Bilmo BushGear 3.5x3.5 Canvas Tarp

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Chiseller

Bushcrafter through and through
Oct 5, 2011
6,176
2
West Riding
evening Folks , this is my first impressions that will after enough use will become a review ?

firstly i have no affiliation with Bilmo Bushgear but i have shared a fire or two in the past with the good man himself.

a couple of years back i met Bilmo at Giants Seat woods. He was using a tarp that he had made himself that i thought was impressive. At the time we (Swmbo & I ) were becoming more familiar with hammocking and didnt pay as much attention to it as i wish i had back then.

moving forward....i recently saw a thread featuring a canvas tarp he had made and the fact he was now making them to order in various sizes.

i started to ponder....id recently had my Warbonnet Superfly and other kit wrecked by rodents. I was and still am struggling to find someone to repair that tarp (suggestions appreciated ) and thought of even saving to buy another.

all of a sudden the planets seemed to align and my thoughts took me back to my childhood.....Making dens etc. when we were kids , one of the best and longest surviving was based around an old canvas trailer tarp....happy days. Added to these thoughts were the fact that i had recently aquired a vintage safari bed. I love the feel of the canvas...the smell and the history....

so my decision was easy....go back to the ground first most but have the ability to still use for hammocking. that decision was. ...Bilmo BushGear tarp.

contacting Ian was straight forward, i could either pm him here or on a social media messeger...which i chose as it was in realtime and i didnt know we had a forum chat facility on BCUK via tapatalk.

I showed him one of his pictures id seen and then discussed colour , sizes and some minor modifications that i would have liked. Turn around time was also discussed as i had some backwoods time planned and knew the tarp would help make the time backwoods more comfortable.

Ian kept me well informed every step of the way and progress was exactly as he'd forcast.

✠ CONTINUATION POINT. ✠

True to his word , the tarp was finished on time. We arranged collection and off i went. It had been a long day with a longer day ahead . I was met with great hospitality and we chewed the fat for a short while before i was ready for the off. Ian showed me a couple of diagrams he had that would give me a quick start to pitching one of the ways i wasn't familiar with.

Jumping forward 19 hours Swmbo & I found our way into the the woods in Scotland. It was roughly 4 AM in the morning. Tired but enthusiastic , the woods graciously offered us a great spot to lay camp.

with a simple single ridgeline i just created a basic ridge tent shape to cover our canine companion and gear for the night....nowt fancy , just functional. It was the first time I'd had the tarp from the bag and it gave a good sense of security.
i started with a long ridgeline , and attached the tarp via some of the extra tie outs id requested. i did this with short prussics and small crabs. Next i decided how much underskirt i fancied at the back edge. Again thanks to ample tie-outs this worked out well. i pegged out the back using Delta Ground Anchors. .Bilmo's choice of webbing and the length of the loops worked very well with these. a few lines placed here and there...a few more pegs and it was set.

The weight of Canvas that Bilmo uses felt spot on for the style of pitch id chosen and gave me a sense of security and satisfaction. I rolled out some old military canvas for the floor , put a blanket down for the dog , squatted some gear under and was very happy with the outcome . Especially as id managed it by lamp light. Just the tent to throw up and we could settle for the night , content that the dog would be snug and dry along with our gear.

On waking later the next day after being woken by Col & Jasons arrival greeting , I was more than happy with the nights acheivment and comfort for the dog.



I dismantled the shelter and began creating a living shelter for us to relax in and cook.

Starting with a long ridgeline , I attached the tarp via some of the extra tie outs id requested. i did this with short prussics and small crabs. Next i decided how much underskirt i fancied at the back edge. Again thanks to ample tie-outs this worked out well. i pegged out the back using Delta Ground Anchors. .Bilmo's choice of webbing and the length of the loops worked very well with these. a few lines placed here and there...a few more pegs and it was set.

The weight of Canvas that Bilmo uses felt spot on for the style of pitch id chosen and gave me a sense of security and satisfaction. I rolled out some old military canvas for the floor , put a blanket down for the dog , squatted some gear under and was very happy with the outcome
We soon lit our Ezy-Stove and woodgas underneath our canvas roof , safe in the knowledge that our lit stoves were safe from any rain that may fall and again that should there be any rising embers , they would not trouble our tarp.....got to love canvas.....

After having a brew and cooking a very late breakfast , the feeling of happiness continued to grow. To be backwoods again and have the security of a solid built Tarp was rejuvenating. ...an elixir in its own right.

The tarp performed very well over the next 4 days and we wished we'd brought different gear that would have meant we could have slept under it aswell as relaxing.

I became lost in dreamy thoughts a few times during the days and nights sitting under the shelter. Happy happy happy.

It wasn't untill it became time to take down the tarp , did i pay attention to the detail of construction. You can see that IMHO a lot of thought and work goes into the construction. The guys feel and look reliable , the stress points look and feel stress free. The number of guys are more than ample for dozens of different set ups , either through choice or circumstance. I chose extra guys firstly for my choice of hammocking tarp set up. much like my beloved superfly. I now know that these will favour many a different set up too.

