Most campers use commercial tents. These are like a little home away from home, and just like a real home, protect you from and shut out the outside world. They do require maintenance… stuck zippers, leaky places, cleaning, drying, and lost bits and pieces are just the start of it.  

  This is fine, but some people prefer to camp out when they camp out, not live in some artificial cocoon. And it’s easy. All you need is a tarp to get started.

Tarp Tents


This can be easily made with any tarp, but provides minimal shelter. Pray that the night is not rainy or windy.


Much better in foul weather, but far from perfect as it tends to flap around in a breeze.


This is my favorite design, and I have built and used a number of them. Click the link to learn more.

Here are a some tarp tents from a 1925 edition of the Boy Scout Handbook. All are constructed from either a square tarp, or from one that is twice as wide as it is deep.


Too open to be of much use except under ideal conditions.


A pretty good fair weather tent where you want to sleep a crowd with minimum canvas.  Not much good without a door on a stormy night.