Last updated: August 11, 2021

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Welcome to our big tent tarpaulin test 2021. Here we present all the tent tarpaulins that we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the web.

We would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best tent tarp for you.

You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should be aware of if you want to buy a tent cover.




The Best Tent Tarp: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a tent cover

Are you thinking about buying a tent tarpaulin, but are a little overwhelmed by the choice and the different offers? Then you've come to the right place, because we'll explain what you should look out for when buying tent tarpaulins.

What is a tent tarpaulin and what is it used for?

Tarpaulins are often used for camping, but also for various outdoor events. The tarpaulin can be used as an additional cover or as protection from wind, rain or sun.

In addition, a tent, garden pavilion or awning can be enlarged with the help of a tarpaulin, or the tarpaulin may be a component of the tent in itself, for example as a roof or side wall.

Tent tarpaulins can also be used as a floor or as protection against wetness under the tent.

Tent tarpaulins are versatile. A tent or canopy can be extended with the help of a tarpaulin. (Photo: MyOfficeBooks / pixabay.com)

Can tarpaulins be rented?

Generally, tarpaulins can also be rented or borrowed. The range extends from special tarpaulins to tent or truck tarpaulins. If you would like to rent a tent tarpaulin, it is worth taking a look on the Internet, because many providers can be found and compared there.

Can I also have a tarpaulin made for me?

Yes, you can also have a tent tarpaulin made. Here, too, you can find many manufacturers, especially on the internet, who produce all kinds of tarpaulins according to your own ideas and for every purpose.

You can choose the exact dimensions, shape, material and fastening options. On average, these custom-made tarpaulins are a little more expensive, but then you get a perfectly fitting tarpaulin.

What dimensions should my tarpaulin have?

Depending on what the tarpaulin is to be used for, a different size or shape should be used. Therefore, it should be clear before buying how big the tarpaulin has to be and what shape it should have.

If something is to be covered with the tarpaulin, it is advisable if the tarpaulin is slightly larger than actually necessary. However, tent tarpaulins that are used as side walls should have the absolutely right dimensions. Most pavilions, for example, require side walls measuring four by four metres.

All types of tarpaulins are available in many different sizes, even as small as three by two metres. Most have a rectangular or square shape, but there are also round tarpaulins.

What material are tarpaulins made of?

Most tarpaulins are made of synthetic fibres. The plastics used are polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or polyethylene (PE).

These are hard-wearing, robust and also waterproof due to the coating. Cotton tarpaulins, on the other hand, are less common. Cotton tarpaulins are particularly durable.

What and how can I attach the tent tarpaulin?

Most tarpaulins have eyelets or loops for fastening. This means that the tarpaulins can either be easily fixed to the ground, hung on hooks or buttons or attached to objects with laces or elastic bands.

If the tarpaulin is to be fixed to the ground, for example, pegs or pegs can simply be inserted through the eyelets.

If the tarpaulin is to be attached to a tent or canopy, laces or special rubber bands can be used. These are passed through the eyelets or loops and then attached to the tent or canopy.

Decision: What types of tent tarpaulins are there and which is the right one for you?

Basically, you can distinguish between three types of tent tarpaulins:

  • Tent tarpaulin made of polyvinyl chloride
  • Tent tarpaulin made of cotton
  • Tent tarpaulin made of polyethylene

Tent tarpaulins can be used in many ways and protect against wind, rain or sun. All tarpaulins come in different sizes, shapes or colours. However, the main difference between the tent tarpaulins is the composition of the material.

We want to help you find the right tent tarpaulin for your needs. To do this, we present the different types and show you the respective advantages and disadvantages.

What are the characteristics of a polyvinyl chloride tent tarpaulin and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

PVC tent tarpaulins are made of the plastic polyvinyl chloride. These tent tarpaulins are more comparable to a truck tarpaulin and are mainly used for large party tents. The advantage of PVC tarpaulins is their particularly high resistance and robustness. This means that these tarpaulins have an extremely long durability.

PVC tarpaulins are therefore particularly suitable for frequent and long outdoor use. Another advantage is that PVC is fire-retardant. Especially at parties or when a heating system is to be set up in the tent, this property offers a plus in terms of safety.

Advantages
  • Very resistant
  • Robust
  • Fire-retardant
  • Long durability
Disadvantages
  • High material weight
  • More complex fastening

One disadvantage of PVC tarpaulins, however, is the higher material weight. This means that attaching or handling them can be somewhat more complicated or time-consuming.

