The best tarp for camping is a must-have in any outdoor gear collection. When things become less enjoyable, whether it’s because of the muddy ground or unbearable sunlight, the best tarps for backpacking will be your lifesaver. Plus, they’re also useful in some other places – like beaches, public parks, or even backyards. So, here we have compiled a list of the 13 best tarps for shelter. Hopefully, they’ll provide great assistance in your mission to find the best tarps for survival. And without much further ado, let’s dive right into it!
How to Choose The Best Tarps for Camping
Finding the best tarp for camping is easier said than done. Along the way, you’ll be faced with plenty of things to think about. For instance, you have to know exactly what kind of trip you’re going on. If it’s wild camping, you’ll want to have a look at either the best tarps for survival or the best tarps for shelter. But if it’s a simple backyard camping, any best tarps for backpacking will do.
Unless you plan to waste your hard-earned cash, choose wisely. And to help you decide, here are three specific factors you may need to consider when choosing the best tarp for camping.
The rectangular shape is the most commonly used for the best tarp for camping. But if you’re all for protection, look for the best tarps for backpacking with a square design. They tend to use more material. Thus, you should be able to get more protection for your entire equipment. But at the same time, this type of tarp will be heavier and requires more storage space.
Just like other camping gear, the best tarp for camping is generally available in a variety of different sizes. While going with the biggest seems like a logical choice, it isn’t really the wisest decision. That’s because the bigger the tarp, the heavier it is. You need the best tarp for backpacking that’s really durable and compact. Thus, you won’t carry more weight than it should on your shoulders.
Best tarps for survival or best tarps for shelter are generally made of ripstop nylon. It’s a popular light material, which is quite difficult to tear or rip. And for better protection, you might want the best tarp for camping with extra layers around the corners. For those who camp around the water, getting the best tarps for camping with waterproof capabilities would be a good idea.
Is It Good to Put a Tarp Under a Tent?
Yes, of course. A tarp will keep your tent dry and warm all night. Therefore, make sure you get a well-built tarp, as it’ll also protect you from a variety of elements while you spend the rest of the day in the open.
How Long a Tarp Will Last?
We can’t give an exact answer regarding this. But based on our experience, the best tarps for backpacking can last anywhere from one to two years. Nevertheless, it’s a completely different story when it comes to temporary tarps, as they’re generally designed to last a couple of months.
What is Better Vinyl or Canvas?
Well, it depends on what kind of situation you’ll face. The best tarp for camping made of canvas is generally more rugged. It also has a more natural look. On the other hand, the tarp from vinyl has a rubber-like texture, making it much smoother.
Sea to Summit Escapist
Most senior campers will agree that the Sea to Summit Escapist is one of the best all-rounder tarps you can get on the market at the moment. This large ground shelter comes in a lightweight package, making it ideal for overnight camping. You can opt for the medium type, but since it weighs relatively the same as its bigger brother, we really recommend going with the regular type.
For even greater durability, the Sea to Summit Escapist is made using waterproof treated nylon and has eight anchor points. It also features a couple of guy lines that are compatible with trekking poles. Pitching a tarp has never been easier! Once you’re done, this best tarp for camping will be able to provide complete protection against rain, wind, or even light storms.
What We Love
A large ground shelter with relatively lightweight
- Rectangular shape
- Eight super strong durable tie-out points
- Seam-sealed waterproof 15 denier
- Weights around 300 grams
- Only available in two sizes
MSR Thru-Hiker 100 Wing
We absolutely recommend the MSR Thru-Hiker 100 Wing for anyone planning on going on a thru-hike. Made from 20 deniers ripstop nylon with 1,200mm silicone and polyurethane, this tarp will be a great choice for your weekend backpacking trip. And with no less than ten reinforced anchor points, the MSR Thru-Hiker is the best tarps for backpacking that’ll provide optimal protection against wind and rain.
Weighing around 12 ounces, the MSR Thru-Hiker is also one of the lightest thru-hiking tarps around. You might be walking trails for miles and not even realizing there is the best tarp for camping in your backpack! On the downside, the line tensioners are a little weak. They tend to loosen up when exposed to strong winds. However, this is in no way a massive deal-breaker and won’t affect the overall experience.
And while we’re talking about hiking, you might need something compact to carry all your gear. In that case, check out our list of the 13 best small hiking daypacks. You can find some of the best packs for day hikes that are currently available on the market.
What We Love
A durable tarp that’s perfect for weekend backpacking trips
- Great rain protection
- The line tensioners are slightly weak
Free Soldier Rain Shelter
Are you on a tight budget? Well, that’s no excuse for not getting the best tarp for camping. For a more pocket-friendly solution, you can give Free Soldier Rain Shelter a try. Coming in 10×11 feet, this ground shelter is more than enough to accommodate up to two people. And for additional protection against rain and wind, there are ends that can be tied together to create a semi-enclosed shelter.
