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7 Best Tarps for Survival Shelter in the Outdoors

Shelter is a priority when you are going to be sleeping outdoors, and sometimes, a tent will take up too much space in your bug out bag. This is where a tarp shelter comes into play. It is a lightweight option that does not take up a lot of space. However, there are several tarp shelter configurations, so which one is the best?

In this guide, we are going to take a look at eight of the best tarps on the market so that you can select the best one for your needs.

Last update on 2020-11-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

After our reviews we have a buyers guide giving a more in-depth look at tarps and what you need to look for in the model that you select.

Survival Tarp Reviews

Go To Gear Life Emergency Survival Shelter

The first tarp that we are going to look at is a life tent that is designed to keep you warm and dry in even the most extreme weather. It is available in both orange and green so that you can be located in the wild, and the tarp itself is designed to accommodate two people.

Go Time Gear Life Tent Emergency Survival Shelter – 2 Person Emergency Tent – Use As Survival Tent, Emergency Shelter, Tube Tent, Survival Tarp - Includes Survival Whistle & Paracord (Green)

It is windproof, waterproof, and puncture-resistant. It has a layer of polyethylene material that will keep any precipitation out, and reflect your body heat so that you can stay warm.

The carry bag has a drawstring with a survival whistle on the end. So if an emergency occurs, you can whistle so that someone can hear you. The whistle can be heard up to one mile away.


  • At 8.3 ounces, the tarp is very lightweight
  • Setting up the tarp is rather straightforward
  • It folds up into a packet that is the size of a can of soda


  • It is designed for emergencies, so it will not last more than one use
  • The whistle could be a little more durable


Rain Fly Waterproof Tarp

This is another great option to consider when you are looking for a survival tarp. It comes in a number of different colors, and it can be purchased in two different sizes. This tarp comes with a full kit that you can easily use to set up a shelter and protect yourself from inclement weather. It is a waterproof tarp that is designed to block UV rays.

Rain Fly EVOLUTION 12 x 10 ft Camping Hammock RAIN Fly Waterproof Tent TARP & Survival Bracelet – Lightweight – Backpacker Approved – Diamond Ripstop – Perfect Hammock Shelter – Gray

It also comes with a survival bracelet that has five different functions. It has a compass to help you navigate, a whistle to scare away animals, a flint starter to help you build a fire, a small knife to help you be well-fed, and a paracord rope that you can use to set traps for animals.


  • It weighs less than a water bottle
  • It works great in the rain
  • The tarp is simple to set up


  • The ropes are a bit thin


Aqua Quest Safari Tarp

The Aqua Quest tarp is an option that is great for camouflage because it comes in either an olive green color of a camo color. It also comes in four different sizes, so that you can easily select the one that works best for your needs.

Aqua Quest Safari Tarp - 100% Waterproof Lightweight SIL-Nylon Bushcraft Camping Shelter - 10x10 Olive Drab

This tarp is 100%waterproof, so you will be able to stay dry even in bad weather. The tarp has a silicone coating and a polyurethane one, so it is well protected. It also has reinforced stitching to add to its durability.

This is a very lightweight tarp, and even the largest option, which is 20×13, is only a total of 3.8 pounds. In fact, the smallest option weighs only 1.2 pounds.


  • It comes with a lifetime warranty
  • It is a very versatile option
  • This tarp is a very durable option that can last for several uses


  • The price point for the tarp is a bit high


UST Camping Tarp Shelter

This is a great backpacking tarp shelter to have in your travel bag because it is durable and easy to use. It comes in green and orange coloration so you can either be hidden in the woods or be easy to see by others.

UST Tube Tarp and Camping Shelter with Compact, Multifunctional Use and Reversible and Flame Retardant Construction for Emergency, Hiking, Camping, Backpacking and Outdoor Survival

It has a very compact design that is a little less than two pounds when it is folded up. It is a reversible tarp that has one side covered with thermal insulation to help protect you from the cold and the chilling wind. The insulation will also provide an excellent reflective surface when it is on the outside that can draw someone’s attention in an emergency.


  • This tarp comes with a limited lifetime warranty
  • This is a well-designed, versatile tarp
  • Setting up this tarp to create a shelter is simple


  • The tarp could have more ties to secure it


Free Soldier Portable Tarp

This is a great option to use when you are camping because it is made using a polyester fabric that is rated to be waterproof. It also has UV protection, so it will not be damaged by being in the sun for an extended length of time.

FREE SOLDIER Waterproof Portable Tarp Multifunctional Outdoor Camping Traveling Awning Backpacking Tarp Shelter Rain Tarp (Brown)

The fabric is durable and puncture-resistant so that it will be difficult to damage on the trail. It’s a tarp that is large enough to accommodate two, but it will be more spacious with one. This lightweight model is only a little over two pounds when it is folded up, so it will hardly be noticeable in your bag.


