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Best Tarp Size For Tent (Camping) – Tarp Size Calculator

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Do you know tarp size for tent can make your camping experience excellent or bad? Of course, you know, that’s why you are here to know about the correct tarp sizing for the tent.

Who would like to waste their time and money carrying a useless tarp? Having the correct size tarp is as essential as the proper matter for sleeping. You don’t want to bring a tarp that is too big then your need or too small that couldn’t even cover a tent. Taking the correct measurements of your camping tent can help you choose the right one.

So, the short answer of how to calculate correct tent tarp size for camping is, it usually depends on your tent camping demands. How many people are using the tent, whether you will do cooking in the tent or not, and many other factors are involved in this?

A 6×8 square feet tarp is enough to cover the tent for a single person. If you plan to cook, living tarp size for a four person tent, including your pets, then an 8×10 sq. ft tarp can be sufficient.

Along with these mentioned points, below are some valuable factors about tent tarp that can help you in your next tent camping.

How to Calculate Best Tarp Size for Tent – Main Factors

Camping Tarp Sizes

Many people shy away from purchasing tarps due to their small size and limitations. A good general rule of thumb is to select a tarp that’s at least as wide as your shoulders. This best size tarp for camping will ensure you have enough room for both you and all of your gear.

The height of the tarp is mainly determined by personal preference and weather conditions. If it starts to rain, then aim for one that’s tall enough so that you can sit up under it or ideally stand underneath it with some extra breathing room.

Also, keep in mind the amount of space you need access to around your body (front, back & sides). These factors should help determine the appropriate size tarp for your needs.

Pole Weight

If you’re using trekking poles as your tarp supports, then the weight of those poles becomes a factor to consider. Carbon fiber poles weigh less than aluminum poles, but they also cost more.

However, if you plan on using your trekking poles for hiking and camping, then the extra weight may not make much difference for you because you’ll be carrying it anyway. We would also recommend you have a tent pole repair kit for giving your tent extra stability.

Setup Time

Setting up a tarp is incredibly quick and easy once you practice the process a few times. If speed and ease of setup are your goals, I recommend purchasing either “flat tarps” or rounded tarps. That can be pitched using adjustable tension lines to decrease setup time further.

These options typically weigh around 10-15 oz and may cost a bit more than standard square/rectangular-shaped tarps. They save tons of time because you don’t have to fuss about creating an A-frame or X-frame shelter.

Pitch Location

Your tarp plays a significant role in determining the ideal size for your needs where you decide to pitch. If there are no trees available to use as supports, you’re unfortunately limited in how large of a tarp you can use.

That’s because, without trees or another type of overhead supports, the only places left to pitch are over bogs, streams, or primarily flat open ground where stakes can’t be pounded into the ground.

However, if there are suitable overhead supports around (trees), I recommend selecting a size at least 1 or 2 feet larger than your standard dimensions. So that it provides ample coverage and space underneath when appropriately pitched. If you have the budget, then it’s good to purchase an extra-large tarp so that you can sleep under it even if there are no trees around.

Design Consideration

There are several different tarp designs on the market these days, so it’s essential to select one that meets your specific needs. For example, if you’re looking for a tarp primarily for backpacking and ultralight camping. Then you’ll want to consider something with a small footprint and low weight.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a general-purpose tarp that can be used for camping, backyard picnics, or even as an emergency shelter. Then you may want to consider something more significant and heavier.

The bottom line is that there is no “one size fits all” answer when selecting the perfect tarp. But by considering the above, you’ll be able to make an informed decision that meets your individual needs.

Finished & cut size

Now that you know the main factors to consider when selecting a tarp size for tent let’s look at some specific examples.

If you’re looking for an ultralight backpacking tarp, I recommend something in the range of an 8×10 ultralight tarp. For a general-purpose camping tarp, I would suggest something in the field of 10-12 ft. square. And if you need an emergency shelter, I recommend a finished size of at least 12x10ft.

Considering price over the size

A good quality 12x10ft tarp can be had for around $60. However, if you’re looking for something more significant and heavier, the price may go up to $100 or more. But remember, it’s essential to select the size right for you, so don’t necessarily go for the cheapest option.

Ventilation and coverage

Most tarps are designed to be primarily used for rain or storm protection. So if you only need something to provide some shade, consider using that money toward a giant tarp instead of purchasing an expensive canopy. That way, the money will go further in meeting your specific needs without worrying about needing additional gear like ropes and stakes.

Material of the tarp

The material from which your tarp is made also affects its weight and durability. A general-purpose tarp can be used in various conditions if made from a heavy-duty fabric like ripstop nylon.

However, if you’re only looking for something for occasional backpacking trips or the best tarp size for shelter, then an ultralight Silpoly tarp may be a more suitable option.

How to calculate correct tent tarp size for camping?

