Survival Debate: Tent or Tarp

Survival Debate Tent Tarp

This week on survival debate we’ll discuss the advantages of carrying a tent or a tarp in your survival gear or Bug Out Bag. Do you prefer the comfort of a tent and live with the weight, or do you save room in your bag and go light with a tarp?


Survival TentPro:

  • Better Weather Protection
  • Protection from Insects
  • Easier to Set Up
  • Self Standing
  • Can be Waterproof
  • See our recommended Survival Tents


  • Heavier
  • Less Versatility
  • More Expensive


Survival TarpPro:

  • Lighter
  • Versatility
  • Cheap
  • See our recommended Survival Tarps


  • Requires External Support
  • Less Weather Protection
  • No Insect Protection

Middle Ground

The only real middle ground for this debate is taking both, because you certainly wouldn’t want to go without at least one if you could help it. Taking both gives you a whole lot of options, and given how cheap and light a tarp is I am tempted to do that myself.

What if you have a large family or group?

That is a problem that we have been thinking about.  One of the cool products that we found is a dome shelter system that can sleep up to 30 to 40 adults depending on the size of the shelter.  Check them out by clicking here.

Where do you stand?

Personally, if I had to pick one, I would go with a tent. The amount of weather and insect protection you get from a tent really outweighs the weight issue for me. That, and long term tarp camping is just going to be miserable and eventually downright dangerous.

If you take a tent, tell us about it, and why you chose your tent. If you only have a tarp, was that a decision, or just because you haven’t bought a tent yet?

Visit Our New Survival Gear Store – Forge Survival Supply

photo by: Chanzi

{ 187 comments… read them below or add one }

Steve April 15, 2010 at 11:37 am

Tent – all the way. The other benefit not mentioned is wind protection. In a cool, blowing (and likely rainy) setting, you can close down a tent and get rather comfortable. You can't with a tarp.

If you plan to take both, make the "tarp" the thickest mil plastic sheet you can find. It can perform all the tasks of a tarp for 1/2 the space and weight.

I concur with the both strategy. Too many options with the combination.


Lucas_SurvCache April 15, 2010 at 4:29 pm


Good point on the wind protection.

I agree on the plastic sheet because it will be great as a ground cloth below your tent for water protection.


warthawg June 27, 2010 at 4:40 pm

The canteen covers used on ALICE web gear has a little pocket on the front supposedly for water purification tabs. I stored my emergency stash of duct tape there. I wrapped it around a pencil. We were required to carry both canteens so I had two rolls, a pencils to write with and an eraser to clean electrical contacts on radio gear. In addition to repairing and creating gear, it works well on blisters because it's thin and sticks to everything. It's funny that they sell ENGO as a blister solution when it is essentially the same as duct tape.

I love paracord. I wrapped it around the tang of a knife that lost it's handle, because someone left it on the grill. Now I see they sell knives like that.


Don April 15, 2010 at 12:00 pm

I've had no personal experience with them just a lot of research. Any one use a Hammock, these seem to meet every need. water, insects, Cold and lightness. Just curious if any one has partook?



Montezuma1775 April 15, 2010 at 12:30 pm

The problem with a hammock is that you are dependent on some type of structure (trees, posts, walls, etc) for support or else the set up is basically worthless. I wouldn't consider a hammock as my first option.


bswiftho September 26, 2011 at 12:24 am

Montezuma, I would make a similar argument with regards to selecting a tent as your first choice…you are completely dependent on flat and debris-ground. Not to mention you could be more susceptible to disaster if there were say, a flash flood. If you look at some of the latest hammocks coming out now, you have both the benefit of a tent because you can bivie on the ground if need be, but optimally, you can sleep in the trees and not wake up with a sore back every morning. There are also very light weight, leave very little trace that you were ever there and set up in less than two minutes!


Lucas_SurvCache April 15, 2010 at 4:18 pm


I think there are several problems with a hammock that would keep me from using it for anything other than recreation..

