Homemade Tarp Shelter

Written by nat fondell
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Homemade Tarp Shelter
A tarp is a great alternative to tent camping. (shelter image by George mai from Fotolia.com)

Build a homemade tarp shelter when you want to venture into the world of camping without spending a lot of money, to prepare an emergency shelter for any situation, or to have an ultralight "every ounce counts" camping experience. Quickly install a tarp shelter in a variety of situations. Homemade tarp shelters work best in a wooded area, so that you do not need to bring your own tent poles.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Tarp
  • Rope
  • Stakes
  • Hatchet

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  1. 1

    Purchase a tarp that is at least 10 feet long on each side. The extra size protects you from rain, provides adequate height and compensates for the sloping of the roof. Also look for a tarp with grommets. If you make the tarp at home, sew a half-inch hem around the outside of the material to strengthen the edges and prevent it from fraying. Add your own grommets around the edges with a grommet in each corner and along each side.

  2. 2

    Attach the two central grommets on opposing sides of the tarp to trees on either side and tighten the ropes until the central ridge of the tent is stretched taut between the trees. If more convenient, stretch this part of the tent over a bent sapling.

  3. 3

    Tie down the four corners extremely tightly using the rope to attach the grommets to trees or tent stakes. Trees allow for greater tightness, but finding them in the correct arrangement often poses problems; whereas tent stakes offer greater versatility but less strength.

  4. 4

    Tie down the additional grommets with tent stakes for added stability against wind and better shaping of the tent roof. The more tightly you secure these grommets, the more comfortable the tent interior, and the more it resembles a tent structure.

Tips and warnings

  • For protection from wet ground and insects, add an additional tarp underneath the first. This tarp helps retain heat and forms an effective vapour barrier.
  • Secure mosquito netting at the two entrances, either by sewing or applying hook-and-loop fastener or duct tape. Even very crude mosquito netting can prove surprisingly effective.
  • Never light fires in your tarp shelter; a fire can harm the tenting material and put you at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

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