Best Camping/Hiking Tarps (Shelter) – Reviews and Guide 2020

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Last Update: 25.Mar.2020

Best Choice Go to Amazon Shop

OUTRY Multi-Purpose Tarp

The Outry Waterproof Multi-Purpose tarp is a pretty decent product overall. It certainly is water proof and has the luxury of being able to be pitched in a number of configurations allowing the user many options. This tarp is a home in many scenarios from the back country as a range tarp to the local park as a picnic blanket. While this tarp is able to pull off range tarp configurations its main weakness is the grommets coupled with the material.
Best Choice Go to Amazon Shop

YuEdge Waterproof Tarp

As one of the most expensive tarps, YUEDGE 10×13 Ft Portable Tent Tarp is designed with multiple unique features which will make everything easier for you during camping. The complete waterproof tent has 30D rip-stop nylon with 5,000 mm hydrostatic resistance and is filled with silicon for durability and protection.

by Willie Test

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Last Update: 25.Mar.2020

What’s the point of camping under the stars if your tent is going to get in the view? A lighter, cheaper, and more versatile alternative to tents is a tarp. A tarp is an expanse of tough fabric meant to be set up in a specific way.

Tarps can be bought in various sizes, and they can be set up in several ways. You can also use them to further protect your tent, or as a makeshift flooring for your camp.

But tarps aren’t as simple as they seem. Here’s a full guide on understanding tarps and how they work. Read on to learn more about what you should look for in a tarp. And check out our top 5 best camping tarps for every occasion.

Free soldier waterproof portable tarp

Free soldier trap made of polyester, ripstop fabric. PU coating, waterproof, keeping you and your gear dry when it rains.
The PU coating and taped seams keep the water out, completely. The square(ish) shape and generous tie out tabs make it versatile for rigging all types of tarp shelters. It is a bit heavier than some of the higher end silnylon offerings, but in the bang for buck department it really is great value, super waterproof, and built like a tank.
Go to Amazon Shop
  • Technical specs

Best Use

Camping/Hiking

Unfolded Size

S - 4.9 x 7.2ft / 1.5 x 2.2m, M - 5.9 x 7.2ft / 1.8 x 2.2m, L - 7.9 x 7.2ft / 2.4 x 2.2m

Folded Size

S - 6.7" x 4.7" x 1.6" / 17 x 12 x 4cm, M - 8.3" x 5.5" x 2" / 21 x 14 x 5cm, L - 8.3" x 6.3" x 2.8" / 21 x 16 x 7cm

Weight

S - 12.7oz / 360g, M - 16.6oz / 470g, L - 20oz / 565g

Product Dimensions

3.6 x 2.4 x 2.2 inches

Shipping Weight

1.4 pounds

Pros

Outstanding quality

Lightweight

Can be used for more than just camping

Cons

Not seen

OUTRY Multi-Purpose Tarp

OUTRY Multi-Purpose Tarp is fabricated from ripstop and water-resistant oxford material. Can be utilized as tent footprints, hammock rain fly, picnic mat, ground cover
The Outry Waterproof Multi-Purpose tarp is a pretty decent product overall. It certainly is water proof and has the luxury of being able to be pitched in a number of configurations allowing the user many options. This tarp is a home in many scenarios from the back country as a range tarp to the local park as a picnic blanket. While this tarp is able to pull off range tarp configurations its main weakness is the grommets coupled with the material.
Go to Amazon Shop
  • Technical specs

Best Use

Camping/Hiking

Material

210D oxford material

Unfolded Size

S - 4.9 x 7.2ft / 1.5 x 2.2m, M - 5.9 x 7.2ft / 1.8 x 2.2m, L - 7.9 x 7.2ft / 2.4 x 2.2m

Folded Size

S - 6.7" x 4.7" x 1.6" / 17 x 12 x 4cm, M - 8.3" x 5.5" x 2" / 21 x 14 x 5cm, L - 8.3" x 6.3" x 2.8" / 21 x 16 x 7cm

