3 Reasons to Always Have an All-Purpose Tarp

Whether you prefer plastic or cloth, a tarp has dozens of uses both at home and in the outdoors

Blue tarp covering wood logs
A simple tarp is perfect for keeping camp dry when bad weather rolls in.B-Air

A standard utility tarp should be part of every outdoorsman’s gear bag. Aside from its obvious uses for keeping the wood pile dry or stringing a canopy over your campground table, a standard tarp is less expensive than a fancy nylon backpacking tarp and has utility beyond its life as a waterproof barrier against the elements.

Shelter and Ground Cloth

Gray tarp covering boat

About Economy and Versatility

For general purposes and not meant to be packed into the backcountry as a tent ground cloth.Dry Top

Rigging a tarp as an emergency shelter doesn't have to be a cumbersome affair. Learn a few simple knots like the Taut-Line Hitch, Bowline, and Trucker's Hitch, and you can rig a tarp as a simple A-frame, a lean-to, or any other configuration that makes sense for your circumstances. If you use a tent pole in the center to keep rain from pooling, be sure to soften the contact point with a rag or sock to avoid punctures. Standard tarp sizes such as 5x7 and 8x10 feet will also serve as a ground cloth for most 2- to 4-man family tents. Remember, you are not looking for light weight and efficiency here. A utility tarp is all about economy and versatility.

Boat and Vehicle Cover

Super heavy duty brown tarp

It'll Hold

Use one of these to protect things that spend a lot of time outside.Xpose Safety

Not everyone has the luxury of covered parking for their boat. But if you have a tarp and a few bungee cords handy, it's easy to rig up a shelter for just about any boat or vehicle in a matter of minutes without investing in a dedicated canvas boat cover.

Leaf Hauler

Grizzly waterproof tarp

Great For Leaves

Even if yours begins to show signs of wear and tear, you can still use it for other tasks.B-Air

Once a utility tarp has begun to lose its waterproof qualities, don’t throw it away. You never know when you might need some rudimentary coverage over the firewood pile, some lumber, or a leaky roof. And a worn-out tarp is just about the best leaf hauler there is. Pack up an entire autumn’s worth of leaves at once, and easily slide them across the lawn to a mulch pile, garden, or flower bed.