First, you have virtually no weather protection. I've slept in a hammock and if it's cold, you're going to be cold. If it's hot, you're going to be really hot. Plus, you have no rain protection.

Also, like Montezuma mentioned, you have to have the perfect set of trees or something to set it up.

I just don't see it as a viable first option survival shelter.


caine30 May 30, 2010 at 6:37 pm

acttually it is a great thing to use when making a shelter think about it what takes the most time to set up you base lattice work right well with a hammock you can skip most of it by laying it spread out tight on your frame work I think i will have to take my hammock out and send you the pics of it after i build it.


Sibbesen November 11, 2010 at 5:56 pm
Michael June 26, 2010 at 11:11 pm

I can see a few things playing into this.

If you live in a region with a high probability of social unrest you might want to stock some things away from the house incase of wide spread looting or fires. Even if it isn't the end of the world, it's going to take a while to get your insurance check.

If you have a long commute, you might want to have things closer to you if you get stuck away from home.

I live 2.5 miles from work and live in a town of 7K people with a super low crime rate so neither of these are concerns of mine.

Caine, even in a TSHTF situation openly carrying a weapon where I live would probably cause more problems than I would solve. Things would have to have gone down hill for quite a while before the community would deem that sort of thing OK and I'd rather keep the 6,999 people that live here on my side.


RealAmericanPatriot October 21, 2011 at 12:25 pm

I made my hammock and tarp. I actually attached bugnetting all the way around the tarp which is 13 X 9. That way, I can slide the hammock back along a ridgeline when I’m not in it; thus, I can cook and relax under the tarp without bug problems. The bugnet rolls up for winter use of tarp. The tarp can also be used like a tent with trekking poles and still has the bugnetting on the ends; the hammock becomes my ground cloth at that point.


shadow July 21, 2010 at 1:42 am

don my bro uses a hammock and loves it ! he puts a tarp over him so he is out of the rain and off the ground when the water rolls through


pepe September 17, 2010 at 1:40 pm

Hammocks are only good for short term. There are a few styles and types to consider at:
Problem is to get a good hammock costs as much as a good tent. If you are looking for 4 season protection look at 4 season tents. Otherwise you you could buy a cheap hammock, bivi bag and sleeping bag.


spathasj September 23, 2010 at 2:47 pm

Hammocks are pretty cold, you have wind movement on all sides. I used to camp with one and would use a flexible foam mattress curled around me to stay warm, but it wasn't very effective if things dropped below 50' with wind-chill, and I was wearing polypropylene underlayment. Great in hot weather though with a tarp stretched overhead.


tremujin October 5, 2010 at 9:28 pm


I use a hammock all the time I bring a light tarp just in case but many times I'll sleep under the stars. This makes for a many nice summer trips. Up here in our north woods it can get to 30s to 40s easily on the shore of Superior but with my mummy bag I almost never get cold. Wind can be annoying but isn't bad. Lets face it every now and then the weather wont work with ya even with a tent. Never had a "tree issue" its obviously not a method you can use reliably in a area with sparse tree coverage.

I carry one even when I carry my tent some times it works better than the tent and it is also useful as a sack to suspend food from those dirty bears. You don't need a fancy tent expensive one just get a decent one that wont make your arms go numb had one like that wasn't comfortable for long periods. I could see mine being useful as a fishing net as well but I haven't tried that.


Matthew April 15, 2010 at 1:06 pm

After a lot of research, I actually found a middle ground other than taking both.…
If I need a real tent, I will geocache one closer to my BOL.
Personally I like moving fast and light. So anything that is a must to have, but makes my pack bigger or heavier is stored in a secret waterproof box, that is hidden in the woods somewhere (geocached ).
This "Tarp Tent" is the best of both worlds. It is light and (when folded) is small, but durable and more impervious to the elements than a traditional tent. I recommend checking it out.
BTW if anyone knows of another product that is just as good but cheaper let me know because this tent is not cheap!


Lucas_SurvCache April 15, 2010 at 4:25 pm


Good find on the tarp tent. I do have a couple of questions though.

