Tarp Camping

Tarp is one of the most versatile shelter in any outdoor activities and highly recommend that oneself must have it. It protect oneself from the sun and rain. Others might feel a tent is sufficient to provide shelter but they have forgotten that they will have to spend most of the time outside the tent such as cooking, dinning or get together for a simple board game. Tarp is cheap and lightweight, with a Tarp you can still camp without a tent which we use do in younger days.

There are many types of Tarp in the market, ranging from different shapes, sizes and quality. Car campers will have the tendency to purchase a top end Tarp with ready supplied poles and ropes. 

There is one peculiar shape we do not recommend. The photo shows a Snow Peak Tarp because of the curve shape or bat wing on the sides, it's provide no other options for different kind of setup.

Tentage Disadvantages
When camping with my kids, we wanted them to spend most of the time outdoor so we loan a screen shelter.

It took us almost 30 mins to figure out how to assemble the whole shelter. Not only did in weighs a ton, it also took up much space in the car trunk.

After that incident, we gave up using it. We prefer our camping to be compact, lightweight and a chance to use camp craft knowledge.

Benefit of a Tarp
  • Lightweight
  • Cheap
  • Uses camp craft
  • Fast setting
  • Protects from rain
  • Protects from sun
  • Protect from falling leaves and small branches
  • Feels like in a nest
  • Choice of different setup
  • Choice of different height setup

What Kind of Tarp to Choose
For us just need a simple lightweight and durable Tarp. There is no need for any high end product. Our current Tarp size is 360x360cm, weights 960g and made of Ripstop Nylon 70D. This size is ideal for family camping. 

Choosing the size of Tarp depending on the group camping size. Preferable choose a rectangle Tarp and not some odd shapes. The lightest setup can below 400gm and for family size around 1kg to 1.5kg. 

Below are some photos how we had configured the Tarp in different setup. View the photos and give a thought if you need a Tarp. 

Estimated Tarp Size
2.0m x 2.0m  Hiking Tarp for 1 to 2
2.4m x 3.0m  Hiking Tarp for 4
3.0m x 3.0m  Car camp or bigger group hike for 6 to 8
3.6m x 3.6m  Car camp or bigger group hike for 8 to 10

Anything bigger will be difficult to set up because it is heavier and might require more people to assist. Above size can be setup by one person.

Materials Needed and Cost Estimate
Paracord at least 30m USD8.00
Tent pegs 6pcs min best 8pcs USD8.00
Tarp depending on size USD30 biggest size
Telescopic pole USD10 each or trekking pole 2pcs minimum
Mallet optional however we encountered hard ground before

It was raining so we configured the Tarp into A-shape which prevented the rain water from collecting on the Tarp. Without the Tarp, we will not be able to make dinner under the rain. Here we had used 2 fixed pole as support.

This is a rooftop camping, we had used a pole and stuck in the middle of the Tarp to increase the headroom which maximise the whole shelter space from the morning sun. 

Windy BBQ so we lowered one end end of the Tarp to prevent more wind from coming in. The poles were savaged from the camp site

 using 4 telescopic pole

 using 3 telescopic pole and the vehicle roof

high head room setting

3 pole setup and using 2 trees

Bamboo pole setup

Friend's Tarp setup

Using Tent Foot Print as Tarp

This was our BOV easiest setup

Here is another Tarp by Walrus (now MSR) which I bought in 2000. This Tarp is meant for tent extension. Since there are only 2 of us camping, we did not require a big Tarp. This is sufficient for us to sit outside the tent. If I had known earlier, I would get a 300 x 240cm Tarp instead. This tarp design give no option for different setup however it only requires one pole setup.
Using Trekking Pole

using bamboo as pole

wet, wet day. Walrus Tarp joining main Tarp to provide dry shelter 

using with supplied pole

Walrus Tent and Tarp

Here are some photos pulled out from the web


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