While some people may believe that all tarps are the same, there are many different types of tarp. Though they all function to shield us from rain, sun, snow, wind, insects, animals, and more while camping or hiking, each type of tarp has its unique properties. Some are made of waterproof material that can be used as a shelter for oneself or others if needed.
Others have grommets on the edges so ropes can easily be tied through them to fasten it down securely before storms hit. And almost all tarps have multiple uses beyond just being an emergency shelter; they can cover your vehicle’s cargo area to keep things out of sight while transporting them or make an ideal ground covering when camping.
Waterproof Tarp Vs. Water-Repellent Tarp
One of the main differences between tarp is whether or not they are waterproof or water-repellent. Waterproof tarps get their name because they do not allow water to seep through the material while still letting air pass right through it. This makes them ideal for use as a shelter against harsh weather conditions like rain, snow, and strong winds. Water will simply bead up on top of the tarp until it slides off completely without soaking in anywhere, which is why waterproof tarps also make an excellent ground covering when camping overnight outdoors. However, these same properties that make them great for keeping you dry can also be a downside if you need to cook over an open flame. Because water will not escape through the material, it can cause the tarp to warp and eventually burst into flames if left close enough to a flame for too long.
Water-repellent tarps have been treated with a coating that makes them shed water rather than absorb it. They work perfectly as shelter from rain or snow because they allow air to pass right through the material as well as any light from campfires or lanterns. And because they are much less likely to start on fire due to being near an open flame, these tarps also make excellent ground covering when camping overnight outdoors. However, though this allows them to be much easier cleaned up afterward, there is a downside compared to waterproof tarps in that water can absorb into the material so that they may start to sag slightly. Since they are still more waterproof than most other types of tarps, though, water-repellent or “water-resistant” tarps are commonly found as a standard tarp size.
Because different types of weather require different levels of protection from a tarp, some have been created with double layers to form an extra strong barrier that is highly capable of shielding users from even the fiercest storms. Double layered tarps will usually consist of one smaller layer on top and a larger layer underneath it. This creates a stronger overall covering because if one layer tears for any reason, there is another layer ready behind it to pick up where the first layer left off. These tarps are available in larger sizes that can shelter an entire group of people and even some larger vehicles such as a van or truck from the rain.
Waterproof Tarp vs. Waterproof Tent
While some waterproof tarps are also available in tent form, it is not always necessary to invest in both items since most high-quality backpacking tents already come with waterproof material and seams sewn into them, so they don’t absorb water regular nylon fabrics do. These types of tents will keep users dry inside while still allowing air to pass right through the material without any problems. However, there is one disadvantage in comparing standard tents to large tarp shelters: if it rains hard enough overnight.