How to Choose a Camping Tarp? – 3 Factors to Consider

Camping Tarp

There are so many types of shelters camping enthusiasts can use, such as tent, hammocks and tarps. But if you ask ardent campers which among these they prefer the most, perhaps most of them will reply “tarp”! There are reasons behind this.

Why do Campers Prefer a Tarp?

Most people choose a tarp for camping, because it is:

  • Lightweight
  • Easy to modify
  • Can be set in a range of locations
  • Adaptable
  • Very small when packed
  • Inexpensive

Here are a few factors to consider while choosing the best camping tarp.


Camping tarps come in quite a few shapes:

Tapered: These tarps are narrower on one side. They are considered the most space-efficient and are light enough useful for ultra-light hikers.

Rectangular: These have more length than their width and are useful for solo travelers.

Square: This is the most classic and most versatile shape, equal on all sides. With a significant sized square tarp, users can get ample room to spread out themselves and their gear. A tarp of this shape is useful when more than one camper want to use it.

Asymmetrical: These are to be used only with asymmetrical hammocks where you lay sideways and not on the ground, due to their poor coverage.

hammock Camping Tarp


Camping tarps vary a lot even in materials.

Cuben Fiber (Dyneema Composite): Although this is perhaps the lightest material, it’s ridiculously expensive and more prone to puncture than other materials. But it can be heat welded at seams.

Sil Poly: This is polyester covered with silicone to provide a waterproof surface. It can be one of the lightest materials for the price. It’s perhaps the best to achieve a balance of durability, reliability and affordability.

Sil Nylon: This is a manmade synthetic material where nylon is covered in silicone to offer a waterproof surface. It’s very durable, waterproof and inexpensive.

Camping Tarp for protection

Ropes, Stakes and Guylines

The beauty of camping tarps perhaps lies in their stakes, guylines and ropes. Ropes and guylines take most of the pressure when winds whip up at the campsite.

One outstanding property of guylines is their nighttime reflectivity. Ropes with a little woven reflective material prevent a lot of tripping over guylines after nightfall.

Some qualities to look for are:

  • Dyneema core
  • Reflective
  • 2mm or less

Anything larger than 2mm is big and heavy. Dyneema core rope has amazing strength. It’s also great for knots when you need to tighten tarp lines.

Camping Tarp Ropes, Stakes and Guylines

Camping tarps can make your camping truly enjoyable with their lightness, ease of use and protection from elements. Find a perfect one with the above tips. Happy tarp camping!

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