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.
Good post the use of tarps is all most unlimited I have a personal favorites as does everyone. But here goes Out in the boonies driving down this forest service road we find a dude and his grirl friend buried in the mud we have no chain or strap but I have a 15×20 tarp in the tool box
We take it and twist it and rollit and we tied knots in each end (which is easier said than done) put them over the ball hitch and damn it pulled that thing out ruined the tarp couldn’t get knots out. We were only about 5 feet apart as we were pullin so when he came out we did kinda Kiss a little no harm done though.
so now I always throw the cheap tarps in the bottom of the tool box
Tarps are awesome. Cheap, simple and common now. Could be ubber valuable later. Get some of the clear plastic sheeting also. I used to camp with that. It gave cover for 6-8 people and weighted about a pound.
Every person who is preparing for SHTF should stock up on polyethylene plastic. Several rolls of clear for greenhouses and many rolls of black for vapor barrier, tarps and such. You should also stock up on various size garbage bags. Why? Peak oil will bring about the end of cheap plastic. When oil is gone, plastic will follow.
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Stocking up on tarps & garbage bags is a good idea. Re: the book “The Road” talk about a depressing but great book. (I’ve already donated copies of The Road, Patriots, Enemies Foriegn & Domestic, & Boston Gun Bible for banquets of the NRA & another State 2 A Org. And the last person I thought that would endorse it, Oprah. What’s her angle on this ? I didn’t understand the very end of the book, could someone clue me in.
I like the idea of a tarp in fact I use one camping made of silnylon. But if your looking for something on the low check out the disposable painter cloths at walmart. They run about $2 and weigh almost nothing buy a couple and toss ’em in the car and gear bag. And learn to tie sheet bend along with some other simple knots. Knots can be invaluable tool. check out www.animatedknots.com to learn some of the essentials.
You can NOT have too many tarps!
Grab a box of those roofing nails that have the rubber grommet already on the head for nailing down your tarp to the roof when fixing that leak post-SHTF. In a SHTF, scenario a roof leak would suck big time especially since it could be acid rain, blood rain or any other type of crazy rain that is coming down!!!. Keep a tarp and the afore mentioned nails as an emergency roof repair kit.
I haven’t used a tent in about 3 years. Tarps all the way.
Good info. Years back I purchased some Slumberjack bivvies; they were OK after seam sealing but the fiberglass poles were POS.
Ordered Easton aluminum replacements from TA Enterprises … 800 266 9527
Rolled up a mylar backed camo tarp with grommet corners in the stuffsack, and that tarp has kept me dry lotsa times. Tarp, along with contractor bags, is a modern survival gem
Great information on various uses of tarpaulins. We all are use-to of plastic tarps and it’s products in our day to day life. I appreciate that you have shared such information.