How will it compare to a traditional tent as far as water goes? If that canvas gets soaked you could be in for a long night, or at the very least have a 30 pound pile of canvas and water that would be very difficult to move.

It does look like a good heavy duty tarp set up, but for me it's probably not enough of a tent to justify getting it.

Also, I agree that's really expensive for a piece of canvas. I'm open to look at other cheaper options too.


Matthew April 16, 2010 at 12:49 am

Unfortunately (or fortunately would be a better description lol) it has not rained while I have used my tarp, so I can not vouch for the water resistance, but I have used old military surplus tents that are made out of the same type of canvas and as long as you do not touch or lean against it, the water will not seep through (Somewhere I also read that the canvas has been sprayed or somehow treated to be water proof. I do not know if that is a load of BS or not). Also I have never had good luck with tarps as tents. The wind tears them and if you get them too close to a fire they will melt. (That could be operator error, but all of my experiences have been bad) This tent fixes both of those problems. Just another thing to think about. As far as how does it compare with a tent, well of course the tent will when, but it is a whole lot warmer than a traditional tarp. So there we go again with the middle ground. So if you do not want to carry a tent, but hate tarps (i.e. likeme) than this is the only way out (that I have found).


Lucas_SurvCache April 16, 2010 at 1:53 am


Good to know. What I think really doesn't matter all that much.

Whatever works for you is what you should go with.

When it comes times that matters a lot more than other peoples opinion


Dustin June 24, 2010 at 7:21 am

Storage space is great – why not store non-essentials in it to make room for your essentials in your house? I've seen many garages so full that they can't fit a skateboard, let alone a car – put some of that in storage and have your preps on-hand. Crawlspaces can have ammo boxes, 5 gallon pails, and Tupperware tubs stuffed with all sorts of stuff that doesn't require climate control, too.

Personally, I would rather squirrel away things close at hand than have critical supplies in a storage facility – I've got one just a few blocks away, but it's next to a shopping center with a gas station and supermarket – that place will be VERY busy in a tough situation, and there is the high likelihood of not being able to get to the stuff anyway… I just see it as a honey pot waiting to get raided.

Like a cache – if you can't physically secure it and have surveillance on it, you can't guarantee that it is secure when you get there. The down side is that the storage lots are pretty obviously holding "something" of worth… a good cache may be hidden in plain site or buried treasure entirely.

Chris de Vidal July 21, 2010 at 5:58 pm

I hope you know how to find your geocache should GPS be down… EMP, anyone?


Montezuma1775 April 15, 2010 at 6:47 pm

I took a look at Tarp Tent and I don't see how it is more impervious to the elements. Additionally, this is also dependent on having additional resources (timber or poles of some sort for the support beams).
If you are looking for light weight one person tents are available for hiking and come in with a weight actually a little lighter than the Tarp Tent… this one for instance is under 4lbs…


Matthew April 16, 2010 at 12:55 am

Thanks for the Link! I will have to be honest I have been known to be a bit of a claustrophobic weenie when it comes to one man tents (It is not THAT bad, but I still like bigger tents), but this tent looks a little more spacious. I will definitely research a little more!


Lucas_SurvCache April 16, 2010 at 1:55 am

Just be sure to read everything you can about a tent before you order one.

Nutnfancy has a Great set of videos on picking out a tent, and he even goes into some survival applications.

He's long winded but he knows his stuff.


Survival Sense June 24, 2010 at 6:22 am

I don't like the mylar blankets at all. They are so fragile that a tiny prick from a branch or twig can cause them to shred. They are noisy, and difficult to handle. And, they are so small that you can't really wrap up in them. While this shelter apparently works, I wonder how many of those blankets Lundin tore up making it!
I carry a real, quilted space blanket with grommets, and have made effective lean-to, reflective shelters with it. That part works. But I imagine any type of wind would negate the benefit of the mylar in Lundin's shelter. I also wonder if you could use a more durable plastic bag or sheeting instead of the mylar…looks like I have a new project for the next scout campout!

