Do I Need A Tarp Under My Tent?

Do I Need A Tarp Under My Tent?

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Do I Need A Tarp Under My Tent? As any seasoned camper should know, putting down some sort of ground cover or tarp is an essential practice when camping. If you want your tent to remain warm and dry, this is the best way!

If you’ve bought yourself an expensive tent or some professional camping gear, the very last thing you want is water getting in and creating mold or even some sharp rocks or roots tearing up the bottom of your tent.

The tricky thing is that different terrains will often require different types of ground covering, there are various solutions to each problem, so keep this in mind as you read through this article and decide which ground cover is best for your next camping adventure!

Different Terrain And The Solution

As previously mentioned, it is very important to research the type of terrain you will be camping on before you get to your destination. This way, you can plan for any eventuality.

When camping at the beach, you wouldn’t put a tarp under the tent but rather inside it. This is to ensure that in the case of heavy rain, the water will not seep into your tent or even float away.

Though, unless you are camping in a low spot at a sandy campsite, then putting a tarp under your tent is not strictly necessary as water will absorb quickly into the sand. 

When camping in woodlands or fields, the best practice is to not only put a tarp underneath your tent but to make sure you carefully fold the ends under so that they don’t extend beyond the perimeter of the tent.

If the tarp does extend too far, water and even dew can run down the walls of your tent and will collect underneath, which can lead to dampness and mold in the tent later down the line. 

The final tip for most terrains and situations is to not only put a tarp inside or underneath but place one and secure it over the top of the tent too.

Keep the wind in mind too, because wind adds a degree of difficulty in keeping a tarp over a tent and also sometimes blows the rain sideways, possibly through the side seams of your tent. So place your tarps for maximum protection.

The Benefits Of Using A Tarp

To Keep Dry

Securing a tarp over your tent will keep you dry in case it rains while you’re camping. While many of us don’t plan on there being rain in the forecast, weather can change very quickly. Always be sure to pack a tarp with you, regardless of the forecasted weather.

In addition to possible rain, morning dew can also cause issues when you wake up. If you have a tent that is not water resistant, morning dew can soak through the tent walls, causing chills and discomfort, especially in the cold months.

To Keep Warm

While having a tarp over your tent will keep you dry, it will also keep you warm. Tents are made of very thin material that will not keep you warm. Although neither tarps nor tent material will keep you warm, the tarp will prevent wind from getting in your tent.

Hammock rain-flies will also keep the wind from getting inside your tent. Even on warmer nights, the wind can chill you more than you’d think.

Do I Need A Tarp Under My Tent?

To Keep Your Equipment Safe

While many people don’t realize this, having a tarp over your tent will prolong the life of the tent, as well as the gear inside of it. If you’re camping in the rain, you’re going to want to stay dry.

If it doesn’t stop raining and your tent gets wet, it can cause issues when it comes time to pack up.

Packing your tent when it’s wet can cause both mold and mildew issues. While it may get slightly damp while packing it up in the rain, that will be much better than letting it get soaked by not using a tarp.

To Protect Your Tent

We all know that camping gear is a very expensive investment. Just as you put a case on your phone to protect it from damage, you also want to put a tarp under your tent, as it serves the same purpose.

Placing a tarp under your tent will help to prevent damage to the bottom of the tent. While a nice soft dirt spot is what we all dream of when setting up our tents, it, unfortunately, doesn’t always happen that way.

Many places, specifically rural campsites, are often covered with sticks, roots, rocks, and gravel. Placing a tarp under your tent will prevent these things from ripping and tearing your tent.

This particular method will also prevent the tent from getting dirty or muddy on the bottom, prolonging its life of the tent.

Setting Up Your Tarp

There are several different ways to set up your tarp when camping. While some systems have specific ways to set up the tarp, setting up a tarp that is not designed for the tent will require a little creativity.

Always pack plenty of paracord with you before you head out on your camping trip. While you can drape the tarp over the tent, it’s better to suspend it over the tent.

Also, always be sure that you purchase a tarp that is large enough to cover the tent, but small enough to suspend between two trees.

Another great idea for suspending your tent is to use the same type of suspension system as you would with a hammock. The straps will not stretch, and usually have a built-in tightening system and non-slip loops to wrap around trees.

Whatever type of material you use to suspend your tarp, always tie a piece of string on the material between the trees and the tarp.

This will allow water running down the straps to be caught by the knot in the string and run down the string and onto the ground instead of to the tarp.

Most tarps come with metal grommets on the corners and the sides of the tarp. These grommets will allow you to tie the paracord to the tarp and tie the other end to a tree or other stationary object.

When suspending the tarp, always be sure to hang it at a slightly slanting angle away from the tent. If rainfall occurs, this will allow the water to drain off of the tarp and prevent the tarp from getting heavy and falling.


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