Tarps are a camping staple that you should have with you no matter how long your trip is or the season you head out in. With so many uses, tarps can be just as useful to block from extreme sunshine and heat as they can from a wild storm. The use of tarps is ever expanding and some are even using them in the place of tents. Whatever your intentions, the best camping tarps are easy to find as the market is quite saturated.

The lightweight design of a tarp makes them an ideal option for many outdoor enthusiasts. In order to find the best backpacking tarp, we have created a list of some of the best options on the market.

Ready to get started? Let’s go.

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How To Choose A Camping Tarp – Buying Guide

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Before buying your next camping tarp, there are a few key things that you will want to consider. Knowing what to look for in your next camping tarp will allow you to get the best one on the market and help your money go further. We recommend you consider the following.

Material

Most top rated backpacking tarp companies use a common set of fabric for their products. These will include Tyvek, Silnylon, Cuben Fiber, and Poly. All of these materials have their positives and negatives when it comes to camping. Silnylon will be found in the most camping tarps because it’s durable and waterproof. But if you’re going to be camping in rainy conditions you’ll want to find a tarp made from another material as it can stretch. Cuben Fiber is a more expensive material because it is better when wet but will require more material to make it strong. Poly is the most inexpensive material on the market. This will also be a lightweight option that will work for most people.

Size

Most camping tarp companies offer many sizes. This is great as you can choose a tarp that will specifically fit your use. For example, if you are looking for a tarp to go under your tent and the base is say 6 x 8 feet. You’ll be able to choose a tarp that is 8 x 10 feet so you can create a tub for the base of your tent. This will ensure you can make the base of your tent will be completely waterproof.

If you’re more looking for a tent that is going to keep your entire campsite dry or shaded you can get tarps up to 100 x 100 feet in size. These will be overkill for most people, but those who are looking for the biggest size for their entire site these will work perfectly. Lightweight tarps can also be used for a campsite base where the larger size can also be ideal as they cover the most area.

Shape

If you are using a hammock and tarp as a tent you’ll need a different shape than a square. Some companies have created the ideal shape and sized tarps for sleeping in your hammock. The best part is that these shapes are generally standard for all. This means that if you buy a standard one or two person hammock these shapes will also work to keep you covered and dry.

Thickness

You may recognize traditional tarps to be quite thick and hard to fold. This was a common design for many years as it was thought that the thicker the tarp, the more rugged it would be. As technology developed and the popularity around tarps increased, manufacturers now found a way to alter the construction to be much thinner.

Nowadays, you will have no trouble finding a tarp that has quite a thin design which is waterproof and tear resistant. With a large importance being placed on compact travel sized camping items, it is wise to consider the size and thickness of your tarp.

The thickness of your tarp should depend largely on your use. If you plan to use your tarp as a light shade cover for the day, you will need a much smaller tarp. If you instead intend to use your tarp as a bottom to your campsite laying it under your tent for insulation, you may want to go with a tent that is thicker and can provide some more insulation and tear resistance.

Construction

This is where the quality shows through. Everything from the stitching to how the grommets or tie downs are built into the tarp will affect the construction. Every single tarp will have a way of securing them to a tree or poles. The design and implementation of these will significantly affect the way you use your tarp. Since the grommets are the only way of securing your tarp you’ll want to ensure they’re strong and secured properly. If they pull out of the tarp you will be left with an uncomfortable blanket.

Color

We definitely recommend considering the color of your tarp last as it doesn’t do anything for the function of your tarp. With that being said, tarps come in a variety of different colors from the traditional blue and green colors to the more exciting camo blends.

Set-up

When you’re hiking in the middle of nowhere you’ll want a tarp that’s easy to setup and take down. If it takes an hour and requires 4 heavy poles chances are you won’t find yourself using the tarp when you need it. We strongly recommend finding a tarp that not only has everything required for setting it up but also instructions on how to do this quickly and efficiently. It also doesn’t hurt to have a lightweight option that is easy to carry and transport as this will allow you to increase your hiking range per day.

Weight

The weight of your tarp should be a key consideration, specifically if you intent to trek into any sites. Manufacturers have put in the work to make tarps as light as possible now only weighing a few pounds. This is an incredibly popular feature as it means that you can get even more use out of these tarps.

FAQs

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Q: What Is A Camping Tarp?

A: A camping tarp is a material that you use as an added layer of protection when in the outdoors. These are not your traditional thick blue tarps but rather ones made of more impressive technology and are lightweight in design. They have many uses from day to overnight and some even act as tents.

Q: Why Do I Need Camping Tent Tarps?

A: Camping is a great way to connect with the outdoors. Perhaps the only downfall is that you are at the mercy of the elements. When you are camping and find yourself in the hands of mother nature is important to have as much protection as possible. Tarps work in a variety of different ways the most popular being a way to create a cover for your tent in order to keep you drier.

The beauty of a tarp is that they are useful in any weather conditions. Whether you are looking to create a dry space while camping in the rain or looking for a way to get some shade, tarps can make virtually any outdoor experience more enjoyable.

Tarps are used for a variety of different camping situations including hammocking and day use. They have become so popular some manufacturers are allowing them to veto the need for tents all together as tarps now hold that function.

Q: What Is The Difference Between A Tarp And A Tent?

A: A tarp is simply a sheet of material while a tent is a complete package with walls, floor and ceiling. Tarps are usually waterproof while tents will usually require a rain fly to not allow water into the tent. Tents are almost always heavier and bulkier than tarps due to the material required to make a tent.

Q: What Are The Benefits Of Tarp Camping?

A: The main benefit of tarp camping is that you will have less gear to pack and it is much easier to setup and take down. Tarp camping is easy and requires minimal set up and take down as you don’t have to struggle with poles and complicated instructions. As tarps require much less gear, they also have a compact design that is ideal for traveling. They are also compatible with the new trend of hammock camping making them an eve more ideal go-to.

Globo Surf Overview

There are many features and aspects you should look for when searching for the ideal camping tarps. Everything from the material to the construction will not only dictate how durable they are but also how you’ll use them. The size and shape are also important as they will give you more coverage or be more lightweight depending on what you’re using them for. By using this guide you’ll be able to choose the best camping tarp and understand the features that make it excellent.

Have you ever tried camping using one of the tarps from our list? Tell us about how it helped keep you dry in the comment section below.

Globo Surf Camping Tarps Reviews

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A good camping tarp is always useful. Thank you for recommendations!

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My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!