josh April 19, 2010 at 7:52 pm

Hey guys,

Don't think your back yard hammock, think Hennessy Hammock. I'm a section hiker on the Appalachian Trail and this hammock is all the shelter I need. it weighs only 2 pounds and has kept me dry in summer downpours. My ultralight tent weighs 4 pounds and is great, but weight matters when your hiking 20 plus miles a day. The one thing you do want to do is put an insulated layer under you in colder months. The wind will chill your under side. You would want a sleeping pad anyway with sleeping on the ground. Oh and it works fine as a tent when you use trekking poles or sticks to prop it up while you sleep on the ground. A couple other great things about this hammock is that you don't leave a trace and you don't need level or even clear ground. Being discreet has many advantages.


Woody_Debris October 18, 2010 at 10:50 pm

Tyvek sheet!! Light, strong, waterproof, nearly indestructable. A good way is to buy a 10' wide roll and cut into sections.


Cc April 29, 2014 at 7:20 pm

Doesn’t seem as practice for that price. For $250 you can definitely find a durable light weight tent.


Leon Pantenburg April 15, 2010 at 2:13 pm

Here's may take on it: I'll take a tarp when weight is an issue, a tent when bugs or ,crawly things might be around. Here's a story I did on the subject – it got a lot of comments too!…
There are also related stories, since I've been using tarp shelters for decades!
I enjoy this site!


Dustin April 15, 2010 at 2:59 pm

Get a tarp and some replacement fiberglass or aluminum tent poles to make it self-standing if needed.

I've spent many, many nights with a poncho and poncholiner that a tent doesn't justify the space/weight needed in dire circumstances.

If we're talking comfort, than tent + cot + nice sleeping bag + mosquito net, etc. is just fine with me. :-)


Montezuma1775 April 15, 2010 at 6:39 pm

I'd have to agree with Lucas, I doesn't seem like you are saving any considerable weight to sacrifice the quality, durability, protection from the elements (weather, bugs, etc) that you would gain from an actual tent designed to provide that. Let's be clear, the name of the game is SURVIVAL not MAKE YOUR LIFE MISERABLE FOR NO REASON. Obviously, I justify the tent, because of my family scenario and if needed, I can distribute weight amongst all of us.


Lucas_SurvCache April 15, 2010 at 4:33 pm


I like your style on the comfort camping. Sometime for recreation that is the way to go.

On your tarp shelter though, by the time you add the tarp, poles, paracord, and stakes how much weight are you really saving over a tent. Really just the weight of the tent itself over the tarp, and rainfly, which is usually just ounces.

The poncho set up is a different story altogether.


St(eve April 15, 2010 at 8:14 pm

Not sure if you guys ever use this site:

Even if not, go there and get a lot of good ideas. They carry a full range of shelters, back packing, car camping, and even bike camping shelter options.

Remember: keeping you, your change of clothes, your gear, and your emergency communications gear – dry, is top priority. I would suggest skimping in some other areas – NOT shelter. Maslov had his priorities right.


Lucas_SurvCache April 15, 2010 at 2:31 pm

Thanks for the link to your article Leon, that's another good resource on tarp shelters.


Lucas_SurvCache April 16, 2010 at 1:57 am

Thanks for the share.

Sportsmans Guide usually has good prices on everything.

I agree, staying dry way high up on the list of survival priorities.


Suburban Survivalist April 16, 2010 at 2:06 am

Like everything else, it depends. Generally I say tent, but I carry a tarp or plastic drop cloth for under the tent as well. If you're going to be someplace w/o insects or blowing rain/cold wind, a tarp would probably be fine. But I find a one-man tent pretty light and more effective across most situations. Plus the tent can stand alone where there are no trees. These are pretty good;…


Lucas_SurvCache April 16, 2010 at 2:27 am


Thanks for the link. Do you have, or have used, one of those mil-surp tents? I'm just curious how much it weighs.

The stuff sack in the picture makes it look like car camping tent, and not for backpacking, but I'm not sure.


