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A backpacking tarp is a versatile piece of gear for any backpacker. A tarp can be used for quick shade on a day when the sun is beating down on you. It can also be used as a safe haven during a rain storm so you can still hang out and cook your meals while camping in the rain. And of course, the best backpacking tarp can serve as the perfect lightweight shelter when you have to carry your entire setup on your back.

The Adventure Junkies created a list of the 10 best backpacking tarps for you, taking into consideration a multitude of factors so you don’t have to do any extra research to decide which tarp is right for you. No matter what you are looking for in a backpacking tarp, you are guaranteed to find what you’re looking for here!

For more of our top backpacking gear recommendations, check out the Best Backpacking Tents

 

Quick Answer - The Best Backpacking Tarps

  1. Kammok Kuhli
  2. Sea to Summit Escapist
  3. ENO HouseFly Rain
  4. Kammok Kuhli Ultralight
  5. MSR Thru-Hiker
  6. Big Agnes Deep Creek
  7. REI Co-op Quarter Dome SL
  8. Kammok Kuhli XL
  9. REI Co-op Camp Tarp 16

 

Comparison Table - Best Backpacking Tarp

PictureNameSeasonCapacityDimensionsPacked SizeWeightFabricPriceRating
Kammok Kuhli3-Season2-3 Person144 x 108 Inches4.5 x 8 Inches1.4 lbsRipstop Nylon$$5.0
Sea to Summit Escapist3-Season2-Person102 x 78 Inches3 x 7.5 Inches9.5 ozCoated Nylon$$4.5
ENO HouseFly Rain3-Season1-Person128 x 1065.5 x 11 Inches1 lb 9 ozSilicone Coated Nylon$$4.5
Kammok Kuhli Ultralight3-Season1-Person132 x 88 Inches3.7 x 3.7 Inches10 ozRipstop Nylon$4.5
MSR Thru-Hiker2-Season3-Person108 x 72 Inches4.5 x 9 Inches1 lbRipstop Nylon$$4.5
Big Agnes Deep Creek3-SeasonSeveral196 x 204 Inches29 x 7 Inches7 lbs 15 ozPolyester$$$4.0
REI Co-op Quarter Dome SL2-Season2-Person115 x 115 Inches4.5 x 9 Inches1 lbs 12 ozRipstop Nylon$$4.0
Kammok Kuhli XL3-Season8+ person198 x 170 Inches5.7”x 10.4”2 lb 5 ozRipstop Nylon$$4.0
REI Co-op Camp Tarp 16 3-SeasonSeveral192 x 192 Inches13.75 x 8.7 Inches3 lbs 14 ozPolyester$3.5
PictureNameSeasonCapacityDimensionsPacked SizeWeightFabricPriceRating
Want to learn more about a technical term? Check out our Features Explained section below.

Need buying advice? Take a look at these Things to Consider.

Reviews - The Best Tarps for Backpacking

Kammok Kuhli

Specs
  • Capacity: 2-3 Person
  • Dimensions: 144 x 108 Inches
  • Fabric: Ripstop Nylon
  • Season: 3-Season
  • Weight: 1.4 lbs
  • Packed Size: 4.5 x 8 Inches
Features
  • Reinforced Anchor Points
  • Taped Seams/Ripstop Nylon Is Waterproof Treated
  • Reflective Guy Lines So You Won’t Trip Over The Tarp Tie Downs At Night
  • Aluminum Stakes Included
  • Lifetime Warranty

BEST FOR: ALL KINDS OF BACKPACKERS

The Kammok Kuhli Shelter is large enough to cover you and all your friends, is totally waterproof, and is super easy to set up. 

The Kuhli shelter can fit six to seven hikers (sitting upright) and can sleep between two to three hikers at night. The space of this tarp makes it an ideal option for a kitchen shelter when cooking food in the backcountry or for a quick hideout during a rainstorm. 

Also a solid option for a tent substitute, this shelter is coated with waterproof treatments to ensure you’ll be dry underneath the tarp during a rainy night. 

