Adding a Tarp Over Your Tent

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Today we’re going to talk about putting a tarp over your tent. We’ll go over why, how, dos, and don’ts. There are a lot of pictures, but I have made them as small as I can without sacrificing quality. The tent is our Vango Farnham 600 that we purchased from Amazon earlier this month. It is an Amazon exclusive, so if you’re interested, that is the only place to get this particular tent. Otherwise, Camping World UK has a lot of great tents and they ship to the USA for $10.

The first thing you may notice are the poles holding the tarp off of the tent. Why? So that the tent doesn’t drop condensation. You never want your tarp in direct contact with your tent for this reason along with  it can rub the waterproofing and UV protection off. It can also rub a hole in the tent.

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The tarp not being in contact withallows airflow between the tarp and the tent. This is how it cools. If it’s sitting on the tent you’re just pushing hot air into your tent.. It isn’t there for extra waterproofing, anyway, it’s there to protect the tent from UV rays and it keeps the tent about 10 degrees F cooler. That may not sound like a lot, but with an O2Cool fan decreasing it another 10-15 degrees (in front of it) you’ll be comfortable.

Extra waterproofing is really just a bonus.

It also protects your investment clean from bird droppings, tree sap, and other nasties falling from above.

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If you look at the pictures, you will see steel poles and extra guylines coming directly off the tarp. We bought an extra heavy duty tarp from Amazon that is the same length as the tent to provide maximum shade.

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The steel poles are from another tent that we had laying around. Those poles are holding the tarp off of the tent, as you can see above. The guylines provide stability in storms and wind. This is also a good picture of the vent at the back of our tent. It doesn’t have a mesh top or a rainfly, so this is how it cools. I actually prefer this as I think it works better and you don’t have to worry about the top leaking.

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It’s not actually touching here. It is a little closer than we would prefer, but we did the best we could. If we raise the front pole a little bit more, it will clear it better. As I said, this was a test run.

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Here you can really see how it’s not touching, it’s creating shade, and there’s lots of airflow.

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So, how do you do this?

  1. Trips to eBay, yard sales, whatever to look for an old cabin tent or a canopy with steel poles. You can also use electrical conduit, bend it, and use a union to join them. If they’re tent poles, make sure that they slip into each other. Odds are, they are not going to be assembled the way they were designed to be.
  2. Have the height, width, and length dimensions on your tent. Purchase a heavy duty tarp or shade cloth that is similar in width and length. If you’re a little long or a little short, that’s fine. You’re just creating more shade and protection. Tarps tend to be cheaper, but shade cloth will do better in wind.
  3. You need about 150 feet of 195lb test camping rope and another 100 feet of Paracord.
  4. The cabin tent we had was a 10×10 so we had to move poles around to get enough width. You don’t want them rubbing your tent either. I also installed a 10 foot section of sch40 PVC pipe, you don’t want to go light. On the section of PVC, I drilled a small hole and inserted a cotter pin at each end.
  5. Secure your tarp to your poles using the camping rope. You want a pole at the front, one at the rear, and a taller pole in the middle. Look at the pictures again for reference.
  6. Secure the two center eyelets on your tarp to your center pole. I do a double loop through each eyelet before tying to the pole. This broadens the tension and makes it sturdier.
  7. At each end pole, secure each eyelet with a double loop. Secure your poles with a double square knot.
  8. I used paracord to pull from side pole to side pole to lock them in place. This way they can’t slide side to side.
  9. Install two guylines at the front and rear on each side. Simple loop over knot down to tent peg as close to a 45* angle as possible. Do a 20* angle to the side to help with side movement.
  10. Make your own guylines using a Shipman’s knot. You can Google or YouTube it if you weren’t a Boy Scout.
  11. Ensure plenty of tension across the tarp. With our tarp, there were ten eyelets on each side of the tarp not secured. The more eyelets you can secure, the better the tarp will fare in adverse weather.
  12. Feed your rope up through one eyelet, down through the next eyelet, and up through a third eyelet. Then tie a double loop through the eyelet. On the center eyelet, take two fingers (one to each side of center eyelet rope) pull about 12″ of slack forming a “V” with a center rope going to the center eyelet. Cut and secure that end of the rope to the last eyelet.
  13. Install guylines to carabiner (you need 4) and clip it to the “V”. Tension the guyline. Do this in the middle of each side.

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It takes a little while to make it, but only 20 minutes to set it up. Half the fun was figuring it all out! We only use this if we’re going to be camping more than two nights. Tomorrow we will talk about the hillbilly AC. Using it with this setup, you will be amazed at how cool your tent will stay.

Thank you for visiting and happy camping!

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