Suburban Survivalist April 19, 2010 at 1:36 am

It works great, though I'm 5'10" and it might be tight for someone 6' and up. Very easy to setup, opens on both sides, good stakes – nothing about the tent is cheaply made. According to the Cotama website the tents are 5.25lbs. Probably the military selected them for durability, not weight. The tents are very tough, but you could get something lighter, but for a premium, as always.….


Blindgibbon June 24, 2010 at 12:27 pm

Anyone who questions the need for a window punch should watch the Mythbusters episode were they attempt to escape from a vehicle under water. They make a punch designed to help escaped from a vehicle, sometimes called an emergency hammer it usually has a built in set belt cutter as well. Having one of these is not illegal and shouldn't raise any suspicions.


Suburban Survivalist April 20, 2010 at 1:55 am

I also have this 4-season tent (7×7') for when the family goes (but mine is OD green!);

It's okay, but not the quality of the Catoma by a long shot.

BTW, you guys should add an option to get further comments via email – it'd probably increase comments, and would be more convenient for commenters/reader.

Montezuma1775 April 16, 2010 at 2:08 am

Great comments… as with any good debate, there is usually a bunch of great ideas.


Matthew April 16, 2010 at 12:05 pm

Another thing I always do when I am hiking/Camping is I have a small pack on my main BackPack (normally attached by molle webbing). In this smaller pack I always have some 550 and a tarp along with other items. Once I reach the camp site this bag does not leave my person, along with my knife. That way if I have to ditch the BackPack or if I get lost from the camp site I will always have something. It is like a mini survival kit. I know this was already kind of mentioned in the main article, but I was just retouching on it. Just something to think about



Lucas_SurvCache April 22, 2010 at 1:37 pm


Thanks for telling us about your system. It sounds like you have a good setup.

That's one of the things I talk a lot about, back up supplies. Don't keep everything in the same place so if you lose gear you won't be totally without.


zschell April 27, 2010 at 7:36 pm

Tent with ground cloth all the way. A decent two man backpack tent can accomodate myself and my gear. Tents can be found that weigh around 5 lbs for $150-$200. Many tents these days include a vestibule attached to the rain fly, which provides more dry space for boots. Given the choice between a few pounds less on my pack or increased protection and comfort, I choose protection and comfort any day.


Lucas_SurvCache April 27, 2010 at 7:41 pm


I tend to agree with you. I'm sort of in the market for a tent just like you described, but I think I might go for something that is 4 season instead of 3 so it will be more expensive.

I'm not in a hurry to buy, but let me know if you come across anything like that.


mwarren1 June 27, 2010 at 1:06 pm

Great discussion! For me, the answer to the question as to which caliber is best depends on (1) your assumed scenario, (2) how the weapon will be used, (3) how much weight you want to carry, and (4) how long you need to use the weapon. If I assume it is a long-term SHTF that requires food/water/shelter as priorities with actual self-defense killing a remote possibility, foot travel for reliable transportation, and the need for future resupply, then both are poor choices. Personally, I would take my single-shot .12 gauge shotgun (light, reliable, and capable of taking small game and deer), and my .22 Ruger auto pistol (lightweight ammo). These common calibers also offer a greater chance of resupply months or years down the road. In summary, I would focus on what is logistically best for long-term survival and not on defending against squad or platoon-level attacks.


St(eve April 29, 2010 at 8:53 pm

zschell – you made a good point that I think is lost in tent selection. I think you should always select one that is at least +1 person capacity than the # sleeping (a 3 man for 2 sleepers, etc.)

Having that secure dry accessible gear storage space is lifesaver. I can't think of a worse feeling that waking up to the sound of rain on the tent, early AM, and thinking I have to crawl out to get to my gear (even is it is dried in under separate cover). Plus, I like having everything handy should I want to roll over and grab something.


