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The 8 Best Camping Tarps for Shelter and Sleeping [2024 ]

Amar Hussain's image
Amar Hussain
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Amar Hussain

Senior Content Contributor

801 Published Articles

Countries Visited: 63U.S. States Visited: 9

Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications incl...
Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
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Keri Stooksbury

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With years of experience in corporate marketing and as the executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar, Keri is now editor-in-chief at UP, overseeing daily content operations and r...

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If you are an experienced camper, you know that tents can be a bit bulky to transport, which is especially inconvenient for short trips. When going camping for a few days, a great alternative for shelter and sleeping is a camping tarp.

They are lightweight, easily packable, provide ground cover, and even offer a tent-like sleeping setup. So, what makes a worthwhile camping tarp? We’ll go over the qualities to look for and list the best options to ensure a great experience on your next camping trip.

Things To Consider in a Camping Tarp

Camping tarp
A camping tarp should be lightweight, easily packable, and provide good ground cover. Image Credit: Amar Hussain

Before you buy a camping tarp, there are several considerations to keep in mind in order to make the best choice. It’s not only about the size of the tarp but also its build materials, durability, thickness, and other factors.

Here are some of the main factors you should focus on when looking for the right camping tarp for you and your family.

Tarp Material

Camping tarp material
Some of the best camping tarp materials are canvas, vinyl, and polyethylene. Image Credit: Amar Hussain

To get maximum durability and quality protection from wind and bad weather while camping, choosing the right material is crucial. Some of the best camping tarp materials are canvas, vinyl, and polyethylene.

All of them are highly water-resistant, while canvas is even flame-resistant. You will be able to get a good cover for your camping trips with all of these materials, so avoid cheap plastic blends and go with one of these options instead.

Thickness

Choosing a thick camping tarp can be a life-saver in so many ways while spending time in nature. Not only does it ensure better protection, but it also makes the tarp sturdier when set up like a tent with hiking poles.

Thicker camping tarps also end to be the most durable. A thick tarp will also prove useful for placing on the ground over rocky terrain if you want to set up a picnic while hiking, for instance.

Tarp Size

Other than different build materials and levels of thickness, camping tarps also come in different sizes. This makes them a great option for camping, as you can choose the right size to cover the number of people in your group.

Bottom Line: Tarp size is an important factor when looking for the best option to suit your needs, so make sure that you check the size before buying.

The 8 Best Camping Tarps

Now that we’ve covered the basics, it’s time to take a look at some of the best camping tarps. We’ve made sure to include versatile tarps with multiple uses for campers, as well as tarps of different sizes and materials. Let’s take a closer look.

1. Multipurpose, Waterproof Camping Tarp

Amazon Basics Waterproof Camping Tarp

With a weight of just a bit over 2 pounds, the multipurpose camping tarp from Amazon Basics makes a great lightweight option. You can easily pack it up into a backpack or a bag and carry it to your campsite to establish a shelter.

It’s a completely waterproof camping tarp made of polyethylene, and the durable rip-stop fabric will make it last for years to come. It comes with rust-resistant grommets that can be used with hiking poles to set up a firm connection to the ground.

What We Like:

  • Durable construction and materials

What We Don’t Like:

  • It only comes in 1 color

2. Heavy-duty Canvas Tarp for Shelter

Check on Walmart

CCS Chicago Canvas Waterproof 21 Ounce Camping Tarp

If you are looking for an ultimate heavy-duty camping tarp, CCS Chicago’s canvas tarp might be perfect for you. It’s a durable tarp with triple-thick hems to ensure long-lasting and strong support in a camping shelter.

With 24 inches of center-to-center spacing, this canvas tarp is perfect for a family camping trip. It’s completely waterproof, so rain will merely glide off the edges, and you will have a proper shelter for protection against bad weather.

It’s made of cotton duck canvas, so it should make a quality, durable asset to your camping gear. In addition, rustproof brass grommets guarantee a powerful hold, so you won’t have to worry about the support.

What We Like:

  • Heavy-duty, triple-thick hems

What We Don’t Like:

  • It might be a bit heavy for multi-day backpacking

3. Lightweight Camping Tarp With Great Choice of Sizes

Trademark Supplies Waterproof Camping Tarp

This camping tarp is notable for its incredible choice of size variants as it comes in 19 different sizes. Therefore, you can choose the one perfectly suited to your camping trips, whether you camp by yourself or with your whole family.

It’s also a waterproof tarp and only weighs about 1.5 pounds, depending on the size you pick. It can easily be carried in a bag or a backpack and comes in handy for protection from bad weather or to provide a campsite shelter to spend the night.

What We Like:

  • Vast choice of different sizes

What We Don’t Like:

  • Isn’t as durable as other heavy-duty camping tarps

4. Double-sided, Polyethylene-laminated Tarp Cover

AmazonCommercial Multi-Purpose Waterproof Poly Tarp

This multifunctional tarp can be used for a variety of purposes, and you can even cover your entire camping RV with it. It can also be used as a shelter at a family campsite as it provides more than enough coverage.

