Survival camping and hiking attract many outdoor enthusiasts to the deep woods and other remote environs. Carrying as little as possible, these stout-hearted individuals basically live off the land. Doing so requires a knowledge of the area and certain survival skills. One important skill is how to make a tarp shelter using just a tarp and minimal materials. Here are three ways to build a reliable tarp shelter to accommodate different situations:
Spread the tarp out, and using rope or vines tie each corner to a tree trunk, limb, or other stationary object. Stretch and tie the corners as taut as possible to prevent the wind from pulling the tarp. This tarp shelter is only effective as a shelter from rain. It doesn’t provide warmth. If the tarp is high enough, however, a small fire for cooking and warmth may be started underneath.
Using a sturdy, overhanging tree branch, drape the tarp over the branch, creating a tent-like structure. You can also tie a piece of rope between two trees and drape the tarp over that if no branches are available. In addition to keeping out inclement weather, this tarp shelter also provides some radiant warmth from reflected body heat. Tie down or secure the tarp to roots or ground spikes to keep the tarp in place. Having even a small cook fire is not recommended unless the tarp is big enough to be affixed high up and safely away from the flames.
Using hardy dead branches or tree trunks, create half of an A frame leaning on a live, horizontal tree limb. Make sure that the branches or dead trees lean at an angle that will keep them secure, creating a solid wall. The angle of the wall should be long enough to allow the camper to lie down underneath without getting wet if it rains. Spread the tarp over the wall of branches; keep one side open so that the result is half an A. If possible, close off the two ends so that there is a wall and two closed off ends to keep out the wind. In this style of tarp shelter, a fire may be built away from the leaning wall out past where the camper will sleep. Radiant heat will reflect off the wall and keep the camper warm.