Ten reinforced guyout points on this tarp provide several setup options and leave the creativity up to you. You can either set this tarp up connecting the guyout points to branches and trees, or by using trekking poles. This tarp is covered under Kammok’s lifetime warranty.

Sea to Summit Escapist

Specs
  • Capacity: 2-Person
  • Dimensions: 102 x 78 Inches
  • Fabric: Coated Nylon
  • Season: 3-Season
  • Weight: 9.5 oz
  • Packed Size: 3 x 7.5 Inches
Features
  • Only Weighs About Half A Pound
  • Nylon Is Waterproof Treated
  • Each Guyout Point Is Designed To Easily Hold Trekking Pole
  • Reflective Guy Lines Prevent You From Tripping In The Night

BEST FOR:  THE LONG-DISTANCE BACKPACKER

Sea to Summit’s Escapist Tarp Shelter is versatile, ultralight, and easy to set up.

This tarp can be set up as an A-frame, an awning, or as a tarp. Each guy line of this shelter is designed to fit the bottom of your trekking pole, making setup a breeze. This shelter only weighs about half a pound, and compresses down to the size of a 750 mL CamelBack water bottle, making it ideal for a thru-hiker looking to shed weight and save space in their pack.

The inner measurement of the large size of this shelter is 10 x 10 feet, making it a comfortable overnight option for two hikers and all their gear. The medium size of this tent is 6 x 8 feet, a good option for two hikers without their gear, or one hiker with their gear. 

The waterproof treated nylon of this tent makes this shelter completely waterproof. Eight guyout locations make setup simple and effective. When pitched correctly this tarp can withstand severe winds, rain, and thunderstorms.

ENO HouseFly Rain

Specs
  • Capacity: 1-Person
  • Dimensions: 128 x 106
  • Fabric: Silicone Coated Nylon
  • Season: 3-Season
  • Weight: 1 lb 9 oz
  • Packed Size: 5.5 x 11 Inches
Features
  • Two Opening Doors Help Protect You And Your Belongings During Rainstorms
  • Silicone Coated Nylon Ensures Weather Proof Shelter
  • Comfortably Sleeps Two Hikers And Their Gear
  • Works Well As A Shelter Over A Hammock

BEST FOR: THE HAMMOCK CAMPER

The ENO HouseFly Rain Tarp features two large overlapping doors at either side of the shelter, promising to keep you warm and dry during a downpour. It can easily be paired with a hanging hammock, to give you maximum coverage and comfort while hammock camping.

The full enclosure provided by the two doors of this shelter mean that this is the closest a tarp shelter can get to a tent. This tarp is made with a silicone nylon fabric, adding a double layer of durability and security.

This tarp will prevent against all of the elements, not just rain. Looking for a quick shade during the day when the sun is beating down on you? This is your shelter. Experiencing 30 MPH winds while you’re in the backcountry? This is your shelter. 

This shelter is a tad heavier than others, which can be cumbersome to some, but The Adventure Junkies think the added features are worth the weight. You’ll be thanking yourself in the backcountry for the coverage and security this tent-tarp offers.

Kammok Kuhli Ultralight

Specs
  • Capacity: 1-Person
  • Dimensions: 132 x 88 Inches
  • Fabric: Ripstop Nylon
  • Season: 3-Season
  • Weight: 10 oz
  • Packed Size: 3.7 x 3.7 Inches
Features
  • Ultra Lightweight
  • Tapered Design Provides Shelter Without Unnecessary Weight
  • Taped Seams/Ripstop Nylon is Waterproof Treated
  • Reinforced Anchor Points Keep This Tent Secure In The Wind And Rain
  • Line-lock Tensioners and Cord Hooks Make Setup Easy
  • Lifetime Warranty

BEST FOR: THE MINIMALIST 

The big difference between this tarp and Kammok’s other tarps is that it only weighs about half a pound.

This shelter is slightly smaller than the Kuhli Shelter and the Kuhli Shelter Pro, but can still comfortably sleep one hiker and their gear. This shelter could also house two to three hikers looking to beat the heat on a brutally hot day or seeking cover during a torrential downpour.

