The Ultimate Tarp Survival Shelter/Backpacking Tent




About: Am a lover of alcohol stoves and cute girls, and can make a mean bowl of cereal. Stay posted for more backpacking and miscellaneous projects!

Utilizing just 6 tent stakes, an 8 by 12 cheapo tarp, and a 4 and 1/2 foot long stick, this shelter offers protection from the elements and super simple set up.

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

Step 1: Materials

All that's needed is an 8 by 12 tarp, a 4 and 1/2 foot stick, and 6 tent stakes.

Step 2: Staking Back

Stake the inner 2 grommets on the twelve foot side down. Make sure the tarp is pulled tight between them.

Step 3: Add 2 More Stakes

Diagonally, across from the stakes you just put in, stake the tarp down. Leave the corners unstaked. Do this on the 2 back corners only.

Step 4: Folding

Fold those loose corners down underneath the tarp.

Step 5: Tying Up Loose Ends

Now the remember the whole other side that has not been staked? Stake one corner down, place the stake in the middle, holding it up, then stake the other corner done when the stick will stay up from the tension.(look in pictures for help)

Step 6: It's Done

It will take a little adjusting, but eventually you will get it right. Enjoy the sheltery goodness.



    • Make It Fly Challenge

      Make It Fly Challenge
    • Stone Concrete and Cement Contest

      Stone Concrete and Cement Contest
    • Indoor Lighting Contest

      Indoor Lighting Contest

    24 Discussions


    3 years ago

    Well done. An excellent example of doing something using the KISS principle.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    looks pretty nice!

    there are other ways to make a 1 person tent with a 3x3 tarp, with or without a pole inside the tent(suspended on a line). then you have a possible door so you can close the tent.

    havent tried it myself, cant find a decent english instruction, but this is how it will look.
    the loose flap can be closed as a door.

    5 replies

    yes its in meters.

    i found a image of the folding lines, perhaps that can help. its in dutch but i think you can figure it out pretty much.
    green lines are outside folds, purple lines are inside folds. the dots are connection points(you need 19 for the tent) the yellow line is a guy line for the opening.

    if you print the image you can fold it in small, to get a bit of the touch for building it.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Excellent image. It helps a lot. An 8'x8' tarp would make about a 26 square foot floorspace.

    I wonder if it will work with an 8 foot by 8 foot tarp. Just so you know my measurements are in feet. I will attempt this shelter. What part of the world are you from?

    camping crazy

    6 years ago on Step 6

    I do this all the time I put a guy line on the pole so I can close it up. Nice instructable

    solitary man

    6 years ago on Introduction

    Very nice tarp set up, I may use this in the near future. Best Regards. :)


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Wow, this is one of the best tarp shelters I've seen! 5 stars!

    Open up a few heavy trash bags, duct tape them together & reinforce the edges every few feet with duct tape for some grommets or tie downs. use it till it falls apart. cheap, easy and light weight.

    you can reduce the weight by using tyvek, very light, strong, and water proof. hardest part is buying it, you can buy it in huge rolls at places like home depot or lowes, but some people sell it in smaller individually cut peices. it is loud (crinkle noise) in the wind, although you can wash it to help that. tyveck is very cool stuff.

    another recent "ible" used the top of a plastic bottle to make grommets but you can also make tie points by placing a rock on the underside of your tarp and tying the cord around it from the top


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    yea, gonna be making a new one pretty soon, hopefully i'll be able to make one with no grommets needed. i'll post it when i'm done on here if i'm proud of it

    Been using something like this for years up in the mountains of western Maryland. I carry two three foot lengths of 3/4" polyvinyl water pipe with a coupling cemented on the end of one. Makes a 6 ft pole and has other uses.

    Taufik Lone

    7 years ago on Step 6

    That caused the Title is SURVIVAL SHELTER,,,, :)
    anyway,, good idea OSYS,, thx for shared