ourComparison

Sanctuary SilTarp

It's ready to go. No faff.

DD Tarp

Heavy duty at reasonable price

Aqua Quest Defender

Good waterproofing and reasonable price

MSR Thru Hiker Wing

Lightweight for 3 person capacity

GardenMate 2m x 3m

Cheap but effective

Sea to Summit Escapist Tarp

Super lightweight but sturdy

final score

84

%

final score

72

%

final score

84

%

final score

78

%

final score

60

%

final score

88

%

The Good

• Made from 30 denier ripstop nylon for waterproofing

• Weighs only 440g

• Flexible – thanks to 16 attachment loops, you can set up camp anywhere

• Lifetime warranty

The Good

• 19 reinforced attachment points for durability

• Made from durable polyester with a waterproof coating to keep you dry

• Versatile – arrange in an A-frame, use as a porch to extend your tent, or place over your hammock

The Good

• Hydrostatic resistance of 20,000m to keep you dry all night

• Crafted from tough nylon, TPU and DWR coating for next-level durability

• Adaptable to any terrain – 20 reinforced webbing tie loops mean you can set it up your way

• Easy and quick to set up

The Good

• Fully adaptable – suspend from a tree, or use with trekking/accessory poles

• Packs up to be ultra-compact and easy to carry

• Can be paired with Thru Hiker Mesh Houses

The Good

• Double-stitched edges for extra strength

• Fully washable and mould resistant

• Metal eyelets at the corner and edges

The Good

• Ultra-lightweight at 227 grams, so it won’t add extra bulk to your pack

• Fully waterproof for two sleepers

• Super sturdy, with eight tie-out points

• Versatile – variety of set-up combinations

The bad

• Not overly waterproof

The bad

• 4 ropes only

The bad

• Heavy if intended for long carries

The bad

• Not cheap (but quality rarely is)

The bad

• Heavy

The bad

• Not cheap (but quality rarely is)

Features

90

%

Design

80

%

Comfort

80

%

Durability

80

%

Features

70

%

Design

70

%

Comfort

80

%

Durability

80

%

Features

90

%

Design

80

%

Comfort

90

%

Durability

100

%

Features

70

%

Design

90

%

Comfort

80

%

Durability

70

%

Features

60

%

Design

60

%

Comfort

70

%

Durability

60

%

Features

80

%

Design

90

%

Comfort

90

%

Durability

80

%

No items found.

Sanctuary SilTarp

Best All-Inclusive Tarp

Why we like it

It's ready to go. No faff.

The Good

• Made from 30 denier ripstop nylon for waterproofing

• Weighs only 440g

• Flexible – thanks to 16 attachment loops, you can set up camp anywhere

• Lifetime warranty

the bad

• Not overly waterproof

Don’t want to go hunting around for the best tarp accessories? Get it all in one with the Sanctuary SilTarp. Unlike most, it comes with 18m of guy line, six adjusters and six aluminium Y stakes. The price point isn’t bad either, considering how much you get with it. 5,000mm of static resistance keeps you dry (in all less extreme weather).

Features

90

%

Design

80

%

Comfort

80

%

Durability

80

%

No items found.

final score

84

%

Sanctuary SilTarp

Check latest price

DD Tarp

Best Budget Tarp for Bush Craft/Survival

Why we like it

Heavy duty at reasonable price

The Good

• 19 reinforced attachment points for durability

• Made from durable polyester with a waterproof coating to keep you dry

• Versatile – arrange in an A-frame, use as a porch to extend your tent, or place over your hammock

the bad

• 4 ropes only

Save a few pennies with the DD Tarp, which is often used by bushcraft and survival schools. It’s pretty heavy-duty, and there are lots of different sizes to choose from. Use it as an extension of your tent space, diamond it over a hammock, or simply use as a groundsheet. DD makes killer hammocks by the way so be sure to check those out too.

