Everyone’s favorite outdoor companion is tarps. They are cheap, easy to use, and when combined with knowledge of how to set up tarps in different ways, they can provide you with the best shelter possible when out camping or hiking in the wild.

Below is a list of some tarps that you can buy online along with some info on what tarps are good for certain jobs!

1.) Tarp Shelter

A tarp shelter is an easy way to decrease the amount of space your tent takes up in your backpack while still being able to have a roof over your head for protection from rain or sun. Using trekking poles or sturdy sticks dig into the ground about 1-2 feet deep so that there will be enough room for your tarps to fit over the top while not being a trip hazard.

2.) Rain Fly

When setting up a tarp as a rain fly, you will want to ensure that there is at least six inches on each side of your sleeping area so that when it rains you aren’t surrounded by water and your gear stays safe from the elements. Depending on how much room you have in your backpack, tarps can add great protection from precipitation while still providing some breathability. In addition, tarps are easy to pack-up and move around depending on where the sun is shining or if a storm cloud rolls in!

3.) Shelter Insects/Critters

If you’re going out into a wooded area where animals might be a threat to you, tarps may be a great way to go in order to have a safe place for shelter. Using string or par cord, hang tarps vertically from the trees so that it is close enough for comfort but also high enough where animals can’t get access. In addition, tarps are lightweight and easy to carry with you on hikes so when the threat of wild animals seems eminent tarps provide a quick solution!

4.) Shade Shelter

Tarp shelters can also provide some great shade while hiking in hot climates! It’s easier to put a tarp over your head than it is with a tent or bivy sacks. If possible try to set up your tarp in an area where there is some grass or dirt so that if the wind blows, it will be harder for the tarp to become a hazard.

5.) Ground Cover

While tarps are not great for protection from precipitation because they don’t have a floor, tarps can certainly provide a good barrier between you and outside elements. If you want to go somewhere where there is likely going to be mud or water but still want to bring your sleeping bag with you try setting up your tarp first before setting out your sleeping bag!

6.) Clothing/Sleeping Gear Dryer

Trying to dry off clothes or gear after a cold rainy day? Tarp shelters can also double as clothes dryers while camping or hiking! Simply drape tarps at an angle over a higher up tree branch and let the sun do the rest, tarps are great insulators so you will be surprised at how quickly your clothes dry!

7.) Cover for Your Firepit

If you don’t have a fire pit yet or think yours is not big enough try putting a tarp down before your wood. Not only do tarps protect the ground from catching on fire but tarps also provide some great insulation if by chance you’re trying to keep your food warm!

8.) Shade Shelter When Fishing

When fishing tarps are one of many options that can keep yourself shaded while trying to catch your favorite fish. Tarps are especially useful when fishing in areas where there is no shade, tarps give you an opportunity to move around and cast your line without having to worry about how much sun exposure you’re getting.

9.) Waterproofing Floor for Your Tent or Shelter

If tarps aren’t well suited for protecting you from rain then they can still be a great option in keeping moisture out of your shelter! Simply lay tarps down where your tent is going to be and it will help channel all the water away from your site so when the storm passes there won’t be any puddles or mud to deal with. This can also work if placed under tarps, tarps are easy enough to cut so you don’t need to buy expensive ground sheets; tarps provide a cheap solution that does its job well! Pairing tarps with the best canvas tent is can never go wrong and you’ll even get the best of both worlds.

10.) Tarp Shelters with Camping Mattresses

Many tarps are made with the same material that camping mattresses are. Because tarps are made to be water proof and durable they can definitely provide some great insulation for your sleeping bag! Additionally, tarps offer you mobility where you don’t have to worry about setting up camp because tarps can give you all the basics in one go!


Tarp shelters are a great option when it comes to enjoying nature but it is important to remember tarps aren’t replacement tents. Tarps will protect you from the elements like rain and sun but if strong winds pick up tarps often do not provide enough of a shelter as tents would. In addition, high wind outside of a tarp shelter may drive rain right underneath the tarp and on top of you. This is perhaps why tarps are used more in milder weather then heavy wind or rain.

By Manali