Furthermore, Free Soldier has no less than 10 anchor points. In other words, you’ll get tons of possible configurations. The tarp also has a nice color, making it easy to spot, even when there’s no sunlight. Overall, this is one of the best tarps for backpacking which is worth considering. But at over two pounds, Free Soldier may not be the best alternative for lightweight gear enthusiasts.
What We Love
A great solution for those on a tight budget
- Heavy-duty material
- Decent build quality
- Ten anchor points
- Weighs over two pounds
Asheville is a brand that originally focused its business on camping hammocks. But in recent years, the North Carolina-based company has decided to penetrate the market for the best tarps for backpacking. As a result, you get Eno Profly. It’s the best tarp for camping specifically designed to give you a safe and moisture-free camping experience.
Weighing around 22 ounces, Eno Profly is one of the lightest best tarps for camping on the market. And since there are no less than six guy points, there’ll be tons of different configurations you can try out. Top that off with the super-tough 210D ripstop nylon material and you’ll have one of the best tarps for shelter to date.
What We Love
A tarp designed simply to provide a moisture-free camping experience
- 210D ripstop nylon
- Protection against storm
- Six guys out points
- Weighing only 22 ounces
- There are lighter options available, especially if you’re an ultralight equipment junkie
Eagles Nest Outfitters Housefly
With a hammock-inspired design, the Eagles Nest Outfitters Housefly is a pretty unique choice. It has two large doors that cover each other to create a warm and dry shelter while you’re out in nature. If you love hammock camping, then this is your best tarp for camping.
Measuring approximately 128 x 106 inches, the Eagles Nest Outfitters Housefly provides more than enough room to accommodate two people plus a few gears. As for the material, ENO uses silicone-coated nylon to ensure the shelter is truly tough when exposed to a variety of elements. Furthermore, the whole package weighs about 25 ounces. While this is definitely not the lightest product you can get, Housefly is clearly one of the best tarps for backpacking that’s well worth your money and time.
What We Love
A perfect tarp for who loves to do hammock camping
- Storm protection
- Overlapping doors
- Easy to use buckles
- Some might think it’s a little heavy
Stansport Reinforced Multi-Purpose Tarp
As the name suggests, you can use the Stansport Reinforced Multi-Purpose Tarp in any way you want. This workhorse is great for getting your tent dry, covering a boat, or even keeping firewood dry. All possible thanks to ripstop polyethylene, a super tough material that’s claimed to be able to withstand years of natural abuse. Apart from that, the corners are reinforced with ropes, so you get a really tough best tarp for camping here.
When it comes to weight, Stansport Reinforced is definitely not going to win the award for ultralight-best tarps for backpacking any time soon. However, it’s a truly reliable product. Especially if you’re looking for the best tarps for survival. Make sure to check it out if you can.
What We Love
A multi-functional tarp that can handle many different abuses
- Multi-purpose for a variety of uses
- Durable rip-stop polyethylene
- Heavy-duty rust-resistant grommets
- It’s a little hard to pack
Kelty Noah’s Tarp
When there’s a flood out there, you obviously won’t want to put your life on Kelty Noah’s Tarp. This is definitely not one of the best tarps for survival. But if you’re looking for the best tarp for camping with excellent weather-proof capabilities, then Noah’s Tarp is definitely worth considering.
This product features a fully-taped seam construction and is made with coated polyester taffeta. You can stand the tarp tight, allowing for maximum protection against varying harsh weather. Furthermore, this three-season tarp is available in three different sizes and weighs around one pound and eight ounces. Whenever you plan to go camping, Kelty Noah’s Tarp will be your reliable choice.
Speaking of camping, have you ever had unwanted visits from mosquitoes or yellow jackets? They can definitely ruin your day, you know. To save yourself from such a miserable situation, check out our list of the 13 best bug shelters for camping.
What We Love
A best tarp for camping with excellent weather-proof capabilities
- Highly versatile
- Convenient roll-top carrying bag
- Attached guyline with storage pockets
- 3-season tarp
- Not recommended for backpacking
Equinox Egert Tarp
If you feel like most of the tarps out there don’t provide enough space, then you need to check out the Equinox Egret Tarp. Measuring roughly 12×16 feet, this thing has more than enough interior to accommodate your entire camping mate. Furthermore, there were no less than 16 reinforced tie-out points, allowing for a variety of different configurations. And thanks to fully taped seams, it’s the best tarp for camping that’s ready to take on whatever Mother Nature has to offer.
Despite its massive size, the Equinox Egret Tarp only weighs about three pounds. This clearly makes it qualified as one of the best tarps for backpacking. So, if you’re looking for robust protection for your next camping trip, this one definitely won’t disappoint.