CONCLUSION for first experience.....

Build quality is excellent, BUT bear in mind these are not mass produced factory made items. Some stitching may be a little wonky here and there, but not enough to be a concern as far as structural soundness.
Remember that Canvas is not an easy material to stitch and the lengths involved are damn long.
The chosen weight of fabric is again IMHO perfect. Not too heavy , not too light.

What would i change ? My Job and lifestyle. Why ? So that i could have afforded the 4m X 4m and requested double or triple stitched seams and occasional bar tacks. Why ? Even though they dont need to be.....I'd like to see and feel them. Its just me. from my first triple stitched boots to my first triple stitched garments. Triple stitching just SCREAMS OUT.....I'M SOLID AND WILL BE HERE FOR A VERY VERY LONG TIME.
I have no doubt that with or with out triple stitching and what i call bar tacks , the Bilmo Bushgear Tarps will still be here after regular use for A VERY LONG TIME.

Would i recommend one.....Oh Hell Yeah ....Git-R-Dun

I will leave it at that for now and will keep adding to this initial impression as the use continues.

i would like to say a BIG THANK YOU to Ian for a very pleasant and painless purchase. I wish him the very best with the BILMO BUSHGEAR RANGE of tarps , bed rolls , bags and any future additions.

Thank you Ian
















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Last edited:

Miyagi

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Aug 6, 2008
2,298
0
South Queensferry
A good read, thanks. :D

I love canvas stuff - bomb proof.

Is that a South African M83 pack you have there?


Liam
 

Chiseller

Bushcrafter through and through
Oct 5, 2011
6,176
2
West Riding
had a weekend under it at Brockwell wood with Col an the wee man this weekend. kept me dry and toasty.....plenty of heavy rain and wind wasnt a problem.....the fire was just less than a yard from the roof....







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DocG

Full Member
Dec 20, 2013
757
65
Moray
Great pics - thanks for posting. I'm itching for a bit of time off so I can go out for a night.

At present I use nylon tarps. I'm looking at a Bilmo tarp as there's been such positive feedback on the BCUK site. I'm thinking about the newly advertised poly cotton ones as I'll be carrying them for long distances. I like the idea of being able to have a fire close by without risking my shelter. BUT if people think canvas is more suited to fires than polycotton, I'm all ears.

Your tarp is 3.5 x3.5. Do you find that extra canvas compared with the 3x3 tarp worth it? I'm usually on my own, but SWMBO or my daughter come out from time to time. I've found my DD 3x3 adequate so I'm a bit wary of adding "flap area" and weight, but would value your input when you've a minute - I don't want to buy then wish I'd spent a bit more.

All the best.
 

Chiseller

Bushcrafter through and through
Oct 5, 2011
6,176
2
West Riding
DocG ....the 3.5 suits me better as im no stranger to tarping and find a 3 m is great for solo and a couple in mild weather. Weight wasnt a consideration for me. More comfort and configurations was my goal. If youve read through my first post ,you'll see i wished i could have afforded a 4×4 tarp.

3x3 = 9m cover....3.5 x 3.5 = 12.25m cover....so yes that .5 makes a big difference. ..one day i may sell mine at a loss to have that 4x4 for a massive 16m coverage. I'll show mine in differant set ups as soon as i get time. (weekend) .

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DocG

Full Member
Dec 20, 2013
757
65
Moray
Thanks very much for your feedback. I appreciate the comments about size. I have a couple of 3x3 DD tarps that I've used for a couple of years now. I fancy a canvas / polycotton one to allow me to have the fire nearer without the pretty patterns of holes appearing above me :(.

I regularly carry a tarp instead of a tent, so weight is an issue for me. Do you have any thoughts about polycotton over canvas? I'm looking at Bilmo's latest offerings and wondering. As I wrote before, I'm trying to avoid paying twice by making a mistake with size and material - both issues to me.

I'll look forward to your weekend posts, if you have time.

All the best.
 

Johnnyboy1971

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Dec 24, 2010
4,155
25
49
Yorkshire
I use a 4.25x 4.25 polycotton and any extra material can be tied back if needed. Not had any issues with a fire been close to it with no holes or scorch marks. Given the cost i would rather go with the Bilmo full canvas tarp just because the little extra weight Would make it feel more robust.

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John Fenna

Lifetime Member & Maker
Oct 7, 2006
21,991
1,493
63
Pembrokeshire
After long experimentation I have found 4x3 to be my ideal size and had Bilmo make a full canvas one that size. I have also made one 4x3 out of 100% cotton Down Proof Cambric (and made a shirt of the same as well) and this tarp has stood up to a lot while weighing very little. I am reserving the Bilmo tarp for rough winter or longer term camps as the extra weight of canvas does give a sense of security :)
 

DocG

Full Member
Dec 20, 2013
757
65
Moray
Thanks to the last two contributors - great info.

John, the idea of lighter cotton appeals so I'll look into it. Do you have a source, please?

Sorry this reply is delayed - pressure of work & fire service course = no play time recently.

All the best.
 

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