Speaking of a rainstorm, similar to other Kammok shelter’s, this tarp is treated with a durable water repellent treatment to keep you dry amid a storm.

Kammok’s Kuhli Ultralight Weather Shelter has eight guyout points, all constructed with line-lock tensioners that make pitching the tarp a breeze. This shelter can be setup using trees or rocks, or can be set-up using trekking poles and is covered under Kammok’s lifetime warranty.

MSR Thru-Hiker

Specs
  • Capacity: 3-Person
  • Dimensions: 108 x 72 Inches
  • Fabric: Ripstop Nylon
  • Season: 2-Season
  • Weight: 1 lb
  • Packed Size: 4.5 x 9 Inches
Features
  • Ripstop Nylon Is Waterproof Treated
  • Versatile Setup Options
  • Reinforced Anchor Points Mean This Tarp Is Secure Even In High Winds
  • Weighs Less Than A Pound

BEST FOR: THE THRU-HIKER

MSR’s Thru-Hiker 70 Wing Shelter is the ideal option for thru-hikers, or a backpacker who goes on long distance trips often.

This shelter comes in two sizes. The medium size has a wingspan of 70 inches and can accommodate up to two hikers. The large size has a wingspan of 100 inches and can accommodate three hikers. Both of these options weigh a pound or less, making this shelter one of the most lightweight options out there. 

Similar to other shelters, the ripstop nylon this tent is made of is coated with a water repellant treatment to keep you dry amid a storm.

This tarp can be pitched using trees or trekking poles. All corners of this shelter are reinforced with a double layer of fabric, making this tarp durable for all of your outdoor adventures.

Big Agnes Deep Creek

Specs
  • Capacity: Several
  • Dimensions: 196 x 204 Inches
  • Fabric: Polyester
  • Season: 3-Season
  • Weight: 7 lbs 15 oz
  • Packed Size: 29 x 7 Inches
Features
  • Adjustable Poles Included For Setup
  • Versatile Setup Configurations
  • Reflective Guy Lines Prevent You From Tripping In The Night
  • Seams Taped With Waterproof Tape

BEST FOR: THE OUTDOOR FAMILY 

Big Agnes Deep Creek Tarp Shelter won’t let a family of six or less wake up cold or wet during a rainstorm. 

This tarp is large enough to cover an entire family, and tough enough to withstand all of nature’s harshest elements. Aluminum poles are included with the purchase of the tarp, so although this option has a bit of a steeper cost than the rest, it’s important to factor the poles into the cost.

The guy lines of this tarp are precut for you, so you don’t have to take measurements yourself. Each guy line corner also has a pocket for you to put the excess guy line rope in so you can stay organized during setup. 

An option for adding a third pole to the center of the tarp allows for extra security and is available for purchase through REI.

REI Co-op Quarter Dome SL

Specs
  • Capacity: 2-Person
  • Dimensions: 115 x 115 Inches
  • Fabric: Ripstop Nylon
  • Season: 2-Season
  • Weight: 1 lbs 12 oz
  • Packed Size: 4.5 x 9 Inches
Features
  • Ripstop Nylon Is Waterproof Treated
  • Seam-Sealed For Weather Protection
  • Reinforced Anchor Points Mean This Tarp Can Withstand High Winds And Rain
  • Reflective Guy Lines Prevent You From Tripping At Night
  • Stakes Included

BEST FOR: THE PEAK BAGGER

The rectangular design of this tarp allows for countless setup options yet it still compresses down to be smaller than a 16 oz water bottle.

You can use this tarp as an A-Frame tent, a hammock shelter, a flat shelter for midday shade, and several other options. This tarp can be pitched by using trekking poles or nearby trees and branches.

The Ripstop nylon this tent is made of is coated with a waterproof treatment and is seam sealed to ensure you will stay dry amid a storm. All guyout corners of this tarp are reinforced with an extra layer of fabric so you can sleep soundly knowing this tent-tarp will withstand the conditions. 

