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Tarps and Shelters

Top Picks

How we choose: The best tarps and shelters highlighted here were selected based on 277 reviews of 113 products. Our top picks are those that are readily-available in the United States and have received the highest overall ratings from reviewers.

How we test: Trailspace is powered entirely by our community of readers. The reviews posted here reflect the real-world experiences of outdoor enthusiasts just like you.

If you've used a tarp/shelter that you think should be listed here, please share your experience.

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Eagles Nest Outfitters HouseFly Rain Tarp

user rating: 5 of 5 (3 reviews)

The ENO Housefly Rain Tarp is a large hammock shelter designed to provide full coverage with the added benefit of overlapping doors that provide full wind and weather protection with the added convenience of buckles to stow the doors out of the way when not needed.

Reasons to Buy

  • Large 10' 6" X 10' coverage
  • Stowable overlapping doors on both ends
  • Fully sealed and taped seams
  • Doors offer privacy for changing clothes.
  • Cordage and line locks included for all ten tieout points

Reasons to Avoid

  • Stakes not included
  • Add side tieout points

I was looking to assemble my first hammock system and decided that the ENO HouseFly offered the most ready to go, factory provided, features that would expedite my entry into the world of hammock camping. The HouseFly is 10' 6" X 10' and weighs 27 ounces. Upon initial receipt I was impressed with the quality of manufacture. There was no loose stitching anywhere and all seams are well sown and taped. All of the tieout and stress points are well constructed and survived a couple of days subjected to winds around 20 mph on a few occasions. There was no evidence of stretching or tearing at any location.

Read more: Eagles Nest Outfitters HouseFly Rain Tarp reviews (3)

Kelty Noah's Tarp 12

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (20 reviews)

Excellent versatile tarp that is extremely rain and wind resistant. Every camper/backpacker should own at least one of these!

Reasons to Buy

  • Strong fabric
  • Very waterproof
  • Wind resistant

Reasons to Avoid

  • Pricy
  • Poles have to be purchased separately

I own this tarp in the 12' and 9' size and love them so much. They can be set up in so many different ways. There are guide loops along one diagonal seam if you want to string a rope through them. There are also loops along the edges to create a shelter in any situation. There are poles that can be purchased separately to prop up one or two corners to create a raised shelter if you don't have trees. I just purchased these poles but haven't used them yet. These tarps are light enough to bring on a backpacking trip if you know the weather is questionable.   Every winter we go on a five-day paddling trip to on the west coast of Florida to go beach camping.

Read more: Kelty Noah's Tarp 12 reviews (20)

Hyperlite Mountain Gear UltaMid 2

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (3 reviews)

The HMG UltaMid 2 is a four-season, floor-less tent designed for the weight conscious adventurer seeking more coverage than a flat tarp without the weight of a full tent. This easy to set up, lightweight, pyramid shaped shelter is roomy inside and provides adequate protection from snow and wind.

Reasons to Buy

  • Made from Cuben Fiber, a non-woven waterproof fabric
  • Completely seam sealed and reinforced
  • Waterproof door zipper
  • Lightweight
  • Line locks for perimeter staking

Reasons to Avoid

  • Needs to be pitched in an open, pretty level area
  • Minimum height requires two trekking poles to pitch
  • No line locks for the body tie-outs
  • Small vents

Equipment tested: Hyperlite Mountain Gear, UltaMid 2 Key specifications from manufacturer: Fully seam sealed 8 perimeter tie-outs w/line locks 4 body (center panel) tie outs Tie out on cone for hanging the mid from a tree Vents covered with no-see-um netting Guy-line HMG 2.8mm Spectra core line Can be pitched high off the ground or tight to the ground Weight: No Guy-lines 16.6oz - With Guy-lines 17.6 (I measured the weight at 21.8oz.) Width: 83” Length: 107” Height: 64” Square Feet: 63 Shown below is a picture of what you get: Shelter Extra cordage for panel tie-outs Stuff sack My background and conditions of use: I am primarily a backpacker/ day hiker and live in the Pacific Northwest.

