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Anupama Pradeep

How To Sleep Comfortably Under A tarp

Camping can be fun and the best way to enjoy the beauty of nature. There are many campers or hikers who enjoy camping using a tent which they can set up very easily. Nevertheless, tents are bulky and heavy for carrying while being on a trail.

In order to make your outdoor adventure less difficult, a ​camping tarp shelter can be used. Tarps are light in weight and are easy to build shelter, thus making your trails a comfortable one. They are the only inexpensive method in which you can build up your shelter. Tarps are the best way to keep you and the gears dry. If your tent or any of your major gears get wet, your trip will be miserable.

This is especially helpful if it is raining since the campers who are not having at least one tarp in their hands need to stay within the zipped up tents itself.

Having a good tarp is like having a survival bag which will keep you protected from the bad weather by providing a shelter. Even if nothing else works out, the tarps will help you to gather the water, cover up your supplies along with providing an excellent shelter. Besides, upgrading your basic tarp will help to keep your head dry and will also save heat and helps you to stay safe and comfortable. 


Making use of a polyethylene tarp will take you long way. It is durable, waterproof, light in weight and draft-proof as well. They are available in wide ranges of color and sizes and for sure they won’t make a hole in your wallet.

Setting up a tarp shelter is really easy and you can find out dozens of different techniques and patterns for constructing the right shelter with just a single tarp.

Things to Consider Before Setting up a Camp Tarp

There are many things which you should consider prior to setting up a camping tarp. The locations of the shelter are really important and think before setting it up. Another important thing to be noted is regarding the direction of the wind flow or else it is sure that your shelter will sail away.  

For you to sleep under the tarp comfortably, the ground which you are choosing must be good enough. Remember that the pointy rocks will make you stay awake.

The next factor to be noted is with the slope of the ground which you are opting for setting the tarp. It should have a slight slope for the water to runoff. If there is no slight slope on the ground, then you need to dig trenches around the shelter for the drainage.

Fix the size of the shelter according to your needs. Last but the most important thing is to check the weather and pick a model which is stable and won’t break up if snow or rains are expected.

If you need more number of tarps, then tie it independently so that even if one comes down, the remaining will stay in place. Every tarp should have all the four corners which are tied to some solid objects like trees or anything. Ensure that the tarp for camping is overlapped horizontally so that it will protect you from the rain.

 Keep in mind that you should never tie two single tarps together as this may exert much amount of stress on to the tarps during the time of storms and wind. Make sure that each tarp is having four anchor ropes which will be tied to the solid object or some solid ground spike.

If you don’t find any solid objects or trees in the area where you are planning to fix the tarp for camping, then this is the time which you should think of getting poles. First set the tarp without poles and then if possible, use the poles for enhancing them as this may make sure that the tarps could support them if in case something happens to the poles and vice versa.

Gears Required For Setting up a Tarp

  1. Tarp
  2. Guy Ropes
  3. Stakes
  4. Tree branches or hiking poles
  5. Plans for configuring tarp shelter

A Few Top Tarp Shelter Designs:

The A Frame Tarp Shelter

The A Frame Ta​rp Shelter

The Wind Shed Tarp Shelter

                                                                  Wind Shed Tarp Shelter

The Tube Tent Tarp Shelter

 Tube Tent Tarp Shelter

The Sunshade Tarp Shelter


The Sunshade Tarp Shelter

The Mushroom Fly Tarp Shelter

 Mushroom Fly Tarp Shelter

The Dining Fly Tarp Shelter


The Dining Fly Tarp Shelter

The Cornet Tarp Shelter

 Cornet Tarp Shelter

  • The Fold-Over Wind Shed tarp shelter
  • The Diamond fly tarp shelter
  • The Arrowhead shelter
  • The Half box tarp shelter
  • The Barn stall tarp shelter
  • The Square arch tarp shelter
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    The Shade sail tarp shelter

Camping Tarps – The Practical Side or Uses

  • If the ground chosen for pitching your tent is wet and muddy, then you can fix the tarp on top of it as an added groundsheet. Ensure that the entire tarp is fixed within the tent. In this case, the bottom portion of the tent will be nice and dry.
  • It helps to provide you with the best shelter to eat and cook during rain. Keep in mind that you should cook outside your tent and not inside. A tarp will help you to eat when you are wet.
  • This is the impromptu shelter which can be pitched in the rain and enables to get the gear into the tent and stay dry.
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    Enjoy the campfire when it is even wet. You can make use of the windbreaks and tarps for trapping more heat.

