When it comes to sheltering yourself in a bug out scenario few things are as lightweight or as versatile as a tarp shelter.
Most tents weigh much more than a tarp and aren’t nearly as versatile as a tarp shelter. Simple plastic sheeting and 55 gallon plastic bags are both lighter and as versatile as tarps, but they both lack in durability.
Out of all of the different configurations that a tarp can be put into, the simplest and most used is probably the A-Frame. The A-Frame tarp shelter isn’t just simple to put up, but is also very effective when placed correctly.
Types of tarps for making a tarp shelter:
There are a large number of tarps available that will serve you well when making a tarp shelter. They are usually rectangular in shape, waterproof, and have grommets along the edge to tie them down with. Some are quite inexpensive (around $5)
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while others can cost you over $100
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. On the cheap end, the blue and silver polyethylene tarps are both waterproof and tear resistant, but weigh significantly more than the expensive lightweight backpacking tarps that are made of nylon. The more expensive tarps also have more tie down spots along the edge, quarter fold, and sometimes along the center line. More tie down spots means more ways to configure the tarp.
This excellent video goes into detail about a good method for rigging a tarp shelter.
Choosing a location for your tarp shelter:
The first thing that you need to do when you make a tarp shelter is you need to choose a good location. Since the A-Frame works so well draped over a paracord stretched along it’s center line, it is often easiest to choose a place between two trees spaced 15 to 20 feet apart. Check above the site and determine if there are any large branches that might come crashing down on you. Also make sure that the site doesn’t sit in a depression that will retain water. Try to pick a spot where one end is elevated slightly so that there is adequate drainage. You will also want to choose a spot that isn’t directly underneath the trees drip line.
Prepping the site:
Once you have chosen a good location, you need to prep the site. Clear the ground of all the rocks, sticks, and any other debris. If you didn’t bring stakes then gather eight pointy sticks to use as stakes. Tie your paracord between the two trees at a height that is slightly less than half of the tarps length.
Setting up the A-Frame Tarp Shelter:
Drape the tarp over the paracord so that you form a simple tent shape. Hammer your stakes through the grommets to secure the sides down. If you are in an area without trees then use tent poles or adjustable tarp poles to elevate the center line, and use additional paracord as guy lines out to additional stakes.
Ideally, you will have with you a second smaller tarp that will be used as a ground-cover. Roll up the edges to keep you and your survival gear nice and dry during any wet weather.
Using a tarp set up in an A-Frame tarp shelter isn’t ideal for all weather conditions but it will serve you well in most. One thing is for sure, it is a way to create a survival shelter that will keep you protected from the wind and rain in all but the worst kind of weather.