Here’s the truth:
Tarp camping is a great way to change how you bushcraft. Tarp shelters take minimal time and resources to set up.
Plus, they’re great for keeping you dry and protected even during rough weather.
But not all bushcraft tarps are created equal.
You need a strong and lightweight tarp. There are many things to consider when choosing your tarp.
To name a few:
- Durable tear-resistant design
- Able to shed water and withstand wet weather
- Not too heavy to carry in your bushcraft backpack
- Won’t get burn holes from your campfire.
I’ve put together a list of what I believe are the best bushcraft tarps for the money.
You’ll also find some helpful tips for choosing a bushcraft tarp. If you already know what you’re after and just need quick suggestions, you can skid the extra reading.
Quick note: I’ve tried to select tarps that are close to 8’ x 10’ in size. For canvas/oil cloth tarps, I also prefer ones that are 16 oz or greater.
8’ x 10’ is a good size for sleeping one person and their gear comfortable, or two people and gear snugly. If you’re needing a larger tarp, many of these tarps have options for larger sizes.
TarpsDirect Super Heavy Duty 8’ x 10’ 8 oz Poly Tarp
Last update on 2018-04-23
Pros & Cons
I think TarpsDirect’s super heavy duty tarp is an excellent value for the money. It mixes the best of canvas and poly tarps into a durable and portable package.
The exterior of the tarp is a layer of poly plastic that laminates the interior fabric layer. Its edge are sealed with UV light to keep them securely bonded even during intense storms and harsh conditions. Inside, the fabric has a 16 x 16 weave count, making it able to tolerate large loads. The total thickness is roughly 16 mil thick.
Grommets are placed every 18” around the perimeter of the tarp with reinforced grommets on each corner.
Good Middle Ground Choice
Compared to poly tarps and canvas tarps, this one falls right in the middle as far as weight. It’s not an ultralight poly tarp, but it’s also not a 10lbs+ heavy oilcloth tarp either.
Overall, this tarp is a solid pick if you want’ a good hybrid bushcraft tarp that can do it all. If you’ve got the pack space for this 4lbs tarp, it could be a great piece of gear that can keep you and your gear sheltered from even the harshest weather for years to come.
Hanjet 8’ x 10’ 9-mil Tarp
|Hanjet 8*10 9-mil Thick Lightweight Green Tent Tarp Cover for Yard Waste Shade Rain Car||$13.99||Buy on Amazon|
Last update on 2018-04-23
Pros & Cons
If you’re after a durable and lightweight poly tarp, check out Hanjet’s 8’ x 10’ 9-mil poly tarp. It’s a great choice for ultralight bushcrafters who aren’t too concerned with hauling deer out the forest.
Keeps Your Pack Light
If you want a lightweight tarp to camp with, it does the job well without overloading your pack. It’s lightweight at 2.9lbs and has enough rust-resistant grommets to set up your shelter in various ways. Once setup, it should keep you dry and protected from any wet weather.
A Note About Fire Resistance
One important thing to remember about this tarp is that it doesn’t have the same flame resistance as canvas and oilcloth tarps. You should make sure your tarp is upwind from your fire and won’t catch any stray embers.
Don’t worry, it won’t burst into flames, but any stray embers may burn millimeter sized pinholes into the tarp. It’s an important factor to keep in mind depending on your camping habits and needs.
Solid Choice for Lightweight Bushcraft
Overall, if you need a lightweight bushcraft tarp that keeps you high and dry even during tough weather, this tarp is a great option. Weighing only 2.9lbs, it keeps your pack much lighter than heavier tarps that weigh 5 or even 10lbs+.
As long as you’re mindful of where you position your fire and understand that you can’t drag boulders with it, I believe Hanjet’s lightweight poly tarp will serve you well.
CARTMAN 7.7’ x 9.7’ 10 oz Canvas Tarp
|CARTMAN Olive Drab 10 oz Canvas Tarpaulin 3 Sizes for Option (8' x 10')||$31.99||Buy on Amazon|
Last update on 2018-04-23
Pros & Cons
If you need a tarp that is a step up from your everyday poly tarps, CARTMAN’s 10 oz canvas tarp offers great durability, weather protection and superior fire resistant.