Features

70

%

Design

70

%

Comfort

80

%

Durability

80

%

No items found.

final score

72

%

DD Tarp

Check latest price

Aqua Quest Defender

Best for Bushcraft/Survival

Why we like it

Good waterproofing and reasonable price

The Good

• Hydrostatic resistance of 20,000m to keep you dry all night

• Crafted from tough nylon, TPU and DWR coating for next-level durability

• Adaptable to any terrain – 20 reinforced webbing tie loops mean you can set it up your way

• Easy and quick to set up

the bad

• Heavy if intended for long carries

The Aqua Quest Defender is a seriously sturdy bit of kit (with the price to reflect that). This is one to invest in for long, back-to-basics trips in unpredictable weather. Not only is it 100% waterproof (or at least close to it), it packs down nice and small and comes with its own stuff-sack to stash it in. It is fairly heavy though, so you may need to sacrifice other items in your pack if weight’s an issue. We reckon it’s worth it.

Features

90

%

Design

80

%

Comfort

90

%

Durability

100

%

No items found.

final score

84

%

Aqua Quest Defender

Check latest price

MSR Thru Hiker Wing

Best Lightweight for small groups

Why we like it

Lightweight for 3 person capacity

The Good

• Fully adaptable – suspend from a tree, or use with trekking/accessory poles

• Packs up to be ultra-compact and easy to carry

• Can be paired with Thru Hiker Mesh Houses

the bad

• Not cheap (but quality rarely is)

The Aqua Quest Defender is a seriously sturdy bit of kit (with the price to reflect that). This is one to invest in for long, back-to-basics trips in unpredictable weather. Not only is it 100% waterproof (or at least close to it), it packs down nice and small and comes with its own stuff-sack to stash it in. It is fairly heavy though, so you may need to sacrifice other items in your pack if weight’s an issue. We reckon it’s worth it.

Features

70

%

Design

90

%

Comfort

80

%

Durability

70

%

No items found.

final score

78

%

MSR Thru Hiker Wing

Check latest price

GardenMate 2m x 3m

Best Budget Option

Why we like it

Cheap but effective

The Good

• Double-stitched edges for extra strength

• Fully washable and mould resistant

• Metal eyelets at the corner and edges

the bad

• Heavy

The Aqua Quest Defender is a seriously sturdy bit of kit (with the price to reflect that). This is one to invest in for long, back-to-basics trips in unpredictable weather. Not only is it 100% waterproof (or at least close to it), it packs down nice and small and comes with its own stuff-sack to stash it in. It is fairly heavy though, so you may need to sacrifice other items in your pack if weight’s an issue. We reckon it’s worth it.

Features

60

%

Design

60

%

Comfort

70

%

Durability

60

%

No items found.

final score

60

%

GardenMate 2m x 3m

Check latest price

Why we like it

Super lightweight but sturdy

The Good

• Ultra-lightweight at 227 grams, so it won’t add extra bulk to your pack

• Fully waterproof for two sleepers

• Super sturdy, with eight tie-out points

• Versatile – variety of set-up combinations

the bad

• Not cheap (but quality rarely is)

The Aqua Quest Defender is a seriously sturdy bit of kit (with the price to reflect that). This is one to invest in for long, back-to-basics trips in unpredictable weather. Not only is it 100% waterproof (or at least close to it), it packs down nice and small and comes with its own stuff-sack to stash it in. It is fairly heavy though, so you may need to sacrifice other items in your pack if weight’s an issue. We reckon it’s worth it.

Features

80

%

Design

90

%

Comfort

90

%

Durability

80

%

No items found.

final score

88

%

Sea to Summit Escapist Tarp

Check latest price
Tarps offer essential protection whilst remaining super light. But which one's right for your next adventures? Take a look at our top picks and essential buying guide

Read in:

5

mins

download article

Amy S

Heading out into the wild? Take a tarp along to keep you dry. These packable heroes fold down small, protect you from the elements and can be arranged any which way you need whilst camping.