Josh April 29, 2010 at 10:30 pm

For now I just carry a tarp, but thats all I can afford for the time being. eventually I want to get one of those one man military bivies. If my family gets on board with prepping we should be able to use our 8 person cabin tent if we have to bug out.


caine30 May 30, 2010 at 6:45 pm

to kind of reduce your weight think about getting a GI poncho its a shelter and rain gear all in one


Lucas_SurvCache April 30, 2010 at 6:19 pm

Good Call, having something now is better than nothing. I haven't bought a dedicated Bug Out Tent yet either, but I'm shopping around.


caine30 May 26, 2010 at 5:19 pm

you might want to look at military supply stores they have good stuff for low prices and i know a good style for you let me look it up again and send you the link.


caine30 May 29, 2010 at 2:34 am

I could not find the link but my best friend bought one about seven years ago they are light weight and vary easy and fast to set up although if you are a big guy like I am at 6'3" tall and around 345lbs you need to go with somthing less conventional that is also why I like to make my own shelters and if you have a poncho it is fast and easy to make one keep up the good work



pepe September 17, 2010 at 1:51 pm

For me the best tent was something 4 season, light enough to carry for several days, and durable enough to last at least one winter. Check out:…
I have an older model that is slightly bigger but only weighs 5.5 lbs.


Conor May 4, 2010 at 11:52 pm

A 10×20 tarp and 50 foot half inch synthetic rope have allways worked great for me, even in unpredictable Michigan weather.


Lucas_SurvCache May 5, 2010 at 4:47 pm


Sounds like you fall pretty firmly in the "Tarp" side.

I am impressed that you are able to get along with just a tarp in the Michigan snow! You must have a very warm and dry sleeping bag setup


Devin May 16, 2010 at 2:28 pm

I say carry both so you can have a base camp w/ the tent then take the tarp hunting and/or trapping with you and use it as a temperary shelter plus a tarp is added water proffing for "monsoons"


Lucas_SurvCache May 17, 2010 at 8:25 pm


I'm surprised you are one of the few to mention taking both. I guess most people are thinking more weight consciously.

However, if you were going for a long term basecamp having both is probably a good idea. A tarp is one of those things like duct tape that you can use for all kinds of stuff.


caine30 May 29, 2010 at 2:38 am

ahh but the wise men of a time forgotten says build a shelter for your base use the tent for your trips for a temperary base and your poncho/tarp in your pack for emergencies when you can get back to neither

and by building a shelter i mean a log cabin type shelter my friends and i have a couple dozen of them scatered around the state in remote areas so if we travel and get bored of hotels we can stay in one for a few days.


Lucas_SurvCache June 2, 2010 at 7:20 am

"a log cabin type shelter my friends and i have a couple dozen of them scatered around the state in remote areas"

Seriously!?! That's incredible and awesome. How big of a structures are we talking about here? house size?

Also, (if you don't mind sharing) whose land do you use?


caine30 June 2, 2010 at 12:07 pm

the shelters are not really house size and if you dont know how to find them you might not see them. we build them on peoples land that are friends of ours some friends that have moved around the state. the general size is about 10'x10' just enough to have a comfortable living space and easy to keep warm. some of them have been built on land that we just have permission to be on.

Jon May 27, 2010 at 2:26 pm

I am personally a big fan of tents, but would use a tarp in a pinch. If I had a tarpand a shovel I could make a very well camouflaged shelter, and that might be what is necessary. In my kit I have 2 kits: My main gear, and my "Go to hell" bag. If I need to drop weight fast in a fight or something the pack is the first to go, so the main gear bag would have the tanet lashed to the back, and a tarp would be in my go to hell bag.


Lucas_SurvCache May 28, 2010 at 5:12 am


I like the sound of your "modular" set up. You could also use it with another person if you had to. They take one and you take the other so if something gets lost you still have one bag of stuff.


caine30 May 28, 2010 at 10:42 pm

it works on the same plane as the alice pack with web gear. alice packs have quick release snaps on the shoulder straps so when you need to get the heck gone you can drop it and move out fast but still have at least three days gear on you.


