The Best Dimensions of a 1-Person Backpacking Tarp

You can’t get a deeper connection to the wilderness than by sleeping under a rectangular or square tarp.

Pitching a Tarp requires more thought than setting up tents. You need to consider how you will set up your shelter for the night, whether it is wind- or weather-resistant, what slope and composition you have, and whether or not it will be safe to tie it to a tree nearby.

Once you are settled, however, you can tune in to your surroundings and hear the sounds of the wind blowing through the trees. You don’t need any walls to keep them out.

This is in contrast to a tent, or even a shaped-tarp. It delineates the interior from the exterior, giving you a little space to hide from the weather and night sounds. The bathtub floor and poles will not be affected by wind, so it won’t rain. It is designed to keep the wild outside and not allow it in.

Tarp Shapes and Sizes

If you want to adapt your shelter to the surrounding environment, flat tarps with 90 degree corners, square or rectangular are best. They can be folded into different shapes called pitches. These tarps are different from the shaped tarps like pyramids or their variants that can only be pitched in one direction.

Also see: What Are the Differences Between Flat Tarps & Shaped Tarps

Some prefer square tarps, while others prefer rectangular flat tarps.

Because I find it easier to see different pitches with a square square tarp than with a rectangular one with two sides of different lengths, I am in the square tarp category. Macpherson’s Tarp Pitches provides a theoretical list of tarp shapes you can make with square and rectangular tarps. If you include organic elements from nature into your pitches, the number of possible tarp shapes is limitless.

Plans for a 1 Person Square Tarp

Sizing and square footage

What are the best dimensions and features of a square camping and backpacking tarp? After pondering this question for many years, I have decided that a 9×9 foot tarp is the ideal size for one person. An 8.5 x 8 foot tarp is too small, and a 10×10 is way too big.

It’s as simple as this. You can protect yourself from rain if you are 6 feet tall and pitch an A-frame with a 8 x 8 foot Tarp. This can be increased to 9 x 9, which will provide a further 6” of coverage, making you much drier. The tarp covers 100 square feet at 10 feet per side. This is too much fabric for wrestling with.

Guyout Points

Flat tarps are not all about size. You must also ensure that the guyout points are in the right locations so that the tarp can be folded or tied in many different ways. To create a square tarp, the guyout points should be symmetric.

It would seem simple to make a tarp using a single piece. However, it is more difficult because not all fabrics come in the same sizes. It is usually necessary to place a seam between two pieces of fabric. The seam should be parallel to the edges. This will give the tarp some “handedness”, as it will want to drape in a particular way. However, symmetric guyouts can counter this tendency.

Interior Attachment Points

To hang bug bivys or inner tents inside, it is important to attach glove hooks or webbing loops inside a flat or shaped tarp. Customers who don’t have access to an interior attachment point on the underside tarp are subject to high incontinence.

To divert rain, you would tie a dripline to your bug bivy, so that it can be tied to your trekking pole. That’s unnecessary.

The best place for internal attachments on a 9×9 tarp is at the center point, and 3 feet in each direction along the center seam. This allows a tall person with elastic cordage and adjustable knots to hang insect netting or an inner shelter.

Line-Locs vs Webbing

The guyout points are the final detail of a flat tarp. You have the option to use line-loc connectors or plastic loops. There is also a way to strengthen their attachment points so that they don’t tear under tension.

Flat tarps don’t require you to attach cords at each guyout point. It would also be foolish to add extra line-locs or cord to the tarp that you won’t use. You can also add plastic loops or webbing loops to your webbing to allow you to tie cordage to specific points on the tarp for a particular pitch. You will need to have a basic understanding of friction knots in order to tension your tie-outs.

Also, reinforcement is required for the guyout points to ensure that the guyout webbing doesn’t tear under tension. To prevent fabric from tearing, it is common to add a second layer of fabric around the attachment point.

Who makes this Tarp?

I don’t know of anyone who makes this tarp. These plans were drawn up about two years ago by me when a company expressed an interest in making the shelter into a product. However, it never went through with it. It’s a tedious task to pitch a flat tarp, and then adapt it to the environment is something that very few backpackers would like to do. This skill is technically difficult but fun if you’re so inclined. It is perfect for stealth camping in dense forests, where larger shelters may not be available.