When going on a nature trip or hiking, you should always be prepared especially when it is raining or there are thunderstorms. That’s why you still need a tarp. This article will tell you what are the important factors when purchasing a survival tarp for your bivouac.
The Best Tarps For Bivouac
1. Anyoo Ripstop – Survival rain tarp
Material: 190T silver coated polyester
Weight: 1.8 kg
Tarpaulin size: 3 x 3 meters
Included: 8 stakes, 6 guy ropes and a carrying bag
Guarantee: 3 years
Price: View on Amazon
This Anyoo brand tarp is our winner in this category. It can be used as both rain protection and sun protection. No matter if you are having a picnic, on the beach, from the bivouac in the forest, it will always offer you protection against what comes from above.
The survival tarpaulin has a reinforced wedge to ensure solidity and durability, the eyelets are well placed. The poles have a maximum height of about 2 meters, but it is always possible to adjust the height better.
The stakes that we find with the tarp are of good quality, they are robust and accompanied by cable, there is enough for all uses as well as sardines.
The canvas is opaque enough to be able to sleep underneath without being disturbed by the light and it is waterproof.
In addition, this tarp can also serve as the ground for a tent, although this is not its primary function. The price-performance ratio is quite convincing!
2. Unigear Tarp – Hiking Shelter
Material: 210D Oxford cloth, tear-proof
Weight: about 1kg
Tarpaulin size: 3 x 3 meters or 3 x 4 meters
Included: 6 aluminum poles, 6 long ropes and a carrying bag
Price: View on Amazon
Unigear is a recognized brand in the outdoors, it has been in existence since 2014 and offers all kinds of equipment for bivouac and hiking in nature.
Unigear’s tarp is easy to install, it is available in two versions 3 times 3 meters and 3 times 4 meters and in different colors. You can use it as a tent canvas, a shelter for your 2-person hammock , or as a ground sheet. Great for hiking, camping, survival.
All corners and edges use double reinforced stitching to increase strength and prevent tearing.
This tarp can also be used folded up as a picnic blanket. It is also waterproof and offers protection against UV rays. It is therefore particularly suitable for people who like to be protected from wind and bad weather.
3. D&D – Camouflage tarp
Material: polyester 3000 mm
Weight: 790 grams with sardines
Tarpaulin size: 3 x 3 meters
16 reinforced side fixing points
Price: View on Amazon
The D&D tarp is of high quality. Due to the material used, the tarp belongs to the category of ultra light tarps and has a very small package size (33 x 20 x 7 cm). So you can transport it easily.
The trapezoidal cut allows sufficient air circulation and provides good and reliable protection against rain, sun and leaves. You can tie a hammock to this tarp and get a good place to sleep.
The real asset of this tarp remains its weight and strength, the camouflage color works really well and the tarp comes with stakes.
4. Tatonka Tarp 2 – Green
Material: polycotton (65% Polyester / 35% Cotton)
Weight: 1.26 kg
Tarpaulin size: 2.85 mx 3 m
Included: carrying bag
Price: View on Amazon
This tarp has a good size (285 cm x 300 cm). It has a lot of attachment points and when you buy it. Due to its UV resistance, you can also use the tarp as a UV protection canopy or as a shade.
If it is dirty, you can clean it by hand. Thanks to the numerous fixing points, the tarpaulin can be used in a very variable way and in almost all places. It is also quite simple to build and therefore also suitable for beginners.
Questions to ask yourself before buying a tarp
What can a tarp be used for?
A tarp is very versatile and easy to use. It is not only suitable for outdoor use or camping, but it is also suitable for the balcony or terrace.
The following list gives you a more detailed overview:
Tarpaulin for tent
Sleeping bag cover
Protection against damp and cool soil from below (underlay)
For collecting rainwater
With these examples you can see how varied the uses of a tarp are. You too can find out which function is best for you. Please note, however, that it may be necessary to use various additional materials in order to manufacture and ensure proper functionality.
What sizes are available?
The size of the canvas depends mainly on the number of people and luggage you want to put under your tarp. You should also pay attention to the height of people.
In addition, the size depends on the shape of the tarp.
Most of the time, sellers indicate the tarp size in length x width in meters. But the information can also be given in cm. Rarely is the size indicated as S for “small”. M for “medium”, L for “large” or XL for “extra large”.
I have found the most common sizes in my research:
3 x 3 meters
3.5 x 3.5 meters
4 x 4 meters
240 x 220 cm
285 x 300 cm
285 x 400 cm
295 x 300 cm
425 x 445 cm
3 x 2 meters
3 x 2.9 meters
3 x 3.5 meters
3 x 4 meters
3.6 x 3.6 x 3.6 meters
4 x 4 x 4 meters
5 x 5 x 5 meters
How much does a tarp cost?
The price of a tarp depends primarily on its size and shape. It also depends on what materials the canvas is made of and which manufacturer you choose.
You can get a simple little tarp from around € 20. Higher quality and larger tarps can cost you up to $ 300.
In some offers, accessories are already included. I advise you to check in advance what exactly is included in the price. If it is just the tarp itself, there will be additional cost for the props.
Where can I buy a tarp?
As with any traditional tent, you can purchase tarps from a variety of local specialty stores or any sporting goods store of your choice.
It is also possible to buy tarps online on Amazon for example.
Also on e-bay or on the boncoin classifieds it is possible to find a good offer for a tarp. You can also find used tarps there, if you don’t want to buy a new one.
In addition, discounters like Lidl, Aldi etc. from time to time offer these tarps on a seasonal basis in their “Weekly Deals”.
What accessories do i need to make a tent?
