Trekking Pole Blue Tarp Tent





Introduction: Trekking Pole Blue Tarp Tent

Whether you need a tent quick, want to lighten your pack or forgot your tent at home this Instructable is for you. The tarp tent is not my invention but hopefully this new pitching method will make lightweight tarp camping possible for more outdoorsmen.  This tent can be constructed using objects most backpackers already are carrying on the trail. This multi use of gear cuts down pack weight allowing hikers to go father quicker or just have an easier hike. Enjoy and please feel free to leave any personal stories of tarp camping in the comments, I would love to hear!

Step 1: Supplies

As I said in the intro most of the supplies needed to construct this shelter are already in your hiking pack. 

You will need:
A tarp: The bigger the tarp the bigger the tent. Also, longer tarps will allow for the construction of a tent floor.
Trekking poles: The best way to pitch a tarp tent is with trekking poles. If you don't hike with them and you are camping near trees you can alternatively tie a rope between two trees.
A rope: Used if no trekking poles are available.
Utility stakes: Any type of tent stake will work.  

Step 2: Laying Out the Tarp and Initial Pitching

First lay out your tarp over your chosen tent spot with one longer side facing twoards your desidered exit area, make sure that no dead tree branches hang over the area. 
Next place a trekking pole about 2/3 of the way back under the tarp If the rear of the tarp does not touch the ground pull it gently until it does so. 
Then pull all of the tent sides taught and begin to stake out the tent. At this time you may adjust the location of the tent or trekking pole. 

Step 3: Final Touches

Now that we have a basic tent shape let's erect the rest of the tarp.
To do this place the other trekking pole in the center of the front edge of the tarp. At this time make any further necessary adjustments to the tent stakes. 

Step 4: Rope Tent

If you have no trekking poles but do have a rope you can construct this tarp tent. 
1: Tie a rope between two trees (or one tree and a stake)
2: Lay the tarp over the line, with the rope intersecting the long side for more space and the shorter side for a tent floor.
3: Stake out the tent and fold the extra tarp under the tent for a floor. (see pictures)

For the tent floor stake out only the corners but from the inside, then fold the tarp under. 

Step 5: All Done!!

Now you can take your tarp tent every where from the mountains to the beach! I hope you enjoyed this Instructable. Please leave any comments or critiques bellow. Happy camping!



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    18 Discussions

    A solid, classic shape, and a breeze to set up! Folks can hate on the "blue tarp" as much as they like, but my little 6x8' and I backpacked around New Zealand last January and were plenty cosy, dry, and versatile. That said, they can be heavy buggers, especially when you're hauling a tarp as big as the on you're using. My next upgrade is making one out of a nice, lightweight, ripstop nylon to shave off some extra weight. You can also customize that way, putting grommets or webbing loops wherever you want for your favorite pitches.

    Anyway, well done, thanks for sharing, and happy camping!

    Nice idea. I like the idea of tucking under for a floor. I've did a similar thing using canoe paddles and bungee cords to a canoe for weight and wind-block on the lee side of the tent.

    1 reply

    You should make an Instructable for that. It would help out all of the long distance canoers and white water canoers too!

    Nice instructable!!! These tarp tents are my favorite I do just one pole up front. If you add a guy line up front on the pole you can close the front flaps and make a door. I've tested this design in snow, rain and wind up to 70km. When I was canoe camping this summer we lost our tent and used this with a groundsheet for the rest of the trip!!

    I am a trekking operator in Nepal ( ). This type of trekking tent will now work in mountain because the high speed wind takes it away. Anyway the trick is good.

    This looks like a good shape for a tarp tent using hiking poles, but it looks like it is relying on the front pole being held with its point in the ground for stability. It looks like this could fall back easily in a wind, with the front pole falling backward. I'd attach a single guyrope tying together the top of the tarp and the front pole and pegged toward the front to keep this pole under tension.

    3 replies

    The front pole actually isn't even needed I just use it to increase vertical space in the tent. Also, the tent has been tested in winds up to about 25 mph. Thanks for you comment!

    Thanks for your reply and for the information from the field! I'll try this out in a couple of weeks.

    If you have extra guide line please try your suggestion I would love to see if it made an improvement!

    @justivent I was looking for a nice and lightweight option for shelter. I enjoy being out in the open while still being sheltered, and don't have too many probs with bugs, so I used a tarp.

    1 reply

    I first became interested in tarp tents while hiking a section of the N.H. AT. I met a through hiker who cooked dinner with my group. While we were cooking he told us stories of his other through hiking experiences (he had hiked the AT twice and the PCT once) and some how we got to the topic of gear. He told us that among the basic backcountry essentials he carried nothing else but a tarp. A tarp he used as a tent! The next time I came a cross a "tarp tent user" was this summer hiking in Alaska. He talked about how great it is to loose the weight of a tent and poles and that he had actually bought a tent that uses trekking poles as its poles. Once I got home I ran into the perfect opportunity for the use of a tarp tent: on the beach. I then designed the above tarp tent. What was your tarp tent inspiration? I would love to hear!