The 8 Best Camping Tarps of 2021

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TRIPSAVVY-best-camping-tarps

Chloe Jeong / TripSavvy

The Rundown

Best Overall: Sea to Summit Escapist Tarp at Moosejaw

"Wears its many functions on its sleeve."

Best Budget: Stansport Reinforced Multi-Purpose Tarp at Amazon

"It’ll stand up to years of serious abuse."

Most Weatherproof: Kelty Noah’s Tarp at Backcountry

"Made of no-snag coated polyester taffeta."

Best for Thru-Hiking: MSR Thru-Hiker Wing at Backcountry

"Will work as double duty, providing shelter overhead, or as your actual tent."

Best for Hammock Sleepers: Eagles Nest Outfitters ProFly Rain Tarp at Amazon

"Reliable foul-weather protection to keep hammock sleepers dry and off the ground."

Most Versatile: Sanctuary SilTarp at Amazon

"Comes with everything you need to get your shelter pitched in a snap."

Best for Bigger Groups: Equinox Egret Tarp at Amazon

"At 12 x 16 feet, this tarp will fit your entire camping crew and can be set up in a variety of ways."

Most Durable: Heavy Duty Vinyl Tarp at Amazon

"If you need a tarp that can do it all, this is the only option."

Camping tarps are a big piece of waterproof fabric meant to offer a bit of extra cover from the rain and wind. When looking for the right tarp, the two big considerations are its size and its materials. The former is straightforward; the bigger space you want to cover, the larger the footprint, while solo or two-person outings can likely get away with a tarp that’s around 7 x 8 feet. As far as fabrics, camping tarps basically break out into two categories: heavy-duty and lightweight. Heavy-duty tarps are made of more durable—and also heavier—fabrics that can handle varying weather conditions. Lightweight tarps are better suited for backpackers because they can pack down into small stuff sacks but require a more scientific set-up to protect you from inclement weather.

Beyond that, look for tarps with multiple reinforced attachment points—the four corners are a minimum, but the more places you can latch onto, the easier it is to set up and secure a taut fit. Some also include nice add-ons like guy lines and small grommets to let you use hiking poles to convert the tarp into a makeshift tent. It should be noted that most tarps don’t come with rope, which you’ll need to secure the tarp to the nearest tree, pole, or car rack.

Now that we have the basics covered, keep scrolling to see our picks for the best camping tarps.

Best Overall: Sea to Summit Escapist Tarp

Sea to Summit Escapist Tarp

Amazon 

What We Like
  • Lightweight

  • Easy to set up

  • Multi-functional

What We Don't Like
  • Stuff sack can be hard to use


The Escapist Tarp wears its many functions on its sleeve—literally. The stuff sack includes illustrations for how you can pitch your tarp, as a standard overhead shelter, as well as a handful of A-frame shelters (from classic to ridgeline to tapered), a wind shield (with or without a roof), tent awning, a bivy and as ridgeline fly to cover a hammock. Made of taped seam-sealed waterproof 15 D PU-coated nylon, it provides cover against all conditions, but it only weighs 15.5 ounces and packs down to the size of a water bottle, making it ideal for backpackers. You get eight bar-tack reinforced tie-out points, with reinforced corners with cord locks and guy lines that can be adjusted while under the tarp, a nice feature when the rain is really coming down.

Sea to Summit made the Escapist with the backcountry in mind, and it’s easy to convert the tarp into a variety of tents as well, with or without poles, though the tie-outs are configured to fit the tip of trekking poles, which can make set-up a breeze. It also works with Sea to Summit’s Escapist Bug Tent/Net, which together get closer to a full-fledged tent at a fraction of the weight of other models.

Weight: 9.52 oz. or 12.3 oz. | Sizes: 8.6 x 6.6 ft. or 10 x 10 ft. | Tie-Out Points: 8

Best Budget: Stansport Reinforced Multi-Purpose Tarp

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Multi purpose

What We Don't Like
  • Heavier

  • Hard to pack down

This workhorse is probably what most people picture when they think about tarps—in part because it’s practically ubiquitous in camping, as well as to keep firewood dry, line the back (or cover) the bed of a pickup, cover a boat, or perform any other sort of rugged weather-proof task outside. Made of durable ripstop polyethylene and laminated on both sides, it’ll stand up to years of serious abuse from Mother Nature, as well as other trials. The edges are reinforced with rope, and it comes with heavy-duty rust-resistant grommets positioned every three to four feet (depending on the tarp’s size). It’s far from the lightest camping tarp, and it’s tough to pack down (even when using compression straps; and doesn’t come with a stuff sack), but it's reliable—and, given its low price point—easy to replace in the unlikely event that you need a replacement.

