Viajar a pie

"Viajar a pie" is Spanish for "Travelling on foot"

Category: DIY

TrailStar floor, the making

A groundsheet is a relatively simple project. Getting the geometry right and sewing good quality seams is not as critical as with a tarp because there’ll be no tension applied and it won’t need to stand to any wind force. Just get the dimensions about right and sew away.

DIY TrailStar floor

Fabric

I used 2.3 oz/sq yd, 70 denier silnylon. It’s an old batch of fabric I got in the early days of ultralight when 30 denier silnylon was still watched with caution. Back then I’d see a place for this heavier and thicker silnylon, particularly for groundsheets. It’s well known that 30 denier silnylon is not that waterproof when under pressure as it happens when you sit down or kneel with saturated ground on the other side.

I had run out of 30 denier silnylon and didn’t have time to order a new batch so decided to put the 70 denier to use. I had never used it so far, It’s the first item I sew out of it. I’ll see how it performs.

Raw fabric

The 70 denier silnylon feels thicker and sturdier than common 30 denier. It’s just as slick.

Measuring & Cutting

Measuring is always tricky for the DIY at home folk. It takes me some furniture removal to find real state but I found the perfect synergy by using said furniture as impromptu straight edge.

Find a long straight edge

The 70 denier silnylon came in a roll about 1.60 m wide. For this project, I cut two lengths, 190 cm long each that I later cut farther to shape, then joined alongside.

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Sewing

Silnylon is very slippery, this makes it awkward to sew. My strategy has always been to use lots of pins. It’s tedious but every time I’ve tried using less or no pins, I’ve regretted it.

Lots of pins

This time I made quite a floppy job at sewing. My flat seams turned out a bit bulgy at times. Good seams may be critical for a fly but shouldn’t matter for a groundsheet.

The actual star in this story

Bathtub

The bathtub has no structure, it’s implemented by just folding inwards and sewing a short, vertical seam at every corner. It needs vertical support to stand up. The idea is to add a short line to the provided loop and hang from the matching attachment point in the TrailStar.

Bathtub wall

Specs summary

Fabric2 oz/sq yd, 70 denier Silnylon
Fabric length needed3.80 m
Work Time10 hours
Max Length1.66 m
Max Width2.54 m
Final Weight310 gr

 

Final weight is for the groundsheet alone, no lines or stakes considered.

TrailStar Floor, background and design

Floor for the TrailStar

I’ve been paring the TrailStar with generic ground cloths that I’d been using with other tarps / floor-less shelter systems over the years. This scheme works well and it’s very adaptable:

  • You can sleep on the back area or on either one of the sides.
  • You can bring along ground clothing worthy of as much ground area as you want to meet the expected conditions.
  • You can use a bivy bag or a net shelter as part of your ground clothing system.

I’ve used such systems for many years while enjoying all the advantages listed. I’ve found this works very well for me when the ground itself is mostly valid as part of the sheltered, living area, where “valid” means that it’s dry and reasonably clean. I say “mostly” so the idea is not ruled out by the occasional wet/odd campsite.

At the same time, I’ve realized over the years how much I like to have a seamless ground cloth area. This is particularly true in consistently wet conditions or ground that’s somehow odd to use as it is: bumpy Scottish moorland grass, Icelandic fine gravel or Mordor swamps. But not only: as much as I appreciate the simplicity, openness and sense of connection with the land that a tarp shelter system provides, I’ve also come to realize that I like my seamless ground cloth area. It probably has a psychological as much as a physical value.

The TrailStar is a bit of a tricky case for seamless ground-clothing because it is a variable geometry shelter where the footprint is one of the variables. You can use an equally variable geometry footprint (too complex for little gain) or one big enough for only the smallest print configuration. In any case, as soon as the ground cloth is wide area and has a fixed fit within the TrailStar, you’re bound to lose part of the flexibility this shelter system allows.

Design

I decided to go with the following design features:

  • Fixed-location floor.
  • Footprint small enough to fit inside the narrowest TrailStar setup plus a drip & splash buffer.
  • A sleep area plus an overflow area where I can move around: sit outside of the sleeping bag, change cloths, leave stuff…

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The splash buffer must be big enough to account for the big door size. This leaves a huge (sort of) vestibule space at the front that’s very useful for all things vestibules are useful for.

Computer Unassisted Design

This design is meant for sleeping at the back of the TrailStar, behind the vertical support, opposite the entrance. There is a floored area on the other, door side of the supporting pole. This floored strip is key to my comfort. Without it I tend to feel constricted by the space in the sleeping area limited to fit the sleeping bag and little else. In the non-sleeping area I can sit down comfortably just where the TrailStar offers more vertical space and I can sit down with my feet off the ground cloth but still under cover, which is very useful if you don’t want to take off your shoes yet. It is also useful as a “dirty” staying area where I can sit down with wet/muddy clothing still on, knowing that my mat and sleeping bag will always sit somewhere else. It really helps operations when changing into dry, clean clothes.

Bathtub

A bathtub is a common feature for shelter floors. I very hardly ever use it and prefer to rely exclusively on campsite location and a splash buffer. I take the bathtub as a non-essential, yet nice to have feature that offers one last resource if everything else fails.

I’ve implemented a bathtub for this TrailStar floor. It is very minimal at just 7 cm high. It needs a set of 5 lengths of cord to hang each corner from the TrailStar provided ridge inner side attachment points.

7 cm, massive wall

Such a short wall height is good for avoiding running water overflowing the floor and little else.

Anchoring

The floor has 5 anchor points, one per corner, each provided with a webbing loop. They can be staked down or provided with cord to reach out to the TrailStar own stakes. Such lines would be reasonably short for the 3 anchor points at the back, rather long for the 2 front ones.

Staked down corner

Credits

I took the measures from the similar product by Oookworks. I could have taken measures myself and would have probably got to the same result but saved me this step by taking from the work of others.

I actually tried buying from Oookworks but lead times would not meet an upcoming trip so I decided to go DIY. I still expect to buy from them if I like the result and I see the convenience of a different fabric I don’t have easy access to.

The sewing machine and the beauty of basic DIY

This is not about outdoor stuff DIY on a grand scale but more about the great power of a small thing, be it a sewing machine or the skill and dedication to sew manually. Works the same.

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