Should You Bring a Tarp Backpacking?

By Alice Nichols

When it comes to backpacking, a tarp can be an incredibly useful item to have with you. Not only can it provide shelter from the elements, but it can also serve as a ground cover or sunshade. It is lightweight and easily packable, making it ideal for any backpacking adventure.

When deciding whether to bring a tarp on your next backpacking trip, there are several things to consider.

First and foremost is the weather conditions you are likely to encounter on your journey. If you are expecting rain or snow, then having a tarp with you can provide extra protection from the elements and keep you comfortable. In addition, if the terrain you will be travelling through is particularly rocky or otherwise difficult to traverse, then having a tarp can make it much easier to traverse by providing traction and insulation against the cold ground.

Another factor to consider when deciding whether or not to bring a tarp is its weight and size. Tarps come in various sizes and weights, so it’s important to choose one that won’t be too bulky or heavy for your pack. Additionally, if you’re looking for more than just shelter from the elements, many tarps are designed with additional features such as loops for hanging items or pockets for storing smaller items.

Finally, when choosing a tarp for your next backpacking trip, make sure that it is made of high-quality material that will last through whatever conditions you may encounter on your trip. There are many different types of tarps available today ranging from waterproof nylon ones to breathable nylon-cotton blends.


When deciding whether or not to bring a tarp backpacking, there are several factors that should be taken into consideration including the weather conditions expected on the trip, the weight and size of the tarp relative to your pack space and weight capacity, and finally the quality of material used in constructing the tarp itself. Ultimately though, having a tarp can provide extra protection from harsh weather conditions while also making traversing difficult terrain much easier so if space allows it should definitely be considered as an essential item for any backpacking adventure.