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How to Set Up the Perfect Tarp Tent: 5 Tips from Experienced Campers!

How To Choose The Perfect Tent Tarp

Every camper knows there’s a risk of rain and wind, and there’s nothing worse than being unprepared. Your camping gear gets wet, the wind makes you cold – your night can become a nightmare. The solution? Investing in a good quality tarp tent!

A tarp is a waterproof, lightweight sheet that you hang above the top of your tent. It acts as an extra layer of protection by providing shelter and preventing water from seeping into your tent.

There are multiple types of tarp tents available for all different camping applications, so you’ll want to make sure that you investigate which one is best suited to your needs.

We’re sharing our expert camping advice on how to choose the best tarp tent, our top-rated recommendations and how to correctly set one up on your camping trips.

Read on for more!

Why Should You Use a Tent Tarp When Camping?

No camper – experienced or novice – wants to risk bad weather ruining their camping trip. A relaxing and enjoyable camping trip can quickly turn into a cold, wet and miserable experience without the protection of a tarp shelter.

The main benefits you get from using a tarp tent include:

1. Advanced Rain Protection

Most tents for camping are waterproof and some have high waterproof ratings, but they can only stand up to a certain amount of water. In severe weather conditions, water can still run down the walls and enter your tent through the seams or zippers.

A tent tarp gives you extra protection from the rain, so you don’t have to worry about water dripping into your tent.It also provides wind protection, making sure you can stay warm and comfortable even in cold weather conditions. Tarp shelters create an outer layer that prevents the wind from blowing directly onto your tent walls, which can also help with the stability of your camp set-up and protect your tent poles.

Fitting a tent tarp
How to Set Up the Perfect Tarp Tent: 5 Tips from Experienced Campers!

2. Summer Shelter and Shade

Not only are tarps useful for poor weather conditions, but they’re also pretty useful during the summer months.

With a tent tarp, you can create shade if you’re camping in direct sunlight to prevent your tent from creating a greenhouse effect and provide shade.

How To Choose the Right Tent Tarp – Things to Consider

There is no one-size-fits-all solution when choosing your tarp – especially if you want to ensure you get the full benefits of its use.

Here are five tips to consider when choosing the perfect camping tarp for your needs:

How to Choose a TarpWhy it’s Important
Research different types of tent tarpsDepending on your preferred method of camping, you should select a tarp that is suitable for your style. 
For backpacking, you need to keep your load light and compact, so an ultralight tarp is necessary. Camping in colder weather requires a thicker tarp made from heavier materials.
Consider the size, weight, and durabilityYou’ll need a tarp that works well with your tent. Choose a tarp that is at least one or two feet bigger than your tent. The extra coverage will protect your tent from the elements. 
The weight of the tarp is key, you want your tarp to be light enough that you can carry it but also strong enough that it won’t easily rip apart in windy weather.
Evaluate the quality of the tarpA good quality tarp is an essential component of a successful camping trip. 
Make sure you look at the reviews and ratings of any tent tarp before you buy it; this way, you can get an understanding of how well it performs in various conditions.
Test the set-up at homeIt can be a good idea to test setting up your tarp with the tent before you leave home. This way, you can make sure that everything fits together correctly and that it is easy to set up.
Don’t forget tarp camping accessoriesTent tarps don’t always come with the accessories you need. Look for a tarp that comes with stakes, ropes, and other tools to secure it in place. 
You can also purchase additional spare tent parts to cover you for emergencies.
Tent tarp for wild camping
How to Set Up the Perfect Tarp Tent: 5 Tips from Experienced Campers!

Our Expert Tarp Shelter Recommendations for All Types of Campers

At Wood To Water, we’ve handpicked a great selection of high-quality tarps for all types of campers.

Our range includes ultra-lightweight, waterproof and durable options that’ll keep you dry and comfortable while camping in any weather condition.

We’ve put together a list of five tarps from our expert’s top tarp tent setup recommendations for camping.

1) Bushmen Thermo Tarp – Olive (Various Sizes)

The Bushmen Thermo Tarp is the perfect choice for outdoor adventurers. This lightweight yet strong tarp offers excellent protection against wind and rain and has a ripstop weave for added durability.

