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I may get beat up for talking about using plastic for a backpacking tarp on Backpacking Light, because it's so cheap and flimsy, but here goes!

I have spent many nights sleeping under polyethylene tarps. They're cheap, fairly lightweight, as waterproof as any other material, and possible to make robust enough to survive fairly bad weather. I've done about eight different designs and usually just use them on one trip of up to four nights.

I mainly use polyethylene tarps to prototype a design I want to verify before doing it in more expensive material. Such tarps would also be good for backpacking on the cheap, as you'd be able to equip four people for about $20 and some labor. In these economic times, frugal is popular.


  • Introduction
  • Materials
  • Guyline and Pole Reinforcement
  • Design Examples
    • Classic Pup Tent
    • One Pole Tarp
    • Minimalist Tarp
  • Conclusion

# WORDS: 2590
# PHOTOS: 19

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