Paracord Tent Or, Hobos Tent




About: Hi, I'm stephen, I'm a certified welder, working on my machinists cert, and working part time at a hardware store. Mixing in all of that with my hobbies of blacksmithing and knifemaking, only makes for more...

This "ible" is going to show the process of making a tent in 20 (about) minutes. With a few easy supplies: paracord, a tarp, and trees.

Step 1: Supplies and Tools

You will need:

Para cord (I actually didn't have enough paracord, so I supplemented with used hay twine)
A tarp (painters plastic will work as well)
and posts (trees are easiest)

tools you will need:
A knife
A tomahawk, camp axe, hachet or other similar tool (not absolutly neccesary, but it makes it easier)

Step 2: Step 1, Pick Your Spot

Find a spot that looks good, pick two trees about 8-10 feet apart (changes on the size of your tarp).
The ground will probably have sticks and rocks you don't want. Clear those away.

Step 3: Step 2, Put Up the Main Line

string the paracord up between the two trees you picked. Pull it tight, that paracord can stretch!

On the first tree I just tied a slip knot an pulled it tight, walked it over to the second tree, pulled it good and taut, wrapped around the tree several times (that way it isn't pulling back while I tie the second knot) and tied it tight.

Note on height: Remember, you can make it good and tall, but then it can't be nice and wide, I suggest it be a little taller than you sitting down.

Step 4: Step 3, Make the Stakes.

     I went and found a small sapling, maybe 6 or so feet tall. perfect for tent stakes.

     chop, break or whittle the sapling into 5 different pieces (yes, 5, you'll see in a sec).

    Choose the biggest heaviest piece, and set it aside. That is your baton, better for hitting stakes than your knife or tomahawk. The other 4 pieces, whittle one side into a point, make it a decent tapered point to, you wqant it to be easy to pound in. On the top, if you want to, carve in a little divot to catch the cord. All this took me about ten minutes, while taking pictures.

Step 5: Step 4, Put It Together

This is pretty easy, just drape the tarp over the main line. tie on lines where you want them (I did two corners and in the middle, the tarp was pretty long). Attach the lines to the stakes, pull them out taut, and pound in. It's really easy (I mean hey, I came up with it, it's not hard :p )



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    12 Discussions


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Yes, I have several suggestions:

    First, I don't see any need to take the time and effort assemble this structure unless it looks as if it might rain. If it does rain, the way you have your tarp shelter rigged you'll end up with two big bags of water on either side of your sleeping bag, and a wet bed roll.

    The better way to do it is not use a "mainline." Those long paracord lines stretch too much to be of any use. Instead, find two or more trees that are a reasonable distance one from the other and tie the corners of the tarp to those trees, starting as high up the tree as possible on the first corner, perhaps a bit lower on the next, then on the last corner, drive a stake and tie it off almost to the ground. That way, the rain water will run right off and, if needed, can be collected where it runs in a stream off the tarp. Also, you'll only need one tent stake, or perhaps two.

    In the case above, the gentleman, instead of running a mainline between trees 8-10 feet apart, could have tied one corner of the tarp to one tree, an opposite corner to the other, then staked down the other corners. The key is to have a good many grommets around the edge of your tarp. There are any number of configurations for tying a tarp to two trees and staking down the remaining corners or edges.

    Attempt to orient the tarp so that the lowest corners are faced into the wind so a strong gust of wind doesn't rip it off its moorings and sent it sailing away. I like to use "bungee" cords between the tarp and the paracord tied to the tree, especially in windy weather, but that's not mandatory.

    All I can say is try sleeping under one of these shelters in rainy, cold, windy weather for say, a week. Seven nights. That'll teach you more about them than all the videos/slideshows/blogs in the world.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Take a tarp long enough for you to lay under on the long edge.
    Lay it out and stake two of the long ends down near a tree.
    Pull the free corner closest to the tree under almost enough to reach the staked down edge.
    Run a cord from the far stake up to the tree at enough of an angle that you could lay under it if you were next to the staked side of the tarp.
    Take the free corner you didn't fold under and pull it over the cord so the folded section is pinned up against the outer layer by the cord.
    Stake the corner you just pulled over the cord down.
    Adjust the free hanging portion of the tarp so it's against the ground near the stake and use either another stake or whatever sort of clip method you have available to close the remaining side after you enter.

    Similar to this one:, except without cutting the tarp, and with the cord support instead of a stick.


    7 years ago on Step 4

    If you're bringing paracord and tarp, why not tent pegs? They're cheap and easy to use. It would save a heap of time and effort :)


    7 years ago on Step 3

    Also, because heat rises to the top, it is better to have the tarp lowered to allow you to feel the accumulated body heat that's rising off everyone.

    I have a comment! Hope ya feel a little better after reading it! ;-) I love your idea and design. I have been "living off the environment" so to speak for a couple of weeks now and your instructable really helped me out....ALOT. So thank you. If you have any tips on how to make it blend in better with a nature setting (ie: camping, etc...) then thatd be awesome. I tried spray painting it before I left and let it dry completely which worked for a bit but eventually it began flaking off.... yes I know, dont laugh too hard, not my most "intructable note-worthy" moment. Peace from a chic that thinks rent is theft

    They make these tarps in green, black, brown and gray that I have seen. One could always buy a camo net to throw over it too. My concern is the mosquito's can easily get in, having done tarp camping before, so I purchased 10 yds of bulk mosquito netting. I drape it FIRST over the parachute cord, THEN THE TARP and it does a great job of keeping the buggers out!!!


    Umm, to make it blend in? my best suggesestion would be to get a camo tarp. I've seen them sold before, and if you can't find that, I have seen green tarps, and brown tarps. Blue isn't your only option.

    Thanks for your response. I knew blue wasn't my only option but I mainly asked because I had gotten mine for free from a yard sale that was over and the ppl were giving the rest of their stuff away so I was more trying to find out "what to do with mine" if that makes sense, anyways thank you tho for your response I'm going to go look or one this week.

    1 reply

    Well, if you don't want to buy a another one, painting is an option, but getting good paint that won't come off (which I don't know if you can) wouldn't be cheap, and you can also buy some camo netting, but the would be just as expinsive as a new tarp. Sorry I can't help more.


     I'm wondering if you can use a bigger tarp and some clever origami to give you some flaps.  I can only think of how to do it if you make a triangular structure though, and the tarp needed would have to be flippin' huge.

    On the plus side, you'd only need one tree.

    1 reply