The Best Tarps for Camping, Picnics, Festivals and Waterproof Storage - Rolling Stone
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The Best Tarps For Indoor and Outdoor Use

A well-made, waterproof tarp is one of the most versatile items you can have in your gear bag or festival kit

best camping tarp

Shutterstock / kornnphoto

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Whether you’re going camping or headed to a festival, a well-made tarp should be part of your setup and gear.

The best tarps (short for tarpaulin) come in handy for a wide variety of uses, serving as protection from the rain and sun (when hung overhead), as a durable sitting blanket or floor covering, or as a way to store and protect your possessions (I.e. barbecue, car, patio furniture).

Large tarps can also be used to cover your pool or shed when not in use, and they can be used to cover small openings, to keep out dust and debris (not to mention bugs and critters).

Keep these tarps in your home too, to help keep your floor clean during a particularly wet or muddy day, to keep rooms separated during construction, or to use as a drop sheet when painting. A reliable tarp should also be an essential part of any emergency or survival kit, to keep both you and your stuff dry.

Traditionally, tarps were made from canvas or polyester, though these days, the best tarps are usually coated with or made from polyethylene, a type of durable, flexible plastic. These poly tarps are more lightweight while being easier to clean as well (many of our picks are machine-washable).

When buying tarps, look for models that are waterproof, rust-proof and UV-resistant, to keep you protected from the elements. Look for thicker materials and tighter weaves, which will help seal out water (most of our picks are rip-resistant). UV-resistance is especially important if you’re taking a tarp to an outdoor event or festival, as prolonged exposure to the sun could lead to cheaper tarps fading or thinning out.

We’ve rounded up well-made tarps that also have reinforced seams and rust-resistant grommets, that allow for easy hanging or tying, whether you’re affixing the tarps to the trees, or just using it to tie down something on top of your car. Whether you’re planning your next big outdoor adventure or just weather-proofing your stuff for winter, here are the best tarps to get.

1. Xpose Safety Poly Tarp Cover

With reinforced edges, a tight 16 x 16 weave count and made from a rip-resistant material, this tarp keeps your stuff dry and protected from the elements.

The 16 mil thick polyethylene is stronger and more durable than regular plastic, and is water-proof, wind-proof, rust-proof and UV resistant (I.e. won’t fade or get damaged with prolonged exposure to the sun).

Metal grommets along the ends let you easily tie down the tarp to secure it to a tree, over your car or on construction sites.

PROS: The thickest tarp on our list.

CONS: Not a seamless tarp so seams could start to fray after long-term use.

multipurpose-waterproof-tarp

Courtesy Amazon

Amazon

2. DRY TOP Multipurpose Tarp

This well-made tarp is constructed using a 14 x 14 weave polyethylene that’s laminated on both sides for water-resistance.

All hems and seams are heat-sealed to help them stay put, then reinforced with rope for extra durability. Every corner is reinforced with plastic caps around the aluminum grommets. What that means: tie down the tarp easily without worrying about tugging or damaging the ends.

The tarp is naturally mold and mildew-resistant, UV-treated to protect against sun damage, and the aluminum grommets are rust-resistant.

DRY TOP has been making outdoor gear and accessories for more than 30 years and the company is known for the quality and longevity of its products. This tarp measures 10 x 15 feet though multiple sizes are available.

PROS: Tarp is machine-washable.

CONS: UV-resistance is not as strong as other models on the list.

best-outdoor-tarp

Courtesy Amazon

Amazon

3. Hanjet Camping Tarp

Keep this lightweight tarp in your car or garage as part of your emergency kit, or to use for outdoor excursions (think beach, camping and picnics).

The waterproof tarp is made from a tight polyethylene weave with rope-reinforced edges and rust-resistant grommets. Double reinforced corners made this on par with industrial-grade tarps.

Hanjet says the tarp is shrink-proof, waterproof, and UV-resistant.

PROS: All edges are heat-sealed and reinforced with polyethylene rope. Multiple colors available.

CONS: At 8 x 10 feet, the smallest option on our list, though other sizes are available. Flammable so keep away from open flames.

lightweight tarp camping

Courtesy Amazon

Amazon

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