Read more: Hyperlite Mountain Gear UltaMid 2 reviews (3)

Hilleberg Tarp 5

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (2 reviews)

The Hilleberg Tarp 5 is a minimalist shelter best used for lightweight solo backpacking when durability and material quality are worth a few more ounces of weight. As with any open-ended tarp, additional protections may be needed if used in all weather and/or especially adverse conditions such as horizontal rain. If pitched well, strong winds are not a problem as the fantastic Kerlon 1000 fabric withstood a severe windstorm during my testing. Like other Hilleberg products I've seen, the materials and workmanship are top-notch. If you need a lot of shelter space this isn't the tarp for you; this is more suited for light and fast trips when you just need a place to lay your head for the night.

Reasons to Buy

  • Excellent strength
  • High quality construction and materials
  • Tall entrance
  • Can be deployed in various pitch formations
  • Sewn-in stuff sack (nice to have and doubles as pocket)
  • Highly packable

Reasons to Avoid

  • Small and tight when deployed in full rain pitch mode
  • Tie rings/ line-runners awkward pairing in some scenarios
  • *Not a standalone solution for bad weather (no deduction for this con: inherent in class)

About the Tarp 5: Link to news release with full specs Designed specifically for solo ultra-light backpackers Weight: 320g / 11.3 oz | Length: 318cm / 125.2 in | Width: 215cm / 84.7in Uses Kerlon 1000 fabric A word about this category of shelter: The shortcomings of open-ended tarps are inherent to the product class. These are primarily: possible exposure to horizontal rain, wind, bugs, and ground water. I didn't deduct any rating stars from my review based on these things. If you are new to using open tarps here are some common solutions to the inherent challenges of such designs.

Read more: Hilleberg Tarp 5 reviews (2)

Eagles Nest Outfitters ProFly Rain Tarp

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (7 reviews)

This is a great tarp that packs up small. The coverage will keep you comfortable and dry.

Reasons to Buy

  • Packs small
  • Lightweight
  • Full coverage
  • Dries quickly

Reasons to Avoid

  • Can't handle high winds

I was hesitant to buy a rain tarp from ENO for a pretty long time because they're so expensive ($80 +/-). Luckily, I have an awesome friend who bought me one as a gift, so I didn't have to spend the money. However, after having it, I would say that it's worth every penny.  Before having the ProFly, I used a normal heavy duty tarp like you get at any hardware store or Walmart. The difference is unbelievable. With the ProFly, it packs up small and is lightweight. It is easy to set up and and tear down.  I have slept under this thing in some pretty heavy downpours and stayed completely comfortable and dry.

Read more: Eagles Nest Outfitters ProFly Rain Tarp reviews (7)

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Flat Tarp

user rating: 5 of 5 (3 reviews)

Huge Dyneema tarp with tons of tie-out points. Can go into lots of configurations. Heavier weight Dyneema that has been durable. Perfect for the Pacific Northwest—can make a great big rain shelter, can be pitched in c-configuration which provides ground cover, can pitch beaks or flaps for privacy.

Reasons to Buy

  • Multiple tie out points
  • Durable/heavier weight Dyneema

Reasons to Avoid

  • Relatively heavier/bulkier than many tarp options

I have been using this tarp for several seasons for solo backpacking in the Pacific Northwest, including the Olympic and Cascade mountains and section hiking the Pacific Coast Trail. The tarp is showing no wear. I pair it with an ultralight bivy sack and put my rain gear on the ground for a ground sheet, or if I expect rain I carry a section of the lightest painter’s plastic drop sheet. It is plenty big for two backpackers or a backpacker and a dog. What I’ve noticed is that when it rains, I stay dry under the tarp even when packing up, getting dressed, eating etc, while my buddies with tents get much wetter, because of rain fly, going in/out, and needing to pack their tent into their backpack (wet tarps go in outside mesh pocket). 

Read more: Hyperlite Mountain Gear Flat Tarp reviews (3)

Sea to Summit Escapist Tarp

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (3 reviews)

An excellent tarp that delivers on exactly what it promises. It's lightweight, simple to use, allows a variety of different setups, works well with the separate Escapist Bug Tent, and unlike other silnylon tarp products (read you, Integral Designs) it comes ready to go out of the bag. Half a star off for making the discovery of dark matter easier than trying to repack the damned tarp.