Its silver coating boasts increased thermal insulation properties, keeping you cool on hot days and warm on cold nights. It also serves well as a shelter from the sun or sudden showers.

Perfect for camping trips, picnics, or festivals, this tarp is sure to keep you comfortable wherever you are! Its water-resistant nature also makes it ideal for use in unexpected weather conditions.

Bushmen Thermo Tarp is available in 4 sizes:

  • 4m x 3m
  • 3m x 3m
  • 2m x 3m
  • 4m x 4m

2) DD Hammocks SuperLight Bikepacker Tarp

No matter where you’re heading on your next ride, the DD SuperLight Bikepacker Tarp is designed to give you the freedom to pitch up anywhere, from a quiet roadside pitch to an epic journey through the hills to get back to nature.

The perfect companion for any bike-packing adventure, this diamond tarp setup packs down into a 19cm bag to keep your kit small. With an ultra-lightweight design, it can be set up in seconds and provides comfortable shelter from the elements.

It features a sturdy bike anchor strap, which is secured over the handlebars to keep the bike stable all night, while the tarp is looped over your saddle and pegged out behind for a spacious 1-person shelter.

3) DD Hammocks Tarp 3×3 Pro

The DD Hammocks Tarp 3×3 Pro is a high-performance tarp designed to provide versatile camping, backpacking, and survival shelter solutions in any environment.

This 3x3m square tarp features 18 strong buckles and 21 reinforced attachment points for maximum versatility and a wide range of possible tarp shelter configurations for personal or group use.

Whether you want to construct a single-person hammock shelter, a two-person ground shelter, or a basic lean-to shelter – the Pro series has you covered.

Born out of innovation and testing in the field, the DD Tarp 3×3 Pro offers limitless set-up options and versatility thanks to a number of added features to enhance your trip.

4) Bushmen Ultralight Tarp 2×3

The Bushmen Ultralight Tarp 2×3 is the perfect choice for any outdoor enthusiast. As the name suggests, this tarp is incredibly lightweight, weighing only 300g – less than a small bottle of water!

As tarp shelters go, this one takes up minimal space when packed away, making it ideal for backpacking and cycling trips where weight and space are limited.

Bushmen have made sure that even the puller for this tarp tent is ultra-light. It weighs less than 0.5 g.

Team it up with the Bushmen Ultralight Hammock for the ideal hammock camping tarp shelter setup.

5) DD Hammocks Large Tarp 5×5

The DD Tarp 5×5 is the perfect square tarp shelter for large groups, providing maximum coverage and versatility. It features a silicone layer to increase water resistance to 2500mm.

Crafted with durable and waterproof materials, it gives ultimate protection from harsh weather conditions. It provides a safe space for activities like bushcraft teaching sessions, team events, or just hanging out with your campmates.

Thanks to its lightweight yet sturdy construction, it’s easy to transport and set up quickly without worrying about damage or wear & tear.

How to Shelter a Tent With a Tarp

Most simple tarps can be set up in the same way (of course, you should always check the manufacturer’s instructions for any specific setup tips to make sure you get maximum protection from wind and rain).

Follow these steps to set up a simple tarp over your tent:

How to Set Up a Tarp
Step 1) Work out the possible tarp configurations
Step 2) Lay out your tarp flat on the ground
Step 3) Secure the tarp corners to attachment points
Step 4) Secure the tarp to your tent
Step 5) Adjust the guy ropes and pull the tarp taut

Step 1) Work out the Tarp Shelter Configurations

The shape of your tarp dictates your options for the configurations you can make. Below are the most common tarp shelter configurations by shape.

Diamond TarpFlat/Square TarpHexagonal Tarp
Standard hammock set-up or shade sail. 

This is ideal for providing a sheltered area in your camp or covering your tent to increase your protection from rain.
Classic A-Frame shelter. 

This is a great option for a simple but effective shelter that can be suspended between two trees.
One of the most uniquely shaped tarps you can get, this tarp works as a ground sheet and for tarp tent set-ups. 

