How to Set up a Tarp for Camping?

ways to set up a tarp for camping

Whenever you go out camping, a tarp is a necessity to carry along. Tarps provide you with a place to shelter from the rain or a day’s heat, a place to cook, and also to eat.

However, a wrongly set up tarp will result in numerous unforeseen problems. As such, this article will help you know how to set up a tarp for camping.

ways to set up a tarp for camping

Steps to Properly Set up a Tarp for Camping

You can follow these steps to set up a tarp by yourself.

Step 1: Locate the trees to tie your main support line

Look through your campsite and identify two trees that align and will consequently enable you to tie a rope that will run close to your camping site’s center or as close to it.

If you do not find appropriate trees in your given location, you should consider changing location or maybe incorporating poles if you have any.

Moreover, ensure the trees you select will enable the tarp to cover your site while still being high enough not to catch fire, as the fire pit will also be under it.

choose proper trees to set up a tarp

Step 2: Throwing the rope to the first tree

For this part, you will fare better with a rope at least a hundred feet long and half an inch thick.

Climb up the tree or tie a stick to the end of the rope and throw it over the desired branch. However, while throwing, aim accordingly to avoid numerous missed attempts.

Step 3: Tying the rope to the first tree

With your rope successfully in position, use a half-hitch, clove-hitch, or a reverse half-hitch knot to tie the rope in place.

Whichever knot you settle for, ensure you can easily untie it for future adjustments to prevent cutting the rope later while packing up.

The latter will leave the site looking undesirable for future camping groups.

tie the tarp rope on the first tree

Step 4: Centering the tarp

Run your rope across to the other tree, where you will tie it to obtain a ridgeline, and then roughly center your tarp over the ridgeline.

The incorporation of middle grommets can make the tarp remain centered.

However, this will make the process far more difficult, especially while packing up.

Step 5: Tying the rope to the second tree

With the tarp roughly centered, do as you did with the first tree to tie the rope at an appropriate height.

Step 6: Tarp stabilization

stablize your tarp for camping

Attach rope pieces to all the tarp’s four corners and middle grommets using bowline knots. You can also enclose a rock in each corner and tie a rope around it to increase the tarp’s stability.

Step 7: Tarp adjustments

With the tarp up, varying the rope’s tension will allow you to adjust portions of it to your preferences.

If you are in a windy region, adjusting the tarp to have a long yet steeply pitched side is advisable.

If the area is rainy, make both sides of the tarp slope, ensuring the rainwater runs off.

set up a camping tarp over a hammock


Tarps provide adequate shelter from the elements during any camping activities. However, while setting up a tarp for camping, be careful not to harm yourselves, especially while climbing trees.

Moreover, always have an experienced person within the group to help with setting the tarp up.