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My love of tents, tarps in wind, and Camping

Hello Campers!  I've become an avid tent and tarp self appointed 'tester' in my own mind and in my big back yard (near Boulder, Colorado, New Mexico, and New England)  Winds kick up and thrash my DYI tarps...but I learn!  I love sleeping outside for weeks at a time, and have been experimenting with my (so far) 5 tents and variety of tarps in different situations.  I've built a wooden platform in my field, and made a conduit 'hoop house' to support a big tarp ....I need help tho with the tarp situation!  I like the challenges presented between what I think I want and what is.  Conversation welcome.  

I love camping!
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10 Replies

Tarps are a "use your imagination" thing. There are quite a few basic tarp set ups, but that isnt the end all to be all.

I took the fiberglass tent poles from a Colman 3 man tent, rigged them on a Cabelas outfitter cot, and tarped it for a pretty comfy one person shelter on a long weekend car camping.


@GregA - Post up a picture please! I'd love to see your setup.


Its been a while and I dont have pics.I used it at scout camp when I would take a few nights to give the other adults a break.

Not real hard to do though. Set up the cot, use velcro cable ties at each corner to anchor the rods in a X then toss a tarp over it. I think I used a rain fly from a older wally world HUGE family tent so it had tie outs on it. You will need to  (velcro) the poles off in 2 places in each corner to get the bend and so it doesnt pop out. Anchor the tarp to the cot or use lines to tie it out.

The Cabelas outfitter is a BIG cot lots of room to work with and quite comfy. One is still sold by Bass Pro and if you pull up the pic, imagine 2 poles in a x with some of the pole in each corner.

If I'm picturing this properly what you essentially have done is created a "tent" out of a cot and tarp, right? I haven't used a cot since I was a kid but if I do I will definitely use this idea! Thank you 🙂


A source for cheap fiberglass poles for your tarp creations are hardware store driveway markers. Both Lowes and Home Depot carry these, I think Home Depot has 4 and 6 foot lengths. They are typically bright orange and have reflective tape wrapped around one end, and are pointed on the other. I purchased some 12 inch lengths of aluminum tubing from Amazon to join them together.

They are not 'finished' and can generate fiberglass splinters after a while, so it makes sense to do something to protect them, (tape, shrink fit tubing, paint, polyurethane) and they are not exactly light weight, but they are ubiquitous and cheap.

@MagicToolbox - That's a great idea, thank you! If I were to use them I would wrap them in reflective tape so you can see them better. I use my hiking poles most times but sometimes I'll grab a long stick or just toss my paracord over a low hanging limb.


Hi @Tents4me - Thanks for bringing this topic to the community!

We wanted to share the post Does anyone here do tarp camping?, which might be a good one for you to take a look at or join in on too.

@Tim_DeBoer, do you have any tarp suggestions to share? 

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

@Tents4me - The most important thing with a tarp setup is to always make sure the back of it always faces into the wind. I've learned 99% of what I know by searching YouTube. There are so many out there that I currently have an 18 page document on how to pitch different ways.


Yep, a covered cot.

I have also made a frame out of furring strips kinds barn roof shaped and tarped the bed of a truck the stuck the cot in there.