Because this tarp shape features so many corners, there’s an endless amount of potential configurations. Check out this tutorial for inspiration
Half-Tetra wed cover for a sloping shelter. This requires additional trekking poles for support points.Closed-end A-frame shelter. 

This configuration is great for keeping the wind out.
Lean-to/Plough-point shelter.

This is a super simple shelter that can be made with a single trekking pole as a support point.
Lean-to-shelter. With a square tarp, this tarp shelter is similar to the classic A-frame but provides more shelter on one side.

2) Lay Out Your Tarp Flat

Dd tarp 3. 5x3. 5 mc 4
How to Set Up the Perfect Tarp Tent: 5 Tips from Experienced Campers!

Before you start setting up your tarp shelter configurations, you need to lay your tarp flat. This will help you get your bearings, especially with a new tarp. 

It also helps you work out where your attachment point needs to be concerning the natural features of your campsite.

3) Secure Corners to an Attachment Point

In order to keep your tarp in place during your trip, it needs to be secured properly. You can use things such as tent stakes, poles, trees or rocks as attachment points. 

You can also use guy lines and adjustable tensioners if necessary to keep things taut.

4) Secure Your Tarp Directly to Your Tent

Once the corners are set up securely, attach your tent to the tarp. Make sure to use additional guy lines for extra stability and protection from wind. This helps to create a more connected structure that provides a significant amount of ground cover and room underneath.

5) Adjust the Guy Ropes to Pull the Tarp Taught

Tent tarp accessories
How to Set Up the Perfect Tarp Tent: 5 Tips from Experienced Campers!

Once the tarp is secured to attachment points and the tent, adjust the tension of your guy lines to tighten any loose areas and ensure a snug fit.

Do some final checks to make sure that your tarp and tent are firmly secured to the ground or two trees to prevent them from flying away in strong winds.

Get the Most from Your Camping Trip With a Wood To Water Tarp

Protecting yourself and your camping gear from Mother Nature is easy with the right tarp shelter, no matter what type of camping you’re doing.

A tarp tent is an excellent addition to any camping trip, providing shelter from the elements and extra protection for your tent. They are easy to set up, lightweight, and can be used in a variety of ways.

So make sure you’re prepared for whatever the weather throws at you – shop the tent tarps here at Wood To Water, and get out in nature all year round!


Is It Necessary to Put a Tarp Over Your Tent?

A tarp is a good idea if you need extra shelter or protection from the elements. It can provide additional insulation and waterproofing in wet weather while also providing shade on sunny days.

Using a tarp to cover your tent will help protect it from scratches and wear and tear, as well as prevent water damage.

How Big Should a Tarp Be for a Tent?

Your tarp should be large enough to shield your tent from the elements but not so large that it’s a hassle to transport or set up. A tarp should be at least an inch or two larger than your tent in all directions.

How Do You Shelter a Tent With a Tarp?

A tarp can shelter your camping tent from both rain and sun. To do so, you will need to set up your tarp in a way that creates an A-frame shape over the top of your tent.

Secure the tarp at four points using paracord or small stakes. Tie the cords to nearby trees or use the stakes to keep them in place. Make sure the tarp is well-balanced and secure so that your tent stays dry.

What is the Benefit of a Lightweight Tarp for Camping?

Lightweight tarps are beneficial for campers who need to keep their pack weight down, such as backpackers or cyclists. Despite their lightweight, these tarps are usually made with durable materials and can offer ample protection from the elements.

Do I Need Additional Poles or Stakes to Set Up a Tarp Tent?

While some tarps can be secured using natural elements like trees or rocks, having additional tent stakes or poles can offer more flexibility in where and how you set up your tarp shelter. Some tarp configurations may require extra support points, which can be provided by poles or stakes.

Can a Tarp Shelter Be Used for Group Camping?

Yes, certain tarp shelters like the DD Large Tarp 5×5 are designed to offer ample space and coverage for group camping. These can be used for activities like bushcraft teaching sessions, team events, or simply socialising with campmates.

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