How to set up a tarp? Choose and use properly

How to set up a tarp? Choose and use properly

No matter when you go camping - be prepared for rainfall. Staying dry doesn't mean sitting in a tent and waiting for the sun to come out. You don't even have to take a tent - when you spread the tarp over the camp or hammock, you will provide yourself with a dry place to work or rest. Tarp will also help you mask the camp or provide insulation from the ground. Do you want to choose a tarp that suits your needs and use it properly? We invite you to read the post in which we present ways to arrange a tarp, also giving help in choosing it.

Tourist tarps - how do they differ?

The most important features of a tarp are water resistance, tear protection, and the number, type and arrangement of fixing points. The colors and - more importantly - its size are also important. However, let's talk more about all the features.

Protection against rain

Most often, the tarp is made of polyester with a polyurethane or polyethylene layer that increases water resistance. Seams taped with tape, which ensures the tightness of tourist tarps at the joints, also have a positive effect on protection against rain. If the manufacturer provides information about water resistance, use it - the higher the resistance, the better. However, do not compare the value given for tarp with the one included for example for hardshell jackets. Clothing that wraps the body lets moisture in differently than a tarp stretched over a campsite. In the case of camping tarpaulins, 1500 mm water resistance is an appropriate protection.

Reinforcements in the material

If you want maximum tear resistance, choose a tarp reinforced with Rip-stop mesh. Its high warp density is also testimony to its solidity, e.g. 190T means that 190 strips of material were used per square inch. This is a high value that makes it resistant.


When you go camping and don't want to hide from anyone, all you need is a black or blue tilt. However, if the model is also to have a camouflage function, choose a camouflage tarpauline or Olive-colored tarp, that will hide your camp.

Size and mounting holes

As standard, a 2 x 3 or 3 x 3 meter tarp is sufficient for 1 bushcrafter or a survivalist. Be sure to also pay attention to the number of eyelets you will attach the survival rope to. The larger the sheet, the more susceptible to wind - in case of a storm, it must be really firmly fastened. An additional issue is the number of bleeds, which is partly determined by the type of tarp, and partly by the method of hanging the sheet, which we will talk about in more detail.

How to hang up a camping tarp?

So let's move on to the most important issue - how to use tarp? The tarpaulin should be hung up with the surface facing the direction from which the wind is blowing. You can easily check the direction from which the gusts are coming in the weather application, in which you can also determine whether the wind will not change within a few hours. This is especially important at night - you don't want to wake up to change the position of the tarpaulin.

If the wind changes significantly, not a monopitch, but a gable camping tarp with an inclined ridge will be useful. The cover attached in this way will protect you from the wind from three sides and create a shelter resembling a half of a tent. A lashing device added to the tarp will be useful to prevent water from accumulating on the back of the sheet. If you do not have a tarpaulin with such functionality, you can improvise - a short stick allows you to create an additional place for fixing the string. Place the stick under the fabric where you want it, twist it to create a makeshift grip, and then tie the string on it.

What's the easiest way to set up a tarp? Tying the sheet is not difficult. On the wind-free side, tie the tarp to the tree with even the simplest knot. This is best done approximately at head height. Then stick the tent pins into the eyelets - first on the side opposite the tree and then on the two side ends of the tarp. The more places for fixing the sheet, the better, but in the absence of wind, you can easily let go of some fixing eyelets.

In non-forested areas, you will also use a tarp - you can do it without trees with a camping cloth mast. If you use trekking poles, these will also work - just stick them firmly into the ground. You can wrap a sufficiently long tarp in such a way that, in addition to protection against wind and rain, it also provides insulation from the ground - see the infographic above.

If you're considering whether to take a tarp or a tent with you, think about how much you want to carry on your back. The sheet is light, so it will certainly be enough for bushcrafters and survivalists who go to the wilderness not for the convenience of five-star hotels. A tourist tent , however, is a tempting option, because it is comfortable by all means - it provides insulation both from the ground and from all sides. Remember that you know your needs best.

Author: Tomasz Świgoń

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