Why Put A Tarp Over Tent

Updated Jul 9, 2023

Benefits of Tarping a Tent

Tarping a tent brings many advantages, making your camping experience more enjoyable. It gives an extra layer of protection from the elements, keeping you and your gear dry in rain and storms. Also, tarping your tent guards against wear and tear due to harsh weather. Plus, it can stop insects or small creatures from entering your tent.

Having a tarp over your tent adds versatility when choosing a campsite. With it, you can pitch your tent on surfaces such as sand or rocks. This widens your camping options and makes your trips more exciting.

In addition, tarping a tent adds insulation, cooling or warming your tent as needed. On hot days, the tarp blocks sun to create shade and keep your tent cool. On cold days, the air between the tarp and tent acts as an insulating layer, maintaining warmth.

Tarping your tent also increases privacy. It creates a barrier between you and the outside world, making it easier to relax and sleep even in crowded areas.

To get the most out of tarping your tent, here are some tips:

  1. Secure the tarp with ropes or bungee cords to stop it from blowing away in strong winds.
  2. Angle the tarp so water can easily run off it.
  3. Avoid setting it up too close to any potential hazards such as tree branches or sharp rocks.
  4. Pack it up when dry to prevent mildew or mold growth.

How to Properly Tarp Over a Tent

Tarping your tent is key to keeping it safe from the elements. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Get the right tarp: Get a durable, waterproof one that fits your tent.
  2. Set up the tent: Pitch it before adding the tarp.
  3. Place the tarp: Put it flat above the tent, with edges going beyond all sides.
  4. Secure corners: Use rope or bungee cords to tie the tarp to trees or stakes.
  5. Make sloping angles: Pull the tarp edges down to create a slant for rain runoff.
  6. Tighten & adjust: Check, secure & tighten all attachments for a snug fit.

You can also add extra protection with guy lines or bungee cords. Don’t tie it down too tight, though, so air can flow.

A few years ago, I hiked in the Rockies with friends. That night, a storm came. We were thankful for our well-tarped tents! They kept us dry and safe. It taught us the value of prepping properly.

So don’t forget to bring a good tarp and follow these steps when you next head out into the wild! It’ll ensure an enjoyable camping experience, even in bad weather.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Tarping a Tent

Tarping a tent can be tricky. To help you have a successful and comfortable camping experience, here’s what to keep in mind:

  • Secure the tarp: Make sure it’s tight enough or it may flap in the wind and cause damage or leaks.
  • Use a large enough tarp: Make sure your tarp covers your tent or it won’t protect from rain or other elements.
  • Create a slope for rainwater: Set it up at an angle so water doesn’t pool on top of the tarp and cause leaks.
  • Use and anchor guy lines: These are essential for keeping your tarp stable and preventing sagging.
  • Ventilate: Don’t forget to let air in, or condensation will build up and make your tent uncomfortable.

Plus, use tarps specifically designed for tents. They’re more durable and weather-resistant. Regularly inspect and maintain your tarp too.

A story to remember is that of a camper during a storm. They didn’t properly secure their tarp and their tent got soaked. So, when tarping your tent, be careful and prepared!

Tarping Tips and Best Practices

Tarp your tent for extra protection! Follow these tips to ensure a secure and comfortable camping experience:

  1. Positioning: Place the tarp under your tent and extend beyond the edges.
  2. Size Matters: Choose one slightly larger than the tent to provide coverage.
  3. Secure It Properly: Use stakes or ropes to keep it tight and prevent water pooling.
  4. Create a Slope: Raise one end higher than the other to help rainwater run off.
  5. Clear Obstacles: Remove anything sharp or debris that might damage the tarp.

Invest in a high-quality waterproof tarp for added features and durability. And don’t forget the challenge of untangling yourself from the giant saran wrap!


The significance of covering your tent with a tarp cannot be underestimated. Not only does it give extra security against the weather, but it also helps to prolong the life of your tent. A tarp stops rainwater from pooling on the fabric and reduces UV damage, resulting in increased durability of your shelter.

In addition to safeguarding your tent, a properly placed tarp can also create a pleasant outdoor living space. It stretches beyond the tent’s edges, creating a sheltered spot where you can cook, rest, or store gear. This is especially helpful during bad weather when you don’t want to be outside.

Another benefit of using a tarp is that it allows for better air circulation in the tent. It forms a buffer between the rainfly and tent body, decreasing condensation and increasing airflow. This can stop moisture from gathering in the tent, which can lead to mildew and mold growth.

Now, here’s a real story to demonstrate the importance of utilizing a tarp over your camping tent. A bunch of experienced hikers went on a mountain trip in unpredictable conditions. Despite their excellent planning and top-notch equipment, they encountered heavy rain on one night. Luckily, due to them having the foresight to place tarps over their tents, they stayed snug and dry the whole night, while others were dealing with wetness and leaks.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why should I put a tarp over my tent?

A: Putting a tarp over your tent provides an extra layer of protection against rain, wind, and sun. It helps to keep the tent dry and can prevent leaks, prolonging the lifespan of your tent.

Q: Will a tarp make my tent hotter?

A: No, using a tarp over your tent will not make it hotter. In fact, it can offer shade and better insulation, keeping the tent cooler during warm weather. Proper ventilation is still important to maintain airflow inside the tent.

Q: How do I tarp over a backpacking tent?

A: To tarp over a backpacking tent, first, select a tarp that is slightly larger than your tent. Set up your tent as usual, then position the tarp over the tent, leaving a few inches of space between the tarp and tent for airflow. Secure the tarp with ropes or stakes, making sure it is taut and well-anchored.

Q: What type of tarp should I use for my tent?

A: It is recommended to use a waterproof, durable, and lightweight tarp made from materials like nylon or polyester. Look for a tarp specifically designed for outdoor use, with reinforced grommets and UV protection for added durability.

Q: Can I use a tarp as a tent instead?

A: While a tarp can provide temporary shelter, it is not designed to be a long-term replacement for a tent. Tarps lack the structure, insulation, and bug protection that tents offer. They are better suited as an additional layer of protection for tents in challenging weather conditions.

Q: How often should I check and adjust my tarp over the tent?

A: It is advisable to regularly inspect your tarp and tent setup, especially during severe weather or prolonged usage. Check for sagging, water pooling, or any signs of damage. Make necessary adjustments to ensure the tarp remains securely in place to maintain its protective function.

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About the Author

Hey there!

We are Derek and Ashley of Know Nothing Nomads. Whether it is hiking, camping, climbing, or just generally being outside, we love it. We are so happy that you have found our little blog and hope that you stick around a while.

Safe Travels,

Derek and Ashley


Know Nothing Nomads

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