Improvised Flysheet/rain-cover for Camping

Having just planned a route totally off the beaten track to northern Peru, I needed to get a tent for those unpredictable arrivals where having a tent provides the accommodation - in addition to saving money of course. Yes, I’d left a tent back in South Africa to save space and then also thinking/hoping (assuming!?!) that I wouldn’t need it. Trying to get a 2nd hand tent turned into a bit of a mission with a few empty promises of cheap and/or 2nd tents. When a 2nd hand one did turn up, the guy wanted a $100 for it - that was not a bad price for it plus it was good quality with enough space for 3 people and packs, the only problem was that I only had $120 (my available balance for travel) in total. Sadly I had to decline as there simply weren’t any alternatives we could work out. This is the afternoon before I was to head off up north from Huaraz in the Ancash Province.

The same evening the guy of the tent told me that a friend had a tent that he was willing to sell for c.$35 (100 soles) and would bring it around in the morning so I can have a look at it. This confirmed my decision to stay an extra night to sort some things out. I wasn’t overly excited as I knew this offer could also crash or disappear into thin air.

Today (the next day) I was doing some final checking maps etc when chatting to one of the girls at the hostel  (Akilpo Hostal) about the tent. She then mentions she has a really cheap tent she bought in Nicaragua months ago and was looking at getting rid of it - she’d paid $20 for it! I was all ears immediately and she got the tent to let me have a look. It was smaller for sure and not one of the top outdoor brands but absolutely nothing wrong with it. There wasn’t a flysheet/rain-cover but I thought that I could just remedy that with a cheap plastic sheet bought locally. Immediately agreeing that I’d take it, (my enthusiasm probably showed too!) and she said I could have it for $15 (I then paid 40 soles). My next mission was to get a plastic sheet at a hardware store, starting with the one where I’d been yesterday buying some rope that could be used to tie my backpack onto a local bus I might be travelling with.

The guy, at the hardware store - Demetrio, was really helpful and chose the plastic sheeting. It wasn’t the most expensive either he recommended and after agreeing on 2x2m, he cut it for me. I then chose some rope/line that was roughly the thickness of good shoelaces and asked for 4m. While he was measuring it out he asks whether I don’t want to take 7m as that would be 2 soles (2.76 soles = $1); sure, why not! At this stage I still hadn’t asked the price of the 2x2m plastic sheet yet.

Anyway, with much chatting about where I’m from and where I plan on going etc, I asked how much - wait for it! 6 soles! Exactly $2.16!! Asking about whether he had some rings to make eyelets, he suggested I just scrunch the corners and tie the lines to the corners when tying down the sheet. Great, I had gaffer/duct tape (something everybody should always have in their packs) so that would be easy to make “proper” ties. With a lot of good wishes and smiles, I said Adios to Demetrio who then gave me his card. Anybody needing something from a hardware store, be sure to look Demetrio up and say
Marcell from South Africa referred you!

Tie line tight & secure around taped section.

Back at the hostel I sat down with the sheet, rope, gaffer/duct tape and Leatherman. Scrunching a corner, then taped it with half-width short stretch of tape. I divided the rope into 4 lengths (about 1.2m each) and “sealed” the ends by burning them. Tying the one end over the taped piece of sheet, then took another piece of half-width tape and wrapped around the knot, securing the rope to that corner. I gave it a really hard tug testing the strength and it wasn’t going anywhere unless I’m being lashed by gale force winds of course. One obviously has to be sensible with choosing a campsite where there’s at least some form of protection - if available.

Finishing all 4 corners I was well chuffed with my homemade flysheet; my complete tent and flysheet had cost me all of $17!! I wouldn’t be able to do alpine camping but hey, that’s not on the cards for now anyway.

Tomorrow morning (15 July) I’m off on the road to the southern Ecuador via the road less travelled; it won’t be easy always but almost certainly will provide some amazing experiences, places and people!


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