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How to make a canopy tent out of a tarp

Updated March 28, 2017

Tarps serve many functions. Among these tasks, tarps are frequently employed as the roof for canopy-style tents. Fashion your own canopy tent out of a tarp and enjoy relief from sun, rain or other elements. When setting up the tent, it helps to pick an area out of the wind, or at least in a lee where wind gets redirected out from a direct path to the canopy tent.

Open four of the poles to three-quarters of their lengths. Spread out the tarp on he ground so it lies flat. Set one pole next to each corner. Open the last pole to its full length and set it to the side.

Tie one strand of the nylon cord into each corner circle of the tarp. Most tarps have metal circles (or grommets) in the corners to attach ropes and cords. Stretch the line out from the corners and rest them on the ground. Tie each of the opposite ends to a tent stake.

Thread the pole tips into the tarp corner grommets and have an assistant help raise the poles. Place yourself at one corner and your assistant diagonally across from you. Raise the tent poles at those corners at the same time. Send your assistant to raise the other two poles while you hold your corner pole in position.

Pull the line out from the corners and push the stakes into the ground so the lines are slightly slack. Bring the fifth pole into the centre of the tarp and push it up to raise the "big top" in the centre of the canopy tent.

Readjust the stakes and lines so they are taught, thus securing the canopy tent into position.

Things You'll Need

  • Tarp
  • 5 large telescoping aluminium poles
  • 4 12 foot lengths of 5mm nylon cord
  • 4 tent stakes
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About the Author

A former Alaskan of 20 years, Eric Cedric now resides in California. He's published in "Outside" and "Backpacker" and has written a book on life in small-town Alaska, "North by Southeast." Cedric was a professional mountain guide and backcountry expedition leader for 18 years. He worked in Russia, Iceland, Greece, Turkey and Belize. Cedric attended Syracuse University and is a private pilot.