  • This is a very large tarp
  • It does well to protect you from the rain


  • The tarp is difficult to manage in the wind
  • The sack that you pack the tarp into is a bit flimsy


Roman Ventures Backpacking Tarp Shelter

This is a versatile tarp that comes in either green or blue. It is 16 feet in length when it is set up diagonally, but when it is set up in a rectangular shape, it only has a 10-foot length. This material is polyester with a crosshatched ripstop design that will be durable in the wind.

Roman Ventures Rain Fly for Hammock –Light Weight, Diamond-Ripstop Polyester Hammock Rainfly- 2000 PU Waterproof Eno Rain Cover– Rainfly Backpacking Tarp (10 Foot Butterfly Option)

This means that the tarp does not tear easily. It is designed to be water repellant to protect you from the rain and snow, but it is also UV resistant to help the tarp keep its durability in the sun. This is a product that also comes with a one year warranty as well.


  • It is made from a very durable material that will last several seasons
  • The corners of the tarp are double stitched for added durability


  • The strings on this model may be a bit small for some uses.


Chill Gorilla Camping Tarp Shelter

The final tarp that we are going to look at is one by Chill Gorilla. It is a 10×10 model that is available in five different color options. It is made out of nylon material that has a ripstop design that will make it more tear-resistant and durable.

Chill Gorilla 10x10 Hammock Rain Fly Camping Tarp. Ripstop Nylon. 170' Centerline. Stakes, Ropes & Tensioners Included. Camping Gear & Accessories. Perfect Hammock Tent. CAMO

It is also designed to be waterproof so that the rain or snow cannot get into the tarp as you are using it for shelter. This tarp comes with all of the tools to make it easy to set up, and it even comes with a warranty that covers the product.


  • It is a lightweight tarp that only weighs 1.2 pounds
  • The tarp is double stitched at the stress points


  • The aluminum stakes that come with the tarp don’t have the best design.


Best Tarp for Survival Buyers Guide

Tarp Size Matters

When you’re looking for a tarp, you’ll need to make sure that it is large enough to give you the shelter that you need, especially if you are traveling with another person. Most of you will prefer a tarp that is between 8×10 feet and 10×12 feet. If you’re traveling with more than three people, you may need a larger size, and a single individual traveling alone may be able to manage with an 8×5-foot tarp.

Don’t forget that you’re going to need to use this tarp to keep your travel bag dry as well as firewood that you may have collected. Don’t think too large if you are traveling alone because a larger tarp can be more challenging to manage in the wind. Also, having an extra smaller tarp could be beneficial as well. If it is wet and cold outside, this additional tarp can be used as a ground cloth to put a barrier between you and the ground.

Durable Materials

When you talk about the tarp materials, they are typically made from nylon or polyester material. There is also a special branded type of material known as Dyneema Composite Fabric that can be found as well. The difference in these materials is that the Dyneema fibers are typically crosshatched to give them more strength. Unless you need additional abrasion resistance, this is not going to be the option that you select in most cases because the material costs more to purchase.

Polyester is a material that has a better ability to stretch and water resistance, which some may want to have, but most prefer to use nylon because it is stronger and more abrasion-resistant. When you’re looking at the anchor point options on the tarp, you are going to want to go for loops instead of holes. When a hole tears during your travels, they are much more challenging to fix. The loops are sewn into the edge of the seam in most cases, so you can just reattach them with a needle and some thread.

Best Tarp Shelter Resistances

The best tarps all have some type of coating on them that you can consider to increase the durability of the fabric. Typically, these coatings are either polyurethane, thermoplastic polyurethane, or silicone. They can add water resistance, tear resistance, abrasion resistance, and UV resistance. Let’s take a look at each resistance.

Water Resistance

The last thing that you want is for water to ruin your shelter, but all fabric absorbs water so get the option that does it the least. You will want to prevent sagging during a storm and make sure that it bounces back and remains strong after it is wet.

Tear Resistance

You may not tear the fabric intentionally, but if the wind catches it wrong, a tarp can easily tear by the strength of the wind. Having a thicker, more durable material can prevent the tarp from tearing.

Abrasion Resistance

This is the amount of resistance that the fabric has from taking damage when it is rubbed against another surface. The less abrasion resistance that the tarp has, the less likely you are going to want to use it as a ground cover.

UV Resistance

This is important to consider because some fabrics automatically lose strength in the sun’s UV rays. If you are planning on having your tarp up during the day, considering some UV resistance may be worthwhile.