The weight of 15 pounds might be a bit too much for backpack carrying, but keep in mind the 16 x 20-foot size of this large tarp. A waterproof design, embedded grommets every 36 inches, and an enforced thick layer of polyethylene make this tarp an excellent choice for campers.

What We Like:

  • Large-size polyethylene camping tarp

What We Don’t Like:

  • Weighs more than other camping tarps

5. Compact and Lightweight Survival Tarp

Check on Walmart

Stansport Reinforced Multi-Purpose Tarp

Stansport’s polyethylene camping tarp weighs only 0.25 pounds and is one of the most lightweight options on the market. It comes with metal grommets and can be used as a tent-like cover for camping.

Moreover, this tarp has several great features that make it stand out, from the rope-reinforced edges to the double-layered corners. Polyethylene lamination on the sides adds up to a durable and fully waterproof tarp that is easily set up with ropes that go through the grommets.

What We Like:

  • Easy to assemble and use

What We Don’t Like:

  • It might not suffice for heavier storms

6. Heavy-duty With a Lifetime Warranty

Aqua Quest Defender Tarp Heavy Duty Shelter

The Aqua Quest Defender is a heavy-duty adaptable tarp that’s both easy to use and versatile, as you can use it for ground cover and survival shelter. The best thing is that this tarp comes with a lifetime warranty.

It’s extremely durable and waterproof, making it perfect for all weather conditions. It comes with reinforced webbing loops, including overhead hanging loops, for setting it up as a cover. Nylon and heavy TPU coating materials attest to their durability.

As for user convenience, you can place the entire tarp in your backpack and easily carry it to your campsite.

What We Like:

  • Compact, heavy-duty tarp with a lifetime warranty

What We Don’t Like:

  • It isn’t big enough for more than 2 people

7. Complete Protection From the Elements

Check on Walmart

FREE SOLDIER Waterproof Portable Tarp Outdoor Camping Shelter

With a diagonal length of 172 inches, this camping tarp is another great choice for campers. It comes with full UV and waterproof protection as it’s made of rip-stop polyester fabric. The strengthened wear-resistant material makes it a solid shelter for 2 people.

The best thing about this tarp is that it comes fully equipped with a compact carrying bag. Also, the package comes with 4 elastic ropes and a hiking pole that you can use to set it up as an overhead cover. The remaining components of the kit include aluminum stakes and a stake bag for easier carrying of all the elements.

The complete survival shelter pack and durable materials are the main highlights of this tarp, but it also stands out with reinforced edges and ridgeline seams.

What We Like:

  • A full survival shelter pack

What We Don’t Like:

  • Could suffer rips if the poles are too tight

8. Small-size Rain Fly Camping Tarp

Unigear Hammock Multifunctional Rain Fly Camping Tarp

This polyester oxford fabric camping tarp is a great lightweight solution for campers. The whole kit weighs only 3.3 pounds and offers both waterproof and UV protection. It can remain completely dry even in extremely bad weather and can be set up quickly for ultimate user convenience.

Durable tear-resistant materials make it a superb solution for protection from bad weather while camping. It can also be used as a sleeping shelter for up to 2 people, and it has taped sealed seams to prevent water leakage.

Polyester webbing loops enable easier adjustment and setting up of the tarp shelter. It comes with aluminum ground nails that you can use to fix the tarp in place for stable ground support. You also get a carrying bag, 6 poles, and ropes for a more convenient setup.

What We Like:

  • UV protection and waterproof material

What We Don’t Like:

  • Only comes in 2 colors

Final Thoughts

This list includes some of the best picks for camping tarps both in terms of size and user convenience. Your camping needs and the number of people camping with you will determine the size and properties of the right tarp for you.

Make sure to pay additional attention to the tarp accessories, materials, and tear protection when deciding on a tarp.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are camping tarps worth it?

Camping tarps are much more versatile than tents as they can be carried more easily and quickly assembled as overhead or tent-like covers. Moreover, you can use some tarps to cover an entire RV overnight or use it as a ground cover for sitting in nature.

What type of tarp is best-suited for camping?

When buying a camping tarp, you should look for a waterproof and UV-resistant tarp with additional tear protection. That way, you can ensure that you are purchasing a complete shelter for all types of weather.

What is the best material for a camping tarp?

The best camping tarp materials are canvas, vinyl, and polyethylene. Nylon also works, but avoid plastic blends if possible. Canvas tarps may be the best option, as they are flame-resistant as well as durable.

What is the best tarp size for camping?

The best camping tarp size for a single person is 6 x 8 feet, while the larger 9 x 12-foot tarps can be used to cover an entire family.

Amar Hussain's image

About Amar Hussain

Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications including Forbes, the Huffington Post, and more.

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