Choosing to start carrying a tarp over a tent is typically the next evolution of a camper or backpacker that wants to go ultralight. No poles, no bags, no foot, no clips, or zippers. For the things you’ve now foregone, you’ll learn knots. Here are the easiest, most common ways to set up a tarp tent for any beginner.
How to Set Up an A-Frame Tarp Tent
The tarp is the most basic form of tent, yet one of the most versatile pieces of gear that you can use. There’s something about having open walls that makes you feel more connected to the outdoor space. This configuration requires only a tarp, one line, and some creative stick whittling.
The easiest way to set up the A-Frame tarp tent is to find two trees, not too much wider than the length of your tent. Tie a guy line between those two trees and use the line to pitch your tent. Drape your tarp over the guy line as an “A” shape to keep the weather off of your head.
The A-Frame shape can be modified with a longer tarp to include a floor. This configuration of tarp tent is called the Tube Fly.
This 10×10 tarp would do well as an A-Frame tarp tent and comes with a few extra pieces that fit into a bag.
The most basic of shelters requires the same materials as the A-Frame. A tarp and a line. This configuration is nice if you enjoy a view, or want to build a fire a few yards away from your shelter. Similar to the A-Frame, your guy line is set up and hooked through one edge of your tarp, and the other bound to the ground. Placing rocks or a log on the bottom portion will help keep the tarp taut.
The modified version of the lean-to allows for a bit of an overhang for additional roof-area. To achieve this, simply set up your tarp as you would an A-Frame but tie the two loose ends of your tarp to something further out.
Diamond Fly Tarp Tent
The diamond fly is similar to the a-frame, but instead of having a guy line between two trees at the same height, one side of the guy line will be tied to a stake in the ground. This allows for closed walls in 3-directions and benefits from a more aerodynamic shape for better wind protection.
This tarp tent comes with aluminum stakes that are a bit more high end, additional line, and a carrying case. The top image is a modified diamond fly configuration but imagine if one end were touching the ground.