Making a Survival Shelter with a Tarp

There are many different ways that you can make a shelter with a tarp, but some of the best tarp shelter options to consider include:


This is a simple configuration to use when you need a simple shelter. It consists of a guy line that will connect to two trees. The tarp is then folded over the line, and the corners are pulled out to make sure that they are tight.

This is great to use in the rain because the water can efficiently run off of the tarp.


This is a shelter that is easy to create. You simply need two trees to tie the top too, and then you pull the tarp tight at about a 30-degree angle to create a wall.

It will only give you protection from one side, but if the wind is blowing from that direction, it can be a great way to keep warm, especially if it is put up near a wall that will offer more protection.

Adirondack Configuration

This is an excellent option for someone who needs protection on more than one side and needs a small section of ground protection as well. You start with a diamond shape, and the sides are all tucked in so that they create sides to the shelter and a floor.

Diamond Tarp

This is when the tarp is hanging upside down like a folded diamond. It offers great protection from the rain, and it is a fantastic shelter to create that is off of the ground.

How to Make a Tarp Shelter Without Trees

Since all of these configurations require trees to build, what can you do if you are camping in an area where there are no trees around that you can use?

You can put the back corners of the tarp into the ground and use a pole at the front, center of the tarp to add a raised opening. Then, secure the front sides to the ground and make sure that all of the loops are secure.

Depending on the weather, you can lower the front or raise the back enough so that you still have the shelter that you need for the night.

Other Ways to Use a Survival Tarp

Other ways that a tarp could be helpful in a survival situation include:

Weather Protection

If your body is wet and you are walking in the wild, the last thing that you want to do is be cold. This could lead to you getting sick, which could be a nightmare if you are staying outside. A tarp will act as an outer shell that will block the wind, so if you can bundle up with a blanket or a sweatshirt, the tarp will keep you warm.

Collection Water

A tarp can be used to collect water to drink. If there is no water around, regardless of where you are, the water that you can collect from a tarp can help you to stay alive. With a small tarp, you can even collect gallons of water if the tarp is angled correctly.

Creating a Stretcher

If someone that you are traveling with gets injured and cannot walk any further, you can use a tarp to create a stretcher to carry them on. It can also be used to bring a deer or some firewood back to your camping location.

Final Thoughts

All of the tarp shelter options that we have reviewed in this guide are great. You will need to decide which one works best for your needs, but if we were to select one that stands out for my needs, it would be the Rain Fly Waterproof Tarp.

It comes with everything that you need to set up a shelter, and it is waterproof so that you will be protected from the rain. It is a considerable size that is more than enough to accommodate you and your gear, and it even comes with a survival bracelet that you can use in an emergency.

Rain Fly EVOLUTION 12 x 10 ft Camping Hammock RAIN Fly Waterproof Tent TARP & Survival Bracelet – Lightweight – Backpacker Approved – Diamond Ripstop – Perfect Hammock Shelter – Gray
  • PROTECTION IN MINUTES – THE ONLY Rain Gear with BONUS 5-in-1 SURVIVAL Bracelet + Camping Tarp (improved tie points for MAX HOLD) + 6 CARABINERS (for fast 2 minute easy set up) + 6 Heavy Duty Ultra Lightweight STAKES + 7 Adjustable Guy Lines + Stake Bag + 1 All Gear Carrying Bag – Everything you need to stay SAFE & DRY – Don’t leave home without your survival gear!
  • UNLEASH YOUR INNER WARRIOR – Military Grade 5-in-1 Survival Kit Bracelet: COMPASS makes navigating in heavy rains easy! WHISTLE saves your voice and be heard 10 TIMES FARTHER, scaring away all dangerous animals! FLINT & Small Scraper KNIFE TOOL keep you warm and well fed. 10.5 FT Military Grade PARACORD makes every survival task easier – even setting traps to catch food!
  • BLOCK RAIN & UV RAYS - COVERS 2 PERSON HAMMOCK – Heavy Duty, authentic Diamond Ripstop material with the HIGHEST QUALITY 2000 PU WATERPROOF makes the ideal Sunshade for Backpacking Hammock Camping, and Outdoors – Keeps You Warm, Dry & Safe as you hike, providing AMPLE SPACE for ANY ACTIVITY – free from SUN, SNOW or TORRENTIAL RAINS.
  • BACKPACKER APPROVED Lightweight Tarp : Your water bottle weighs more than this 1.5 lb camping hammock rain fly! Get this to experience 10 TIMES more enjoyment Hiking, Camping, Traveling, going to Festivals without getting sick, wet or sunburnt! Simply HANG between two trees, secure the 4 tie points and IT’S READY!
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Last update on 2020-11-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Jared Russo
Hey, my name is Jared, a self-reliant expert and action taker. I hope you've enjoyed this article and found it informative. If you have please feel free to leave a comment below and share it with your friends and family, it would make my day!

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