Reasons to Buy

  • Easy to use with a small amount of practice
  • Practical
  • Lightweight — 350grams (that converts to 'not many oz' for the imperials out there
  • Comes with attached tieouts
  • Allows easy attachment of the Escapist Bug Tent
  • Good to go straight out of the bag

Reasons to Avoid

  • Not bug proof (hence my having the separate bug tent)
  • You have to practice pitching
  • Probably no good in hurricanes, tornados, etc (read on—you'll get it)
  • You will solve the mystery of dark matter before you learn to repack the tarp

This is a 3x3m tarp that I bought to accompany the Escapist Bug Tent (reviewed separately).   Setup: A previous reviewer has noted it takes a bit of practice to set up. This is particularly so if you are also joining it with the Escapist Bug Tent. I spent about an hour getting used to pitching it. You can see in the photo I got it largely right (it was taken on the Hillary Track with me the weekend just gone). Just after the photo I reset the middle and got the pitch even tauter (couldn't photo as I was running out of battery).

Read more: Sea to Summit Escapist Tarp reviews (3)

Top Hammock Accessory / Tarp/Shelter

Sea to Summit Hammock Tarp

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (2 reviews)

A great tarp, though a little on the minimalist side. Looking to go lighter? The Sea to Summit Hammock Tarp may be the tarp for you.

Reasons to Buy

  • Lightweight
  • Comes with guy line
  • Grommets on each tie-out point
  • Line tensioners at each tie out for ease of tensioning

Reasons to Avoid

  • Very minimal coverage on the head and foot end
  • Ridgeline guyline comes a little too short to be useful

This review is a part of a review of the entire Sea to Summit Ultralight Hammock System. Please refer to my Sea to Summit Ultralight Hammock review to see the full review of the Ultralight Hammock and its components. Most of the information below is separated out here again for visibility purposes. Hammock Tarp: The Hammock Tarp is made of Ultra-Sil Nano 15D Nylon fabric, which provides a high strength-to-weight performance, and measures 11 feet 10 inches by 9 feet 2 inches. Two tie-out points are provided on one side of the tarp for enhanced performance in wind or wind driven weather, and for weight savings the opposite side is a narrower cut that tapers to a point with only one tie out.

Read more: Sea to Summit Hammock Tarp reviews (2)

Kelty Noah's Tarp 16

user rating: 5 of 5 (3 reviews)

Great value and good performance in a large tarp.

Reasons to Buy

  • Good value
  • Large setup size
  • Packs small and relatively light
  • Flexible setup options

Reasons to Avoid

  • Stakes it comes with are useless
  • Tie down cords aren't suitable for large size of tarp

I use this tarp for group rafting trips as a kitchen/gathering shelter when it rains and as a beach shade maker when it's hot and sunny. I typically use four poles (actually, 2 oars and 2 poles) to create more usable space and to drain the runoff efficiently. At 16' x 16' it creates plenty of area to shelter the kitchen and provide space for chairs. The tarp fabric is pretty lightweight, but is waterproof and has not been damaged by wind or sun in several years of use. The weakest link in the product is the cords it comes with to guy the tarp out; they are simply too light weight to effectively support a tarp of this size, especially in any sort of wind.

Read more: Kelty Noah's Tarp 16 reviews (3)

MSR Twin Sisters

user rating: 5 of 5 (1 review)

The Twin Sisters is an excellent lightweight and minimalist mountaineering shelter. It offers a lot of space for its weight, and it's very easy to pitch.

Reasons to Buy

  • a lot of space for the weight
  • storm worthy
  • easy to pitch
  • two entrances
  • peak vents
  • snow skirt
  • can pitch with trekking poles

Reasons to Avoid

  • no floor
  • not ideal for standard 3-season use
  • the fabrics could be lighter
  • the included stakes are less than ideal for pitching in snow

The Twin Sisters comes standard with collapsible, shock-corded aluminum poles and a set of six stakes. The included stakes are fairly standard MSR stakes, good for pitching in soil, but not in snow. The fabric is a 30 denier ripstop nylon with the MSR proprietary Durashield coating. It's a bit on the heavy side compared to good silnylon, but it's also durable and waterproof. The shelter comes with guylines already attached to the tie out points. The pitching procedure is very simple. Stake out the 4 corners pulling the edges tight, then open one end an insert the poles into each peak.

Read more: MSR Twin Sisters review (1)

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