Compiled by Craig Brown of


Japara will shed the heaviest of rain, but like any other non-waterproofed cloth, it can become

soaked, increasing the weight you're carrying.

It is possible to treat items made from japara so they are waterproof, using the method detailed

below. Like any untreated cotton cloth, japara fabric can mildew or even go mouldy if not looked

after correctly.

To protect your investment:

- Never leave a damp japara tarp folded or rolled for more than a day or two or it will mildew and rot

- Air in sunlight if possible and dry your tarp thoroughly before packing it away

- If your tarp is frozen stiff, thaw it before folding so as not to damage the fibres

- Reproof your tarp once a year using the proofing procedure detailed below

- Never use spray-on insect repellants or even spray-on deodorants under the tarp. These will degrade the natural waterproofing abilities of the japara material.




It is possible to mildew-proof your tarp prior to proofing. This is an all-natural method which not only greatly reduces the risk of your tarp mildewing or going mouldy, but it will dye the tarp to a certain degree, giving it a nice, rich and earthy brown colour.


Materials -

 500g fresh green or black wattle bark (only taken from one side of the tree), chopped into


 Fresh water


Tools -

 Large metal pot or tub

 10 litre Metal or plastic bucket

 heat source


Method -

- hand wash your japara tarp in warm water to remove any factory oils

- Bring water to the boil in the tub

- Add in the bark chips and boil for about three hours

- Pour off the liquid into your bucket

- Add more water to the tub and boil again for another three hours

- Pour off the liquid into your bucket

- Discard the bark chips and pour the contents of the bucket back into the tub

- Heat until the water is just hot enough to put your hands into, then remove the tub from the heat source

- Place the japara tarp in the tub, wetting it thoroughly and work the liquid in with your hands.

- When it has an even colour, wring out the tarp lightly and wash in fresh water under the tap

- Hang up to drip dry



Make sure the tarp is completely dry before reproofing

Materials - makes 1lt/1kg of proofing solution

 50g Beeswax - bunnings - $9 for 100g block - probably cheaper elsewhere

 50g Paraffin wax - paraffin wax - Coles, IGA or Woolworths - Box of household candles - $3 for six

 White Spirit - 1lt - Bunnings - $8


Tools -

 Old cheese grater

 Tin or metal saucepan of at least 1lt capacity - an old coffee tin will work well and you can

reseal it when you're done

 Large metal pan or metal bucket - big enough to fit the above

 Heat Source

 Wooden stirrer

 Wide paintbrush

 Old iron or a hair dryer


Method -

Best done on a bright sunny day

- Place large pan or metal bucket of water onto heat source - bring to the boil. Remove from heat source and move away from any open flame.

- Grate 50g of beeswax and 50g of paraffin wax into an old coffee tin

- Add 1lt of white spirit to coffee tin

- pitch the tarp so that it is taut, but not overstretched

- place the coffee tin into boiling/hot water in the metal bucket or pan to warm

- stir until all the wax shavings have dissolved.

- The wax/white spirit solution is then applied to the tarp with a wide paintbrush. Give the 

tarp one good initial coat, then apply extra solution to the seams and stitching, then give another even coat.

- Allow to dry.

- Once the tarp has dried, iron the tarp on a "cool" setting - or hit all over with a hair dryer to set the impregnated wax.

Reproofing is only necessary every 6-12 months or so with normal use. Japara is not waterproof in the same way as a nylon sheet is waterproofed. It relies on the tight weave of the cotton, the proofing solution above, and the angle at which the tarp is pitched to keep the rain off. If you touch the inside of the tarp it can drip from that area in heavy rain. To fix this, run a finger down the tarp onto the ground, where any drips can run harmlessly into the ground or under your groundsheet.

Before full re-proofing is necessary, you may find droplets of water congregating at the seams,

particularly if the tarp is pitched very taut. In this case, rubbing the thread and the seams with a

normal candle will tide you over until the next re-proofing.