Shade structure

Ideas, advice, tips, and tricks regarding shelter, shade, tents, and camping. Yes, this includes RV's too.
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Shade structure

Post by Luxnocte » Wed Aug 13, 2008 6:29 am

I'm a newbie. REALLY excited about coming out for my first time, but getting a little daunted as it comes down to crunch time and there's SO much to prepare for.

I've heard that it's best to have shade over your tents, but that the wind on the playa is absolutely killer. We have rebar to hold down the tents, and canvas (a painting drop-cloth from Home Depot) for shading, but I'm somewhat at a loss as far as how to prop up the canvas sturdily.

How are you experienced burners shading yourselves?

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Post by phil » Wed Aug 13, 2008 9:16 am

Go to
and use your browser to search for
and see if any of those links give you any help.

Also search this section of ePlaya -- it's crawling with threads on shade.

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Post by Intubater69 » Wed Aug 13, 2008 3:27 pm

I get to drive the ambulance how fast?!!


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shade covers

Post by [email protected] » Fri Aug 15, 2008 8:51 am

My camp uses shade cloth aka wind cloth aka greenhouse cloth, not tarps. It is a woven mesh of plastic. You can buy it at Home Depot and elsewhere. It lets some wind through so it doesn't exert quite as much force on whatever structure you end up using to keep it above your tent. It captures a lot of dust, and will give a lot of it back to you when you get home. ;-)

You can support your shade structure in almost any way that keeps it above your tent and doesn't blow away or injure people. I've seen lots of clever ideas.

Here's a few simple ideas.

Park a tall vehicle on each side of your tent. Tie a rope as high on the vehicles as possible. Put the tarp/shade cloth over the rope. Secure all four corners to the ground. The cars need to be far enough apart so you have access to your tent. Orient the cars so one blocks the previailing wind. Put gear/fliptop boxes/something on ground on the windward side of that car, to keep wind and dust from blowing under the car. Now you have a shade cloth and some wind protection too.

You can grommet wind cloth. Most tarps come pre-grommeted.

My camp uses 7-8 foot steel poles (dome struts made from 1" EMT) that we duct tape securely to rebar pounded into the ground to make vertical supports. We use bungie balls to attach the wind cloth to the vertical poles using grommets in the wind cloth and the bolt holes at the end of the dome struts. We tie the corners and sides of the wind cloth to the ground using rebar stakes. All our rebar is 2' lengths of 5/8" rebar.

You could use the above approach with two 2x4s. Drill a 1" hole a few inches from the end of each, and cut them to about 7 feet. Use rebar to secure the bottoms where you want them. String a rope between them and tie each one to the ground in three directions (120 degrees apart) to prevent them from shifting in any direction. Hang the cloth over the rope that goes between them and secure the ends to the ground as described above. You'd end up with a triangular "peaked" shade structure.

If you bring 4 such 2x4s and enough rope and rebar, you could build two of them and have a rectangular, flat roof over multiple tents. I think you could get away with one pair of 2x4s every 10 feet and hang shade cloth under them. You could use this technique to make a shade structure long enough for lots of tents, a table and chairs, etc.

Be sure to mark your guy lines (lines holding poles or shade material) with highly visible ribbons (you can buy cheap bright ribbon material at Home Depot). Mark each rope at eye level and again half way to the ground. You can't see these ropes at night and people run into them on bikes with potentially dangerous results and injuries. Cover all rebar with coke bottles, or wrap with "fun noodles" and top with rebar toppers (available at Home Depot or other hardware stores) to prevent puncture injuries should someone fall on one. Rebar injuries are frighteningly common at Burning Man.

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Post by Bounce530 » Fri Aug 15, 2008 4:17 pm

Whats a good 'rule of thumb' for how far out the guy wires should be? Half the distance as the pole is tall, or equal distance?
(tryed the tribe links, but they are down for maint, and I don't want to play connect4)

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Post by EB » Fri Aug 15, 2008 4:28 pm

wouldn't the strongest "shape" for a guyed post and its wires be a Right Isosceles Triangle? (jebus, I had to look that one up...)

Say the pole is 8", wouldn't the strongest point to guy it be 8" feet out, thus creating a 90 and two 45 degree angles? The guy line, in this case, would be 11" ("A" squared plus "B" squared = "C" squared)
Irony. You're soaking in it.

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angle for guy wires

Post by [email protected] » Fri Aug 15, 2008 5:55 pm

I'd say that the best angle for the rope is so that the rope is perpendicular to the stake. If you pound the stake in at 45 degrees to the ground then the rope would be 45 to the ground. But, I think it would be better to pound the stake in 30 degrees to the ground, so you'd want a 30/60/90 triangle in that case. This makes for longer guy lines. As long as the rope isn't too stretchy this is fine, but it is also more hazardous from a "running into things in the middle of the night" perspective.

When I referred to 120 degrees in my posting, I had meant as seen from the top. So, three guy lines keep the pole upright.

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Post by unjonharley » Fri Aug 15, 2008 6:44 pm

You guy drive me around the corner..

A few years ago I went from rebar to plastic stakes.. At the same time from rope to 1/4 inch line..

I just put up and took down the shelter for this year..

It will be 6X8 feet.. the roof is laced on with string.. The anchor lines 1/4inch lines to plastic stakes.. Then a reflective tarp over the whole thing from ground to ground.. The tarp will be "nailed' to the playa..

ohh and the above roof will be lined with a wool blanket..

Also got rid of the 3 pound hammer for plastic one..

Should take about 15 mn. to build..

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