How to Set Up a Tarp For Camping

Last Updated on January 20, 2023

Setting up a tarp for the first time is intimidating, but it is easy to do with the right instructions and all the right tools. And a tarp can help a person have shelter from the elements and can help protect their belongings.

A tarp is a type of shelter that is made from a flexible plastic sheet that is waterproof and can protect from rain. A tarp can be rolled up and it can also protect from the sunlight. A tarp can be also used as a makeshift tent. Therefore, it is essential to know how to set up a tarp during camping.

You would be better off checking the condition of that camping essential. Setting up a tarp may be challenging. Having watched the numerous videos regarding setting up, the process may appear to be more complicated. The camping enthusiasts I spoke with told me that the tarp could be set up in multiple ways.

Based on my encounters with camping veterans and numerous camping trips, I have come up with some of the best ways to set up a tarp.

How to Set Up a Tarp For Camping

What Things Should You Consider to Set Up a Tarp?

1. Pegs and PolesHow to Set Up a Tarp For Camping

These tools work as a structure of your tarp. Therefore, you have to carry them with you. It will not only put a load on your backpack but also make your hiking a bit uncomfortable. Why don’t you look for the solution in nature?

You can use branches and trunks as natural pegs and poles. They are easy to get. Moreover, no matter where you go camping, you will found something almost everywhere. Despite the practical use, brunches and trunks may vary according to the terrain.

It will not be easy to get a suitable natural pole in the higher altitudes of mountainous areas. Therefore, it is essential to consider the terrains before making a camping plan. Carrying a set of telescopic poles could be an answer to the question of how to set up a tarp without trees. However, there are other ways.

2. Guy lines

how to set up a tarp

Guy lines will provide you a guideline to set up the tarp. These equally spaced tying facilities give you the freedom to make a tarp of any size. Some of the hammock tarps do not come with guy lines and may put you in trouble.

Some DIY videos or blogs may suggest you use regular cords. However, they are not strong enough to carry the load. Additionally, you may found yourself wrapped in the tarp in the middle of the night. I am sure you do not want it.

The best option to set up a tarp without guy lines is to use the accessory cord. These cords can withstand up to 180 kg. Therefore, it will keep your tarp strong and steady for long.

Paracords are also a reliable answer to the query on how to set up a tarp for camping. You can use it with any tarp that comes without the guy lines. Like an accessory cord, this can carry a big load. Most of my camper friends told me they prefer both the cords during outdoor adventures. Therefore, when you are worried about how to set up a large camping tarp, especially without guy lines, go for either of those cords.

How will you set up the tarp?

1. Spread the tarp out

how to hang a tarp

During early camping days, I have always asked my friends how to set up a tarp for rain. They always told me to spread out the tarps smoothly. Moreover, they told me to secure the tarp towards the anchor and face it towards the rain. This pattern works for strong wind too.

You have to secure the edge towards the wind. Later, you can fix the other side. In this way, you can save your hiking stuff from rain. Additionally, you can use those to guard the sides of the tarp against the gust.

Tarps are strong but not enough to withstand the powerful wind for a long time. Therefore, veteran campers suggest keeping the tarp as flat as possible.

2. Anchor is necessary

A strong anchor will hold your tent even in the strong wind just like a regular anchor of the ship. It is required at the side where your tent is facing wind or rain. If the tarp is not tightly anchored, the wind will blow, or rain will bloat your stuff. If you ever think about how to set up a rain tarp for camping, choose the anchor wisely.

The good news is you can use anything weighty as an anchor. Your waterproof bag, rock, branches, fences or anything heavy will serve the purpose of the anchor. No matter what type of card you use, make sure you tie a tight knot with the anchor.

3. Knots are easy and essential04

Yes, most of the knots are easy to tie. However, you have to choose them according to the situation. Feeling surprised. Think about how it will feel when you tie a complicated knot, and suddenly you have to change the tarp position.

Super-knot is the jack of all treads. You can use it almost anywhere. It is easy to ties and easy to loosen. The clove hitch knot is a sting one. Mountaineers and climbers use it to tie their pins. Therefore, when you need a strong tie with anchors, you should choose it.

Moreover, when you are worried about how to set up a tarp over a hammock, the clove hitch is the solution. It is so simple that after a few tries, you can tie it even blindfolded. A Taut-line hitch is another alternative for a clove hitch.

4. Few additional points to keep in mindhow to set up a tarp

  • When you are setting up the tarp, make sure the sides are not at the same height. Otherwise, rainwater will pour into your tent.
  • Are you sure, it is going to rain? If yes, make small drainage so that rainwater can flow away.
  • Tie the rap in a way so that it does not make a sag in the wind. Moreover, if it’s tied loosely, rainwater will accumulate on the tarp.

You are ready, now get set and go

It will be no problem to set up a tarp for camping now that you know how to do it. Think about your destination before you leave. Moreover, get the best tarp to cover up your tent or hammocks.

As you know how to set up a tarp, what is the point of waiting? Pack your backpack and hit the road. Make sure you share your experience with us. You might also like to read my pvc Pipe tent making/ DIY outdoor canopy tent guide/ tarp tent making guide.

Video: Tarp Tent Setup For Camping

Author: Euell Gibbons

Outdoorsman and proponent of natural diets. He loves camping, hiking and exploring the great outdoors. Camping is a way of life for him - as soon as he can get away from work, he's out there!

3 thoughts on “How to Set Up a Tarp For Camping”

  1. It is so essential that you mentioned that you can use anything that weights a lot as an anchor for your tarp. My husband and I have decided to travel throughout the summer and we would like to find a retractable tarp system for our car. We both have always loved camping and nature but we have never taken a trip that lasted more than a few weeks, so we need to make sure we are prepared for anything.


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