Josh May 30, 2010 at 4:43 pm

I my brother and I have Vietnam era shelter halves. Basically they are a heavy duty tent, thats cut in half with snaps along the edge so that the two halves can be used separately or snapped together and used as a two man tent. I guess they could be stowed in a BOB but they are kind of heavy.


caine30 May 30, 2010 at 6:48 pm

I had one of them that i shared the weight of it with my wife but its all been reduced by showing her how to build one out of her poncho its great that you would mention them cause we stowed ours in my families camp where we have a cache of supplys.


Jane Smith June 1, 2010 at 9:31 pm

The thing I don’t like about commercial tents is that they are not camo and stick out like a sore thumb.


Lucas_SurvCache June 2, 2010 at 7:21 am

Agreed. You have to really hunt for one that is good and not bright orange/yellow/blue etc.


caine30 June 2, 2010 at 11:58 am

again i have to say one of the better places to find tents even for the families is military supply stores I have one about 25 miles from me and i go there often.


ruger110 January 2, 2011 at 6:00 pm

I have an Military surplus store just down the road that has large rolls of all kinds of camo material from standard woodland to desert or winter patterns, they also carry camo netting that is pretty lightweight and works great for hanging over and around camp because when you're inside it you can see out but others cant see in.


Michael June 4, 2010 at 1:38 am

You can get a good quality tent that's fairly light weight, compact and weather proof for about $150. They'll keep you warmer and drier than a tarp will and will give you some privacy if you're camped around other people. Check the sales section at for good deals on tents.

I live in earthquake country so I keep some stuff stashed in my car and I keep a tarp and some rope in there to make my car a little more tent like if I have to live out of it for a day or two. The tarp also came in handy when I had to change a flat tire on a muddy road.


caine30 June 5, 2010 at 4:19 am

one thing i want to ask everyone is: My group has many people in it and we all have spots to meet the others till we are all in one area. have you ever thought of caching a GP small the old canvas tents with a wood stove flap and windows? cause that is what we had in mind for a nomad type existance for a while till we could get things under control or we could come to terms with what ever it is that happens. we meet once or twice a month and talk about all the new stuff we have tried and just check our gear and dates on things as the time table says on my computer lol.


Lucas_SurvCache June 8, 2010 at 4:45 pm

You have way more experience than I do with planning for groups and that sort of thing, but it seems to me unless you plan on that being your defensible bug out location that you would want to be able to pack up and move pretty quick.

That kind of tent might not be the best for that, but again you know your group and gear better than I do.

However, I definitely like the idea of caching stuff, and I am planning on doing some article on that in the future.


caine30 June 9, 2010 at 2:15 am

if you ever have any questions about a group set up let me know and as far as that canvas tent it can be set up in under an hour and torn down in half an hour and ready to move
that is why i liked working in the party rental bussiness setting up and tearing down the circus style tents it helped out alot lol. i am always avalible to help with research if you need some done you have my email.


ruger110 January 2, 2011 at 5:37 pm

Outfitters tents are heavy and cumbersome but if you had them preloaded in a trailer or some type of quick load system they would be ideal, especially if you had to hold up in a remote location for an extended period of time. I like the idea of having a woodburning stove with a hot water tank attached. most of them dont have floors but you can buy floor kits for them or pack cots too.


aj52 June 22, 2010 at 5:45 pm

I am 10 miles from the Atlantic Ocean,4 hours from the Blue Ridge Mountains and when the wind is right I can smell The Great Dismal Swamp. All sound like ideal places. To me and everybody else who will be looking to get away from high population areas. Another drawback is I have no family that has property in any of the places I mentioned. I'm not sure traveling to an area where I would be a stranger is my best move. I envision having to survive where I am, in much the same way anyone would survive wherever they may be. Depending on the severity and length of any situation the risks from contact with other people would be higher in an urban setting. Right now all things considered I am planning to shelter in place.


Lucas_SurvCache April 15, 2010 at 4:20 pm


Good Point. I should have mentioned something about that in the article, but I don't have a wife and kids so I don't usually think in that mind set.

