Camp tent in forest

As the sun sets on summer, fall offers one last chance to go back to basics with weekend camping fun for you and your family. A checklist of essentials is sure to include items every happy camper needs for a trip into the woods: fire starters, sleeping bags, tents, etc. However, few pieces of equipment in your camping arsenal are as versatile – or as necessary – as tarps


Over the Top

Finding the right spot to pitch your tent is crucial in making a family camping excursion an enjoyable experience for all. The last thing you want to do is pack up in the middle of the night because of a heavy downpour. And while a thicket of trees provides a degree of protection from an occasional shower, it doesn’t hurt to stack the cards in your favor by adding an additional protective buffer. Tarps are perfect for adding an extra layer of protection to any tent.


  • When it comes to finding the right outdoor tarp, your best bet is going to be one of the heavy duty variety.
  • Secure your tarp tie downs using an industrial-grade rope that keeps the tarp in place in the event of inclement weather. Ground spikes are a great idea for anchoring.
  • Recruiting your troop’s helpful hands, have them hold two camping poles on opposing ends of the tent, making sure they’re both taller than the shelter and secured into the ground below. 
  • Run a line between the poles, pulling any excess rope tightly, making sure it is taut. Peg the excess line into the ground.
  • Run a second line from each pole and peg into those ground as well, this should give you both a ridge line and washing lines.
  • Pull the tarp over the line and then run additional lines from the corners of the tarp before using tarp tie downs to peg them into the ground.


Sleep Tight

Winter camping with hammock

Lightening your backpacking load can make your camping experience even better. Forget about the tent and let a tarp be all the shelter you need. A hammock between two trees, plus one tarp overhead, equals cozy comfort all night long. Hang your hammock, follow the steps outlined in the section above to create your tarp shelter, and you can create your own bohemian abode in the great outdoors. And the best part? You can embrace the rugged wilderness in all its glory without falling victim to mother nature’s worst weather woes.


As Above, So Below

As above your tent, a tarp can be just as handy underneath. A makeshift tarp floor is of great benefit in keeping your campsite comfortable and homey even while taking a trip into the woods. If the ground of your campsite is damp, muddy, frozen or hard, add a handy insulated tarp before pitching your tent so you can have an extra layer of protection and comfort. A heavy duty, insulated tarp will also protect the bottom of your tent from sticks or stones that can puncture the material and ruin your home away from home.



If roughing it in the wild isn’t your idea of a fun weekend, you’re not alone. That’s why some mad genius thought up the concept of a literal home away from home. Recreational vehicles take camping to the next level. Just pull up and unhitch your wagon and you’re ready for a five-star stay in the wilderness away. Set up your basecamp with a handy RV tarp, providing you all the coverage you need for outdoor cooking, relaxing, and family time. Keep covered from the falling debris of trees and protect your campfire from rough weather in one fell swoop.


MacGyver It

Green tent in lush forest

Looking for more uses for a tarp at your campsite? With endless utility possibilities, you can’t go wrong when it comes to thinking outside the box.


  • Prevent windy weather from turning your campsite on its head by using an insulated tarp as a buffer against particularly nasty gusts. You can also block the wind from your fire at night.
  • Tarps are the lightweight solution to your hiking shelter needs. Toss a tarp into your hiking bag before leaving camp and use it for a convenient sun shelter for a lunchtime picnic. A mesh tarp is perfect for protecting your family from the sun’s warm rays as well.
  • When exploring the areas outside the campground, a camouflage tarp makes for the perfect inconspicuous shelter to snap pictures of the surrounding wildlife of the great outdoors.
  • Canoeing campers will find great use of a tarp as protection over your boats during the night.
  • If no bathrooms are nearby, use a tarp to give your designated restrooms a layer of privacy that trees can’t provide.