How to Put A Tarp Over A Tent?


Camping trips are great fun. And with the right camping gear, they’re all the more exciting. One such gear is a tarp. 

We’ve all heard of people who had to cut their trip short due to unprecedented weather and their camps being infiltrated with rainwater. There is an easy, low-cost solution. An overhead tarp can protect you from water leakage and unwelcome rains. It is easy to put up, requires minimal maintenance, and is a great choice for beginners. 

If you’re wondering how to put a tarp over a tent, keep reading to find out!

Can You Put A Tarp Over Your Tent?

First of all, can you do this? Well, you can. But, the question is: Should you?

Many people have mixed opinions about the use of an overhead tarp as rain cover. This is a great option for beginners and those on a budget. It protects against rainwater leaking and serves as a decent shelter. 

But for those of you who use rather expensive camping gear and tents, you most likely don’t need a tarp, nor should you use one. The friction between the tarp’s outer layer and your tent’s waterproof layer could cause it to wear out faster than usual. 

How to put a Tarp over a Tent?

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s look at how to put a tarp over a tent!  

Overhead tarps are often fixed over trees or grounded poles that are slightly taller than your tent’s height. There are many ways to set them up and each one might work better for you. 

It’s easy to put a tarp over your tent if you have the right tools and equipment. Let’s look at what you’ll be needing! 

Set up an A-frame Tarp

An A-frame tarp provides great rain protection and ample storage space. It can be placed over your tent, or directly over your hammocks and open camping areas. For this, you’ll need to do the following. 

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  • First, you’ll need to look for a good setup location. You will want to look for parallel trees which are far enough from each other so that a tent can be placed. 
  • Next, put up your tent. 
  • For the tarp, you’ll need to set up a ridgeline between the two trees and create enough tension so that it will hold the tarp’s weight and not fall over. 
  • Some tarps are equipped with reinforced loops on the top and along the edges. If this is the case, attach the loops to your ridgeline and secure your top.
  • If your tarp doesn’t have loops, you can just place the tarp over your ridgeline. Secure the ends by fastening. 
  • Next, attach all four ends to your tarp. 
  • You can also raise the height of your roofline and use extensions to fit your tarp onto the ground. 
  • And you’re done!
  • Set up a wind shed 

    A wind shed, as the name suggests, is a great use for your tarp for when you don’t expect any rain but there’s plenty of wind around you. You simply need to close one end of your tarp and leave the other open. 

  • First set up your tent before you can set up a winshed tarp. 
  • Next, secure a ridgeline between the trees and place a tarp on top of it. Make sure 1/4 of it is over the ridgeline. This section can be secured to the ground by using extensions. 
  • Next, place the larger portion of your tarp to the side of the ridgeline. This should be secured to the ground. 
  • Secure your ridgeline so it’s tight and firm.
  • And you’re done! 
  • Installing a C-fly Tarp

    You get both wind and rain protection with a C-fly Tarp! 

  • You need to take approximately a quarter off your tarp, and stake it flat on top of the ground. This creates an underground cover that protects you from rain and keeps you dry.
  • Then lift the tarp over the ridgeline. 
  • You’ll first need to tense and guy out the ridgeline and then secure the edges of the tarp that is hanging over it. 
  • While I’m aware that this method does sound overly complicated and confusing, I promise you it isn’t! You can refer to this Video for clarification 

    How to Set up a Tarp over a Tent Without Trees

    Suppose you’re camping at a location that does not have enough trees or suppose there are too many there to set up a tent amongst them, what do you do? 

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    Well, thankfully, you don’t always need trees to secure your tarp! You can also use trekking poles to do the same thing, if not better! 

    You will only need to do the following: 

  • The trekking poles should be secured to the ground using a little tension. Make sure they’re not moving around too much and can hold the weight of your tarp.
  • You can adjust the heights of your poles to match the tent’s height. Both poles should be secured at the same height.
  • Your trekking poles can be used to create a ridgeline just like you would. Tighten it so it’s firm.
  • Place your tarp on the ridgeline, and grind it as you would normally. 
  • Important to remember is that trekking poles must be sturdy and heavy-duty. You can rest assured that your tarp will stay put under heavy rains and snowstorms with high-quality trekking sticks. After all, you don’t want your tarp flying around in the wind just because your trekking poles couldn’t hold it together! 

    I recommend the TrailBuddy Trekking Poles Amazon! They’re light, sturdy, heavy-duty, and come with various multi-purpose tools! 

    Do You Need to Put a Tarp Under Your Tent?

    We now know how to place a tarp on top of a tent. But what about underneath the tent? Is it a good idea to do this? 

    You can get multiple benefits from using a tarp to cover your tent or as a footprint. Here are some. 

    • It protects your floor from rocks, branches, twigs, and any other debris that could cause it damage.
    • It protects you from rainwater that may seep into your tent. You will not have rainwater seeping into the tent from below the ground.
    • The mud soil from all the water makes it difficult for your tent to slide.
    • It acts as an insulation layer to protect you from the cold. 
    • It also keeps your storage dry! 

    How do I choose the Right Tarp?

    It can be difficult to choose the right tarp for you trip from the many options available. There is so much choice! Tarps are available in a variety of price points, with some having both useful and non-essential features. 

    How do you make a decision? 

    These are the three most important features to look out for when buying tarps. 

    • Weight and size
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    When making a purchase decision, it is important to consider the weight and size of your Tarp. You should look for tarps that are lightweight, but strong enough to withstand heavy rain and wind. Your tent should be one-inch smaller than your tarp.

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    • Waterproofing and Quality

    Professional camping tarps can be a lot more expensive than regular plastic sheets. They are durable and high-quality. While you don’t want to spend a hefty amount on your tarp, it is probably best to avoid the store-bought cheap quality tarps too.

    • Fabric and ease of use

    You can have many features on your tarps, but the most important are reinforced loops or welded edges. You might also consider a tarp made of vinyl, canvas, or polyethylene. 

    If you’re looking for a tarp that could fit your budget, I recommend the REDCAMP Waterproof Camping Tarp! It is relatively cheaper, but it offers great quality and maximum comfort.

    FAQ’s:

    How do I hang a tarp to rain camp?

    It is very simple to hang a tarp when you are going rain camping. An A-line tarp can be made using a ridgeline and secured around two trees, or trekking poles. 

    What size tarp is best for camping?

    A 10-by-10 tarp is ideal for four people, and a 6-by-8 for two. Most tarps are slightly smaller that what is listed in the product description. This should work well for you.

    Can I use an tarp instead?

    Yes! Most people prefer a tarp over a footprint because of its durability and cost difference. Tarps are often larger than necessary so you can make two footprints out of one.

    What is the best tarp product?

    Polyethylene tarps are durable and long-lasting. For even greater quality, you can buy industry-standard vinyl Tarps.

    Final Thoughts

    Now that you know everything about tarps, right from buying the right one to set them up, it’s time you put this knowledge to use! Don’t worry, you won’t ever have to cut down on your camping trip! 

    If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to ask!

    We will be happy to hear your thoughts

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