More from: Truck Tarp

Used Parachutes or New Parachute Fabric Tarps?

Not long ago we ran across a post asking opinions about purchasing old parachutes from an army surplus store and converting them into truck tarps. The poster wanted to know if it was a good idea and, if so, what drawbacks there might be.

So, is it okay to convert used parachutes into truck tarps, or should you buy new parachute fabric tarps from a company like Mytee? Sure, it’s okay. But there are some definite benefits to going new instead of trying to cobble together a few old parachutes just to save some money.

Fabric Weight

As far as the weight of the parachute fabric is concerned, it is a wash whether you utilize used parachutes or buy new tarps. Parachute fabric is generally ripstop nylon of very low weight. That’s what you want for your truck tarps anyway. A 1-ounce parachute fabric is the same weight whether it is found in a used parachute or a new truck tarp.

Water Resistance

Depending on how the parachute was used during its normal life, the fabric may or may not have been treated for water resistance. This matters to truckers for the simple fact that standing water will almost always leak through parachute fabric at some point. That is why even new parachute fabric tarps purchased from Mytee are constructed only with parachute fabric on the sides, back, and front. Manufacturers use a standard vinyl material on the top to keep water out.

Even if you were to construct a few truck tarps out of used parachutes, you would have to do something about the top. So that means purchasing vinyl tarp material or utilizing discarded tarps with enough usable fabric. Is it worth the trouble?

Durability

Another thing to consider is durability. You can bet that the seams on both your used parachutes and new tarps are going to be pretty strong. But if you’re making your own tarps, you will be sewing multiple pieces of fabric together. Can you make the seams strong enough to withstand the punishment of the open road?

If you own a commercial sewing machine that is up to the task, you have nothing to worry about. But we suspect most truck drivers are not equipped with that kind of machinery. As such, constructing your own tarps is risky business. You’re probably better off buying new parachute tarps instead.

Usable Life

One last consideration is the usable life of homemade tarps. Unless you find used parachutes in excellent condition and you have the right equipment to construct your tarps, they are probably not going to last as long as professionally made tarps. So while you may save money in the short term, you’ll probably spend more over the long term simply because you have to replace your tarps more often.

New is a Better Choice

We understand the trucker’s desire to save money wherever possible. These days, margins are tight for both carriers and independent contractors alike. Unfortunately, attempting to save money by skimping on tarps is one of the worst decisions a trucker can make.

It is our belief that going new is the better choice. Brand-new tarps are constructed by industry professionals who know what they are doing. The products they make are intended to last, offering years of reliable service under all kinds of driving and weather conditions. Should you opt to make your own tarps of used parachutes instead, you’re probably not going to get the same kind of quality.


Canvas Tarps: To Treat or Not to Treat

One of the main advantages of canvas tarps is that they are made with natural fibers tightly woven together to create a strong, breathable material suitable for a variety of uses. Truckers sometimes use canvas tarps for certain kinds of loads that demand breathable tarp protection.

The question for truck drivers purchasing new canvas tarps is whether to get treated or untreated material. Canvas is an excellent material for truck tarps by itself, but manufacturers do offer tarps that have been treated for water resistance, UV protection, and even fire retardation. So, which is better; treated or untreated canvas?

There is no right or wrong answer here. Both materials have their strong and weak points. For the trucker, it is a matter of understanding those points and then determining which choice is better most of the time. Some truckers carry tarps of both types in order to be prepared for anything.

Water Resistance
Untreated canvas is naturally water resistant thanks to the extremely tight weave of the fibers. But water resistance does not mean waterproof. Treating canvas for water resistance also does not make it waterproof. Rather, the chemical treatment is a wax-like material that causes water to bead up and roll off rather easily. A canvas tarp treated for water resistance is less likely to allow water to pool.
On the positive side, a water-resistant treatment also reduces the risk of mold and mildew. As long as a treated tarp is properly dried before being folded and stored away, mold and mildew should never be a problem. On the downside, treated canvas is somewhat less breathable. If breathability is a concern, untreated canvas may be a better option.

Fire Retardation
It would be unusual to find a canvas tarp treated for fire retardation but not water and UV resistance. This dictates that fire retardation involves an extra treatment above and beyond a water-resistant coating. This extra protection is probably not needed except in cases where a canvas tarp may be accidentally exposed to open flame or sparks.

UV Resistance
The third kind of treatment also applied to canvas tarps is an anti-UV treatment. Because canvas is made of natural fibers, it is subject to break down as a result of UV exposure. Natural UV breakdown can lead to rot if a canvas material is also exposed to mold and mildew.

The reality is that all canvas materials break down over time. It is unavoidable for natural materials. But treating canvas for both water and UV resistance slows down the process of wear and tear. A properly treated material is less likely to fall victim to rot. In addition, retreating canvas every few years can extend its life.

Treating Tarps Yourself
The truck driver who has chosen treated canvas tarps would do well to apply a new treatment on a regular schedule, according to the manufacturers recommendations. A premium finish coat product specifically designed for canvas is the best option. Finishing products can be found at boating and RV centers, trucking supply centers, and even sporting goods outlets that carry canvas tarps and tents.

Our selection of canvas tarps is limited to just two. Furthermore, both products have been treated for water resistance. Our canvas tarps are very good general-purpose tarps that you could use for a variety of purposes. Canvas is an excellent choice for fruit and vegetable loads, exterior building products, highly sensitive machinery, and virtually any other kind of cargo that requires breathable tarp.

To treat or not to treat? That’s entirely up to you. Either way, canvas is great tarp material.


Protection Not the Only Use for Flatbed Truck Tarps

Truck drivers invest in flatbed truck tarps primarily to protect the cargo from road debris, extreme weather, and other unforeseen situations. That’s why tarps have to be made of durable materials that can withstand the punishment of heavy over-the-road driving. That notwithstanding, there might be other reasons a shipper may require a flatbed trucker to cover a load with a tarp. In other words, cargo protection is not necessarily the only purpose of flatbed truck tarps.

A case in point was a flatbed recently photographed traveling down Route 77 in eastern Arizona. Not only was the truck carrying an oversize load, but it was also accompanied by a rather impressive convoy that included a number of other trucks and plenty of black SUVs. The rather large object underneath the massive gray tarp was pretty much unidentifiable.

tarp

This is a case in which the flatbed truck tarp used to cover the object was both protecting it from damage and preventing onlookers from knowing what was underneath. Although it is not for us to determine what the cargo was, however, It was covered for a reason- to protect it.

Keeping Cargo Secretive

There is plenty of speculation about what might have been under that massive flatbed truck tarp. The popular ideas range from, it might have been new equipment being transported to the Air Force Base to old equipment on its way to bone yard out in the desert.

Another possibility is that the cargo was totally unrelated to the military. It could’ve been a satellite dish or a piece of high-tech equipment or even construction equipment. We will never know, thanks to a massive gray truck tarp that effectively served its purpose.

Regardless of what was being transported through the desert, there are times when shippers demand secrecy of their cargo. Such cases would require flatbed truck tarps to completely cover all visible surfaces of the cargo, with no exception. Not only would these tarps have to be capable of protecting the cargo from road debris and weather, but they would also have to be secured in such a way as to prevent any parts getting loose or falling off during shipping

These kinds of loads travel across our roads more often than most of us realize. We just don’t know because truckers do such a good job of covering them entirely. They get where they are going with an intact load while shippers and receivers enjoy the benefit of keeping their precious cargo from eyes they don’t want seeing it. It is a win-win for everyone.