This tarp comes with eight stakes, six guy line cords fit with adjusters, and a stuff sack to make for an easy and secure setup and quick and efficient packing.

Kammok Kuhli XL

Specs
  • Capacity: 8+ person
  • Dimensions: 198 x 170 Inches
  • Fabric: Ripstop Nylon
  • Season: 3-Season
  • Weight: 2 lb 5 oz
  • Packed Size: 5.7”x 10.4”
Features
  • Ripstop Nylon Is Waterproof Treated
  • Can Fit Up To 12 Hikers And Comfortably Sleeps Eight
  • Reinforced Anchor Points Make This Tarp Secure Even In High Winds
  • Stakes Included
  • Versatile Setup Options
  • Lifetime Warranty

BEST FOR: GROUP BACKPACKING

Kammok’s Kuhli XL Group Tarp Shelter is big enough for you to fit the whole family and some friends, while still not breaking your back while you’re lugging it up mountains in your pack.

The wingspan of this tarp is nearly 200 inches meaning it can fit up to twelve hikers sitting or standing up, and can sleep up to eight. Even with its massive wingspan, this tarp only weighs 2.5 lbs.

This tarp is made of ripstop nylon that is coated with a waterproof treatment to repel rain in even the toughest storms. Sixteen guyout points allow for several setup options, and the tarp comes with eight stakes and a stuff sack. If you’re planning on hiking with a big group, definitely consider taking the Kuhli XL along for the trip!

REI Co-op Camp Tarp 16

Specs
  • Capacity: Several
  • Dimensions: 192 x 192 Inches
  • Fabric: Polyester
  • Season: 3-Season
  • Weight: 3 lbs 14 oz
  • Packed Size: 13.75 x 8.7 Inches
Features
  • No-Sag Design Creates Taut Pitch
  • Symmetrical Design Provides Maximum Coverage
  • Reflective Guylines Mean You Won’t Trip Over The Tarp At Night
  • Fabric Won’t Stretch When Wet
  • Stakes Included

BEST FOR: THE WEEKEND WARRIOR 

REI’s Camp Tarp is a great option for a backpacker looking for a large tarp that will not only keep their tent dry but will also keep their campground dry.

This tarp is large enough for you to have a dry night sleep in your tent or hammock, but also have enough room for a chair or two, and for a camping stove setup. This is also a great option if you’re looking for a tarp to cover two hammocks. 

For the size of this tarp, it is a lightweight option, but the polyester material doesn’t pack down as well as nylon would. This tarp also has set up poles available for purchase to aid in the setup process. Otherwise, you’ll be counting on trees to create a taut pitch.

This tarp comes in two smaller sizes available at REI.

 

 

THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING A BACKPACKING TARP

When picking out a backpacking tarp, knowing what you will be using it for is important. Ask yourself a few key questions before deciding which tarp is right for you. Like:

  • Where will I be using the tarp the most?
  • What do I plan on using the tarp for – as a primary shelter, an emergency back-up, or a casual awning while camping?
  • Do I plan on taking it out on solo backpacking trips, or will I be backpacking with the whole family or a bunch of friends?
  • Will I be taking the tarp to high elevations where weather patterns are inconsistent?

Ask yourself all of these questions and then read through our considerations below so you know just what you’re looking for before deciding which tarp to buy off our list above.

It’s also important to know how to set up your tarp once you make your final decision. There are many different ways to pitch a tarp, and knowing how to set it up to suit your needs is essential for a successful tarping experience.

Check out this how-to guide from REI about how to set up your tarp in several different configurations to find some insight into which tarp from the list above can best be used for your ideal configuration.

USE

When deciding what type of backpacking tarp you want, you first have to ask yourself what you’ll be using the tarp for. Will you be using your tarp as a quick shade during hot summer days? Or will you be relying on your tarp to keep you dry during sudden rain storms?

