10 Different Ways to Use Your Tarp in Survival Situations

Things To Remember When Buying a Tarp

red tarp with a yellow rope tied to it

Buying a tarp might be daunting, but it makes everything easier if you know what to look for. Here are some critical points to keep in mind:

  • Look for tarps that are heavier and more durable. It might mean more added weight to your pack, but tarps that are thinner and lighter might not last that long.
  • With that, if you want to get ultralight tarps, make sure you have a backup plan.
  • The best sizes to get range from 8×8 to 10×12. Tarps within this size range make it easier to carry and are big enough to be made into a shelter for 2.
  • A basic rectangular or square tarp is best for emergencies and survival situations because it’s incredibly versatile, and you can do a lot with it.
  • Go for tarps that have attachment loops instead of tarps with grommet holes on the fabric. Tarps with grommet holes are prone to tears, while tarps with attachments loops are not.

Keep these things in mind and find a tarp that will give you the best chance at survival, and you’ll be good to go!

10 Genius Ways to Use a Tarp

Now that you know what you want in a tarp, you can now move on to all the fantastic things you can do with it. Here are ten genius ways you can use your tarp in a survival situation:


tarp shelter

This is one of the most common uses for tarps. If you have a large one on hand, then you’ve got good chances of making a sturdy survival shelter. There are many different tarp configurations you can learn that will help protect you from the wild and the elements. When you’re setting up your tarp as a shelter, it’s wise to remember that tarps are not like tents in the “breathability” department. Make sure you leave an opening when building your shelter so fresh air can come in.

Rain Cover

Anything you do not want to get wet, you can securely cover with a tarp. That can include your supplies, firewood, or your outdoor survival garden. You can even provide your tent with additional protection by setting up a tarp as a rain cover during a storm. Tarps are made from sturdy material, so they make excellent rain covers. You might also want to consider getting a tarp made of polyethylene since this is more water-resistant and waterproof.

Ground Cover

Hate waking up to a wet tent floor in the morning? Take a tarp and use it as ground cover, and set up your tent on top of it. Laying a tarp down helps protect you against water and insects. It also softens things up so that you won’t feel the hard ground directly when you lay down for a rest.

Water Collector

When things get rough, water might be hard to come by. So what can you do? Take your tarp out and collect water! Yep, with a handy tarp, you can gather condensation overnight or rainwater during lousy weather. You can also distill water by hanging your tarp over a steaming pot of water. You then collect the runoff. Make sure you purify the water you collect if you plan on drinking it.

Fish Net

Wanna catch some fish but don’t have a fishing pole? Get your tarp, poke some holes into it, just enough to let water stream out, and you’ve got a DIY-ed fish net! Use it in streams to catch yourself some tasty dinner.


Starting a fire in windy conditions can be challenging. A small gust of wind and any progress of building a tiny flame disappears in mere seconds. It can get frustrating, but a tarp can help you out in this exact situation. How? By using the tarp as a windbreaker. Just make sure that you move your tarp after you’ve got a strong flame going, so it doesn’t catch fire.


If you’ve left your paracord at home or you’ve used it all up, then you can turn to your tarp for cordage. Cut it into strips and braid it together. Weaving them together ensures durability and makes the cordage stronger.


Injuries can happen, especially when SHTF, so it’s good to know that you can turn your tarp into a makeshift stretcher. Instead of having to carry injured people in your arms or on your back, you can lay that person on your makeshift stretcher and, with the help of others, drag them to safety where they can get medical attention. You can also use the stretcher to pull firewood and survival items back to home base on a more optimistic note.


Green or brown colored tarps make for excellent camouflage and work great for covering survival caches in the middle of forests or the side of roads. Pile some leaves and sticks, even stones, to hide them even further. The last thing you want is someone stumbling upon your secret survival supply stash, so make an effort to hide it well.

Signal for Help

Brightly colored tarps are perfect for signaling for help. A bright blue or yellow tarp will stand out in places like a forest. Though you might have a bit of trouble finding brightly colored tarps, ordering online might be the easiest route to take.

Final Thoughts

With its many uses, a tarp in your survival kit or bag increases your chances of survival in a SHTF situation. Make sure you don’t forget to pack it, and have some backups, too, just in case.

Do you have a go-to tarp that you love using? Tell us all about it! Feel free to contact us and let us know.

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