Shelters are probably the most basic structures you can
build. There are a bunch of unique designs out there. You
need only a tarp or sheet of plastic and usually some rope
or cord. A camping tarp, or fly is a simple piece of gear
but has multiple benefits and uses. Tarps are usually square,
rectangular or hex cut pieces of fabric with tie out points.
Great to use with a tent and for some, instead of a tent.
They are really adaptable and have lots of uses - an essential
bit of survival gear to keep handy.
in your survival bag a versatile item like a tarp will come
in handy during an emergency situation. It will help you
gather water, camouflage your supplies and it will provide
a good shelter in case nothing else is available. Improvising
a basic tarp shelter can keep your head dry, it will help
you conserve heat and it provides a sense of comfort and
polyethylene tarp will go a long way and you should definitely
get one for your bug out bag. It is lightweight, durable,
draft-proof and waterproof. They come in a variety of
sizes and color, and they won’t burn a hole in your
a tarp shelter is easy and there are dozens of different
ways and patterns to construct a suitable shelter with
only a single tarp.
you make your tarp shelter you must consider the following:
location of your shelter is very important and you should
stop and think about it before building your shelter.
*The direction from which the wind is blowing should be
taken into account or your shelter will sail away.
*The ground should be comfortable enough if you plan to
get some sleep. Pointy rocks will keep you awake.
*The ground should slope slightly for the water to runoff.
*If there is no slope, you will have to dig some trenches
around your shelter to aid drainage.
*Take into account the purpose of the shelter and make
it as large as it needs to be.
*Consider the weather and chose a model that is stable
and won’t collapse if rain or snow are expected.
A-frame tarp shelter.
The A-Frame shelter is probably the most common shelter
one can make. It can be made by stringing the paracord between
two trees. Draping over the tarp and staking it down are
the final steps required to make this common shelter. The
30-degree angle of the tarp’s roof will create a ten
foot-long living area. The shelter will be 8.6 feet wide
and 2.5 feet tall. This shelter provides a good rain and
snow runoff and a good wind deflection. The downside of
the A-frame shelter is that there is no floor and if you
haven’t stretchered the paracord tight enough, there
will be sagging in the middle.
Sunshade tarp shelter
To create this type of shelter you will need four anchoring
points to which you will tie the paracord. This is a shelter
parallel to the ground and it’s designed to provide
100 square feet of shade against the sun. some people use
this type of shelter during the rain because the water will
pool in the middle and it’s easier to collect it.
To make it sturdier you can add support poles to the corners.
This basic sunshade tarp shelter will provide maximum protection
against the sun, but it’s not suitable for cold weather
and it can’t support rain for long.
Lean-To tarp shelter
This is another shelter that it’s simple to make and
it’s great for deflecting wind or providing sunshade.
To make this shelter you need to secure the tarp to the
ground on the windward side and support it with the paracord
between to anchor points. A 30 degree angle of the tarp
will provide five feet of height and 8 feet of width under
the shelter. This is an “on the go” shelter
because it’s easy to erect and you can quickly take
it down. It provides great wind deflection and it will keep
you safe from rain or sun heat. The downside of this shelter
is that there are not sides and no floor to offer protection.
tube tent tarp shelter
This is a sturdy shelter that provides a floor and, if properly
secured to the ground, will prevent rain from seeping in.
To make it, you will need to secure the paracord between
to trees and drape over the tarp with the opposite ends
secured together. The sixty degrees walls will provide 3
feet of width and almost 3 feet of headroom. This should
be enough room for a single adult.
mushroom fly tarp shelter
This type of shelter is very similar to the basic sunshade
shelter but it adds a central support pole at the tarp’s
midpoint. It is designed for rain or snow runoff and it’s
pretty sturdy if you secure the four corners of the tarp
well enough. You can make it as tall or as short as you
need depending on the length of the pole. This shelter provides
a great runoff for rain or snow, but it doesn’t have
any sides to protect you from the wind or cold.
cornet tarp shelter
This shelter utilizes the entire length of the paracord
strung from a tree to the ground. The tarp is draped over
the paracord diagonally, while the leading edges fold under
to form the floor. The corner of the shelter must be faced
towards the direction of the wind. You will also need to
tie off some drip lines above the entrance of the shelter
to prevent rain from running down the paracord and into
the shelter. This is a good design for wind deflection and
rain/debris shedding. The downside of this design is that
it doesn’t offer too much head room.
