Hiking and sleeping: three ways to set up your tarp

Tent and tarp on a beach

There are very many ways you can set a up a tarp. In this blog post we’re going to demonstrate just three of them – the classic A-frame, the more open version of the A-frame and using your tart as a tent raincover.

Tarps are very flexible. You can use an open set-up if the weather is warm or close it down for better protection against wind or rain. For more details and comparisons between tarps and tents, read our post about the pros and cons of tents and tarps.

Option 1: Basic A-frame


The basic A-frame set-up is very commonly used. We also have a post that teaches you exactly how to set up the basic A-frame with pictures, step-by-step instructions and some video.

If the weather is good, you can pitch the A-frame higher from the ground and have more room. When the weather is bad you can pitch the A-frame nearer to the ground to provide better protection.

We’ve slept through some very windy and rainy nights under an A-frame. Here’s an example of the A-frame pitched very low due to high winds and massive rain that was falling that night.

Tarp Rain Forest

For protection against mosquitos, you can easily use a mosquito net.

A-frame tarp with hiking poles and mosquito net

Option 2: A-frame with one side open

Tarp campsite

The second option is a modification of the A-frame for situations where you want to have even more openness and a view. You can easily open and close the side when you need to. So for instance, you can use the open version before going to bed on a rainy night, to eat and hang out and then close it again once you go to sleep for better protection from wind.

Sleeping bag and hiking gear under tarp

What we really like about this kind of set-up, is that it gives you a fantastic view. You’re pretty well protected from the rain but it feels very much like actually sleeping outside. Just look at this amazing sunset view from a campsite on the seaside.

Tarp on beach

Option 3: tarp as a tent cover

Tent and tarp on a beach

Tents can get a bit hot and stuffy in the Summer even with ventilation slits open. Tarps allow very good air movement. Tents however provide more room than a mosquito net.

This set-up is not very practical for long hikes with a heavy backpack but it’s quite ideal if you are staying near your car and don’t have to actually carry the tent and tarp with you.

The tent offers very good protection against bugs, mosquitos etc and lots more room than a mosquito net. Using a tarp instead of the rain cover, gives you a sense of sleeping outside and a lot of fresh air.

The view in the morning is quite simply amazing.

Tent and tarp on the beach
Tent and tarp on a beach

At the same time, you have very robust protection from the rain, in case you need it.

Tent and tarp on a beach

Option 4: Tarp as a sun cover on the beach

Tarp on a beach

So this is a little bonus. You can use your tarp as a sun cover on the beach. Here’s a post with instructions on how to use your tarp on the beach – you need a little skill to make sure it doesn’t fly away with the wind.

If you find this blog post helpful, feel free to share it on social media. Your enthusiasm inspires us to create more useful content that will help you stay safe and comfortable in the outdoors 

PS Some of these pictures were made in the wonderful island of Hiiumaa, off the Western coast of Estonia. The islands and their economy was hit especially hard due to the covid-19 coronavirus. The crisis is over and we encourage you to visit all the wonderful islands in Western Estonia. For more information, please go to the Visit Estonia website.

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