Weight: starts at .25 lb. | Sizes: 8 x 10 ft., 10 x 12 ft., 10 x 16 ft., 10 x 18 ft., 12 x 14 ft., 14 x 16 ft., 16 x 20 ft., 18 x 24 ft., 20 x 30 ft., 24 x 36 ft., 30 x 60 ft. | Tie-Out Points: 4

Most Weatherproof: Kelty Noah’s Tarp

Kelty Noah’s Tarp

Courtesy of Backcountry

5
What We Like
  • Easy to set up

  • Won't snag

  • Wide shade footprint

What We Don't Like
  • A little heavy

  • Irregular shape

The almost-aptly-named Noah’s Tarp won’t help you survive a flood—or house two of every known animal species—but it might be the most weather-proof camping tarp on this list. It comes with fully taped seam construction and is made of no-snag coated polyester taffeta that lets you pitch it tight, essential when the weather gets really foul. Unlike most other tarps, it has loop tie-ins that extend off the tarp's edges and also runs tie loops down the tarp’s center spines to let you create a veritable exoskeleton of support via poles or rope tie-offs. A smartly engineered pocket at the lets you store lengths of rope, and it also comes with a carry sack. The three-season tarp comes in three sizes (144 square feet, 256 square feet, and 400 square feet), and a starting weight of 1 pound, 11 ounces means it’s more appropriate for camping than backpacking.

Weight: 1.11 lbs., 2.3 lbs., or 3.10 lbs. | Sizes: 12 x 12 ft. or 16 x 16 ft. |
Tie-Out Points: 21

Tested by TripSavvy

The Kelty Noah’s Tarp kept us well-shaded and cool in the approximately 90-degree summer heat in our Los Angeles backyard, and we imagine this would work just as well in a camping or beach environment. We wouldn’t recommend leaving it up for more than an entire day, as prolonged exposure to the sun and its UV rays will damage the material. The polyester tarp may feel thin, but it’s coated and durable enough to withstand your average bumps and pokes, as our clumsy toddlers can attest. We also sprayed the tarp lightly with our backyard hose and found that the inside stayed dry with no leaks at all.

If you’re a frequent outdoor enthusiast looking for a sun canopy, the Noah’s Tarp in the 9-foot option is an ideal choice. Just note that you’ll need to shell out some extra cash for the staff poles (which aren’t included) if you plan on setting it up as a free-standing shade. — Danielle Directo-Meston, Product Tester

Kelty Noah's Tarp Sun Shelter

TripSavvy / Danielle Directo-Meston

Best for Thru-Hiking: MSR Thru-Hiker Wing

MSR Thru-Hiker Wing

 Courtesy of Backcountry

What We Like
  • Roomy

  • Water resistant

What We Don't Like
  • You need your own poles


If Cheryl Strayed’s Wild (or the movie by the same name) inspired you to try your hand at thru-hiking the Pacific Crest or Appalachian trails—or if you just fancy a low-weight way to carry shelter on a two- or three-night backpacking trip, the MSR Thru-Hiker 100 Wing will work as double duty, providing shelter overhead, or as your actual tent, without adding on much pack weight. It comes in two sizes, 70 and 100 square feet, though both are big enough to accommodate two to three sleeping bags, and weighs as little as 12 ounces. Made of 20D ripstop nylon along with 1,200 mm polyurethane and silicone, it’ll fight off wind and rain, and comes with ten reinforced tie points spaced out to accommodate a trekking pole tent set-up, with four flanking the “edges” and only one on either side of the point where you’d pitch the pole to create an A-frame shelter. Naturally, the tarp does easy double duty as a traditional tarp, and it can also be paired with MSR’s Thru-Hiker Mesh House for a complete backcountry shelter solution.

Weight: 12 oz. or 1.1 lbs. | Sizes: 9.6 x 8 ft. or 10.6 x 9.6 ft. | Tie-Out Points: 10

Best for Hammock Sleepers: Eagles Nest Outfitters ProFly Rain Tarp

What We Like
  • Lightweight

  • Versatile

What We Don't Like
  • A little small

Asheville, NC-based Eagles Nest Outfitters were deep into the camping hammock game long before lightweight hammocks started trending with Millennials, and they still make some of the best camping hammocks on the market. Their ENO ProFly Rain Tarp has been specifically designed to marry with their other products to provide reliable foul-weather protection to keep hammock sleepers dry and off the ground. That said, with six reinforced guy points, you can easily put the ProFly to other uses, providing cover for your side-country kitchen or blocking a persistent wind. Made of 210D ripstop nylon, it’ll shed away rain and snow and will stand up to years of ritualistic abuse.

Weight: 1.6 lbs. | Size: 10.6 x 6.4 ft. | Tie-Out Points: 6

Most Versatile: Sanctuary SilTarp

What We Like
  • Ready for any scenario

  • Lightweight

  • Lifetime warranty

What We Don't Like
  • Sub par tie-out lines

Unlike most tarps, the Sanctuary SilTarp comes with everything you need to get your shelter pitched in a snap, including six aluminum Y stakes, 60 feet of 1.5 mm reflective Dyneema guy line rope, and six micro line-lock adjusters to help tighten things down. As with other lightweight tarps, it’s made of ripstop nylon with a silicon/PU dual-coating and fully taped seams to fend off wind and rain. Unlike other tarps on this list, however, you can choose from a variety of cuts and sizes, including a 10 x 7.5 feet tapered cut (which wings out wider on one side), two flat cut sizes (standard rectangles), as well as two hexagonal cuts with curved edges, with the largest dimension measuring in at 12 x 10 feet. The cut dictates the number of perimeter attachment points, which range from 16 (flat cut) to 12 (tapered) to six (hex). This allows you to find the perfect tarp for your conditions, from simple sun-rain-wind protection to adding shelter to your hammock.

