Advantages of backpacking tarps
Are you still unsure whether a backpacking tarp will deliver the expected value for the money? If so, check out our list of advantages to see why you will find this product useful.
The benefits include:
- Excellent fit for a hammock – you want to enjoy lying in a hammock, but you mind the strong sunlight. Placing a tarp over the hammock will protect you from UV light, but also from rain and other severe weather conditions.
- You can use it as a groundsheet – do you want to sleep under the stars? A tarp can be the perfect item to place on the ground!
- They can fit multiple persons – tarps are usually shelters for at least two people, although large units can fit four or even more.
- Extremely light to carry – tarps rarely weigh more than a couple of pounds, which makes them very portable and easy to carry around.
- Compact size when packed – you usually get a stuff sack with the tarp so that you can fit it in your backpack easily.
How to pick the best lightweight tarp?
Are you ready to discuss the most important features that a backpacking tarp should have? The truth is that there are numerous factors that could affect your decision, which is why you need to choose the product carefully.
Our team selected crucial features, and the idea was to offer information that could help you select the most suitable unit for your needs. Here is the list of things to take into account during the selection process!
We are starting with the crucial factor in choosing the best ultralight tarp for camping or another outdoor adventure. The materials will affect the durability, as well as the protection level of your tarp.
The most common material choices are polyester, nylon, and oxford fabric. You will find that nylon is usually described as rip-resistant, but polyester and oxford fabric can also be high-quality choices. It is critical to check the thickness of the material, too. For example, the Aqua Quest Guide Camping Tarp uses 40D ripstop nylon for extreme durability.
You want to check the materials for the cover. The coating will usually mix silicone and polyurethane, although you will find aluminized sides in some products for increased insulation. As for the coatings, the idea of these covers is to improve UV light protection and resistance to rain.
Have you ever considered how your backpacking tarp will look? The majority of them will remind of a tent, and the crucial thing when choosing a shape is that it provides decent protection and plenty of room. Apart from the shape, make sure to consider the color. Some products, such as the FREE SOLDIER Waterproof Portable Tarp, will offer you a choice between multiple colors. You can go with the classic green or pick grey, orange, and any other available color. This is basically up to your preference, but keep in mind some colors are more noticeable than the others.
Fortunately, most units feature easy to follow instructions and come with all the accessories required. Despite that, some items might be more difficult to install, so make sure to pick one that is simple to set up at any location.
Number of tie-outs
The next thing you want to consider is the number of attachment points and their position. The general rule is that attachment points should be positioned at multiple bottom corners. That way, they will ensure that the tarp stays in place even during strong wind and extreme weather conditions.
It is this stability that you want to aim for, which is why attachment points should be smartly positioned.
The attachment points will also be at the top. They should spread the tarp so that they secure enough cover for you in case of rain. The attachment points should also be strong and durable, which will secure that they can hold against the wind.
Seams and stakes
The seams have the task of sealing your tarp to improve its performance during rainy weather. You must get a product that ensures that the seams don’t leak.
Next, you will probably get multiple stakes as a part of your tarp kit. That is the case in the Unigear Backpacking Tarp, as well as most units currently available on the market.
The higher the number of stakes, the better, but you should also consider their material. For example, the stakes could be made of aluminum or steel. The general rule is that the ones made of steel are durable and stronger. Aluminum, however, is a lightweight material that can also be quite durable and is usually more affordable. Since both aluminum and steel can perform well, the choice is ultimately up to you.
You are buying the tarp to improve your comfort, and you achieve that by securing optimal protection against different elements.
What should a backpacking tarp protect you from? Here is what the unit can be great against:
- UV light – if the weather is sunny and the day is hot, a tarp can provide shelter from UV light and extreme heat.
- Rain – the majority of tarps will protect against everything but extremely heavy rainfalls. The degree of protection might vary from one unit to another.
- Wind and other weather conditions – these units should be stable enough to keep providing shelter above your head in case of the wind.
Most units, such as the Eagles Nest Outfitters ProFly Rain Tarp, offer all-around protection suitable for multiple seasons.
Have you ever considered the size of your desired ultralight tarp? Some products might be available in multiple sizes. While some are compact, others are large-sized, such as the N8URE Outdoors Hammock Camping Rain Fly Tarp.
The general rule is that it might be easier to set up and carry smaller tarps. However, if you want to fit multiple people beneath it, you want a unit that is as large as possible.
Apart from the actual size, you can refer to the product description to see how many persons can fit beneath the tarp. These products vary from single-person units to those that can accommodate three or four persons. Make sure to pick a suitable size so that you can enjoy optimal comfort when you need the tarp.
The good news is that the tarps are usually light and compact-sized. Now that we’ve mentioned that, it is worth noting that each pound matters, especially when carrying them in your backpack for miles.
The general rule is that the tarp weight rarely exceeds three pounds. Some units, such as the UST Tube Tarp and Camping Shelter, might be a bit heavier, but they provide additional sturdiness. Other units can weight around 15 ounces, which is considered very light, especially since tarps are not that small.
When it comes to weight, you always want to consider how much you gear you take with you and how long is your hike. If you plan to walk for miles, go with the lightest tarp out there. But if you plan on camping in severe weather conditions, it might be wise to get a stable and heavier backpacking tarp.
These products usually come with accessories required for installation. The additional items might include:
- Guy lines – these can be essential when you expect bad weather and strong wind. They will help to keep the tent stable.
- Ropes – the ropes should be long enough, but also offer the way to adjust them to suit your needs.
- Stuff sack – these are carrying sacks that are optimized for that kit. The sack should fit all the items easily and ensure everything is packed as tight as possible. That way, the product will take as little space as possible in your backpack. It also guarantees you won’t lose any accessories.
The final thing to consider is the warranty, which can significantly vary. Now, some products, such as the SKL Hammock Rain Fly Tent Tarp, might come with a risk-free purchase guarantee. That means you have 30 days or another specified timeframe to return the item if you are not happy with it.
As for the warranty, the coverage period should last at least 12 months. However, if you pick models like the Paria Outdoor Products Sanctuary SilTarp, you might enjoy a lifetime warranty. That indicates the manufacturer is convinced they made a high-quality item. At the same time, make sure to read the terms and conditions of the deal. Most warranties are limited and not applicable in all situations.