The post gets dedicated to my SHTF homie “Bert” who used to argue with me alllll the time over whether to pack a tarp while hiking or not. He was, and still is, a big tarp advocate, always ranting and raving at me, because I thought leaving the tarp at home in favor of less weight in the pack was the best idea, particularly when we often slept in shelters that were positioned to stay out of the wind and rain. It also goes out to some of my college homies who formed a group called “the tarpers” whose sole mission was to go into the woods off campus at night, in the winter, with a tarp to sit on, and use intoxicants – lol – “the tarpers.”
Tarps! You got ’em? Get ’em.
At Ranger Man’s keep I keep a whole plethora of tarps. I’m not sure how many I actually bought, but very few, maybe none of the tarps I have now. For whatever reason, tarps are one of those items that just seem to come free. Someone lends you one and they don’t want it back, you find one here or there, you get one at the dump, or they just appear over time. Learn to love them. Lay on them, curl up in them, rub them – LOVE them. I use them for a multitude of purposes including:
- covering the tops of wood piles to promote drying
- making tents for the kiddos
- placing under the floor of “real” tents to help prevent soggy wet tent floor action
- as a drop cloth for painting
- to hold construction debris like plaster
I also have a tarp in the trunk of each vehicle for the “just in case” car equipment. This is a particularly great place to keep a tarp. Come TEOTWAWKI time your tarp could become even more critical. Think of how you could use the tarp then:
- provide shade for cool weather crops
- packed in your bug-out-bag if you’re making a long journey by foot
- used as a makeshift “shelter” for your SHTF homie remotely positioned as a sentry
- covering lots and lots of firewood
- constructing rapid shelter for the farm animals you suddenly found yourself keeping
- cover your roof if you sprung an unexpected leak
I’m sure there are many uses I’m not thinking of. Their biggest advantage is they’re versatile. It seems like the most common color is blue, but I also have a green tarp and a camouflage tarp. Brown would also be sweet. If you need further convincing, just read the totally depressing TEOTWAWKI book The Road and you’ll see how a tarp can mean all the difference between life and death.
There is a big disadvantage to tarps, though. They’re not breathable. I remember reading a case a number of years ago about a few kids that went hiking on Mount Washington. They camped at the base of the mountain somewhere near the parking lot. It was during wintry months, and it started to rain – freezing rain. The dudes decided to cover themselves with a tarp to stay dry in their sleeping bags. BAD IDEA. The freezing rain froze the tarp the ground. The dudes died inside, probably in their sleep. Imagine being pinned under a tarp. That’d suck! Here is a link to a similar story, only the tarp let go, and froze to the ground with their goat underneath.
Ending on a more positive note, here is a great link on “Tarp Camping 101” which details how to build sweet tarp tents.