Camping outside gives a person an incredible opportunity to bond with nature. Tents and tarps are among the popular shelters we use while camping.
They both have their benefits but tarps are loved for their openness. One can feel closer to nature without restrictions.
How to Choose the Best Camping, Backpacking Tarps
Finding the best camping or backpacking tarp is like taking a walk in the park. Yes, it is that simple. Here is what you need to remember:
Camping tarp material
The material used in making tarps affects how long the tarp will last. If the material was strong then there is a high chance the tarp will last longer. Below are some of the materials used and their respective benefits.
This kind of tarps come with a wide range of colors. They are made of plastic fiber and they are easy to find. They are not costly making them appropriate for users with tight budgets.
They happen to be waterproof and offers resistance to chemicals. On the negative side, they are not as durable. Sunlight especially accelerates the wear and tear.
Silnylon and Silpoly Rain Taps
Silnylon, a portmanteau of "silicone" and "nylon", is a synthetic fabric used mainly in lightweight outdoor gear. It is made by impregnating a thin woven nylon fabric with liquid silicone from both sides. This makes it strong for its weight, as the silicone substantially improves the tear strength. It is also highly waterproof, but not breathable. Many colours are available
If you want a tarp that won’t tear so easy then vinyl tarps are a worthy suggestion. Vinyl is a strong material and it also happens to be flame retardant.
You can camp without worrying that something will catch fire. They are waterproof and prove reliable. If you are looking for a lighter weight outdoor fabric than our standard deniers, this is the answer for you.
Canvas tarps have been around for ages. They are made of natural fibers which provide them with the strength to withstand wear and tear. Canvas tarps are breathable to keep you cool and can be treated to provide water resistance.
The downside to canvas tarps is that they may shrink over time, are vulnerable to mildew and in most cases lack UV protection.
If money is not a thing to worry about then the neoprene tarps are the ones to go for. They happen to possess strong characteristics. The material is flexible but it offers strong tear resistance and corrosion resistance.
If well maintained, these kinds of tarps will last for years. The insulation provided will keep you warm in cold conditions and it won’t shrink.
The thickness of the material
The best camping tarp relies on durable material for strength. The thickness of the material also matters in relation to overall strength. There are basically lightweight and heavy- duty tarps.
Lightweight tarps are good for temporary campers and areas where the sun is hot. They are reliable but may be prone to wear and tear over time.
Heavy-duty tarps are more durable and provide reliable shelter in windy/rainy weather. Their only downside is that they may be heavy to carry around especially when rolled up.
What size do you need?
There are small, medium and large tarps. Small tarps usually measure around 5 x 8.5 and they are effective in mild wind environments. If you are camping as a crowd then you might want to fish for something larger.
Larger tarps are able to withstand strong winds and pounding rain if set up right. The larger the tarp the more weight the camper will have to carry.
So select if you need them small or large depending on the activity you want to embark on. It is always better to be mentally prepared.
Water resistance and waterproof qualities
Not all tarps are waterproof. Being waterproof means that no water seeps through the fabric at all. Some tarps come with water resistance abilities.
If your tarp possesses water resistant abilities, the water will sink in but will not seep through and start dripping. It will be wet to touch though. That is unless there is a heavy downpour.
It is important to understand the difference so as to perceive what different tarp products are offering you.
Choice in color and styles
There is no limit as to the choice of color or style you can have when it applies to tarps. You can get them as bright or as dull as you want. For campers, bright colors are good as they are easier to spot.
For those who need to blend into the environment then camouflaged tarps are available. Exercise your right to personal taste and select the color that fits you the most. It will be your tarp after all.
Most manufacturers provide a storage bag that you can use to store and transport your tarp. The bag ensures that the tarp stays clean and away from damage.
The quality of the bag does not have to be great but it can be decent enough to last long. If the quality of the bag is low, you can always invest in a better one so as to keep your tarp in good condition.
Loop position and quality
Tarps have to be tied to something. That is where the quality and the positioning of the tie loops come in. The grommets should be made of good material so as to remain strong through harsh winds.
You can tie your tarp as tight as you need without worrying of breaks in the seams. The positioning of the tarps also matters so as to effect adequate setup.
You want a tarp that has enough loops to create a shelter with adequate coverage. There are models that have extra loops just in case one want to convert the tarp into a tent.
Terms to remember
Cut size – refers to the actual size of the fabric used to create the tarp before any sewing occurs.
Finished size – this is the overall size of the tarp after all the hems have been stitched and all the processes completed. It is the size of the tarp that will be delivered at your doorstep.
To wrap it up
Wasn’t that easy? We are sure by now you understand what features will make the best camping tarp for your needs. Whether you are camping in summer or winter, a reliable tarp will never fail you. Well, don’t let us hold you, go out there and enjoy being close to nature. You will not regret it.