What Size Tarp For Camping? What size tarp do I need !

If you want to start camping but do not want to go through the hassle of buying so much camping gear, then buying a tarp is a suitable option for you. A tarp is one of the most versatile pieces of camping gear. 

When your camping tarps are not the right size, they can spoil your entire camping trip. So, it is very important to choose the right tarp for camping. But how will you choose the right camping tarp size if you have no idea about it? Do not worry as in this article we are going to discuss what size tarp for camping should you use. 

How do you pick a tarp for camping?

Many people are choosing tarp over tent camping as tents are very expensive. There are 4 basic types of tents, each of which may appear with many variations. If you buy a tent for a special season, then you will need more tents for going camping in different seasons. And if you buy all-season tents then that will be very expensive. That is when tarps can come in handy.

How do you pick a tarp for camping

But before just choosing a tarp there are many things you should consider like what should be the ideal size of the tarp, how many people will be using it, what is the weather like while camping, and which size and shape of tarp you need, etc. so, how do you pick a tarp for camping are given below:


Tarps are available in many different sizes. There are some tarps for 1 person, 2 people, 3-4 persons, 6-8 person groups or more. The bigger the tarp is the better. Because bigger tarps can ensure more space and protection. And if you remember the number of people going on the camping trip, you will be able to select the correct tarp size. 


There are many types of tarps. Some are used to keep over the tent, some are for use over a hammock and some tarps are used instead of a tent or hammock. Several shelters can be built from a 9×9 square tarp, as recommended by camping experts. On the contrary tarps of 8×10 would be sufficient for securing a single hammock.


Tarps depend on what type of camping you have chosen to spend your holiday and relaxing time and where is the place. If it is a tent, then you might need a tarp that is waterproof and lightweight as you are taking it as additional camping gear. But if you are only taking a tarp for camping and no tent, then the tarp itself has to be of good material that can give you full protection from harsh weather conditions. 


The tarps can be of different shapes and types. Examples- nylon tarps, canvas tarps, flat tarps, rectangular tarps, square tarps, oversized tarps, hexagonal tarps, etc. You need to choose one that is the most suitable for you.


You might think the color is not something to consider while choosing a tarp for camping, but it is. If you are not in the middle of any known camping site, then bright colors like- yellow might attract other people and animals towards you who might cause trouble. So, you should choose colors like- ash or blue color that will not draw attention.

On the other hand, sometimes tarp prices depend on the color and fabric of the tarp material. So, you should be careful about choosing a perfect tarp. 

What size tarp do I need for my tent?

When you go tent camping and decide to use a tarp over your tent, the tarp has to be of a different size from when you use only tarp for camping. Make sure you select a size that is slightly larger than your tent when calculating the tent tarp size for camping.

A 6×8 feet would work for one person. In the case of an 8*10 sq ft tarp, you will have enough space to cook, sleep, and even take your pet with you. Three to four people can fit under a tent of this size. 

Best size tarp for camping

The camping tarp is an extra layer of wind and rain protection. A tarp’s size and its material are two of the most important factors to consider. The rule of finding the best size tarp for camping is very easy. The bigger tarp you can get, the bigger space it can cover. 

An experienced camper will usually recommend a tarp measuring 6 by 8 feet for those who camp alone. For hammocking and bivy camping, a longer tarp of eight by ten feet is best. Ideally, make your tarp as large as your tent or hammock, or whatever setup you will be using for sleeping.

Best size tarp for car camping

Best size tarp for car camping

It may be necessary to use a huge tarp in cases where you are going to car camp for a long time and have a large group of people. Considering you may be taking your car, you will have no trouble carrying a large tarp. 

On the other hand, you are going with a family of three or 4 members then, 9’ x 9’ is the perfect size to provide shelter for two or three people, yet it will not take much space to carry and it is lightweight as well. 

Tarps will usually range in size between 8′ x 8′ and 20′ x 20′ or more in these cases. However, some people plan to use a 12′ x 12′ tent which has a lot of fabric weight but can not ensure you the layer of protection on adverse conditions like a storm or heavy rains. 

Best size tarp for hammock camping

Best size tarp for hammock camping

You can not imagine a tarp for your hammock when you go on a hammock camping trip. A tarp over your hammock will ensure the security and privacy you need. If you are going on a hammock camping trip, the tarp size for your hammock should be different from the tarps you would choose for tent or car camping. In order to ensure that your hammock is not caught in the tarp, it should extend at least 8-12 inches beyond the ends. 

A tarp should be able to cover the whole hammock in case of rain or wet weather. Even though only the hammock’s ends get wet, that is a good thing at all. The hammock can get wet at the ends and subsequently leak water into the body. This will make your A 12ft long tarp typically provide enough coverage for most backpacking hammocks.

What size tarp for a 10×10 tent?

You should use a tarp with a size of 16 x 16 ft or 16 x 20 ft if you have a 10’x10′ tent footprint. You should maintain the rule of thumb in this case, which is to purchase one size larger than the size you think you might need.  

You just need to keep in mind that you do not need an extra-large tent for covering your tent since you already have one but your tent needs an extra layer of shelter. To do this, you need a bigger tarp than the tent. 

Related: Do I need to ground my generator when camping?

What is a standard-size tarp?

Depending on the size of the tarp, the standard size tarp may be 5′ x 7′ or even 170′ x 170′. It is common to match the size of a tarp with its intended usage. To determine the proper size of a tarp for covering a three-dimensional object, all dimensions must be measured and calculated. You should also remember that the size of your tarp refers to the cut sheet size unless they specifically state a finished size. 

Can I put a tarp over my tent?

Sure you can. It depends. Most of the good quality tents have a rain cover that protects them from rain and to some extent snow too.

Accordingly, there is no need to put a tarp over your tent. However, if you don’t have a rain cover, you may put a tarp, but needs to be placed a few inches above the main tent. If not, then it won’t serve any purpose and will only make life tough for you when it rains.
So, think well before you take any such action.

Should you put a tarp under a tent?

Yes, it’s a good idea to place a tarp under your tent. It’s good to have extra protection against a range of things. You need a decent groundsheet, A tarp is great, but not if it’s not suited to the tent it’ll be more problem than it’s worth. Whether you need to put a tarp under your tent depends on the terrain you are camping on
In that case, put it inside your tent under your bedding. You need at least as much underneath you as above you to keep warm.

Common mistakes campers make while choosing a Tarp size

If you are a beginner camper then it is very common to make mistakes. But it is better if you do some research before buying camping gear like- a tarp or tent to make all the right choices to make your camping experience worth remembering and cherishing. If you buy the wrong size of tarp then you will suffer after you go into a camping site where there is not enough help available. 

The common mistake people make while choosing a tarp size is not taking a larger size than the size they think they need. And also, only taking tarps and not a tent can be considered a mistake as well. Because if you forget your sleeping bags, then you will have to sleep on the ground under a tarp. Tarp does provide an overhead shelter but it does not ensure full security and protection. 


The size of the tarp will depend on what area you want to cover. You will be able to choose the proper size and material for your tarp depending on whether it will be used as a groundsheet to help waterproof your tent floor or a shelter for your hammock.

The number of people using the tarp is another important thing to consider while choosing the right size. And with a bit of research, you will be able to choose the perfect size of tarp for camping easily.  

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial