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.
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.
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?
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.
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.