Camping is a great way of spending time outdoors and taking in your surroundings. However there's nothing worse than being caught in a downpour, sitting under the strong sun, or sitting directly onto an uneven surface.
This is where a camping tarp comes into the equation.
They are a versatile piece of equipment that is a great addition for all of your outdoor needs. They also come in handy for other activities like beach and garden shelters or use at community events.
Made with lightweight materials, you can't go wrong with carrying one of these around in your backpack or the car.
We have found five of the best camping tarps on the market and reviewed each of them below. If you're in a hurry then we have selected our top pick for you below.
Best Camping Tarps - Comparison Table
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Best Camping Tarps - Reviews
For our top pick we have chosen the Amazon basics Waterproof camping tarp, as a multifunctional product it not only works well at covering items and acting as a shelter, it is also an ideal base for the floor of a camping tent.
It is made out of ripstop fabric with polyethylene lamination on both sides which makes it durable enough to resist harsh weather from above and all of the mud and water from below.
Along the outer edges of the tarp there are rust-resistant grommets that are handy for securing the tarp in place. The edges and corners are also designed with reinforced edges for long-lasting strength.
Usefully this tarp is rectangular shaped so it is super easy to fold it away, what's worse than having to spend a while trying to fold the tarp back down to a compact size. This way it can be packed away for convenient portability.
Following on from this we have chosen the REDCAMP Waterproof Camping Tarp. It is made with waterproof ripstop fabric so you can be sure that this is going to be a durable and long-lasting investment.
As a larger sized tarp, it is perfect for 2-3 people whether this is as a shelter or a base. It is ideal for being used as a base for your tent when you are camping as it protects you from moisture and mud from the ground below.
It can be used at the beach or at picnics too. When used as a canopy it effectively protects you from the wind, sun, or rain. It's an essential for any outdoor activities.
Conveniently this tarp can easily be folded down into a compact size and has an additional drawstring bag to carry it around.
The corner straps are double stitched with grommets and loops on the ends so that it can be secured tightly and isn't likely to detach or blow away in the harsher weather.
Our next pick comes from the brand B-Air Grizzly and it is the Multipurpose waterproof tarp. This 5 mils thick waterproof tarp is perfect for all of your outdoor uses.
As well as being strong enough to resist the rain, it is also washable so even after contact with mud, etc it will be looking good as new after a little scrub. It is mildew proof too.
This tarp is designed using Woven and laminated polyethylene materials that have heat-sealed hems.
The built-in grommets at regular intervals along the edges of the tarp, ensure that it can be tied down securely without any risks of becoming detached in bad weather.
As heavy-duty tarps they are great for several uses including protection for boats and vehicles, shelter from elements such as wind and rain, or for use as a ground drop sheet.
Next up is the Rainfly Evolution Tarp equipping you with all of the accessories that you will ever need for your outdoor activities.
Included in this kit are the 5 - in -1 survival bracelet, the camping tarp, 6 carabiners, 6 heavy-duty lightweight stakes and a bag, 7 adjustable guy lines, and what's better than a carry bag to transport all of this gear around in.
The tarp has improved tie points so you can be assured that it is going to be tied in place securely. While providing you with everything that you need this tarp can easily be assembled in as little as two minutes.
The bracelet accounts for easy navigation with a compass that is ideal for finding your way when it is raining, it also features a whistle for occasions where you may find yourself needing to attract someone's attention from a distance.
The flint and scraper knife are the essential tools that you need after a day of exploring, enabling you to get heat and food.
When acting as a hammock it can cover two people at one time from the wind and rain. It has been crafted with high quality, heavy-duty rip-stop materials.
As a lightweight tarp it is ideal for backpackers as it weighs only 1.5 pounds so can easily be carried in between locations. It is made with quick-dry material which is great following use in the rain as you don't have to worry about it damaging any of your belongings.
Finally, we have chosen the Terra Hiker multifunctional camping tarp. It can be used as a tent tarp to prevent you from sitting directly onto uneven surfaces, but to also protect your tent from the wear and tear of the ground below.
It also acts great as a canopy sheltering you against the rain or sun during outdoor activities.