Weight: 1.03 lbs. | Size: 12 x 10 ft. | Tie-Out Points: 16

Best for Bigger Groups: Equinox Egret Tarp

What We Like
  • Double-stitched seams

  • Rugged

What We Don't Like
  • Not as water resistant as others on the list


At 12 x 16 feet, this tarp from Equinox will fit your entire camping crew. Its 16 individual reinforced tie-out points allow for a variety of set-ups and ways to assure a taut configuration. Made from rugged ripstop nylon, this extra-large tarp is robust enough to stand up to the foulest conditions of Mother Nature, with fully taped seams for added durability. But it only weighs 3 pounds and 13 ounces, making it suitable for lightweight hikers to haul. Reviewers noted this tarp is made from high-quality materials and loved how many camping trips it lasted.

Weight: 3.13 lbs. | Size: 12 x 16 ft. | Tie-Out Points: 16

Most Durable: Heavy Duty Vinyl Tarp

What We Like
  • Versatile

  • UV protection

What We Don't Like
  • Heavy

If you need a tarp that can do it all (for camping or being used as a canopy for your deck or porch), this is the only option. Unlike most tarps on this list, it’s not made of various thicknesses of PU-coated poly. This one comes in vinyl, making it impervious to the soak-through that can happen when lesser tarps start to collect pools of water, and it’s highly damage-resistant; no fabric can fend off punctures, but this one will stand up to almost anything save a knife blade. It measures 8 x 10 feet and includes reinforced grommets every 2 feet on all sides, with double-thick hems that have been heat-sealed for added strength. At 10 pounds it’s pretty much the opposite of lightweight, but it packs into a relatively truck-friendly 12 x 10 x 4-inch package.

Weight: 4 lbs. or 10 lbs. | Sizes: 5 x 7 ft. or 8 x 10 ft. | Tie-Out Points: 4

Final Verdict

If weight is a concern or you simply want a tarp that’s kitted out with a few smart camping-friendly features, go with the Sea to Summit Escapist Tarp (view at Moosejaw). It comes with plenty of tie-down attachments and includes its own guy lines, as well as illustrations on different tarp configuration options on its stuff sack. But if you’re just looking for added shelter for a variety of circumstances and a wider footprint, the bomber Stansport Reinforced Multi-Purpose Tarp (view at Amazon) will deliver. It’s available in a variety of sizes and its rope-reinforced edges and rust-resistant grommets will stand up to serious abuse.

What to Look for in Camping Tarps

Material

The best camping tarps are those that are waterproof and durable. Both nylon and polyester are inherently water resistant, but companies might also add a waterproof treatment. Other materials to look for are Silnylon (a synthetic nylon covered in silicone), Silpoly (polyester enforced with silicone), and Cuben Fiber. Of the three, Cuben Fiber is by far the most expensive, but also the lightest and the most waterproof. It's understandably great, but for a better balance of price and weight, go for tarps made of Silnylon or Silpoly.

Size

It's really a matter of what's going to be covered and personal preference. A single hammock can get away with a size of 6 x 8 feet, whereas a group would need something larger. But remember, generally speaking, the larger the tarp, the heavier it'll be.

Price

Interestingly, the lightest tarps are usually the most expensive. They're meant to be used by ultra-light hikers who spend long stretches of time in the wilderness and can't be bothered by wet belongings. Those that don't fall into that camp can probably opt for something a little heavier and cheaper.

FAQs

What if rain isn’t in the forecast?

Tarps can keep nature seekers dry, but even if there’s not a cloud in the sky, a good camping tarp can also provide shelter from the sun and a more coherent camp organization. Plus, it can double as an extension of a tent’s vestibule for added privacy.

Are there any additional features you should consider?

Some tarps—particularly those made specifically for camping and backpacking—come with guy lines already attached to the tarp at most of the attachment points, making it easier to set up since it's not necessary to pack an additional rope. And the more attachment points, the better; this makes it easy to pitch the tarp in a variety of different configurations or lets users tie off sagging areas in the tarp with relative ease. Also be on the lookout for taped seams to further reinforce the tarp's waterproofness.

Why Trust TripSavvy

Nathan Borchelt has been caught in more downpours while camping and backpacking than he can remember—in fact, rainstorms are almost a guarantee in his favorite stretch of wilderness, West Virginia’s Dolly Sods. He’s pitched dozens of tarps in all types of weather and relies on them on any outdoor adventure—from multi-day backpacking trips to erecting a quick sun shelter in his backyard.

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