There are many ways that you can secure a tarp shelter, and some of the more common ones are used under different conditions for various reasons. Knowing how to utilize some of these techniques in the field can help you to make your shelter as practical and effective as possible. Take a look at the most popular methods below, and try them out for yourself the next time you are hiking, camping or spending time in the wilderness.
The A-frame shelter is the most common and basic of them all. You simply stretch a guy line from one tree or post to another and drape the tarp over the top. Stake both sides of the tarp to the ground so that it forms an A shape. This is a great shelter to protect you from wind, rain and snow, and the peaked top allows moisture to run off of the sides. The drawback is that it doesn’t include a floor or front or rear protection.
The lean-to is probably the second-most common shelter, and it’s primarily used to protect the occupant from wind or rain coming in from one direction. However, it also leaves one side exposed and also doesn’t include a floor. Follow the same general idea for building the A-frame, but the finished product will be offset so that more material makes up the wall of one side while a small bit extends over the other side of the guy line. Stake the tarp in place and you’re good to go.
The Body Bag
This is a triangular shelter that includes two sides and a floor. It’s perfect to use when you need protection against ground that is damp or cold. Construct this shelter as you would an A-frame, but place the guy line closer to the ground. Drape the tarp over the line and angle the material out. Stake one side, fold the excess material across the ground until it reaches where the other wall will also contact the ground. Stake both pieces together in order to complete the triangle.
This is a fairly simple design that creates a triangle that has its focal point on the ground instead of on top. This provides three directions of shelter while leaving the entrance open. This is a great way to protect against wind and rain, and you only need one tree or post to set it up. Run the guy line at a 45 degree angle from the tree to the ground and stake it in place. Place the tarp over the line, pull its sides out until they are taut on either side and stake. Stake in the bottom corner, and you can slide in and take cover.
Sometimes called the fly roof, this is simply a flat roof shelter that is attached with poles. Simply stick four poles at equal distances into the ground to create a square frame. Place the tarp on top and run guy wires out at an angle from the poles to secure it in place. This is a great way to create a shady area, but the only drawback is that it doesn’t have any walls or floor.
There are literally dozens of ways to configure a tarp shelter, and they range from the simple to the complex. These examples are some of the easiest to put together, and they require minimal skill or components. Practice and improvise these techniques so that you can create a rudimentary shelter that will suit your needs and purposes. These are also good examples of simple shelters to teach kids or others who are just beginning to develop their bushcraft skills. We’ll talk about more complex variants later, but in the meantime, try to master these before tackling some of the more advanced options.