However, there’s a lot of choice out there when it comes to tarps – the good, the bad, and the won’t-last-one-windy night. To help you get out exploring, we’ve put together a beast of a buying guide. Let’s get stuck in.

Wild Camping Tarp Buying Guide

Tarps are an essential bit of wild camping equipment, helping protect your camp from the wet, and you from the elements. They’re usually pretty lightweight and easy to pack, and are worth their weight in gold if you find yourself stuck in a downpour. Adjustable and versatile, they can be made to perfectly suit your set-up. Here are just a few key things to keep in mind.

How to Choose Your tarp for wild camping

All tarps for camping aren’t made equal. They vary drastically in price and durability, so think realistically about what you’re going to be using yours for. For short camping trips in mild weather you can get away with something on the lower end of the budget scale, while for longer treks in unpredictable climates, you’re going to need something a bit more substantial. Remember that you’ll be carrying it on your back (and even lightweight items start to feel heavy during a long trip) so be realistic about what you can carry.

Different Types of camping tarp

There are lots of different types of tarps to choose from. Some come with inner nets, are free-standing and function almost like a double-wall tent. You can also remove the net to reduce weight. Pyramid camping tarps have inner nets and no floor, so they’re preconstructed in the shape of a diamond that you can set up quickly and easily. And then you have the traditional flat tarp, which can be arranged over your camp, and are best attached to trees. Choose your trees carefully and be nice to them. As ever, Leave no Trace...drink.

Tents vs tarps?

Despite the comfort, warmth and protection they offer, tents can be one of your heaviest pieces of kit. Camping tarps can offer similar benefits at a fraction of the weight. It’s worth keeping in mind, though, that you will sacrifice a little comfort and protection, and so tarps alone may not be the best option for newbie campers or more extreme expeds.

What are Camping Tarps Made of?

When deciding on a tarp, you’re going to need to look for durable fabrics that can stand up to strong winds and sudden downpours. Waterproofing is a non-negotiable no-brainer (because nothing ruins a camping trip quite like soggy sleeping bags and an extinguished fire). Look out for reinforced materials like tough nylon and TPU. Just be sure to look at the eco details though as some are full of nasties.

How Much Should a Tarp Weigh?

It’s tempting to go for the most lightweight option available, but it’s important to note that, in general, what you lose in weight you likely also lose in hardiness. It’s a balancing act. For bushcraft and survival, we’d recommend a more heavy duty camping tarp as you’re usually based on a single spot as opposed to on the move all day everyday.

Tarp Colours

The colour of your tarp may not seem like an important buying credential – that is, unless you’re wanting to stay incognito. Camo is best for backcountry camping to help you blend into the landscape.

Summing it all up

Tough, versatile and protective, a tarp is an essential part of any serious camper’s kit. We hope this handy guide has helped you figure out the right camping tarp for your next trip (you’ll be thanking us when the heavens open). Our best bet is the Sea to Summit Escapist tarp, which combines clever features with ease of use, whilst staying lightweight and easy to carry.

FAQs

1. What is the difference between a flat and a shaped tarp?

Flat tarps are square and flat, designed to stretch over your camp or tent. They’re versatile and leave the sides open. Shaped tarps can be placed over you or your tent, offering 360 protection.

2. Where should I set up my tarp?

When setting up your tarp, it’s important to consider water drainage and wind breaks. If you’re using a tarp rather than a tent, you usually won’t have a floor, so make sure water flows away from your campsite to avoid waking up wet. You’ll also want to look for somewhere relatively sheltered to protect you from the elements.

3. What can I use a tarp for?

Tarps are multi-tasking heroes and have limitless applications (we might be exaggerating a bit, but they’re pretty damn useful). Use yours as a groundsheet for your camp, suspend it between trees as a shelter, A-frame over your tent or hammock… the choice is yours.

Whilst a camping tarp will keep you dry, you’ll need a decent sleeping bag to keep you warm. Check out our best down sleeping bag recommendations to snap yourself up a goodie.


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