When you go camping, you probably want to bring at least a couple of tarps. Camping tarps are useful for a variety of purposes. Silnylon is the major new trend for backpackers who enjoy tarp-camping. The very lightweight ripstop nylon is impregnated with silicone — not merely coated — for the ultimate in waterproof, ultra-lightweight camping tarps.
A waterproof tarp can be stretched overhead near your tent, to provide a rain shelter that will allow you to cook, read, play cards, or just relax outside the tent during the inevitable rain shower. (Doesn't it always rain when you go camping?) See our rain tarps for information on setting up a rain tarp. Your rain tarp will also provide shade on hot sunny days, making your cooking chores more pleasant and in general providing a more enjoyable time while outdoors.
Half Shelters and Lean-Tos
A tarp can also be used to create a temporary partial shelter or lean-to. Place it so that the open end is facing away from the wind (or rain). A tarp shelter can be created by tying the tarp to trees or by using poles for support. Ground stakes are always useful to secure the edges along the ground.
Use a waterproof tarp as a ground cloth, placed directly on the ground underneath the floor of your tent. The ground cloth protect the tent floor from abrasions and tears from stones, pebbles, and twigs or roots on the ground. The ground cloth should be slightly smaller than the tent itself, to avoid having it collect rainwater to pool under the tent. If it rains during the night, the rainwater will run underneath the ground cloth, keeping it from getting the floor of your tent wet.
Some campers like to use a ground cloth inside the tent as well. A quality canvas or poly tarp of an appropriate size can be used as an inside ground cloth. This protects the interior floor of your tent, and it's easier to clean. It's also cheaper to replace than the entire tent.