What are the characteristics of a cotton tent tarpaulin and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

A cotton tent tarpaulin is made entirely of cotton. These tarpaulins must therefore be additionally impregnated before use and possibly also in between.

A great advantage of cotton tarpaulins is their high resistance and very long durability. In addition, the fabric is resistant to UV radiation and also breathable. This creates a pleasant climate under the tent tarpaulin.

Advantages
  • Long life
  • Protection against UV radiation
  • Breathable
Disadvantages
  • Dries more slowly
  • Requires more care
  • Higher weight

However, one disadvantage of cotton canvas is the higher weight. Depending on the type of cotton fabric, the tarpaulin is lighter or heavier, which can make it more difficult to assemble.

In addition, cotton dries much more slowly than synthetic materials. In addition, a cotton tarpaulin should always be completely dry before packing, otherwise the fabric can mould very quickly.

What are the characteristics of a polyethylene tent tarpaulin and what are the advantages and disadvantages?

PE tarpaulins are made of polyethylene, one of the most commonly produced plastics. As a rule, PE tent tarpaulins are waterproof, UV-resistant and comparatively robust.

In addition, PE tarpaulins are usually cheaper. Another advantage is the low weight, so handling or fastening is easy and yet the material protects against external influences.

Advantages
  • Inexpensive
  • Waterproof
  • UV-resistant
  • Low weight
Disadvantages
  • Not suitable for year-round use

However, PE tarpaulins should only be used to a limited extent in winter or autumn. Strong storms or constant moisture will damage the material in the long run. Therefore, these tarpaulins are more suitable for use in spring or summer.

Buying criteria: You can use these factors to compare and evaluate tent tarpaulins

In the following, we would like to show you which purchasing factors you can use to evaluate and compare tent tarpaulins. This should make it easier for you to decide which tent tarpaulin is right for you.

In summary, these are the following criteria:

  • Intended use
  • Product material
  • Cost
  • Product dimensions
  • Item weight
  • Water column and UV protection
  • Colour

The individual categories are described in more detail in the following sections. You can then decide for yourself which criteria are important to you and decisive for your purchase.

Intended use

Before you buy a tent tarpaulin, you should always be aware of what you want to use it for. Smaller tarpaulins are more suitable for covering and larger ones for building or expanding tents.

A tent tarpaulin should definitely have a fastening option. The best way to fix and tie down tarpaulins is with an eyelet and rope (as shown in the picture). (Photo: steuccio79 / 123rf.com)

If the tarp is to be used as a tent or extension of an awning, it can also be an advantage if the tarp has a built-in window. This brings additional light into the tent and, of course, you can also see outside from inside without having to leave the tent.

Product material

Many of today's tarpaulins are made of synthetic fibre. This is easy to clean, waterproof and hard-wearing. Depending on the quality, the durability of these tarpaulins can be somewhat shorter.

If you want a more natural product, you should go for cotton tarpaulins. These are hard-wearing and waterproof when properly impregnated. Cotton tarpaulins are usually a little more expensive, but with good care they will last a long time.

When choosing the material, always pay attention to the tear resistance.

Especially if the tarpaulin is to be used as a ground, rain or wind protection, the material must be very stable and hard-wearing. In any case, you should make sure that the tarpaulin can be easily attached by means of eyelets or loops.

Depending on the place of use or purpose, you should also pay attention to the possibility of easy fastening when buying a tent tarpaulin.

Costs

How much you want to spend on the tent tarpaulin is, of course, entirely up to you. Here, too, consider what you want to use the tarpaulin for. If the tarp is only to be used for a single camping trip, a simple and therefore cheaper version may be sufficient.

But especially if the tarp is to be turned into a complete tent, it is advisable to buy a higher-quality and therefore usually more expensive tarp. The better the protection against rain, wind and UV radiation, the more expensive the tarpaulins.

Overall, it can be said that plastic tent tarpaulins are usually cheaper than cotton tarpaulins.

Product dimensions

When buying a tent tarpaulin, you should make sure that it has the right dimensions. In general, smaller tarpaulins are sufficient for covering objects. If you want to make a tent out of the tarpaulin, you will need a larger tarpaulin.

If you want to cover something specific with the tarpaulin, you should orientate yourself on the shape of this object. For example, rectangular tarpaulins are suitable for covering trailers and round protective tarpaulins are more suitable for covering a swimming pool.

A tarpaulin for covering should always be slightly larger than the actual object. If you cannot find a suitable tarpaulin, you can also have a cover made.

