More from: parachute tarp

3 Reasons to Use Edge Protectors with Parachute Tarps

The ripstop nylon fabric used to make parachutes is a great material for truck tarps. It is just amazing that it took so long for tarp manufacturers to figure it out. But that’s a different topic for a different post. We want to use this post to discuss the necessity of using edge protectors with parachute fabric tarps.

Since parachute fabric is quite durable, there is a tendency to treat it differently. Smart truck drivers know their parachute fabric tarps need just as much care as their vinyl counterparts. As such, the proper care of parachute fabric includes using edge protectors whenever necessary.

Here are three reasons to use edge protectors despite the extra strength and durability of ripstop nylon fabric:

1. Ripstop Does Not Mean Rip Proof

One of the distinguishing characteristics of parachute fabric is that it is classified as ripstop fabric. Whether a parachute is made of nylon, canvas, or some other material, its ripstop designation comes from its cross-weave pattern that prevents rips and tears from growing. The last thing you would want as you are falling through the sky is to have a small rip become a huge, gaping hole.

The thing to understand here is that ripstop fabric is not rip proof. If you are not sure that this is true, get yourself a piece of scrap material, lay it on top of a cardboard box, and see if you can put your utility knife through the center of it. Trust us when we say you’ll succeed.

The point we are trying to illustrate here is that using edge protectors with parachute tarps still helps prevent rips and tears that could occur when tarp material comes in contact with sharp edges. The possibility of such rips and tears isn’t diminished simply because a tarp is made of parachute fabric.

2. Fragile Cargo is Still Fragile

Sometimes truckers are forced to use edge protectors in order to protect the cargo underneath their tarps. In other words, you do not want fragile pieces of cargo rattling around and bumping into one another. So you secure each piece as tightly as you can and then use edge protectors as an extra insurance policy.

Choosing parachute fabric tarps over regular nylon has no effect on the tendency of cargo to rattle around. So use edge protectors to keep individual pieces from damage during transit. Your customers will be happy on the other end.

3. Webbing Straps are Still Vulnerable

Another important reason for using edge protectors with standard vinyl tarps is the fact that sharp edges can wear away webbing strap material – even if said edges actually pierce the tarp material. This is an even bigger problem when you are dealing with parachute fabric, given that it is lighter and thinner than standard vinyl.

Wherever there is likely to be friction between webbing straps and cargo, you should consider using an edge protector – even if there’s tarp material between cargo and strap. An edge protector mitigates friction and reduces the likelihood of a strap being cut. As an added bonus, the edge protector will also help keep your tarp in place to some extent.

As you can see, truck tarps made of parachute fabric are not perfect or indestructible. They certainly do have some benefits over traditional vinyl tarps in terms of weight and durability, but they are prone to the same kinds of things that damage vinyl tarps. So do yourself a favor and protect your investment. Use edge protectors with parachute fabric tarps in the same way you would with canvas or vinyl.


Parachute Tarps: The Fuzzy History of Ripstop Nylon

Sometimes, knowing the history of a product helps us to utilize it to its fullest potential. As such, we tried to figure out the history of ripstop nylon as it relates to the parachute tarps we sell. Unfortunately, that history is somewhat fuzzy. What we do know tells us just what makes ripstop nylon such a great material for truck tarps.

For the record, ripstop fabric does not have to nylon. You can buy ripstop fabric as canvas, polyester, and even silk. Nylon is the preferred choice for ripstop fabric because of its unique properties relating to weatherproofing and weight. With all that said, let us talk a little bit about history.

Ripstop and WWII

As best as we can tell from our research, the idea behind ripstop fabric was first proposed during World War II. Those in charge of making combat uniforms and parachutes wanted a material that would be more resistant to rips and tears on the battlefield. They also wanted a material that was lighter.

A year before the start of the war, DuPont introduced a revolutionary synthetic thread it called nylon. This revolutionary thread turned out to be the first commercially successful synthetic thread despite its predecessor, rayon, having been pushed as a replacement for expensive silk.

DuPont’s original plan for nylon did not involve military applications. Instead, it was thought that nylon revolutionized the fashion industry. That didn’t stop the military from looking at it as an option for parachutes.

Parachutes but Not Uniforms

Nylon did end up taking off as material for parachutes during the war. Parachute designers came up with a new ripstop weave that became the precursor of modern ripstop, but nylon fabric would largely disappear from the fashion scene following World War II. It was never seriously considered as a material for uniforms.

At the same time, DuPont really wanted nylon thread to be its mainstay for women’s hosiery. That was their original plan for nylon. So they began pitching the thread, eventually deciding to license it to third-party producers in 1951. Although it enjoyed fairly good success in the hosiery market, nylon thread wasn’t seen as practical or attractive for the rest of the fashion industry.

Nylon’s use as an industrial material continued through the 1950s, 60s and 70s, until the outdoor industry brought it back to front and center as a material for all sorts of camping gear. By the late 1970s, nylon was everywhere.

Parachutes, hang glider wings, etc. were dominated by ripstop nylon. And by the 1980s, ripstop weaves had been perfected. The same weaves preventing rips and tears in parachutes were making tents, backpacks, lean-tos, and camping chairs lightweight and strong. It was only a matter of time before ripstop nylon became a favorite material for tarps.

Modern Ripstop Nylon

Fast-forward to 2019 and the modern ripstop nylon we use today is the best iteration of the product ever. Not only is ripstop nylon still the material of choice for parachutes, it is also used heavily throughout multiple industries, ranging from outdoor gear to logistics.

Ripstop nylon is changing the way we do things in the trucking industry as well. For the longest time, truck drivers have been looking for a tarp material that is lighter and easier to deploy under a variety of weather conditions. Ripstop nylon is that material. It is more durable than vinyl and significantly lighter than canvas. It offers the best of both worlds.

How fascinating that a thread originally intended for the fashion world evolved to become a fabric used in parachutes and truck tarps. And now you know.