My tarp of choice is the Siltarp 2. It’s on the more expensive end of the spectrum (£100), but I just love the versatility. It’s big enough to perform as a tent and it’s small enough to provide a quick, lightweight shelter. But there are other good options if you want something that’s inexpensive but still performs well.
I’ve set my upper limit at £40/$50. If you’re willing spend that much you can get something decent. The main issue with lower-priced products is that they’re either really flimsy, only have four grommets or fabric loops (at each of the four corners) for attaching guy ropes or tent pegs, which makes them virtually useless, or they’re the really heavy polythene tarps for covering furniture and the like…it’s difficult to get tension in those.
That said, there are some good lower-priced options, whether it’s for the odd adventure or more long-term use. Here’s my take:
DD Hammocks Tarp S (Ultralight) – By far the best “inexpensive” option. It’s light, the attachment points are reinforced – fabric loops, not grommets – and there are loads of them (19 attachment points in total). This is a proper tarp and it will last you for a long time if you look after it. I’m a big fan of DD Hammocks and I like their one man tarp because it’s a touch longer than the usual 5 ft by 9 ft products. That little bit of extra rain protection can come in useful!
Yuedge Tarp – This tarp sits between the DD Hammocks Ultralight and the Outry (below) on the price scale. It has a couple of good features — fabric loops (not grommets), which allow for more tension, a nice green colour and it comes with guy lines and pegs. The only potential drawback is that it’s big. The smallest option is 10 ft by 7 ft. Personally, I’ve never been bothered by bigger tarps (you can do more with them)…but some people much prefer to go with the smaller ones.
Outry Tarp – Best at this price point! The main issue is that the grommets can’t stand really high tension. You’re not going to get anything halfway decent below this price and the main thing you need to look for is attachment points midway down one side of the tarp. The Outry Tarp has four corner grommets and two side grommets, perfect for tying it to walking poles or the trunks of trees. As long as you don’t apply too much tension (they can rip) you should be OK. You get four pegs too but you’ll need to provide your own guy ropes.
Ex-army (if you can find them) – You can get really good deals if you can find some ex-army tarps. Keep an eye on eBay, where they usually come up. Make sure it’s genuine army issue, not just a replica.
What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below!
I realise that this list is somewhat limited. Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think and share your own picks!
Image credit: Tarp by Michael Pollak.