Camping Gear: Tarp

A tarp (tarpaulin) can be used as a canopy to provide overhead protection from the rain and can also be rigged to provide some protection from the wind. Less expensive tarps are made out of polyethylene, which is a lightweight, durable, waterproof material that can be purchased in various sizes that range from six by eight feet to twenty by twenty-eight feet and larger. Tarps work great over picnic tables if not using a screen house. Many car campers also hang tarps over their tents to provide additional protection from the rain. 

Tarp Covering Broken Zipper on Tent

A tarp should be considered mandatory for all camping trips, whether it is car, canoe, or backcountry camping. It can also be used as a makeshift shelter in the event that the tent breaks. In 2005, we were on a camping trip in Algonquin Park, when the main zipper broke on our tent door. We used a small spare tarp, measuring nine feet by twelve feet, to cover the exposed area while we slept. Luckily there was no rain and very few bugs that night. The same problem happened to us while camping at Arrowhead in 2009, and we used the same tarp a second time to keep the bugs and rain out while we slept. In both cases, we ended up driving to Huntsville the following day to purchase replacement tents. The following should help to determine what size of tarp(s) is appropriate: 

Tarp to hang over dining area: It should be at least twelve feet by sixteen feet to provide coverage for the picnic table, dining gear, your group, and to be properly hung on a slant for drainage. 

Tarp Over Tent to Protect Against Rainfall

Tarp to hang over tent: A tarp should be at least three feet longer and three feet wider than the tent that it is hanging over, to provide ample coverage from the rain. For example, a twelve- by sixteen-foot tarp is a good size to hang over a tent that measures nine by twelve feet. 

Tarp for other uses: Measure the length and width of what will be covered with the tarp and allow a little extra when purchasing the tarp. For example, a nine- by twelve-foot tarp is a good size for covering bikes during rainfall.  

Purchase at least 50 to 100 feet of rope for each tarp. 

You can see some tarps by clicking the following link: 

For more details on tarps, see The Camp Tripper. The Camp Tripper includes: trip planning, reservations, gear, meals, setting up camp, activities, breaking camp, maintenance of gear and many tips for memorable camping trips in Ontario. The book is very reasonably priced and small enough to fit in the glove compartment of your vehicle. Here are four reasons why you might prefer to order it in e-book (electronic book) format:

  • The e-book price is 37% less
  • No shipping costs, which saves you even more
  • Instant delivery to your computer or hand-held device
  • Eliminates paper and saves trees

This book is currently only available in online bookstores.


About Patrick Dzieciol

I have authored and published "The Camp Tripper - The Secrets of Successful Family Camping in Ontario" If you want to get in touch with me, please drop me an email at:
This entry was posted in Book, Camping, Dining Shelter, Gear, Ontario, Park, Tarp, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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