Tarps are an excellent way to provide extra protection and insulation from the elements when you need it most.

They even provide a great way to expand the living space of your campsite. Campers love this idea because it makes them feel more at home, especially when company is coming over for dinner.

But, you need to make sure that your tarp is being used correctly and in order for it’s benefits.

In this guide, we will show you how to put a tarp over a tent step by step and provide some helpful tips along the way.

Step by Step on How to Put a Tarp Over a Tent

There are two main methods for securing a tarp over your tent, one with trees and one without.

Hanging your tarp with trees is an important step in preventing it from being blown away and simplifying securing the ends of a camping tent.

Trees are a great anchor point, but they’re not always available. Sometimes you may have to get crafty and use something else like light poles or even the rims on your car.

If you don’t have any suitable anchor points, then use heavy duty aluminum poles or even tree branches lying around.

Let’s take a look now at how to set up a tarp canopy over your tent with and without trees.

it’s important to: 

  • It’s important to find a site with trees so they can be used in the event no other option is available. We use heavy-duty poles, but you may need your own if there are none on location.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and take caution when camping. You should inspect the area to make sure there are no fallen trees or branches which could snap in half, landing on top of your tent without warning.
  • You should put your tent on a slight slope so that water will flow away from the roof.
  • Place the tent securely on a level surface and make sure that there’s no debris around it to catch footing.
  • The bowline is the most popular knot for fastening ropes. This will help you attach your lines to stakes or poles.

How to Hang a Tarp Using Trees

The bowline is the most popular and effective knot for tying ropes. If you want your knots to be as strong, use this one.

The A-frame has been designed to offer the best protection from elements. The sleek, modern design makes this tent feel like home.

The tarp can be adjusted so that there are more wind break on one side. This type of setup is commonly used for sheltering hammock campers too.

So, let’s get started building our A-frame tent canopy.

What You’ll Need:

  • 2 Anchor points (trees, light pole, car, etc.)
  • Tarp
  • Rope
  • Pegs
Unigear Hammock Rain Fly Waterproof Tent Tarp
Unigear Hammock Rain Fly Waterproof Tent Tarp

Setup Instructions

  1. With your tent set up between two trees, fasten one end of the rope to one tree and then do not let go. The other end should be taut so that it will run about a foot above the top of your shelter.
  2. Pull the tarp over the rope. In a typical A-frame setup, you would have an equal amount of tarp fabric hanging on each side. However, if you are trying to break the wind on one side of the tent, you can pull the fabric on that side down further.
  3. you need to secure the four corners of the tarp. Slide a rope through the tarp grommets located at each corner of the tarp, pull the rope outward so it’s taut, and stake them down.

It’s important to make sure you raise your shelter so water can’t get in. Make a raised center section with side flaps that will deflect rain, wind and sun.

Put a Tarp over a Tent Without Trees

One of the most important things to remember when you’re building your shelter is that it needs an anchor point. If there are no trees around, then use heavy duty aluminum poles like those found on an A-frame tarp tent (you’ll need two per side). These will hold up against windy conditions.

Green Elephant Telescoping Tarp Poles
Green Elephant Telescoping Tarp Poles

Setup Instructions

  1. With your tent set up, place a heavy-duty pole in front of your tent and one behind it.
  2. Locate the middle grommet on one side of your tarp and place it over the top of the pole in front of your tent.
  3. Attach a rope to the top of the pole and stake the other end of the rope to the ground. If you don’t have anybody around to help hold the poles upright, you will need two more ropes coming from the top and staked in the ground on both sides of the pole.
  4. Now, move to the back of the tent and perform the same steps. Place the middle grommet of the other side of the tarp over the top of the tent pole, attach a rope to the top of the pole, and stake the other end of that rope to the ground. Ensure that the tarp is taut between the two poles. A little sagging is fine.
  5. Lastly, we need to secure the tarp corners. Slide a rope through the grommets located at each corner of the tarp, pull the rope so it’s taut, and stake them down.

Reasons to Use a Tarp Over a Tent

Putting a tarp over your tent may seem like an unnecessary extra step, but there are a few advantages that you may have not considered.

  1. With a waterproof tarp, you don’t have to worry about rain seeping through the tent and ruining your sleeping bag or pads. In other words, it will help keep your tent dry in even the heaviest of rains.
  2. A tarp will reduce condensation that builds up in a tent during humid nights since you can leave your tent windows open and still be protected.
  3. Tarps, especially when used with a strong anchor, will help protect your tent from damaging winds.
  4. They also help protect your tent from bad weather and harmful elements like UV rays, hail, snow, etc.
  5. Tarps, when positioned over your tent right, are a good way to create a tent vestibule, which is an area where you can store your dirty, wet gear so you don’t have to bring it in the tent.

Furthermore, tarps are a very versatile piece of equipment that we always recommend you bring on your camping trips. Whether you put one over your tent, over a hammock, create a makeshift shelter, or use one as a sunblock, they really come in handy more than you might realize.

By Anthony Paton

Anthony Paton, the outdoorsman who loves to report all sorts of interesting stories about camping in Great Britain. He's based out London and doesn't get much time for himself these days because work commitments keep him away on occasion but does what he can with what little free time there is.