Weight

S - 12.7oz / 360g, M - 16.6oz / 470g, L - 20oz / 565g

Features

Stuff sack and tent stakes

Pros

Lightweight

Good waterproof resistance

210D oxford fabric material

Cons

Not seen

YuEdge Waterproof Tarp

YuEdge Waterproof Tarp is lightweight and comes with a Storage pouch, making it convenient to take in trips or store when not in use.
As one of the most expensive tarps, YUEDGE 10×13 Ft Portable Tent Tarp is designed with multiple unique features which will make everything easier for you during camping. The complete waterproof tent has 30D rip-stop nylon with 5,000 mm hydrostatic resistance and is filled with silicon for durability and protection.
Go to Amazon Shop
  • Technical specs

Best Use

Camping/Hiking

Dimensions

157.5 x 118 inches

Weight

2 pounds

Water Resistance

3000 mm

Material

210D Waterproof Oxford Fabric

Tents outdoor camping

Shelter

Pros

Lightweight and portable. Weighs only 15.5 ounces

Good waterproof resistance

Not expensive

Cons

Can be dismantled by strong winds

Benefits of using tarps

Most of why you might want a camping tarp has to do with your personal preference. Maybe you feel claustrophobic in a tent. Maybe you like to catch the essence of the environment around you. But there are some ways a tarp can benefit you:

  • The ground is uneven. In this case, setting up camp can lead to quite the conundrum. And if you don’t have a backup, you’ll be left with nowhere to sleep. Tarps stand off the ground and have no floor or walls. Setting them up on the uneven ground is no big deal.
  • You’re on a tight budget. Tarps cost less than a camp. When you’re already paying for food, water, and hiking gear, adjusting in a two-person camp can be harsher than you think. In this case, a simple tarp with a sleeping bag can solve most of your issues.
  • You want to drop some weight. Most tarps, especially the ones for backpacking, are designed to be lighter than the lightest tents. They are portable and fit into your backpack better. Combine that with the other two issues, and you have a very good reason to buy a tarp.
  • You need to protect your tent. If your tent tears or is generally low-quality, you can waterproof it by using a tarp over it. It will save you the need to claim a warranty or buy another tent.
  • Your tent needs flooring. Tarps can also be used as flooring for tents. They are tough and waterproof, so water and mud from the ground won’t seep through. If the floor of your tent has ripped, then a tarp should be your ultimate choice.

Tarp Material

Tarp fabric is made from the following three fabrics:

  • Sil Nylon. Sil Nylon (short for “silicone-nylon”) is an artificial fabric made by impregnating nylon with liquid silicone. This fabric, due to the silicone, is tough and heavy. It normally has a higher tear strength. This type of fabric is generally very waterproof, but not too breathable. That is why it’s used in tarps and not closed tents. Sil Nylon is used in ultralight backpacking too.
  • Sil Poly. It is similar to Sil Nylon, except it’s polyester coated with silicone from both sides. The silicone improves the durability of the fabric. But once you tear the fabric, it loses its tensile strength. This fabric is slightly more fragile than Sil Nylon.
  • Dyneema Composite (Cuben Fiber). Cuben fiber is a non-woven high-performance fabric, best known for its low weight and high strength. It’s the go-to fabric for sails, canvases, and lightweight tarps for camping. This fabric has been designed with high strength and low weight in mind.

Tarp Design and Shape

Tarps can be bought in the following shapes:

  • Asymmetrical. Asymmetric tarps are normally triangular in shape. These can have triangular flaps around the sides to keep the high wind out.
  • Square. Square tarps are not necessarily that shape. The fabric is square, but you can set it up in any formation you light. These tarps are pretty much standard, along with rectangular tarps.
  • Rectangular. Rectangular tarps and square tarps are the most common. They can be flat (completely spread out when setup), or the sides can be tipped for wind protection.
  • Tapered. These tarps look like a slightly elongated hexagon. Due to the extra edges, you can set these up as a small tent or provide more protection from the sides.
  • Cat-Cut. A cat-cut tarp is almost exactly shaped like a hexagon. It’s a flatter alternative to a tapered tarp and has a different setup.