What We Love
Comes with a massive interior, great for group camping
- Ripstop nylon with waterproof urethane material
- Consider the size carefully before you buy
One of the most troublesome things about a tarp is the process of getting the whole thing ready. Fortunately, you won’t experience that with Sanctuary Siltarp. This product comes with everything you need to have your shelter upright within minutes! From six aluminum Y stakes, Dyneema guy line ropes, to micro line-lock adjusters, it’s all included in the package.
As you’d expect from the best tarp for camping, the Sanctuary SilTarp is made from ripstop Nylon with a silicon/PU dual-coating. And for greater protection against wind and rain, there are fully taped seams. Furthermore, this product is available in various cuts and sizes. You may pick the one that best suits your needs. So, if you haven’t decided on any of the best tarps for backpacking yet, this one would be nice to have.
What We Love
Come up with everything you need to get the whole thing ready
- 30 denier ripstop nylon
- Includes a full kit
- The line tensioners are a little difficult to adjust
Heavy Duty Vinyl Tarp
If you’re looking for an all-in-one type of solution, Heavy Duty Vinyl Tarp is your best bet. What makes it different from other best tarps for backpacking on this list is the main material. Instead of PU-coated poly, this product is made using vinyl, which makes it much better at resisting water and almost impervious to tears.
Coming in 8×10 feet, Heavy Duty Vinyl includes reinforced grommets on every two feet. Top that with double-thick hems and you get the best tarp for camping. Furthermore, at about 10 pounds, this thing is far from lightweight. However, with the right method, you can carry this tarp in a compact 12x10x4 inch package. So, if weight isn’t your main concern, this is one of the best tarps for survival worth checking out.
What We Love
Made of vinyl, making the tarp relatively stronger than other similar products
- Heavy duty
- Double thick hems
- It’s far from lightweight
Go Outfitters Apex Camping Shelter
As you may have guessed, this Kickstarter product was originally the best tarp for camping designed specifically for hammocks. However, as time went on, the Go Outfitters Apex Camping Shelter inventor decided to make a little alteration so that it became a multi-purpose tarp. As a result, you get no less than 20 tie-out loops, allowing for almost unlimited configuration possibilities. Each of them was reinforced with a specific triangular-shaped fabric, so the tarp wouldn’t tear easily. But on the downside, this innovation also makes the whole package heavier.
As for color, there are several different alternatives available. No matter which one you choose, each tarp features catenary cuts to provide great resistance to wind and rain. And for extras, you’ll get some usual stuff like tensioners, a stuff pack, and guy lines. In short, if you’re in the market looking for one of the best tarps for backpacking, make sure not to miss this.
And since we’re on the topic of camping, maybe some of you’re planning to go on a backpacking trip this week. If that’s the case, you might want to check out our list of the 13 best backpacking quilts for the money. Discover some great solutions to have a fantastic night out while you’re out in the open!
What We Love
A multi-purpose tarp that’s reliable and comes with a few useful extras
- Comes in a variety of colors
- Has the right size
- Catenary cuts
- Good tie-out loops
- Obviously not an ultralight gear
Ultimate Survival Technologies BASE Tube Tarp 1.0
Here comes another multifunctional tarp that you should keep an eye on. Ultimate Survival Technologies BASE Tube Tarp 1.0 is basically a convertible gear. You can use it as a tarp tent or a footprint. For that, there’s a zipper included here. If you want, you can choose to sleep under or on the tarp. Another thing to love about this product is its coloring. It has a bright orange side, making it easy to spot from a distance. Furthermore, the rest of the tarp is made of reflective material, which works effectively to trap heat inside.
For the exact same reason, Survival Technologies BASE Tube Tarp 1.0 can also work as an emergency blanket. In case you get stuck in the cold needing extra warmth, this tarp will be able to provide it. So if you’re looking for the best tarps for survival, the BASE Tube will definitely fit the bill.
What We Love
Made of reflective material, making it great for emergency situations
- Easy to set up
- It’s not completely waterproof
Aqua Quest Defender Tarp
In case you need a massive tarp, Aqua Quest Defender Tarp should be on your watch list. This Mammoth gear features no less than 25 reinforced tie-outs, effectively making it one of the most configurable best tarps for backpacking out there. And if you’re worried about possible rips or other damage, you can rest easy. That’s because this tarp has some durable and well-sewn reinforcements.
Coming in camouflage color, Aqua Quest Defender Tarp will be great if you’re planning to go on a hunting trip or you happen to be a wildlife photographer. The pattern will make it difficult for others to spot you from a distance. However, this best tarp for camping is quite pricey. But if budget is not an issue, we really recommend getting this tough product.
What We Love
A tough tarp with a camouflage pattern, great for hunting trips or wildlife photography
- 100 percent waterproof
- Extremely durable
- It’s a little pricey