Choosing Camping Tarps

Tarp diversity and numbers on the market are increasing and also lightweight backpackers are most likely to choose one.

In short, camping tarp’s are large pieces of high tech waterproof cloth, that provide good protection from wind and rain after properly staked and pitched with hiking poles, cords or sticks.

Old fashioned, basic shelter that works

The camping tarp is the lightest, most versatile, and most condensation resistant type of shelter that is been used back in older days and still is very popular. Modern day backpackers usually choose tarp for it’s low weight, compatibility and closer to nature experience. Also outdoor enthusiasts love it’s versatility – there are many ways to use a tarp, depending on your situation, which makes all experience more interesting, because you need to know a knot or two and use your creativity setting it up. Once your tarp shelter is set, you can cook dinner under it or just make a fire in front of it to feel warm up after a long hike in the rain. A properly rigged tarp can reflect the warmth of a fire and create quite a cozy little sanctuary. Open front offers you this luxury, which you’ll probably won’t see on a tents. Of course you can build a fire near a tent, but expensive nylon tents can catch flying sparks easily, leading you to some expensive repairs, and they don’t concentrate that kind a heat of a fire anyway. Tarp gives you opportunity to experience outdoors more than a tent – you can see the rain and the sky, feel the smell of the air and hear all nature around you, while protected from elements, like rain and slight wind. Hoverer, you’re not protected against insects and bugs (using tarp in combination with bivy will solve this problem, but also add a little more bulk in your bag). And if wind suddenly is changing direction, you could end up with campfire smoke coming straight in your face. As everything, tarp has it’s advantages and disadvantages, and it will perform very well in a specific conditions, making it a choice number one for many backpackers on specific routes.


  • Lightweight and roomy
  • Closeness to nature
  • Versatile
  • Low cost
  • You can cook under
  • You can build a fire closer than to tent


  • No bug protection
  • Needs hiking poles if no trees are around
  • Not good in stormy weather

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