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Why You Should Use Tarps With Your Tent

When it comes to outdoor activities like camping, a struggle that many face is getting an accurate read on the weather. Most of us can agree that camping in the rain is not the most enjoyable experience. This begs the question: how we can mitigate these problems when they arise? 


That is where we come in to share an innovative creation — tarps, they are also known as tarpaulin sheets. If you have been wondering whether tarps can serve as a makeshift shelter, the good news is that you can and there are two ways of using them: either over or under your tent. Read on to find out the benefits of using tarps, how to set them up, and some alternatives to tarps for those who do not have easy access to them.

Using your tarp over your tent

To use your tarp over your tent, in simple terms, is to use it as an overhead shelter that will keep both you and the tent dry and safe away from the pelting raindrops.

Benefits of having a tarp as an overhead shelter

The first benefit is obviously having a shelter from the unexpected elements that come from being outdoors. As avid campers, we do put in the necessary research to ensure that we are as prepared as possible. However, there come times when weather forecasts relent to mother nature, and the skies send showers down. If you have a tarp set up as a shelter, your worries are close to nought when this happens.


Next, extreme weather also can include strong gusts of wind. This may not be a problem in the morning and afternoon, but come night, these winds threaten to freeze our noses off. So, while tents and tarps are not built to be thick enough to warm us up, they block out the cold winds with their waterproof material. You can sleep with more ease knowing that the winds will not pose an issue to your required rest.


Last but not least, everything is prone to wear and tear, this applies to your camping gear as well. So, even though your tents are waterproof, it does not mean they will be completely protected from the damage caused by rain. Things like mildew and mould can easily multiply in damp environments. When we fold up our gear, we may neglect to completely dry them out. So, when that happens, you end up having to constantly replace your camping gear. Instead, if you use tarps, you can prolong the life of your camping gear.

Setting up your tarp over your tent

Step 1: Pack a tarp of a suitable size that can completely cover your tent but still be easily suspended between two trees. Alongside, pack some paracord so you can use them to suspend your tent unless you happen to own suspension systems that can work for hammocks, those would be better.


Step 2: Set up your tent in a location where it can sit nicely between the two trees to be used as the poles to hold up the tarp.


Step 3: After setting up your tent, simply connect the two ends of the tarp to the trees using your paracord or suspension system.


Step 4: Tilt the tarp at an angle such that the water can easily flow down to the ground and not collect in the middle which will then weigh down into your tent.


Step 5: Tie a piece of string so that there is an added measure where the rain will drain through the string instead of gathering on your tarp.

Using your tarp under your tent

Conversely, other than using your tarp as a shelter, you can also use it more like a mat for your tent. This may seem ludicrous at first but surprisingly proves to contain many benefits.

Benefits of having a tarp as a mat

First and foremost, using a tarp as a mat for your tent can help you save money on replacement costs for your camping gear. As mentioned previously, mould and mildew can easily form in damp environments, in which the base is susceptible since it rests directly on grass patches that retain moisture. Furthermore, even if it has been a dry day, a soft and lush field is not what we get in real life. There can be sticks and stones that might break the base, so a tarp can save that.


Next, having this map can protect you from the rain too. Rainfall is named exactly that due to it falling from the sky and into the ground. When this happens the edges of a tarp can redirect water away from your tent as well as protect the base of your tent from a muddy situation.

Setting up your tent over your tarp

Step 1: Ensure that your tarp is of a similar size to the base of your tent. This is because if it is too large, it might instead direct water to the centre of the tarp which will sit below your tent, thus defeating the purpose of using it as a mat.


Step 2: After locating an appropriate spot to set up your tent, lay down your tarp on the ground and secure it in place with metal grommets so that it does not shift around.


Step 3: Simply set up the tent directly over the tarp and secure the tent by pinning the metal grommets directly into the ground so that the base of the tent is stable in place.

Alternatives to tarps

For those of you who are unable to purchase tarps like that, fret not. There are many other affordable alternatives that can serve a similar function. Some tents come with rain-flies which work just as well, or if not, better than tarps. There are also plastic sheets and ponchos that can be easily purchased at the nearest grocery store. These are some alternatives that work efficiently to deal with unexpected weather. 


Tarps can and are most recommended when it comes to protecting your camping gear from nature and its harsh elements! There are many ways that they can be used, so don’t limit yourself to the conventional uses that they are advertised for.


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