Last Updated on September 1, 2020
Are you looking for the best camping tarp?
I spend a lot of time backpacking and I’ve owned a number of camping tarps over the years. I’ve found, like with most important camping gear, investing in a quality camping tarp is a wise decision. I’ve reviewed the top models currently available and after reading this article you will know my recommendations.
Check the quick list below for links to customer reviews and prices for my best camping tarp picks, or read on for the full review:
- Free Soldier Waterproof Portable Tarp
- Aqua Quest Defender Tarp Waterproof Heavy Duty Nylon Bushcraft Survival Shelter
- Wild Venture Tent Tarp Rain Fly Waterproof
- Chill Gorilla Hammock Rain Fly Tent Tarp Waterproof Camping Shelter
- Unigear Hammock Rain Fly Waterproof Tent Tarp
Camping is one of my favorite activities, but without the right gear it isn’t really fun. If you love tent camping the way that I do, then you will want to make sure that you invest in the best camping tarp so that you can really enjoy your time in nature and also so that you are prepared for emergency and grid-down situations.
Selecting the Best Camping Tarp
One of the first things that you need to consider is the weight of the camping tarp that you want to buy. In general, they all weigh around the same, but I find that some tarps are significantly heavier, which means that you will be adding a lot of unnecessary weight to your pack.
I also recommend considering the size of your new tarp, as you want to make sure that it is large enough to meet your needs. Obviously, if you are going to be using your tarp by yourself, then you don’t need to invest in one that is very large. However, if you are going to be in the woods with another person or want to make sure that all of the gear that you bring with you is covered as well, then a slightly larger option may be a better choice for you.
Benefits of a Great Camping Tarp
There are a few reasons that I think that everyone should invest in a camping tarp. First, they are much less expensive than tents, which means that most people can easily afford them. They also are much smaller than tents and weigh a lot less, which makes them easy to store in your car or to put into your bug-out bag so that you are prepared for any emergency that may arise.
These tarps are incredibly versatile, which means that you can not only use them to offer you protection from the rain and from other elements, but if the weather is nice, you can use them to sleep on. When you do this, you will enjoy incredible views of the skies and stars.
Having a camping tarp means that you will be able to set up a wide variety of different setups, depending on your needs. While I find that this does take some practice, with a little effort, most people can easily set up a few different tarp options, which means that they can take advantage of various designs.
Features to Consider
It’s a good idea to consider whether or not your new tarp ships with any accessories. You will likely want a stuff sack so that you can easily pack and transport your tarp, and you also need a way to set up your tarp. If you have used a camping tarp in the past, then buying one that ships with stakes and tie-downs won’t be as important. Otherwise, it’s a good idea to look for a camping tarp that comes with everything that you need to use it.
I like to be able to hang a light from the center top of my tarp, so I enjoy camping tarps that have a top center loop here. As long as it is reinforced correctly, you won’t have to worry about any water leaking into your tarp from this location.
How to Use a Camping Tarp
There are a number of different configurations that you can choose from when setting up your camping tarp, so I always recommend new users take some time in their backyard to find out what configuration will work best for them. Once you have the basic setup down and know how to do it easily, you will be able to move on to more advanced setups.
It’s important to make sure that you don’t hang your tarp too high, as you want to be sure that water and wind won’t blow in from the sides of your tarp. I have made this mistake, and it makes for a very long, cold, and wet night.
Precautions When Using Your New Camping Tarp
When you set up your camping tarp, it’s important that you make sure that all edges and corners are staked down correctly. If you do not do this, then you are likely to be awake during the night while listening to the tarp flap with the wind.
While overheating when using a camping tarp isn’t as big of a concern as it is when using a tent, I always like to make sure that I can easily open up the flap on my tarp and get a fresh breeze. This is really important if you will be in your tarp during the hot hours of the day or if you have children who will be under the tarp, as you don’t want them to get uncomfortable and to become overheated, which can be dangerous and make them sick.
Top Rated Camping Tarps
When looking to shed that extra weight from your pack, opting for a quality camping tarp will significantly lighten your load. Not all shelter taps are created equal and ensuring you pickup the best option will make sure you aren’t left out in the rain when on your backpacking trip. I have reviewed the top models on today’s market for performance, durability, and quality construction.
