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Choosing the Best Bushcraft Tarp for Your Outdoor Adventures

April 02, 2022
Choosing the Best Bushcraft Tarp for Your Outdoor Adventures

Tarp, shelter, basha, hoochie, however you call it, all of them are common names for tarps in the bushcraft community.

Thanks to their versatility and use in countless situations, tarps are crucial in any outdoor survival kit. This large sheet of material can offer protection from the sun, shelter from the rain and wind, and can even save lives in emergencies.

Choosing a survival tarp might seem straightforward, but there are actually many nuances to consider before selecting "the one". The material, shape, number of tie-out points and additional features such as UV protection can impact your outdoor experience.

With so many bushcraft tarps on the market, knowing which one will hold up to an intense survival situation can be a tough call. So how do you choose the best tarp for your bushcraft needs?

We’ve narrowed down the top 5 bushcraft tarp shelters available to help you find the one that will deliver the best protection when you’re out in the woods.

What to Look for in a Bushcraft Tarp

One key thing to keep in mind when choosing a survival tarp is that it should be multi-purpose - this goes for any piece of survival equipment in your outdoor arsenal.

In addition to versatility, here are some other elements to consider:

Size

First, you’ll have to identify how large your tarp should be. The size you choose depends on several factors including how many people will be using the tarp. Will you be traveling with a group of friends and using it for the communal area? Or will you be solo in the bush?

Remember that the bigger the tarp, the heavier it will be to carry. The sweet spot for most people tends to range from 8x8 to 10x12. After plenty of testing and research, we always recommend a 10x10 tarp as it provides enough material to create a shelter for two people and their gear.

Color

At first, color may not seem like an essential element when choosing a bushcraft tarp, but it is a crucial component to consider.

When deciding on a color option, it is generally best to select a tarp that will help you blend into your surroundings. Light blue or tan-colored tarps are recommended for spring and summer as darker shades tend to attract insects.

For late fall and winter, brown or green colored tarps perform best.

Weight

Depending on the amount of time you plan to spend in the bush, you might find yourself having to carry your tarp for several days. For this reason, it is imperative to choose a tarp that is ultra-lightweight. Typically, you want to select a tarp that weighs no more than 1 lb.

Attachment Points

Attachment points, tie-out points, rig points, or fixing points all refer to the number of tabs along the edge of the tarp. Ideally, you’ll want your tarp to have at least one attachment point in the center for added flexibility. When selecting a tarp, we recommend tie-out points over grommets. After plenty of testing, tie-out points have proven to be longer lasting and can be easily repaired whereas when grommets come loose, they can tear through the material.

The best tarps will have multiple rig points along the edge, at each corner, and in the middle to give you the most options for pitching.

Shape

Rectangle, diamond, and hexagonal are the three most common tarp shapes available.

There is no right or wrong decision when it comes to choosing a tarp shape; rather, it depends on your personal needs. Out of the three tarp shapes, the rectangle tarp has proven to be the most versatile.

Material

Nylon and polyester are the most common materials used to make tarps since they are compact and lightweight. However, after countless years of experimenting with different materials in the bush, we always recommend a silnylon or ripstop tarp.

When choosing between the two main types, it boils down to your preferences and how you plan to use your tarp. Silnylon tarps are typically more lightweight, while ripstop tarps provide more durability (as the name states, they stop rips from becoming any bigger).

Choosing the Best Bushcraft Tarp: Our Top Picks

UGQ

UGQ is our top pick when it comes to choosing the best bushcraft tarp. UGQ is one of the most respected brands and is an absolute favorite among those who prefer to pack light. Their products are specifically designed to deliver everything you need without overloading you with extra weight.

Unlike some other tarp brands, you won’t find UGQ products stocked at your favorite outdoor store. Everything is made to order and shipped from their shop in Jackson, Michigan. Their tarps are highly customizable, and nearly every aspect of your tarp can be tailored to your liking.

UGQ Tarp
Photo Credit: UGQ

Bushcraft Outfitters

Bushcraft Outfitters is known for making high-quality tarps in the USA.

Their tarps are durable, lightweight, and come in an array of colors. They are well-stitched and come with tie-outs instead of grommets, making them even easier to secure.

We particularly love the fact that their tarps pack down next to nothing. You can easily stuff your tarp into a pack and forget about it until you need it. For the price, these bushcraft tarps cannot be beat!

Bushcraft Outfitters Coyote Tarp
Photo Credit: Bushcraft Outfitters

Aqua Quest

Aqua Quest tarps are fantastic tarps made from lightweight ripstop material that is 100% waterproof.

They are incredibly versatile thanks to the large number of tie-out points on their tarps, including points in the center for overhead hanging. All of their models are lightweight and compact yet unbelievably durable and can withstand anything Mother Nature throws at them. Plus, these tarps pack up so tiny that you can practically fit them into any space

Aqua Quest’s tarps are designed and tested in the Pacific Northwest and come with a lifetime warranty.

Aqua Quest Bushcraft Tarp
Photo Credit: Aqua Quest

Etowah Outfitters

Etowah provides affordable and highly lightweight tarps that are perfect for bushcrafters on a budget or for those just starting out.

Made with top-quality ripstop nylon, Etowah tarps hold up reasonably well in all types of weather conditions, including hard rains. The tabs on their tarps are sewn in to provide extra strength and durability and can easily be repaired in the field if the need arises. 

Our top choice from Etowah is the Ultra Lightweight Silnylon 20D Tarp. Made with 1.1 oz silicone impregnated ripstop nylon, this tarp has the best strength at the lightest weight.

Etowah Silnylon Tarp - Joe Robinet Bushcraft

Bushcraft Spain

Bushcraft Spain creates outstanding bushcraft products, including one of our favorite tarps, the wax canvas oilskin tarp. This top-of-the-line tarp is entirely handmade, which means that each tarp from Bushcraft Spain may show slight variations in color and dimension, making each one unique.

Bushcraft Spain uses a lightweight, breathable material with a layer of wax and oil on top to provide water resistance. This particular tarp is ideal for late fall, winter, and early spring as it allows you to have a fire in front and not have to worry about the occasional fire ember.

Bushcraft Spain
Photo Credit: Bushcraft Spain 

The Bottom Line

When choosing the best bushcraft tarp for your outdoor adventures, it’s important to remember that everyone’s needs vary. Be sure to keep these guidelines in mind when selecting your tarp:

  • Choose a tarp that is a minimum of 6x8
  • The tarp should have tabs all over it (every foot-and-a-half to two feet around the entire perimeter)
  • There should be at least one tie-out point in the middle of the tarp
  • Silnylon material is ideal

We hope that this list helps you choose the best tarp for your bushcraft needs!