Made with Oxford Cloth that has been combined with unique waterproof processing, it is great at delivering long-lasting durability against any dampness that is likely to occur following a downpour of rain.
It is very convenient as it is super easy to use and carry. To use as a tent footprint the tarp simply needs to be unfolded and placed on the ground. To use as a canopy the tarp simply needs to be fixed into place via the metal grommet eyelets.
It is also easy to fold down into a smaller size and comes with a carry bag which makes it super convenient for carrying and traveling.
Best Camping Tarps - Buyers Guide
Before you head out camping or on a day trip you want to ensure that you are prepared with the best equipment to protect you from whatever weather conditions you may face from above and the moisture and mud that you may be confronted with from the ground below.
This is where a camping tarp comes in very useful.
Below, we have created a list of our top tips for finding the greatest camping tarp.
Size and Shape
Camping tarps are available in varying sizes, some large, some small. The size that you chose is dependent on how the tarp will be used. If needed to cover a large surface area then you will want to opt for the largest size, similarly, if you only have a small tent then the smaller options available should serve the purpose.
The shape also impacts how it is going to be used because if it is going to be used as an accompaniment to the tent then it needs to be compatible with the shape of the tent for it to work the most effectively.
Of course, the weather durability is a given when investing in a camping tarp for the simple reason that it is most likely going to be used frequently outdoors, so it is more than likely to endure harsh weather conditions.
Ideally, you will want a durable tarp that is going to be made with longstanding materials so that it isn't going to become damaged after a few encounters with wind and rain.
Likewise, you will want one that is going to be strong enough to endure strong sun as frequent exposure to strong rays can potentially result in discoloration and fading.
You will find that the majority of camping tarps are made out of the same materials. This typically tends to be ripstop fabric because products of this type are normally prone to frequent tearing, especially when used regularly.
Therefore, this material is ideal as it is going to prolong the life of the tarp and make it more durable of frequent use. Commonly, you will also find that they have a laminated effect which makes it stronger and more likely to last for a considerable length of time.
Preferably you will also want rust-resistant grommets around the edges of the tarp which are a lot stronger for securing it in place.
When you go camping or on a day trip you often find that you have multiple things to pack away and fit back into a minimal space and your camping tarp is no exception hence why an easy fold tarp brings convenience to the situation.
Being able to fold the tarp back down to a compact size makes it great for fitting into backpacks or small spaces and makes packing things away a lot less stressful.
Camping tarps can retail for differing prices, some more expensive than others. Typically you will tend to find that they retail for an average of $15-$20, which makes them a very handy addition without feeling as though you are breaking the bank whilst purchasing.
In terms of quality, it may well be the case that lower-priced tarps sacrifice the quality of the product that you receive, so it is recommended that you purchase one within the price bracket stated above.
You may even find some that retail for over $30. The amount that you spend on your tarp is down to personal choice and the budget that you have in mind.
Whilst wanting a lightweight tarp that is going to be easy to carry around, the thickness is also important. You want a tarp that is going to be thick enough to resist the rain, protecting you from it without retaining any of the water.
The thicker the tarp the more it is going to weigh so this is something to bear in mind if you are planning on traveling with it in your backpack as it may make things a little more difficult.
There is nothing worse than finding yourself spending most of your time setting up your tarp when you want to be exploring and having fun outdoors. Most tend to be rather simple to set up and have grommets that secure it in place.
Similarly most also tend to be easy to fold away once they have been used too.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a camping tarp used for?
They are suitable for many practical uses, this may include maintaining an area for eating and cooking whilst you're camping and giving you protection from the wind and rain. They are also great for sheltering you from the sun, so if you find yourself needing a break from the warm weather then a tarp is great because you can use this as a canopy to cool down.
They may also be used at the beach inside your tent so that you don't have to sit directly onto the uneven surface of the sand. Some people even find them useful for covering garden furniture from adverse weather conditions.
Is a tarp essential for camping?
If possible, yes it is recommended that you purchase a tarp as part of your camping gear. Not only are they essential for the durability of your tent whether this involves protecting you from the ground or the weather, but they also help to keep it dry and warm.
The most accurate the fit to your tent, the more effective it is going to perform in protecting it against these conditions. At the beach the tarp is going to offer the most protection when placed on the ground inside the tent.