It’s important to have a footprint for your tent as this helps reduce the wear on the most used part of your tent – the flooring. Not all tents come with footprints, so when they don’t, your second best option is a tarp.
Tarps have plenty of other uses, too. If you’ve forgotten your tent, or if you need a second shelter, a tarp is your makeshift savior. They can be used to provide shade if placed above, or privacy and a wind break if hung horizontally. If your tent has a leak, you can hang a tarp above the problem spot. They can also be used to keep things dry, whether it’s a pile of equipment, or wrapped to protect the backpack on your back as you hike.
When backpacking, the weight is important, because you’re going to have to carry that with you all along the trail. You want backpacking tarps that you can feel confident with and depend on, but not waste precious energy carrying around. Here’s my review on some fabulous ultralight backpacking tarps.
Ultralight Backpacking Tarps
|Aqua Quest Guide Tarp||13 x 10 feet||4.7/5|
|Sanctuary SilTarp||12 x 10 feet||4.9/5|
|LiteOutdoors Silnylon Tarp||8 x 10 feet||4.4/5|
|Waterproof Rip Resistant Camping Tarp||3.8 x 4.7 feet||4.4/5|
|Tarp Shelter by Gnarwhal Gear||12 x 9 feet||4.8/5|
Ultralight Backpacking Tarps Features
Let’s see which backpacking tarps fits you the most regarding your hiking needs.
Aqua Quest Guide Tarp: Large
This Aqua Quest Guide Tarp comes in two colors: aquamarine green and military olive drab. It is completely waterproof, and ultralight, clocking in at just under 2 lbs. It covers a 13 ft long by 10 ft wide area, and has 17 reinforced grommet loops to tie it down. It’s very durable, with rip-stop technology.
Aqua Quest is very confident in their products and like most of what they offer, this tarp has a 2-year “No Worries Warranty”. They have a fabulous customer support line.
I used this tarp during a heavy storm system that rained for 10 days straight, and it was still taught and standing. I had no problems at all with this tarp and feel that it is an excellent product.
Paria Outdoor Products Sanctuary SilTarp
The Paria Outdoor Products Sanctuary SilTarp is an ultralight and weatherproof tarp made of silnylon material, and comes with 60 ft of guy lines and 6 stakes already as part of its kit. It is a sand khaki color with handsome dapple gray edges.
It is waterproof and made out of a 30-denier ripstop nylon, with a silicon coating – this is the “SilTarp” technology. The tarp’s size measures out to be just over 8 ft wide and about 9 and a half ft long.
It is super light with the entire kit coming in at 1.6 lbs, and the tarp alone weighing 1.4 lbs. The guy line that it comes with is 1.4 mm wide and is also reflective, so that no one will trip on it in the dark. The tarp has 16 reinforced grommet holes along the edges.
I recently went hiking without a tent, and just brang a hammock and this ultralight Paria tarp and it fared very well. When the air got too cold and bugs were starting to become attracted to my body heat, I simply closed up the edges of the tarp around my hammock and that took care of the problem. I couldn’t detect any signs of wear or tear after my trip.
LiteOutdoors Silnylon Tarp
This is the LiteOutdoors Silnylon Tarp as one of our ultralight backpacking tarps. It comes in two different colors, light gray and dark olive green. This tarp is windproof and waterproof both, and made with 20 denier nylon with ripstop technology and a silicone coating, “Silnylon”.
There are actually two products offered under the same name. The smaller 8 ft wide by 10 ft long tarp has a total weight of 0.7 lbs. There is a second, slightly larger tarp that is 10 ft wide by 12 ft long, and that one weighs almost exactly 1 lb. Both sizes have 16 reinforced grommet holes to tie down the tent with.
A while back I went camping but forgot to bring any shelter so I stopped at a local sporting good store and picked this tarp up. I pitched it like a tent and it fared very well in the high wind and rainy conditions. This is a great quality tarp.
Waterproof Rip Resistant Camping Tarp
The Camp is Easy Waterproof Rip Resistant Camping Tarp is a bright glacier aqua blue color and comes in a kit for greater versatility. It’s also fully compatible with the Camp is Easy brand single hammock and double hammock. The tarp itself is 9.8 ft wide by 12 ft long, making it a bit longer than most other tarps, especially in the ultralight category. It weighs 1.5 lbs.
The 210 denier nylon material is water resistant, waterproof, and ultralight, and has a technology that makes it resistant to ripping and tearing, similar to ripstop technology. The corners are reinforced and end in a loop for dying down. This tarp doesn’t have any grommet holes, only the corner loops.
The full kit comes with the tarp, 2 centerlines, 4 guy line rope extensions, and 4 aluminum tent stakes. The kit is covered with a money back guarantee, as well as a 5 year warranty.
I wasn’t sure what to expect with this tent because I didn’t recognize the brand name, but I didn’t have any issues with it. I used it as a hammock cover in my backyard and I had no issues. Later, I took it out backpacking with me and pitched it as a shade shelter, and later as a rain and wind shelter, and it still had no qualms with the weather. This seems like a quality, all around tarp.
Tarp Shelter by Gnarwhal Gear
This product is the Tarp Shelter by Gnarwhal Gear, a 9 ft wide by 12 ft long tarp and rainfly kit, with the tarp weighing a bit under 2 lbs. It has 6 reinforced grommet holes, and comes with an accessories bag that has 2 aluminum carabiners, 60 ft of reflective guy line, and 6 aluminum tent or tarp stakes. It is light gray.
The material is waterproof 210 denier polyester with rip-stop technology. It has a polyurethane coating. And thanks to the fabric material, this tarp is also UV protective. The tarp is actually hexagon shaped rather than a normal tarp rectangle.
I went onto a snowy mountain light backpacking trip some time ago and brought along this Gnarwhal Gear tarp as my shelter. I used my backpacking poles to set it up and ran my ridgeline and guy lines tightly. Even with some snowfall and wind, the tarp did well. I have no complaints about this tarp and really like it.
Bring Tarp with you
Next time you’re going out backpacking, pick yourself up a lightweight tarp thanks to the help provided in this guide. See you out there on the trails!