13 Different Ways to Use Tarps in the Wild
Last week, I had some tarp training with an outdoor company. It reminded me of how useful tarps can be in the wilderness, so I wrote this article about tarp hacks. You can read it on my blog at 2Hiking.com (see link below). Here’s a teaser:
Tarps are like Swiss Army Knives: they can be used in a variety of creative ways.
Here are 13 tarp camp hacks to inspire you on your next backpacking trip.
1) TARP SHELTER
A tarp shelter is the perfect lightweight tarp option for those who wouldn’t mind getting rained on or venturing into bug territory. A tarp shelter can be as simple as tying a tarp over trees and securing the corners with some cordage and rocks (see video below). Or, depending on weather conditions and how adventurous you’re feeling, it can be more elaborate like building a taut-line hitch timber frame (video further down).
2) SL SEAT
This trick is low in tarp hack creativity, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Simply take the tarps and fold it to about the size of your bum. Then twist the tarp around so it forms to your backside like an oversized taco shell. Pretty comfy!
3) BUG NET
One function of a tarp is to keep bugs at bay. A simple way to do this would be to tie a tarp over the opening to your tent when you go camping outdoors in buggy areas during bug season (April to September in Florida). Make sure there are no gaps between the tarps and opening or else you could end up with some unwelcome guests inside!
4) HASHTAG GAME
Tie the tarp into the rope using any number of knots. To play tarp hack “hashtag” tie tarp into a long length of rope. Then make two people hold each end and try to pull it taut. The first person to “break” their tarp wins the game!
5) TARPS AND TENT COMBO
Many tarp campers will tell you that once you start using tarps in the wild, you won’t want to go back to tent life (I’m one of them). An easy transition is to use a tarp for your shelter in fair weather and only bring along a tent when it rains. This way, your tarp can always be in use while at camp rather than sitting in storage waiting for an occasional rainy day.
6) FOIL LIGHT
This tarp hack is more for those who don’t mind a few rips and tears in tarps to save money. Line tarp with foil on one side so it acts like a reflective body warmer inside your sleeping bag! The foil also makes tarps more durable than if you were to line tarp with plastic sheeting or trash bags.
7) TARPS AND HAMMOCK COMBO
Hammock camping is all the rage, but tarp camping can be just as comfy (and way cheaper). One tarp hack is to use tarps as bug netting when combined with rope and webbing looped around trees. This way your hammock will stay dry even in soggy weather.
This tarp hack is for tarp tarpers who want to tarp…. You get the idea. Hammocks are great for hanging out in, but they’re not so great for storing gear underneath due to limited space and accessibility… unless you use a tarp under (watch the video below).
If you like camping near bodies of water, this might be the best way to sleep under your new favourite piece of kit – a porta-tarp! Simply attach grommets on one end of your tarp using paracord or even bungee cord. Then tie the tarp to a tree and secure the taut with a rope around the ground, trees, or even rocks surrounding water!
10) TARPS DOG HOUSE
Ok… so this tarp hack is for our four-legged friends. If you want to keep your pooch warm and dry at night, line the tarp up with the length of your dog’s body. Fold the tarp over at the head and secure closed using a bungee cord. Then fold the tarp under their behind and secure closed again using a bungee cord (see video below).
11) SHADE SHELF
Tired of getting all burnt up under the hot sun? Try making a tarp shade shelf like Carrie from Prepared for Adventure demonstrates in the tarp hack video below. She hangs a tarp over a rope strung between two trees, but you can do this tarp hack with any number of sturdy objects to create shade anywhere!
12) TARP RETENTION SYSTEM
This tarp hack is for keeping your tarp firmly in place (and not blowing away at night). Create some taut lines by tying paracord or another cordage between trees and then tie the tarp down using an alternative method. If done correctly, this tarp hack will ensure that your tarp doesn’t flap all night long while you’re trying to get rested up for tomorrow’s adventure.
13) RV/TRAILER HVY DUTY RUBBER MATTING
This tarp hack is for people who want to tarp (You know the drill). If you plan on parking your RV or trailer in buggy locations, make sure you put down heavy-duty rubber matting underneath it to prevent cockroaches and other unwanted critters from entering!
Hopefully, these tarp hacks have inspired you to tarp Yeah… I know – you get it by now! The point is that tarps are extremely versatile pieces of gear that can be used in a number of ways.