MYOG Silnylon Bathtub Floor

Why am I making a MYOG bathtub floor?

The last couple of weeks I have  been reading up on the Wonderland Trail which encircles Mt Rainier. I am planning to hike the trail in 2012. I know, I know (trust me, I know) that is a long time away, but I am going ahead and reading up on it and trying to get my gear in order and start figuring out trip details. I am currently reading Bette Filley’s book Discovering the Wonders of the Wonderland Trail: Encircling Mount Rainier and you can check out my post on that here.

So, I have been going back and forth with my gear. (I have posted a gear list on Google docs and it can be viewed here.) Of course I am trying to figure out a shelter that meets my needs, with weight being an important need. I would really like a fully enclosed double walled shelter, but I have come to realize that I can make do with just a little less than this and be just fine. What I mean by this is that it doesn’t have to have a floor and netting (built in), but I would like it to be enclosed to keep the elements at bay at least.

No matter what I bring, I will also carry a ground sheet. If it is a tent, I will carry a ground sheet. If I carry a tarp, I will carry a ground sheet. Now if I carried a hammock…. anyway, I am not carrying a hammock… So, I am trying to get a ground sheet that is as light as I can get it while still offering protection, whether that may be from the wet ground or even just to keep my stuff cleaner… I would also like this to be a bathtub style floor so that water will not run up on my ground sheet.

I have looked at the GoLite Shangri-La 1 & 2. I quickly decided on the 1 simply because it looked like it provided ample room and it was lighter than the 2. The 1 weighs 1 pound 3 oz (or 19 oz) but the kicker is the floor (if I chose to go with the manufactured floor), it weighs in at 9 more oz. So, this is roughly a 28 oz shelter. There is lighter. However, the Shangri-La is sold as a “4 season” tent, so there ya go. Not so bad now…but still… there’s lighter.

I also considered the Black Diamond Beta Light. Now this is the same weight as the Shangri-La 1 (1 pound 3 oz) but this is actually a 2 person tent. This is not a bad idea. I like the fact that in both of these tents set up is not that hard (at least in reading), just stake the corners down and then crawl under and raise it with my trekking pole. The floor for the Beta Light is a little heavier though (since it is a 2 person tent, it requires a bigger floor) weighing in at 1 pound 4 oz. This would make this set-up weigh in at 2 pounds 7 oz. There is lighter…

Then there is the MLD SoloMid. This baby weighs in at 13 oz in silnylon! I could get it even lighter if I wanted ~ 11.9oz in Spintex EXP, and 9.3 oz in Cuben Fiber. The Spintex material does not stretch and is the same price as the silnylon, but said not to be quite as strong, whereas the Cuben Fiber does not stretch, and is very strong, it just cost an arm and a leg…

There is not a manufactured bathtub floor for the MLD SoloMid, but rather a Pyramid InnerNet with no-see-um mesh netting and a silnylon bathtub floor at 8.5 oz. However, by looking at the pictures, this looks like it will be cutting the inner length short a little which is something I am trying to get away from. I would like to keep the ends of my sleeping bag from hitting the walls. They do however sell a UL Ground Cloth though that weighs about 2.4 oz and can be cut down to reduce even this weight.

So, I am looking at making a bathtub floor. The video above shows what I have come up with so far. It was a spur of the moment thinking. I dug some material out and luckily had enough to scrape by. I sewed this one together just to see if the idea would work, and I am actually quite happy with it. There are some changes I would like to make. Such as when I hem the edges I will leave a channel along the long sides and feed a small rope through (such as the MLD LiteLine). By doing this I am hoping to actually pull the sides up a little more creating a truer bathtub effect.

One concern I am currently having is being able to tie it out so that it pulls up rather than straight out. I will need the tie outs elevated a little so that it raises the floor up rather than just out. If I were to use it with my OES tarp and I had to pitch the tarp to the ground I do not think that this would work. So, I may have to make altercations to which ever tarp / shelter I decide to go with.

Another option I considered is to use something rigid across the top and bottom and tying two strings on the ends and pulling it up to a central point. Doing this may make it easier to tie off inside the shelter as well as remove some of the strings that will be running to each corner.

I don’t know, like I said, I am trying to figure something out. Also, right now I am looking at using the silnylon, but also using a small piece of the MLD UL ground cloth under even this to keep water from seeping through if it is raining or wet. Also, I plan on getting the ZPacks CloudKilt, which can also be used as a smaller ground sheet once I am inside the shelter.

Anyway, these are my ideas. Anyone have any suggestions, tips, pictures of their own MYOG Bathtub Floor?

About Stick

My blog is essentially a record of my hiking career. Through it, I, and others, can see how I have evolved from a heavy weight backpacker, to a smarter, more efficient, lightweight backpacker. Through the use of video, still photos, and of course writing, one can see my progression, as well as check out some of the places I hike, and not to mention some cool, lightweight gear options. For me, my blog is a journal, but for others, I hope that it is an interactive learning tool to aid them in their own progression towards lightweight backpacking.
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7 Responses to MYOG Silnylon Bathtub Floor

  1. barefootsage says:

    Rather than cutting the corners, leave the fabric and fold it instead, sewing the flap against the top only. That way, you done have any seams to seal (or leak if you don’t get them sealed thoroughly!). It’s a little hard to picture, but I’ll try to explain it. If you get a sheet of paper and follow these instructions as I’m describing it on the paper, you’ll be able to see what I mean.