Differentiating between these options is important, and it’s also important to decide if you’ll be using your tarp as your primary shelter while backpacking. A tarp is such a versatile piece of gear, and deciding what you’ll be using yours for the most is the first step to finding which one is right for you.

Once you’ve figured out what you’ll be using your tarp for the most, look for specifications in each tarp that cater to your needs. If you plan to use the tarp to shelter you from rain, make sure you get a tarp with waterproof treated fabric. If you plan to use your tarp as your shelter, make sure you pick one that allows for versatile pitching options.

 

SEASONS

Almost all tarps are built to withstand summer and spring weather, but if you plan on backpacking through the months where the colors of the leaves are changing, it’s important to get a 3-season tarp. This will ensure that your tarp will keep you warm AND dry during a storm.

 

SIZE

Size is a factor similar to weight. When determining what size tarp you need, consider first what you’ll be using it for. If you plan to use your tarp on family backcountry outings, you probably need a larger sized tarp. If it’ll just be you on a thru-hike across the country, you’ll need a smaller size.

 

FABRIC

Most of the tarps in this article are made of ripstop nylon, which is a lightweight material that doesn’t rip easily. Ripstop nylon is a great fabric for you to count on as a shelter or as a quick shade during your adventure.

If you know you’ll be taking your tarp into the backcountry where there could be rain, make sure the fabric of your tarp has been coated with a water-repelling treatment. You will thank yourself later when you don’t wake up soaking wet from the previous night’s rain storm.

A lot of the tarps in this article also have double layers of fabric on corners of the tarp. These extra layers of fabric in the high-use areas of the tarp improve its durability and guarantees that you tarp won’t rip from overuse.

 

 

FEATURES EXPLAINED

RIPSTOP NYLON

Ripstop nylon is the most commonly used fabric in the tarps featured in this article. Using a crosshatch pattern, ripstop nylon is woven with a sewing technique that prevents against ripping or tearing.

Nylon is already waterproof, but adding this sewing technique ensures the tarp will be durable in addition to waterproof.

REINFORCED ANCHOR POINTS

Anchor points are the areas of your tarp where you will tie a string to create a taut pitch. Anchor points are strategically placed so you can pitch the most common tarp configurations. Several tarps in this article have 6, 8, 10, or even 14 anchor points. They usually look like round metal holes dispersed evenly over the corners and edges of the tarp.

When anchor points are reinforced, it simply means that there is a double layer of fabric fitted to this area of the tarp. It allows you to put the pressure on this area of the tarp, such as you might when tightening a cord to create a taut pitch, and have the relief that it won’t rip or loosen the fabric.

TAPED SEAMS

Another waterproof technique, taped seams means all the seams of your tarp are taped with a waterproof material that will ensure that no water or moisture will get in the inside of your tarp.

GUY LINES

A guy line is a rope or cable used to tighten something. In this case, a tarp. You will use guy lines through anchor points to create a taut pitch with whatever tarp configuration you choose.

Some of the tarps in this article come with pre-measured guy lines. This is a blessing because you won’t have excess rope, and you won’t have to spend time trying to decide what is the best length.

Several of the guy lines are reflective, an added bonus that will help identify your tent after your nightly campfire and prevent you from tripping over them in the night.

LINE-LOCK TENSIONERS

Line-lock tensioners are designed to ease the tightening process of your guy lines when pitching your tarp.

Once your tarp is basically set up, you can go around and tighten your line-lock tensioners, located on your guy lines. You do this by holding the cord that is staked into the ground, while pulling down on the loose cord connected to the guy line by a line-lock tensioner.

Line-lock tensioners are a blessing in getting a taut pitch and basically do the hard work for you. They can be a bit confusing at first, but think of it like tightening a buckle on a life jacket, only on a much smaller scale.

If you find you’re having a hard time using your line-lock tensioners, check out this helpful video.

VERSATILE SETUP CONFIGURATIONS

There are several ways to set up a tarp. Some of the most common are an A-Frame tent setup, an awning, or flat. When getting a new tarp, it’s fun to play around with different setup configurations to learn what would be your best option for different circumstances.

READ MORE

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