How To Waterproof A Tent With A Tarp

Outdoor activities (such as camping, backpacking …etc) can be a fun way to pass a good time with family members and friends while enjoying the beautiful nature around you.

The problem about tenting in general is that you never can quite trust the weather. It might be glorious sunshine one minute, and before you know it, the rain is pouring down heavily.

That’s why if you’re planning to go on a camping trip you have know how to properly waterproof your tent. One of the easiest and most affordable way to do so is by using a tarp.

So today we are going to show you how to waterproof your tent with a tarp, Steps involved and Accessories needed to do so.

There are three main methods you can use which will make sure your tent stays nice and dry and let you enjoy your camping without too much hassle:

  1. Setting up a tarp with poles.
  2. Using trees to set up the tarp.
  3. Hanging a tarp on a ridgeline.

Accessories Needed To Waterproof Your Tent

Products list

All the accessories needed to waterproof your tent are included in the list below: 

  1. A Large Tarp: get one twice the size of your tent.
  2. Paracord: several hundred feet.
  3. Grommet Savers.

The most critical thing is choosing the right tarp, You want to get yourself a nice plastic tarp that’s big enough to cover your tent. The rule of thumb is to get a tarp that is about twice as big as the footprint of your tent.

Using paracord is a great and affordable way to secure the tarp in place and be sure nothing going wrong if the rain start to pour down non-stop.

Finally, Grommet savers are extremely convenient and simply saves you a lot of time if you are going to set up a large tarp which is something you should be doing.

What To Consider When Waterproofing A Tent

Before you go on and set your tarp there are a couple of things you should keep in mind.

  • Is the area of camping already wet? If so, Make sure to have an extra tarp to use as a flooring under the tent to add another layer of protection and remove any possibility of water leaking in from the bottom.
  • Is there enough place for you to cook? If not, You should get a tarp that is larger than your need just to have extra space to cook food and move around comfortably.
  • Do you have kids around? If so, A larger tarp is required to provide them with enough room to play around instead of forcing them to stay in one place due to rain.
  • Is the area windy? If so, You should check the wind direction, Make sure there is enough trees to help you stabilize the tarp and bring extra grommet savers and paracord.

How To Set Up A Tarp With Poles

First we will show you how a basic tent shelter using only a tarp, rope, pegs and a couple of tent poles. Having someone to help you is 100% better and will save you a lot of time but isn’t necessary.

  1. Create a line with the paracord between the two tent poles and leave extra rope on each side, Enough to be able to secure it in on the ground (This helps pin the pole in one place).
  2. Put another line from each pole and pin it into the ground. The poles are now fully supported by the two ropes.
  3. Repeat it till you have four fixed poles in place.
  4. place the tarp right over the rope.
  5. Run the ropes from the corners of the tarp and pin them into the ground.
  6. You should make sure one side of the tarp is higher than the other to help the rain slide down the tarp instead of stagnating in the middle.
Steps to shelter a tent with a tarp

How To Set Up A Tarp Without Poles

For this method, Your best bet will be to have a long rope + an area where there are plenty of trees to use as pillars.

  1. Tie the rope to the corners of the tarp.
  2. Use a stick or branch to elevate the rope and circle it around a tree. This makes sure the tarp is high enough to not cause any problems.
  3. Pin the the rope to the ground and secure it with a heavy object such as a rock or a large branch.
  4. To add resistance to your grommets try to use a cow hitch knot.
  5. Take the rope and thread it through the grommet and wrap the rope around the fabric and grommet.
  6. make sure that you tie a bowline knot to keep it intact.
  7. adjust the location of your tarp so it has an angle to prevent water from stagnating on top of it.

You can also watch the video down below to have a better idea of what to do to waterproof the top of your tent with a tarp.

How to Set Up a Tarp Using a Ridgeline

setting up a ridgeline tarp

Used by many professional campers worldwide thanks to its time efficiency and convenience. Also Known as the most stable and durable way to set up a tarp when we compare it with the other methods.

For this method, We need two fairly average sized trees in front of each other and a decent amount of space between them to set up your tent there.

  1. Try to throw the rope over a thick and large branch of the tree (preferably as close to the start of the branches possible).
  2. Pull the rope high enough for you to move comfortably under the tarp.
  3. Now that the Ridgeline is in position you can tie it to the tree.
  4. Position the tarp over the unattached rope.
  5. pull the Ridgeline to elevate the tarp and tie it up (It is advised to use an overhand knot and draw loop).
  6. Now secure your corner ropes with the cow hitch knot.
  7. Tweak the position using the corner ropes for a better angle.

Conclusion: How To Waterproof A Tent With A Tarp

As you have seen in this article above, Learning how to waterproof a tent with a tarp is really easy and simple to do and all you need is a couple of accessories and that’s it.

We hope you enjoyed our guide on how to make a rain shelter with a tarp and more. If you have anything you would like to add that you think we forgot make sure to leave a comment down below and we’ll do our best to reply.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. I like that you mentioned getting a tarp that is twice the size of my tent so that it’s easier to use. My son and I are going camping in Washington for a few days and I am expecting heavy rain. I’ll let him know that we need to find some tarps to keep us dry.

  2. My children love to camp but they can’t play inside the tent because there isn’t room. I like how you mention having a large tarp so your children can have enough room to play around. Thank you for the advice. I’ll search for a large tarp to use when we go camping.

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