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Gotta Love A Tarp

[ 2 ] September 8, 2016 |

With every passing year that I’m involved in the glorious worlds of photography and the outdoors, I come to realise that there are some items of kit which I absolutely love. In each case, their appeal often boils down to the fact that they are a) practical and b) dependable.

Queue the humble tarp, or tarpaulin.

These versatile, quick-to-use shelters come in all manner of shapes, sizes, weights and materials. The one I most often use (all through the year and in all weathers) weights just 325g and is constructed out of ripstop nylon. It packs down really small, so fits conveniently in a backpack.

Below you’ll see a number of pictures showing it in use, grabbed from the archives.

Of course, you don’t have to take the more technical route; to have a play with the fundamentals of tarp configurations, save your money and simply go to your local hardware store or £1 shop. Something along the lines of 6ft x 6ft or 7ft x 5ft is a great place to start – these are often blue and used frequently for gardening, general DIY, caravanning and the like.

All you need to add to this is a set of basic pegs and some cordage (paracord, accessory cord, even string will do), then you’re good to go. I sometimes use bungee instead, for convenience.

The more I’ve used tarps, the more I’ve worked out what arrangement works best for me. For example…

If I simply want shelter from a breeze, I’ll use it as a windbreak:

© Giles Babbidge Photography 2013

For a little more protection, I might peg down the corners to form a ‘pyramid’ shape:


On fine days, you’ll often find me spending all day in a woodland, using my tarp as my base whilst I write or film – in which case, I’ll set up a simple ‘A’ shape allowing plenty of head room:


For overnight camping, a variation on the pyramid design works well:


Hopefully you can see why this versatility is so appealing!

If you have any questions, as ever please do let me know.

If you’re not familiar with my ‘Gotta Love…’ series of articles detailing my favourite, tried-and-tested kit, my karabiner and drybag pieces would be a good starting point.



Category: Camping, Location photography, Microadventure, Technique

Comments (2)

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  1. Mark Playle says:

    Love a good tarp. Great article Giles.

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