What to Look For When Buying A Camping/Hiking Tarp

There’s a lot that goes into making the perfect tarp. Here are just a few of those factors:

Rain Protection

Waterproof ratings are normally measured in IPs or mm. You will find tarps rated specifically in terms of mm. Your tarp should be more than 2000 mm PU rated. A PU rating means a polyurethane coating has been applied.

Capacity

Tarps can be bought in larger sizes for multiple people. Make sure to read the capacity on the tarp before finalizing the purchase.

Season Rating

Just because your tarp is waterproof doesn’t mean it will last all year round. The fabric may shrink or denature under extreme temperatures. And too much wind may blow your tarp if you’re not careful enough.

Windy Conditions

Unless you’re hiking in a hurricane, the wind shouldn’t damage the fabric. However, if the foundation isn’t strong, it can definitely cause the tarp to blow away. Some tarps can be set up with flaps on the side to protect from oncoming wind.

Interior Space

While tarps don’t have the floor, you can definitely benefit from a sheet or a sleeping bag. Set up a soft, durable sheet under the tarp to protect from dirt and mud.

Shelter

Tarps should protect you from the oncoming wind, the rain, and practically everything. Many tarps are UV protected to keep the sun out of your eyes.

Stakes, Ropes, and Guylines

When buying a tarp, try getting a bundle (stakes, ropes, and guylines), which includes everything required to set up the tarp and properly ground it.

Camping Tents Vs. Tarps

As mentioned before, most of the benefits of tarps come from personal preference. If you like sleeping under the stars and sensing nature, then a tarp would be a better option.

Our Recommendation

Best Tarp for Camping

The OUTRY waterproof tarp is one of the best camping shelters for rain. It uses a rip and waterproof 210D premium quality oxford fabric. What’s best about this camping tarp is its versatility. It can be sued as both a hammock rain fly and a regular tarp. It’s quite a versatile product, which makes it the best overall.

Best Tarp for Backpacking

This Free Soldier durable tarp comes with rain, sunlight, and UV resistant polyester fabric. It is tough enough to not puncture easily, with a 2500 PU waterproof rating. You get everything you need to set up the tarp, guy lines, and ridgelines included. It’s designed to pit right into your backpack, hardly weighing 1 kg and expanding for up to 2 people.

Best Tarp for Hammock Camping

If you want to be protected from the elements during hammock camping, then opt for the Chill Gorilla HEX. This camping tarp is not only water and UV proof, but it’s also easier to setup. It’s highly versatile and can be used as a camping canopy, tent footprint, or rain shelter.

Best Ultralight Tarp

Kalinco’s hammock tarp is a true work of art. It comes in a handy bundle that includes everything required for the setup. The tarp itself is manufactured from the finest 190T polyester and has a waterproof rating of 3000 PU. It’s the best for its lightweight and super portable design.

Best Cheap Tarp Shelter

This waterproof tent tarp is special in that it comes in the best value. The price is low, but the quality remains standard. It’s made from strong polyethylene plastic, and the edges are reinforced with rope. The grommets are rust-resistant, and the tarp itself doesn’t shrink underwater or sunlight. This makes it ideal for all weather conditions.

Conclusion

Who said hiking has to be expensive and tiring? Tarps make camping fun and more natural. They let you experience the world around you while you take shelter from the rain and sun. They make a great choice for everyday hikers and campers.

Take a look at our 5 recommended tent tarps to get an idea of what the world likes the best. These tarps were all selected based on their performance and abilities. Also, check out the FAQ section to get your most curious questions answered.

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