Weight

When it comes to weight, the most important factor is how the tarp will be transported. If you are going on a camping holiday by car or motorhome, the weight may only play a secondary role. An average tent tarpaulin weighs about 150 to 180 grams per square metre.

However, if you want to use the tarp as a sitting surface on a hiking trip and carry it in your backpack, then an ultra-lightweight tent tarp is a good choice. These usually weigh no more than 500 grams and also take up less space in terms of pack size.

Water column and UV protection

Tent tarpaulins have different water columns. When buying, you should therefore make sure to check how waterproof or water-repellent the tarpaulin is.

For example, if you want to build a tent out of the tarpaulin, it must be waterproof. Even if the tarp is used as a tent floor and is to protect against moisture from below, the tarp must be water-repellent.

The following table gives you a brief overview:

Water column area of use
1,500 mm from this value, the material is considered waterproof in Germany
3,000 mm tent tarpaulins and outer tents
4,000 mm from this value, the material is considered waterproof according to the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing and Research (EMPA) in Switzerland
5,000 mm tent floor and underlay tarpaulin

If you want to use the tarp as a sun awning or when camping in a very sunny country, you should pay attention to the UV protection when buying it. This should be at least 50, as the tarpaulin protects you from dangerous UV rays to a certain extent.

Colour

Most tarpaulins are available in subtle or natural colours such as brown, black, green or blue. Tent tarpaulins, which are mainly used for party or festival tents, are often white.

However, there are also tarpaulins in stronger colours such as red or orange. Some manufacturers also offer tent tarpaulins with patterns.

If you want to use the tent tarpaulin on a camping or trekking trip, discreet and dark colours are a good choice. You may also want the colour of the tarp to match the tent or the time before, depending on where you want to attach it. Colourful or patterned tarpaulins look great in your own garden as a splash of colour.

If you want to take the tent tarp with you on a survival tour, it is advisable to choose a tent tarp in a camouflage pattern, such as those used by the German armed forces. This way, the colour of the tent will blend in with the environment and it won't stand out in nature.

Facts worth knowing about tarpaulins for tents

Finally, we would like to answer a few important questions about rose hip powder and how to take it.

You will learn how to care for your tent tarpaulin properly, how you can use it to make a tent in an emergency and how you can make a tent tarpaulin yourself.

How do I care for a tarp properly?

It is essential to clean tarpaulins after use. The best and easiest way to clean tarpaulins is with lukewarm water, mixed with a little washing-up liquid if necessary, and a cloth or sponge.

However, a tent tarpaulin must never be cleaned with a sharp object, otherwise it can be damaged quickly.

It is also important that the tarpaulin is absolutely dry before it is packed away and stored again. Otherwise mould stains or even mildew can easily form on the tent tarpaulin.

It is also recommended, especially if the tarpaulin is used as rain protection, to impregnate the tarpaulin from time to time. Suitable impregnating agents are available in specialist shops or DIY stores.

Can I build an emergency tent with the help of a tarpaulin?

Yes, a one-man tent can be built with a simple tarpaulin and a few tools. In addition to a tarp with eyelets, you usually need pegs, a rope or piece of string and a stick or branch to build an emergency tent.

You can find many videos and instructions on how to build an emergency tent on the internet. Depending on the instructions, other tools can of course also be used.

How do I make a tent cover myself?

In general, you can also sew tarpaulins yourself, but you should have some sewing skills. Detailed sewing instructions can be found in sewing magazines or on the Internet.

To make your own tarpaulin, you will need a good sewing machine that can work with thicker material.

Then choose the material for the tarpaulin, making sure that the fabric is not too thick. Depending on what you want to use the tarpaulin for, a different material is suitable. PVC, for example, is available by the metre in DIY stores.

Then choose the right sewing machine needle, a stitch length of at least 2.5 and a strong sewing thread. Now cut the fabric to size; a rotary cutter is useful for particularly straight edges.

Pins are not suitable for securing the fabric to a tarpaulin. Therefore, clips or masking tape should be used to stick the layers of fabric together. However, under no circumstances should you sew over the crepe tape.

Finally, cut off the ends of the threads and carefully cut holes in the tarpaulin fabric. A knife, scissors or a punch is suitable for this.

Then the eyelets can be inserted: Simply insert one half of the eyelet into the hole from each side and press together. Now the tarpaulin is ready for use.

(Picture credits: Lukas / pexels.com)

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