How to Choose the Best Tarpaulin for Your Tent

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How to Choose the Best Tarpaulin for Your Tent

Camping is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and spend time with your friends and family. Unless you prefer to sleep under the stars, you need a tent to camp outdoors, and while there are many tents you can buy, some of them do not offer the right protection from the elements. When you need to set up your tent in the rain, a tarpaulin can be useful to cover the area where you pitch the tent. Also, to protect your tent from mud and rain, put a tarpaulin on the ground and then set up your tent over it. To buy the right tarpaulin for your tent, you should know the kinds of tarpaulins available and their features. Since there are many types of tarpaulins with different characteristics and prices, it is important for you to know what you need out of your tarpaulin and what you need to set it up. Besides going to outdoor supply stores and camping equipment stores, you can also find a good tarpaulin on sites such as eBay.

Know the Different Tarpaulin Types

Tarpaulins, also called tarps, are very durable sheets of reinforced polyethylene, canvas, or other materials. They can be used instead of tents in hot weather and also placed under tents as groundsheets since they are flexible and can be waterproof or water resistant. When you choose a tarpaulin for camping purposes, you generally go for tarpaulins made of polyethylene or PVC since they can keep out water and also sunlight.

Types of Tarpaulins


UV protected

Block UV light; good for camping under the sun

Flame retardant

Have special coating to protect against fire; available in various materials

Regular or light tarpaulin

Usually very affordable; suitable for camping in good weather; water resistant, not waterproof; lightweight

Heavy duty

Heavier than regular tarpaulins; have tighter weaves, so can be waterproof and very durable

When choosing your tarpaulin, you should first know where you are going to camp, what the weather is likely to be at that time, what you are going to use the tarpaulin for, and also how much you are willing to spend on a tarpaulin. Tarpaulins are inexpensive but they also have other advantages. The table below lists some of them.


Tarpaulin Uses

Cost effective

As groundsheet under the tent or as cover for camping supplies or equipment


As quick shelter when hiking

Good ventilation

As shelter for the cooking area

Close to nature

Instead of tent in hot weather to be able to see the surroundings

Tarpaulins can be used instead of tents for a quick, low budget camping trip. However, since you are exposed to your surrounding, you may also be exposed to insects and animals. To prevent insects from disturbing you, use insect repellents, pitch your tent away from bushes, and store away all food properly.

Choose the Features of the Tarpaulin for Your Tent

Tarpaulins are generally quite affordable, so you should be able to find a high quality one even if you have a low budget. Besides your budget, there are also other considerations, including what size you need the tarpaulin to be, what kind of tarpaulin you need, and more. By considering these factors, you should be able to choose the best tarpaulin for your tent.

Choose the Right Tarpaulin Size for Your Tent

There are many things to consider when choosing your tarpaulin's size, including whether you ar going to use it as a groundsheet, instead of the tent, or just to cover the cooking area. If you want to use the tarpaulin as a tent or groundsheet, you should know how many people are staying in your tent or the size of the tent. You should also take into account how much space you have at your intended camping site.

If you only use your tent as a shelter for you to sleep in, you do not need such a big tarpaulin. However, some people also want their tents to cover a table and some supplies. If you plan to have a table, chairs, and other things sheltered, you should get a large tarpaulin to cover everything. It is also advisable for you to get a tarpaulin with slightly larger measurements than you need to prevent rain, leaves, and other debris from falling into your tent area.

Choose the Right Tarpaulin Type for Your Tent

The type of tarpaulin you choose depends on where and when you camp, as well as how big your budget is. The cheapest kind of tarpaulin is probably the regular or light tarpaulin. This tarpaulin is suitable for camping in good weather and for a short camping trip. However, if you want a sturdier tarpaulin that can withstand winds and keep out rain or sun rays, you should get a heavy duty tarpaulin. It is also a good idea to choose a tarpaulin with UV protection.

Regular and heavy duty tarpaulins come in many kinds of materials including canvas, PVC, and polyethylene. While lighter canvas tarpaulins may not be waterproof, most heavy duty tarpaulins are. Therefore, be sure to look at the type of tarpaulin closely. Canvas tarpaulins also tend to be heavier than PVC ones, so if you already need to carry a heavy load and are going hiking, it may be better to bring along a lighter tarpaulin.

Get Poles, Pegs, and Guy Ropes for Your Tarpaulin

Unless you plan to use the tarpaulin as a groundsheet, you should look at how many holes or D rings the tarpaulin has. This number is usually specified on the packaging or label. Depending on the type of shelter you want to set up, you are going to need different numbers of poles and pegs. For using the tarpaulin to make a simple, triangular shaped tent, you may need pegs for each hole or D ring on the side of your tarpaulin, enough rope, and two poles to hold up the openings to your tent. To know more about how many pegs, poles, and ropes you need, you can always ask the staff at the supply store or any experienced friend for help.

How to Buy a Tarpaulin for Your Tent on eBay

eBay has many tarpaulins for you to choose from and all you need to do to search for one is to use eBay's search feature. Just go to eBay and type the name of the items you want such as 'tarpaulin' or 'blue tarpaulin' into the search bar, and eBay finds them for you. When looking at the list of tarpaulins on eBay, make sure you read the description provided. Besides taking note of the type, you should also look at the size of the tarpaulin. Alternatively, you can also specify the size of the tarpaulin you want in the search bar.

To cut costs on your purchase, read the price and the shipping cost of the item. You can also find some great deals for camping tarpaulins on the eBay Deals page. After selecting your tarpaulin, go through all the information again, and if you are satisfied with it, you can go ahead and purchase it.


Camping is all about being outdoors, but you still need to have a proper shelter to protect you from the elements. You can use a tarpaulin as extra shelter together with your tent, as a groundsheet under your tent, or as a cover for your supplies or the cooking area. It is also possible to use a tarpaulin instead of the tent if the weather is nice since tarpaulins are very affordable, durable, and lightweight. Plus, you can reuse the tarpaulin for other purposes even if you do not go camping again.

To choose the best tarpaulin for your tent, you should know the kinds of tarpaulins available and their features. Some things to consider when choosing a tarpaulin are your budget, where and when are you going camping, and also how big of an area you need covered. eBay has a wide variety of tarpaulins, so you are likely to find the best tarpaulin for your tent.

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