Free Soldier Waterproof Portable Tarp
It’s incredibly easy to set up this tent, thanks to the 19 guy points and 5 grommet points. It offers protection from wind, rain, and from the sun, as it will help block ultraviolet light, which can prevent bad sunburns. Additionally, this tent is great for keeping in a bug-out bag for emergency situations, as it comes with a stuff sack and is lightweight.
- Offers 2000 PU waterproof rating
- Reinforced ridgeline seam prevents it from tearing or fraying
- Incredibly lightweight, making it great for taking on the go
- Ships with 4 nylon guy lines, tensioners, stuff sack, and hammock rain fly
- Sometimes ships with small tears along the edge
- Doesn’t do a great job of stopping wind
Aqua Quest Defender Tarp Waterproof Heavy Duty Nylon Bushcraft Survival Shelter
No matter whether you want a camo tarp or one that is olive drab, you are sure to blend into the woods around you when you opt for this camping tarp. It does a great job of keeping users dry and has a hydrostatic resistance of 20,000mm, so you don’t need to worry about rain making its way through the fabric during the night. The webbing loops make it really easy to set up the tarp in a hurry.
- Available in multiple sizes, so you can choose the one that you want
- Heat taped seams ensure that water won’t drip through them
- Convenient stuff sack is easy to use
- Includes top center loop for hanging items overhead
- A bit heavier than other options
- Low-quality stitching can lead to drips
Wild Venture Tent Tarp Rain Fly Waterproof
Not only does this tarp ship with a stuff sack, but it also comes with stakes so that you have everything you need to hit the road and get into the woods. It’s perfect for use in all seasons and won’t fail you by letting you get wet during the night. Additionally, it comes in a few color options so that you can choose to blend in with the surroundings, be more visible, or bounce back the light from the sun with a white tarp.
- Made from 2000 PU waterproof coating and 210T ripstop fabric
- Can be used as a standalone shelter or to add security to your tent
- Can be set up in multiple configurations
- Repels sand, snow, rain, and offers relief from sun
- Can be difficult to get the tarp taut
- Doesn’t offer tie-outs in all locations that may be expected
Chill Gorilla Hammock Rain Fly Tent Tarp Waterproof Camping Shelter
This ripstop nylon tarp is designed to resist water, making it a great option for taking camping or for having in a bug-out bag for emergencies. It can be set up in a wide variety of different ways, which means that every user will be able to enjoy the protection that they need when they are outside and exposed to the elements. Additionally, the bright green color will blend in with spring and summer growth.
- Made to be puncture and tear resistant
- Features 9 tie downs and 2 centerlines
- Easily can cover a double hammock with room to spare
- Great for regular use or for survival gear
- Water tends to come in at the seams
- Center tether point isn’t reinforced and can easily rip
Unigear Hammock Rain Fly Waterproof Tent Tarp
You’re sure to love the multiple ways that you can set up this tarp so that you get the protection that you need when out in the woods. Not only is it incredibly versatile, but it’s easy to use and offers exceptional protection, making it an item that every camper should have on hand for when they want to get out and into the woods.
- Made form 210D ripstop fabric and is 3000mm waterproof
- The fixed points are all reinforced to ensure that they don’t tear
- Has an inner PU layer for additional protection from UV rays
- Ships with 6 ropes and 6 stacks for fast and easy use
- Difficult to get into the stuff sack
- Stakes aren’t high-quality and will easily bend
For more outdoor gear guides and tips read these articles:
- Best Bushcraft Knife
- Best Survival Machete
- Best Survival Shovel
- Best Mess Kit
- Best Military Watch
- Combat Boots
- Best Tactical Tomahawks
- Tactical Belts
- Tactical Boots
- Range Bags
While all of these camping tarps are designed to make it easy for you to get out into the woods and quickly set up a shelter without a lot of down time, I think that the Aqua Quest Defender Tarp is the best option. This is an incredibly heavy duty tarp that has plenty of loops for tie downs and even has a center top loop for hanging a lantern during the night. I love that it is designed to prevent any water from getting to you and that it weighs less than 3 pounds while offering some of the best protection from any tarp on the market today.
Fred is the Ready Zeal owner and editor. He has been passionately pursuing all things emergency preparation since working alongside his grandfather as a boy growing up in the Midwest. When not working on the family homestead he can be found brewing coffee and reading a good book or backpacking in the wilderness. Contact Fred at email@example.com