Weather conditions or environment

If you’re in a climate with a lot of wind and storms, it’s essential to consider a lighter-weight design. Because it will be carried around more often. However, if you’re mostly camping in cold conditions where the wind-chill factor is more significant than zero degrees Celsius (32°F). Then I recommend using something with reinforced corners and tie-out. So that your tarp stays securely mounted during heavy snow or rain.

Location of the shelter

Suppose your campsite doesn’t have any trees around but does have available overhead support like rocks or buildings. Then you may want to consider an 8×10 tarp shelter that is something longer than its width for added headroom and space. Remember that this isn’t optimal when considering weight and packability.

Weight & Packability

If you are carrying a tarp, consider keeping the weight as light as possible. This makes a Silpoly tarp a better choice than something made from nylon. Because it’s lighter and more packable.

However, if that same tarp is going to be used in various conditions where it’s likely to be exposed to water at times. Then I recommend using ripstop nylon instead since it is more weather-resistant.

Cautions about Tarp Camping

Finally, keep in mind that few things are more dangerous than using extreme weather protection. Like heavy rain ponchos or snow shelters during high winds. So it’s important always to seek out overhead protection when using your tarp in extreme weather conditions such as heavy snow or wind.

Also Read: Easy Methods for Washing Clothes While Camping

Benefits of Putting a Tarp Under Your Tent

A tarp is a versatile piece of gear that can provide extra protection for your tent and belongings while camping. Here are some of the benefits of using a tarp under your tent:

Protection from moisture

A tarp can help keep your tent dry in wet weather by blocking rain and snow from coming in contact with your tent. This can be especially helpful if you’re camping in a damp or windy location.

Added insulation

If you’re camping in cold weather, a tarp can help to keep your tent warm by trapping heat underneath it. This can be especially beneficial if you’re using a lightweight or summer-weight tent.

Prevention of ground erosion

If you’re camping on a soft or sandy surface, a tarp can help prevent erosion and damage to your tent site.

Add privacy

A tarp can provide some privacy if you’re camping in a crowded area or near other campers.

Extra storage space

A tarp can be used as extra storage space for your gear, food, and other belongings. This can be especially helpful if you’re tight on space in your tent.

Sun protection

If you’re using a lightweight tarp, it can be used as a sunshade to help protect you from the sun’s rays.

tarp size for tent

Tarps protect your tent from punctures.

If you’re using a tarp under your tent, it can help to protect your tent from punctures and tears. This can be especially helpful if you’re camping on rough or rocky terrain.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What common mistakes do campers make while choosing a tarp size for tent?

Common mistakes campers make when choosing a tarp size are projecting the size of their camping site to have perfect 90-degree angles. Just because your campsite is perfectly square doesn’t mean that your tarp needs to be too.

Another common mistake is overloading their tarp with functionalities beyond the scope of protection from rain, wind, and hot sun.

What’s wrong with tarps more giant than you need?

Bigger tarps may not hold up to the environment more than shorter tarps. Because there is more weight on each side of the tarp.

No size is perfect for all environments, but generally speaking, wider tarps are better in high-wind conditions. At the same time, narrower ones are easier to set up and move around. When seated comfortably, taller people will also need longer tarps to cover their feet. It would help if you planned before picking your tarp so you could choose one that fits best with your needs.

Should you always take the tarp camping?

Not always, but there are times when taking a camping tarp is recommended.

If you’re going to be in a wet climate often, if you’re going to have to walk through damp terrain for an extended period, or if the ground will be tough and it’s a place that has bugs – then packing a camping tarp could be beneficial. It shouldn’t take up much additional space in your backpack and could potentially save your life from exposure.

Should I put a tarp under my tent?

You can always put a tarp under your tent. However, if the ground is even and dries, you might not need one. Tents stake down with stakes that wind thread around guy ropes. But you might want to add some insurance on the windy days; by burying these 3/8 copper wire loops in a checkerboard pattern all around the edge of your tent floor or footprints.

Wrapping it up – Best Tarp Size for Tent

That being said, adding a tarp size for camping to your outdoor gear arsenal is an easy way to increase your comfort and safety during all of your camping trips for just pennies per day. So if you’re looking for something that provides reliable shelter at an affordable price. Then I recommend purchasing one explicitly designed for use by backpackers over any other type of shelter.

And finally, it’s essential to keep in mind that tarps aren’t typically waterproof or seam sealed. So before pitching any tarp on the ground, a tarp size calculator makes sure it gets launched high enough off the ground so that water runs off rather than pooling underneath. Also, use a groundsheet under your sleeping bag at all times while camping.

In conclusion, there are several factors to consider when selecting a tarp size, including weather protection, weight, setup time, pitch location, and design. By taking all of these into account, you’ll be able to choose the perfect tarp size for your individual needs.


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