What’s the Best Tarp to Use for Camping?

Think about the things you need from the tarps you use while camping. Your choice of tarp needs to repel water. It needs to withstand winds and the heat from a campfire or tent heater. You don’t want it ripping within months of buying it. You don’t want it growing mold or mildew when it’s not in use.

While you may think it’s easier to run to your local home goods store for a tarp, many of those tarps are only designed for general use. They’re not made with camping in mind. You’ll spend more replacing that multi-purpose tarp than you would spend purchasing the best tarp for camping.

What Are Your Best Options for Tarps for Camping?

Before you choose your tarp, carefully consider your camping plans. If you camp mostly in the summer, you may not need a tarp that withstands snow and ice. If you go camping in the winter, a tarp designed for winter use is important. Here are the available options that are best for your camping needs.

Canvas Tarp

Canvas tarps come in 16 oz. or 18 oz. weights. They are made of cotton canvas and resist water and mildew. The cotton is breathable so condensation is minimized.

This type of tarp is ideal for outdoor use, but it isn’t treated to have fire or flame retardant properties. If you’re using this tarp, position it away from a campfire. You have six color choices in the 16 oz. weight and 33 sizes plus custom sizing if it’s needed. The 18 oz. canvas tarps come in two colors and 32 sizes.

You can opt for a treated canvas if you use a tent heater. It’s only available in 16 oz. tarp weight and the Olive Drab color.

Fire and Flame Retardant Canvas Tarps

Cotton canvas is the base of a fire retardant canvas tarp. It’s breathable to prevent condensation from developing while you sleep. It also resists mildew and is water-resistant. It’s also treated to protect against fire. Choose this tarp for your camping needs and feel confident even if you go camping in the winter.

Fire and flame retardant canvas tarps come in 32 sizes ranging from 5’x7′ to 30’x30′. Olive Drab is the only color choice. Grommets are placed every two feet.

Iron Horse Polyester Tarps

Are you camping in a windy area? Iron Horse Polyester Tarps withstand winds. They’re your most durable tarp and have twice the strength of a canvas tarp. While canvas tarps are water-resistant, Iron Horse Polyester Tarps are waterproof.

These tarps come in a 15 oz. weight and seven color options if you’re purchasing from the 11 size choices. If you need a custom size, you can buy it by the yard in one of the seven color choices.

Vinyl Laminated Tarps

There are two types of vinyl tarps. Vinyl laminated tarps are flame retardant and withstand the wind. They’re not the best choice for tents as they aren’t as thick at 13 oz., but they are good if you want a cover for your camping gear. You can also use them to set up curtains to divide a tent space into multiple rooms.

The laminated vinyl tarps come in nine colors. You can order custom sizes or choose from nine ready-made sizes.

Vinyl Coated Polyester Tarps

Vinyl Coated Polyester Tarps are UV-treated and make great awnings or canopies in sunny camping locations. If you’re camping in a hotter climate and need to have shelter from the sun, this is a great choice. The coated tarp is waterproof and resists mildew. It also stands up to winds and abrasive conditions.

Choose from 16 colors. The cut sizes range from 5’x7x to 30’x30′. You can also request a free custom quote for a custom size.

How to Store Your Tarp

After your camping trip, spray your tarp to remove any dirt, pine needles, or debris. Allow the tarp to dry fully in the sun. Once it is completely dry, fold it and put it away in a lidded plastic container. This will keep mice from chewing it.

Over time, you may want to reapply Canvak to your canvas tarp to help it retain its water and mildew resistance. We sell the canvas preservative in one-gallon containers.

We’re Here for Guidance

Talk to Chicago Canvas & Supply about our tarps. They’re all made in the United States. We’re happy to help you choose the right tarp for your camping needs. Let us know your plans and we’ll guide you to the best camping tarps for your specific situation.

If you need a custom size, we offer free quotes. For further peace of mind, we even offer a price match guarantee to assure you you’re getting the best value for your camping tarp.