Best Tarps for Camping

Best Tarps for Camping

A tarp is a great item for camping. This simple sheet of material can be used in many ways. It can enhance your camping experience and also provide much-needed protection during bad weather. Once you have brought a tent and sleeping bag, a tarp should be high up on your list of camping essentials. In the below guide, we delve into the uses of a tarp, its benefits, and also give some examples of high-quality tarps you could buy.

Tarps for Camping – The Essentials

Camping tarps are straightforward items – they are usually a large square or rectangular sheet of waterproof material (approx 3m x 3m) with a handful of loop attachments and guy lines. Using the attachments and lines, you can erect the tarp to provide a basic shelter.

Aside from your tent or hammock, a tarp can offer additional protection. For example, you could erect it over your tent for rain cover. Also, you could just erect it to make a simple shelter during hiking trips if you wanted to stop for a break.

I find that tarps are incredibly useful because in most cases they take up minimal space. If you have spare space in your camping backpack, bringing a tarp is a great idea. You may not use it, but you could also find it helps you out during bad weather, but also makes your camping trip more comfortable and enjoyable.

Why are Tarps Useful for Camping?

So why bother buying a tarp? They are relatively inexpensive to start, but the variety of uses they have are fantastic as you can see below:

  • As an additional weather cover for your tent
  • As a groundsheet for waterproof protection under your tent
  • To provide protection when erecting your tent during bad weather
  • As a basic shelter
  • To create a campfire underneath during rain
  • As a protected area to cook, rest, and relax

What other piece of camping equipment can you get that has such a versatile range of uses? As a minimum, you can place a tarp over your tent for additional rain cover and to stop your tent getting wet.

Pro-Tip – Erect your tarp first during bad weather and pitch your tent underneath – this will provide shelter and stop your tent getting drenched.

Aside from tent protection, tarps also just make good shelters. You may have your tent pitched, but small tents don’t really leave any room for cooking or relaxing. A tarp can fill that function! Set it up next to your tent, and you have an additional shelter where you can cook, start a campfire, or just relax.

What to Look for When Buying a Tarp for Camping?

The design and style of tarps don’t vary much, but you must still take care when choosing one. There are several key factors you should consider which we have listed below:

Size and weight

Firstly, look at the size and weight of the tarp. The size is vital, especially if you intend to place the tarp over your tent. Also, the weight of the tarp and its accessories is important for portability. If you are wild camping and travelling light, you don’t want to carry a heavy tarp with a large pack of equipment.

Pro-Tip – Measure your tent beforehand including its overall dimensions when pitched. This ensures you know exactly what size tarp you need to fully cover the tent.

Waterproof properties

The main point of a tarp is to provide additional weather-proofing. As a result, the tarp material should be 100% waterproof. Unless you only camp in fine weather, there is little point buying a non-waterproof tarp. Ideally, the material should be made from a waterproof material with a PU coating. PU is polyurethane and provides an excellent form of waterproof protection.

Pro-Tip – PU coatings have different ratings such as 2000mm which is the level of hydrostatic head they can achieve. Essentially, the higher the number, the great waterproof protection the material provides.

Set up and attachments

Most tarps are simple to set up, but the design can vary slightly. Virtually all tarps will have loop attachments through which you can drive tent pegs or stakes. Some may only have one loop for each corner, whereas others may have multiple loops along the edges of the tarp.

Tarps also have guy lines which you use to secure the tarp and keep its rigid structure. Some tarps may even have central poles that you place at either end of the apex. Which setup you prefer is mainly down to preference and what you are comfortable erecting.

Our Tops Picks for the Best Tarps for Camping

To finish, we have selected five top camping tarps for your benefit. These are all waterproof and should provide excellent protection in adverse weather conditions.

1. Snugpak Stasha G2 Tarp Shelter


  • 100% waterproof
  • Made from durable materials for wind and rain protection
  • Can be set up for multiple uses

Why we Like This Tarp?

The Snugpak Stasha G2 is our top pick. It offers a great combo of simplicity, portability, and durability. Its 100% waterproof and offers fantastic wind protection too. Also, we like how compact this tarp is. It folds up into a small pack that you could comfortably fit in your backpack or pocket.

2. SEA TO SUMMIT Escapist 15D Tarp


  • Lightweight at just 0.5lbs
  • A simple design that is easy to erect
  • Great for camping and mountaineering

Why we Like This Tarp?

We like this tarp as it has a simple design with six attachment loops. You can set it up quickly but it still offers great protection and shelter. There is also an additional support pole that you can attach to the apex of the tarp and remove the need for top attachment lines.

3. Paria Outdoor Products Sanctuary Tarp


  • Made from waterproof 30D ripstop nylon
  • Full kit provided including guy lines and stakes
  • Lightweight at only 285g

Why we Like This Tarp?

This camping tarp from Paria has a silicon and PU coating which means it is fully waterproof. We also like that it is lightweight at just 395g for the whole kit. This is much lighter than most other tarp products. For easy setup, it has 12 attachment loops and comes with all the necessary equipment. There is also a handy stuff sack on the inside.

4. Unigear Hammock Rain Fly Tent Tarp


  • Made from 210D ripstop fabric
  • Interior is also waterproof
  • A solid accessory kit and storage bag

Why we Like This Tarp?

The Unigear Fly Tent Tarp is another strong and robust item and is made from 210D Rip-stop Oxford fabric. It is waterproof to PU 2000mm and also offers UV protection. The overall size is 3m x 3m so it is large enough to cover most single and double tents. You can also carry this tarp easily as it has its own storage bag.

5. DD Tarp 3m x 3m


  • Made from 190T polyester and a PU 3000mm waterproof coating
  • Includes multiple guy lines and accessories
  • Can be set up in 5 configurations

Why we Like This Tarp?

The DD 3m x 3m Tarp is a good choice as it is incredibly durable. Its made from 190T polyester and has a waterproof coating. For a versatile setup, it also has 19 attachments points. Included in the pack you also get 4 pegs and guy lines and a sack to carry the tarp in. This is a versatile tarp that you can use for a range of purposes.

Give Yourself Versatility Whilst Camping With a Tarp

You will be surprised at just how useful a tarp is. As you can see from the above guide, this essential camping item can be used in many different ways. It is more than just a simple shelter and can also be an important piece of survival gear for wild camping.

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