Good Middle-Ground Material
This tarp strikes a good middle ground between heavy-duty canvas tarps and simple lightweight tarps. 10 oz canvas is used making it durable enough to withstand tough jobs while still saving a few pounds compared to heavy-duty canvas tarps. This tarp weighs about 6.6lbs compared to an 18 oz 8’ x 10’ canvas tarp which can weigh more than 15lbs in some cases!
Water Resistant Material Sheds Rain
Make no mistake, this tarp doesn’t come waterproof. But it does come water resistant. I know that’s a bit vague, but know that it can handle the rain. Not as well as a poly tarp with impenetrable waterproofing, but it will shed rainwater and keep the morning dew off you.
Plus, the tarp is also mildew resistant. It won’t mold or carry mildew after a night of rain and a good morning dew.
A Quick Tip to Increase Your Mileage
If you’re worried about the water resistance or want to prepare for the worst storms, it may be wise to apply a layer or two of Canvak. It’s a canvas treatment that will make your tarp practically waterproof. A wise investment for those who like to prepare for the worst.
Also, I’ll let you in on a little secret that most manufacturers won’t tell you. Most waterproof canvas tarps stink. They come smelling like chemical formaldehyde, and they never stop smelling like it. On a hot summer day, let’s just say it doesn’t get any better either.
Canvak on the other hand is relatively scent free and even protects from sun damage too. This isn’t a plug for Canvak, I just think it’s a really solid product.
Overall Solid Bushcraft Tarp
CARTMAN did a good job making a canvas tarp that can handle tough jobs without adding too many pounds to your pack. It’s not the most heavy-duty tarp, but it’s a great choice for bushcraft since you’ll need to carry it around with your pack. While it is double the weight of a lightweight poly tarp, it will last at least twice as long given you care for it.
My recommendation is to pick up this tarp and a gallon container of Canvak. With these two on your side, your tarp will last through hell, high water, and any rainstorm that comes your way for 30 years to come.
Tarp Nation 8×10 Heavy Duty 18 oz Canvas Tarp with D-Rings
|8x10 18oz Heavy Duty Canvas Tarp with D-Rings - Extreme Performance and Protection - Choose Size and...||$60.99||Buy on Amazon|
Last update on 2018-04-23
Pros & Cons
Okay, let’s get a few things straight about this tarp.
It is incredibly durable, and likely to outlast you and your grandchildren?
Will you likely ever need another tarp again?
Is it great at resisting rain, shine, hell, and high water?
Is it large, bulky, heavy and borderline impractical for most people?
There, now that is settled, and you have a good idea of whether this tarp is for you. If you want one of the absolute most durable and heavy-duty bushcraft tarps out there, this tarp is a great choice.
It’s got D-Rings every 1’ around the perimeter, 4-layer patches and rope in-hem along the perimeter. Plus, it also comes pre-treated with Canvak making it incredibly waterproof, shedding it off like it’s nothing. After five years or so you made need to apply another coat or two of Canvak to make sure the waterproofing is up to par.
Probably the only thing this tarp can’t handle is a hurricane.
Not Meant for Bushcraft, But It Works
These tarps are meant to cover tractors, trailers, skid steers and other heavy equipment. But that’s not to say you can use it for bushcraft. If you think you’ll be dragging 300lbs+ bucks, large amounts of wood, and using it to camp through an extreme rainstorm all in the same day, it’s your best option.
Super Heavy Duty, and Also Just Super Heavy
Rest assured, whether it’s keeping you and your gear dry, towing a buck, or surviving the end of the world, this tarp can handle it all.
If you don’t mind the heavy weight, you think you’ll need a tarp for the end of the world that you can use to both drag large bucks across the forest floor and camp under in the most extreme rainstorms, I would say this is one of your best options if you don’t mind the extra weight.
How Should You Choose a Bushcraft Tarp?