How to Make a Tarp Tent?

There are many ways in which you can set up a tarp. Location of the trees or any solid objects, the direction of the wind and the use of the tarp are the factors which influence the shape of the tarp. However, a basic shelter can be well built using a tarp, two tent poles which are straight, pegs and ropes.

  • Just run a line in between the two poles while someone is holding the poles. The additional line will be taken and then pegged right on to the ground in order to hold the poles correctly. This is termed as the rigid line.
  • Run other lines from every poles and peg on the ground. This will be the washing line which you need. The poles will be then freely fixed by these two poles along with the line which is connecting the poles.
  • Now pull the cloth tarp over the line.
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    The next step is to run the lines from every four corners of the tarp and peg it into the ground.
Tarp camping

It is now ready for the tarp to alter the apex of the shelter. For instance, you need to set more tarp on the back side and less at the front side of the shelter. The front side can be positioned nearby the fire so that we can let the smoke out.

 The apex will help to run-off rain. You may also place the windbreaks just about the shelter for adding extra protection and if you are not having any chairs, then out a tarp on the ground and then you can sit on it.

The next important factor which you should think about is about what to do if the rain ours heavily. Avoid areas where there are high chances for the rain to build up in the tarp. Also maintain it tight so that there won’t be any bulges.

Pros of Using a Tarp

  • The tarps are light in weight and are compact as well. For a single person, the tarp should be of the size 7′ x 10′ or 8′ x 10′. On the other hand, if there are multiple persons included in the trip, then you will need at least 10’ x 12’ size tarp. However, larger tarps than this model will be lighter and compact when compared with a tent.
  • It is highly versatile. There are many survival usages of the tarp like collecting the rainwater to building up animal traps. When you have limitations in carrying many gears in the survival bag while trekking, versatility really matters.
  • It is really affordable. Materials for the tarps such as visqueen and Tyvek are really low cost and sometimes you can even get it from some contractors for free.
  • Get it above the ground. If you are well aware of what you are doing, then string the camp tarp on a hammock. This will help to safeguard from the cold ground and also from the pesky critters.
  • Make a campfire. Tents are like enclosed structures and hence you cannot build fire even near  the door. On the other hand, in front of the tarp, you can even make a campfire for getting more warmth.
  • When rigged, the shelter will reflect the heat which is got the fire for keeping you warm.

Cons of Using a Tarp

  • There is no insulating floor. If the tarp is big enough, then try to pick a shelter design such that the tarp will cover the ground. However with this setup, the body will be on the ground itself and hence if the floor is wet, you can feel the wetness too.
  • There are high chances for the bugs to crawl into during night hours.
  • There will be a higher learning curve. Do not completely rely on the tarp as the survival shelter unless and until you have tried it out for a number of times. Checking the survival shelter designs online is one of the best choices but getting into the wilderness and then trying it out is entirely different, especially if it is a cold and rainy day.

Things to Avoid While Building a Tarp Shelter

  • Should never build the shelter on any type of burrows or on top of an ant nest.
  • Don’t ever set up the tarp under a dead tree or near to it.
  • Avoid attaching tarp lines to any tall trees or on a tree standing alone.

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    Choose the tree which is short among the tall ones
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    Don’t set up the shelter under the high tide mark of any shoreline
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    Don’t build it near a river bank
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    Avoid constructing the tarp over a hill or ridge

Foot Note!!!

Building up a tarp shelter is not at all a rocket science. With some practice, anyone can make one. Learning the different shelter patterns will be useful to you while being in an emergency preparedness situation. If you are in search for a tarp which is explicitly made for the back country, then Aqua Quest Safari and Sanctuary Sil Tarp models are the best-rated ones.

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advaenture, camping, rope, shelter, stakes, tarp, tent, top 10 review

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