its oil?
A: Oilcloth fabric does have an aged look after hard use. Typically oilcloth will always hold its water resistance but from extreme use in extreme climates there is a chance that it will begin to lose its treatment. From personal experience this would take years to happen. If it does happen there are options for re-treatment.
Q: Why would I carry a tarp?
A: A tarp allows the user to set up endless shelter configurations along with numerous options for other uses. Tarps can be folded with gear inside and used as a backpack, they can be used to drag fire material to camp, debris to a shelter, or even used as a hunting blind. The options are truly endless.
Q: The tarp is heavy! Why would I carry that?
A: Not everything is about weight sometimes it’s about function. Oilcloth can take an absolute beating. It will hold up to being drug on the ground, heavy snowfall, mud, dirt, rocks, and even thorns. Although it is not fire resistant it hold up tremendously better than a silnylon tarp next to the campfire and who doesn’t love to sleep with a campfire in front of their shelter. All kidding aside, oilcloth is a heavier fabric than some of the synthetic materials used for ultralight shelters. That said, if weight is a concern you may want to pick a different option.
Q: If oilcloth awesome?