There are several things to consider when looking for a bushcraft tarp. Different materials will yield different performance results. Choosing what material you want for your bushcraft tarp has the largest impact on its performance.
What Material Makes a Good Bushcraft Tarp?
There are two camps for material choice.
On one hand you have conventional fabrics such as canvas and oil cloth.
The other choice is synthetic materials like silnylon and poly (plastic) tarps.
In the following sections, you’ll see the benefits and shortcomings of each material type.
How Durable are Bushcraft Tarps?
Twenty years ago, there was a large gap between the durability of tradition and synthetic tarp materials.
Nowadays, they tend to be pretty neck and neck. But there are some areas where canvas and oil cloth withstand punishment better. These are physical punishment and fire resistance.
When I say physical punishment, I’m talking about hardcore use and abuse.
One notable example comes from survival expert Dave Canterbury (co-starred on Discovery Network’s Dual Survival).
He used a canvas tarp for his bushcraft expeditions. While they weigh a bit more, he claims they stand up to punishment better.
Like, dragging a 200lb deer out of the woods on your tarp, punishment.
Woven canvas and oil cloth tarps will last a bit longer in these situations.
That’s not to say a silnylon tarp can’t do the same job. It just might only be able to do it 15 times as opposed to 30 plus.
There’s a debate when it comes to canvas vs silnylon.
Some folks say that canvas is better for having around/over a fire. But that isn’t necessarily true.
If you aren’t burning sparky woods like red cedar, there shouldn’t be any embers rising up and burning your tarp.
You shouldn’t have any issues lighting fires at the edge of your tarp as long as you don’t light a bonfire.
But if you are planning on lighting sparky wood or having a huge fire at the edge of your tarp shelters, a canvas tarp might be better.
Canvas will only show pinhole burns at most. The natural material will smolder out quickly once lit.
Silnylon and composite materials will tend to burn and form slightly larger holes.
But keep in mind, this is ONLY if you light large fires or use sparky wood.
Otherwise, they tend to perform relatively similarly. Just be sure to keep your tarp upwind from your fire.
What good is a tarp if it can’t keep out the rain and wet weather?
Bushcraft tarps should be especially good at keeping out rainwater. I don’t think I need to tell you that waking up to water pouring through your shelter wouldn’t be a fun time.
I’ve made sure all the tarps on this list are up to the job. They’re all ready to handle rain, wet weather, and soaking swamps.
One thing to note about waterproofing on canvas and oil cloth tarps is the smell. Sometimes manufacturers use a combination of chemicals that smells strongly of formaldehyde. It keeps out water great, but tends to stink bad.
If any of these tarps smelled strongly of formaldehyde, I made sure to tell you. I’m aware some people may be particularly sensitive to smells or simply don’t want to sleep under a pungent tarp.
For silnylon and composite tarps, they’re naturally waterproof. You shouldn’t encounter any stinky or smelly tarps.
How Heavy are Bushcraft Tarps?
No one wants to get stuck carrying a heavy piece of gear. Especially when there’s lighter alternatives that perform just as well without the extra pounds.
If you choose a canvas/oil cloth 10 x 10 tarp, they can often weigh more than 10lbs. That’s a heavy weight penalty. However, canvas tarps are heavy-duty and can no doubt take a beating.
A comparable silnylon tarp may weigh less than 1.5lbs.
There’s a huge weight difference between the two, making silnylon an attractive choice if weight is an issue.
Needless to say, unless you specifically need a canvas tarp, it may be wise to pick up a poly tarp. It’s a very attractive option that can cut more than 10lbs from your pack in some cases.
How Much Do Bushcraft Tarps Cost?
It’s not too hard to find an inexpensive bushcraft tarps.
There’s plenty of cheap silnylon tarps and cheap canvas tarps on the market.
Even the mid range tarps aren’t but maybe a few dollars more than the cheap ones.
In short: there’s little difference in price between most bushcraft tarps. Even old military surplus cargo tarps can be bought for a decent price.
Here’s a few helpful resource I dug up while researching the best bushcraft tarps. I hope you can maybe find some use and additional information from them.