Take one tarp…make 66 camping shelters

Tarp and VW CampervanWe love a space-age tent, a bit of glamping canvas or an all-mod-cons campervan, but we like simplicity too. 

Thanks to fat dragon for this lovely guide to making shelters. We’ve found a good selection of tarps for your tarpaulin origami practice on Amazon, but you’ll find them in most camping and outdoor shops too.

Tarp shelters


And here are a few tarps in real-life use!

A few bits and pieces to make your tarp perfect

Clips and bungees

These bits and pieces will cost you under a tenner and will change your (camping) life! Use the bungee cords to secure tarps, awnings, bits of flapping tent or for 101 other uses. The green clips fasten on to canvas taps, tents and so on without damaging the fabric and give you more options for securing. We've used a combination to make sun shelters, to keep the rain off, to create a market stall backdrop, to cover stuff in a trailer.....and more.

Smart Looprope

The clever Looprope is great for hanging tools, kitchen kit and more when you're camping. It's also strong enough to tie down bikes, tarps and disobedient children (following strict safety guidelines, of course). Comes with strong carabiner clips.

Tarp poles

Providing you have the tarp clips, guyline and trees, it's pretty easy to make yourself a shelter. But for extra versatility, add a few tarp poles to your kit. The telescopic ones are easiest to adjust but more expensive. Go for as light as possible and don't forget to check how many eyelets your tarp has to accommodate the pole ends.

The best bivvy

Sleep under your tarp in our favourite bivvy tent. The Lawson Blue Ridge can be used on the ground or in the trees as a virtually flat-bed hammock. It's really comfy. Ito does, fact, come with its own rainfly, but it can be a bit claustrophobic so a tarp gives you cover and air.

Have a look at our feature on bivvy camping – for which, a tarp is a VERY good idea. You can also see some more ‘constructed’ tent-like things in our feature on multipurpose shelters. Lots to read, eh!

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