    First, measure in how ever many inches you want the depth of your bathtub to be (plus the seam allowance) at each corner. For this example I’ll use 4 inches, plus an additional inch for seam allowance since you said you want a channel for the string to go all the way through to add tension (you can just use an inch or two on the piece of paper). So you’ll have a total of 8 marks on your floor, two at each corner, ie five inches in along the short edge and another five inches in along the long edge on every corner.
    Next, kiss the two marks on one corner together and pinch it there with your thumb and finger. Note that the paper won’t have the suppleness of the silnylon, so if you fold the paper the length of it along the marks at the top and bottom and then along each side, it will make this easier to do. Then fold it out flat again and then kiss the marks together. You’ll see that you have a triangular flap sticking out. Where you would normally sew the fabric to make the bathtub and then cut off the excess triangle of fabric, instead use the line you would have sewn as a fold line and fold that triangle of fabric back along either edge of the bathtub side. Then sew the top edge of the triangle only along the top edge of the tub. With the only sewing being along that top hem line, you have no other perforations in the fabric. Once you’ve done that for all of the corners, you can hem along the top of your bathtub floor in any manner you wish.

    If you’re worried about water, dirt or debris getting caught up inside those folds, you can always slather a little seam sealer up in there so that the folds seal up against themselves, but I’ve never bothered, since the sewn edge is at the top. Because of that, the only opening is below the hem which allows stuff just to fall/flow out. To make sure it really drys out well after being soaked, I’ll wrap a cloth around my finger and just swab that area out and then hang it out for the whole thing to fully dry in the sun before putting it away between trips. Doing that, I’ve never had any problems with it.

    Lastly, I wouldn’t go to the trouble of running a line all the way through to provide enough tension to keep the edges up. If you pull the corner lines taut enough it stays up just fine, assuming your measurements are exact so that there’s no excess play in the fabric. I would also make your floor wider and longer than yours is in your video to provide more clearance around all sides of your sleeping arrangement. This is so that your sleeping bag or part of your body doesn’t press down on any of the sides while you’re sleeping, in which case even a taut line won’t be enough to overcome the weight of your bag and certain of one of your limbs! But that would be true even if you had the line going all the way through as well. If the floor is wide and long enough, that won’t be a problem. Look at some of Henry Shire’s tarp tent set up videos and you’ll see how he uses this method on most of his tarptents to great effect. Many of the walls on his tarptents are NOT vertical to allow for any condensation that drips down to fall harmlessly through mesh to the ground rather than drip down the mesh onto the floor. So there’s nothing to hold the long edges of the bathtub floors up but the taut tension of the corner strings that are attached like yours is to the corners of your tarp.

    I see you posted this over a year ago, so maybe you’ve moved on from this project, but I thought I’d pass it on to you anyway. Hope you did hike the Wonderland Trail and really enjoyed it!


    • Stick says:


      Wow…thanks for the highly detailed reply! However, as you guessed it at the end of the reply, I have moved away from this…I actually cut up the “floor” to make some other things from it…but, I am glad that you posted it. Maybe one day I will make another one of these per your instructions and see how it works out!

      Also, I have not done the WT yet, however, myself and a few others are planning to do it next September! So, I am definitely looking forward to that!

      Thanks again for commenting!



  2. Joe Lovegren says:

    Your floor looks good. Thanks for sharing. I have no ideas to contribute. I am looking to build a bathtub floor for my golite utopia 1 which I have never used yet but plan to use on a Mt. Whitney hike soon. If you could show your pattern ideas I would really like to benefit from your experience. Good luck. I am in Manhattan Beach, California.


    • Stick says:


      Thanks for the comment. As for that floor in the video, I actually cut it up a while back and used the sil for something else. I need to order a few more yards to experiment with some more.

      I still like that idea, but the strings could be a bit of a bother. I am thinking of making one that has small sleeves in each corner in which I insert a small rod and then have a short guyline to stake each corner down. The small rods would pull tension along the edges and it would stay pitched as a bathtub floor. Plus I wouldn’t have to worry about all the long guylines ran out to my tarp edges.

      Although, my goal of this was to be as light as possible. I plan to get a solo shelter eventually so I can drop the huge tarp, but not sure what I plan on getting. So, I will have to see what I decide on.

      As far as other designs, I just surf the web and come across some stuff that I like and then if I feel like I can reproduce that myself I will give it a go…

      I would say that with the Utopia 1 it shouldn’t be too hard to make a floor since it will always be pitched the same way. If you had some way of cutting a floor to fit inside there and then attaching it at the 4 corners it should be fine. If you could get a hold of some cuben fiber that would make a great floor, and lightweight.

      Good luck with your experiment, and on your hike!



  3. Chris Roane says:

    Awesome idea for the bathtub floor! I’m going to do some testing of my own to do something similar. I want to make a bathtub floor in a 10×10 pyramid tarp.

    I really like the string idea. I am going to do some testing when I receive my silnylon to see if that idea will work. Let me know if you have any other ideas.


  4. Pingback: Six Moon Designs Lunar Duo Arrives… | Stick's Blog

  5. Dave Sailer says:

    Rainier: If you like high, open country, I recommend passing by Glacier Basin Camp and then going up (steeply) to Burroughs Mountain Trail.

    I did the trip twice, lastly just after the trail was reopened after severe flood damage was repaired enough to make it possible:

    Just a thought — if you can do stealth camping, there are lots of nice places outside the designated campgrounds. Not legal, of course…


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