dining fly tarp shelter
This is the favorite design for many camper and it’s
a simple open air cover. It provides a good sunshade and
enough headroom without sacrificing too much space. It keeps
away rain but it provides limited protection against the
other elements due to its lack of sides. When properly tied
down and staked, the dining fly becomes a sturdy shelter
and the height of the support pole will dictate the amount
of headroom. This is a good model for desert survival because
it provides good ventilation and adequate coverage.
wind shed tarp shelter
This type of shelter requires a little practice to get it
done the right way. You will need to fold the tarp into
thirds and make sure the leading edge of the roof hangs
over the groundsheet for adequate rain runoff. The main
ridgeline has to be secured with paracords while stretched
between two trees. A length of paracord must be added to
the bottom fold, where the back panel meets the groundsheet.
It provides great wind deflection, but it requires a lot
of secure points. The hanging roofline could also sag under
rain loads and channel the water onto the groundsheet.
Fold-Over Wind Shed tarp shelter
This design is similar to the traditional wind shed, but
it provides more coverage by sacrificing the groundsheet.
The height of the paracord ridgeline determines the angle
of the roof and the footprint of the shelter. It provides
great wind deflection and rain runoff, but it doesn’t
protect completely against the elements due to its lack
of floor, flaps or sides.
diamond fly tarp shelter
Suitable for two persons and it’s easy to make. You
will need to secure the paracord to a tree and the ground,
and drape over the tarp at a diagonal. The length of the
paracord and the angle with which it is tied to a tree will
determine the overall headroom and width of the shelter.
The steep walls will shed rain and will deflect wind if
they are well staked. This model will require drip lines,
just like the cornet shelter. Depending on the size of the
tarp, this shelter can accommodate more than two persons
or more equipment, but the lack of a floor and flaps won’t
keep out the elements. If the wind changes direction frequently,
the shelter can be compromised.
Start the construction of this shelter by supporting the
center of two perpendicular edges with five foot long poles
or by attaching those edges to trees using a paracord. You
will need to stake to the ground the opposite corner so
that it creates a series of four triangles. This design
will provide 35 square feet of living space and five feet
of headroom at the opening. The flap will hand down and
make a partial closure. The poles need to be supported by
paracord tie-downs. This shelter deflects wind with its
low profile and it’s very roomy.
half box tarp shelter
This shelter will require some time to be built and you
need to use at least four support poles and as many or more
tie downs to hold it all up. The footprint provided is 25
square feet and it has two sides of protection from the
elements. If not supported in the middle or kept taut from
the sides, it will sag under the weight of water or snow.
A full one quarter of the tarp goes unused and folded up
behind the rear corner. This type of tarp shelter provides
good sunshade throughout the entire day if you position
barn stall tarp shelter
To make this shelter you can either use four five foot poles
for support or two poles and a paracrod attached to two
anchor points. The front is supported by poles and the single
90 degree wall provides enough protection, although strong
wind can damage the entire structure. This shelter produces
a 50 square feet living area but it has no floor. It’s
simple to build, but it doesn’t provide adequate protection
from the weather.
Square arch tarp shelter
As the name implies, this shelter is an arch with a square
top. Starting with two parallel lengths of paracord attached
to anchor points approximately 3 feet apart and 3 feet high,
drape the ground cloth over the two lengths of paracord
and secure the long ends of the tarp with stakes. This is
a good shelter for narrow spaces, but the odds of finding
four anchor points in the needed proximity is quite low.
To allow rain to runoff, make sure you secure one paracord
slightly higher than the other. This shelter is three feet
wide, three feet wide and ten feet long.
shade sail tarp shelter
This is an easy and quick to build shelter and it requires
to diagonally drape the tarp over a length of paracord attached
to two anchor points. The opposite corners of the tarp are
staked to the ground. This is an open and airy shelter and
the lower the angles of the sides are, the better it will
deflect wind and the more shade will provide. It provides
all day shade and it requires minimal stakes and set up,
but it’s not weather resistant and it will not keep
not to do when building a tarp shelter:
build your shelter over an ant nest or any type of burrows
Don’t set up your shelter beneath a dead tree or in
the vicinity of one
Don’t attach tarp lines to a tree standing alone or
to tall trees. Always go for the short tree in a group of
Don’t set up your shelter below the high tide mark
of a shoreline
Don’t set up your shelter on top of a hill or ridge.
Don’t set up your shelter on a river bank
Making a tarp shelter is not rocket science and with a little
bit of practice anyone should be able to make one. Learning
these tarp shelter patterns will come in handy during an
emergency preparedness situation.