What Kind of Tarp Do I Need for Backpacking?

By Robert Palmer

When backpacking, the right tarp is an essential piece of gear. It provides shelter from the elements, keeps your sleeping bag and other items dry, and gives you a place to camp or hang out in bad weather. But with so many types of tarps on the market, it can be hard to know which one is right for you.

The type of tarp you choose will depend on a few factors, including where you’re backpacking and what kind of conditions you’ll encounter. If you’re going to be in wet or windy conditions, choose a waterproof tarp like those made from silnylon or polyurethane-coated nylon.

These are lightweight but highly durable and will keep you dry if it rains. For more mild conditions, such as summer camping in the desert or on the beach, a lighter tarp made from ripstop nylon or polyester may be sufficient.

You should also consider the size of the tarp when selecting one for backpacking. A larger tarp gives you more coverage but can be heavier and bulkier than a smaller one. If weight is an issue, look for a lightweight model that fits your needs — if it’s just for you, then look for a smaller size; if you’re camping with friends or family, then opt for something bigger.

Another important factor to consider is how easy it will be to set up your tarp. Look for models with reinforced grommets and corner loops that make it easier to secure your tarp to trees or stakes. Some tarps also come with attached guy lines so that they can be quickly and easily set up in any environment.


When choosing a tarp for backpacking, there are several factors to consider including material type, size and setup ease.

Choose a waterproof option such as silnylon or polyurethane-coated nylon if you’re camping in wetter climates; otherwise go with something lighter like ripstop nylon or polyester. Make sure that it’s large enough to provide adequate coverage but not too bulky so that it won’t weigh down your pack too much. Lastly look for reinforced grommets and corner loops as well as attached guy lines so that setup will be easy no matter where your adventure takes you.