If you decide to buy a tarp without any other accessories, you will need additional items to make a tent. In this paragraph, I give you an overview of what you need besides canvas to build a tent.
These ropes are necessary to give a good hold to your canvas. You can choose to use either a static rope or a paracord. This is purely a matter of taste, the most common variation being the paracord.
You can use different things as poles. On the one hand, it is possible to use professional poles (for example, telescopic poles) or hiking poles. On the other hand, you can just use branches as poles for building your tent.
If your tarp does not have eyelets or if you need additional attachment points, I can recommend clips. You can easily attach them to your canvas. On the other side, you attach a carabiner, which you then connect with ropes.
This can be a useful accessory for building your tent if you are building with the clips described above. Plus, they can also help you use your tarp as a hammock.
Tent poles (Sardines)
If you don’t have sardines with you or don’t want to buy any, they can be replaced with sticks (sharp) or branches.
When buying tent poles, you should always pay attention to the surface for which they can be used. We recommend that you buy sardines, which can also be used on harder soil.
It is always useful to have a repair kit with you. If your tarp breaks, you can fix it anytime and keep using it without having to buy a new one.
If you want to camp in the wild with a tarp, but don’t like being bitten by insects, I can recommend that you attach an extra mosquito net to your tarp. They can be purchased from around € 10 and protect you from normal sized mosquitoes.
However, if you want to be protected from really small insects, you should be aware that the fine mesh mosquito net can be quite expensive.
What are the different alternatives to classic tarp?
A tarp poncho is light and minimalist equipment for hikers. You can use it as rain gear or as a shelter. It is mainly aimed at hikers with very light luggage, as it weighs only about 250 g. You can also use the poncho as a bag and carry your gear in it.
A pyramid-shaped shelter usually consists of an outer pyramid-shaped shell, which you can extend with a “nest” if necessary. A big advantage of this tent construction is its wind stability.
The more corners your shelter has, the better it holds up even in windy conditions. On the other hand, it also means more weight because of the stakes you need to hang the tent.
A Tarptent combines the advantages of a tent with those of a Tarp. It is a simple, single-walled tent. You can often find them with an asymmetrical shape. It has a very low weight and is space-saving, but its construction usually requires more skill.
Tarptents are generally just as waterproof as real tents. However, since they only have one wall, moisture can seep inside more easily due to condensation.
A tent is not as light and space-saving as a tarp. Typically a tent consists of an inner canvas, through which the inner frame is threaded, and a top canvas. The advantage of tents is that they are easy to dismantle, move and transport.
A meat bag , which is normally used in combination with a regular sleeping bag, is wind and waterproof. It is a bag which is used during the nights spent outdoors in bivouac to protect against humidity, dirt and cold. But you won’t have a roof over your head.
You can buy it as a one or two person version. A meat bag is typically used for mountaineering, rock climbing or trekking.
Features to look out for before buying a tarp
A Tarp is a light and space-saving version of a tent. But here too the weight can vary considerably. It always depends on the size of the canvas and the manufacturer. Here, the rule is: the bigger it is, the heavier it is. In addition to this, you should also pay attention to the material used.
Tarp comes in different shapes, from triangular to hexagonal. However, the most common shapes are rectangular, square, or triangular. What form you choose in the end can only be decided by you. The following paragraphs should help you decide which shape to choose.
The rectangular tarp can be used in the most versatile way.
I recommend beginners to use this form, because it is the easiest way to build a shelter for your bivouac.
In principle, a square canvas can be used in the same way as a rectangular canvas. It does have the downside, however, of losing area with different construction variations, which means it may be more difficult for tall people to use (e.g. too short to lie down completely in the dry) .
This form is very well suited as a sun veil or as a shelter in the rain. Turning a triangular tarp into a tent is quite difficult. Here you should already have some tarps building experience and some skills.
Of course, there are also various special shapes in which tarps are available. We have summarized the most important ones in this section.
An asymmetrical cut is perfect for a hammock cover. The diagonal lying position is covered. In the event of light rain, these tarpaulins are quite sufficient. However, as soon as it rains and thunderstorms are more severe, it becomes difficult to keep the equipment and hammock dry.
This form of tarp usually has slightly curved sides. When tying, this shape produces good tension. Folding the fabric is therefore almost impossible. This type of tarp forms lateral “points” which constitute an additional surface of cover or protection.
4 seasons tarp
They offer protection all year round as they have extra fabric on the sides that can be folded up and secured. So the sides are closed. More privacy and splash protection are the advantages of these tarps.
It is also good to know under what weather conditions a tarp is designed. The most important weather conditions are rain, snow, wind and sun. The following points show you what to watch out for when buying and using your tarp.
Most tarps are designed to provide protection from the rain. The waterproofing of the different fabrics depends on the coating and the material used.
Note that some materials can expand when wet. You should also pay attention to how quickly the tarp dries.
In general, a tarp can be used in snow or in the event of snowfall as soon as it is waterproof. However, when stretching the canvas you have to make sure that it cannot sag quickly due to the weight of the snow. I recommend that you regularly remove the snow from the tarp and tighten it.
Wind / storm
A tarp is not very wind stable in most cases. For this reason, I recommend setting it up relatively flat in strong winds. It is best to let the side facing the wind go down to the ground so that the wind cannot easily pass under the shelter and there is no draft.
A tarp can also be used as a parasol or as an awning. You need to verify that the material offers UV protection.
What is the origin of the use of tarps?
Originally, tarps were used like many other outdoor equipment by the military. They offer good protection against wind and bad weather. The military still use this type of tents today because they are compact and easy to transport. They are mostly used for military purposes in khaki green or camouflage colors.