As I'm sure you know if you have camped with them a tent is always one person smaller than it says it is.

3 Person tent really fits 2
4 person tent really fits 3 etc.


Valcain August 26, 2010 at 10:15 pm

Plus gear, unless your guna leave it outside.


Lee June 25, 2010 at 6:41 am

I agree. JWR is the single largest promoter of this concept, and his followers eat it up like gospel. How can so many people be so acutely aware of how the "golden horde" will behave, but be so ignorant as to the fact that most people, with their money in banks or simply living on credit, won't have gold (unlike the pre-industrial age when people just HAD gold and silver because it was still traded).

The post-collapse system will either be wildly inflated dollars (see Russia), or it will be simply barter.

The people who talk about gold and silver are the ones who see themselves as post-collapse kings among men finally taking their rightful place saying "See, I told you so…"

I tried to argue with JWR once about the fact that Gold has no inherent value. Gold is technically no different than the US Dollar – it has as much value as someone is willing to give for it in goods or services. Coconuts could be just as valuable if we had FAITH in them.


Michael June 5, 2010 at 5:51 am

I was standing a dozen or so miles from the epicenter of of Nisqually Quake when it hit. That convinced me that I really should put together a quake kit.


caine30 June 5, 2010 at 5:56 am

I was wondering if you would mind telling me how does a quake kit differ from a BOB?
not that I think a quake kit is a bad idea i am just curious.


Device442 June 25, 2010 at 9:49 am

Just saying if I'm gonna store cash, it will be in Nickels, the melt value in raw metal is worth the same as the monitory value.. best of both worlds..

you might have to bury it tho

1946 – 2010 Jefferson Nickel Value (United States)
Obverse Image:Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of the United States and author of the Declaration of Independence.
Reverse Image:1946-2004, 2006-2007: Monticello, Jefferson's mountaintop home in Virgina.
2005: Westward Journey Series including "American Bison" and "Ocean in view! O! The joy!".
Metal Composition:75% copper, 25% nickel
Total Weight:5.00 grams
Comments:The 1938 through 1942 D versions of the nickel are also made of the same composition, but generally are sold for a premium over their melt value due to rarity.

Using the latest metal prices and the specifications above, these are the numbers required to calculate melt value:

$3.0044 =copper price / pound on Jun 24, 2010.
.75 =copper %
$8.8216 =nickel price / pound on Jun 24, 2010.
.25 =nickel %
5.00 =total weight in grams
.00220462262 =pound/gram conversion factor (see note directly below)

The NYMEX uses pounds to price these metals, that means we need to multiply the metal price by .00220462262 to make the conversion to grams.

1. Calculate 75% copper value :

(3.0044 × .00220462262 × 5.00 × .75) = $0.0248381

2. Calculate 25% nickel value :

(8.8216 × .00220462262 × 5.00 × .25) = $0.0243101

3. Add the two together :

$0.0248381 + $0.0243101 = $0.0491482


Suburban Survivalist June 25, 2010 at 6:09 pm

I agree but…. it's all about timing.

I agree that PMs (including nickels and/or copper, btw) will not have much, if any, value if/when TEOTWAWKI gets here. If it's a really hard crash, I'd expect a large die off. In that case, PMs will be laying around for the taking. No value for a long, long time.

*However*, before that time they can act as a hedge against inflation and so I believe are a worthwhile investment. The caveat being that other basics are covered; ample food storage, firearms/ammo, BoV, other misc. gear, etc.

Let's face it; unless there is a series of miracle-like advances in energy technology, and a similar reduction of the U.S. national debt, the slow decline we are already in will continue. One likely effect will be hyper-inflation. PMs are likely to hold their value and appreciate with inflation, thus acting as a hedge. You may not make money, but are much less likely to lose it.

For example, say I buy $1,000 worth of silver now. Inflation hits. The value goes to $10,000 – but so does the price of an AR. That's an acceptable scenario.

Back to timing; the key is cashing out (PMs for X goods) ***before*** TSHTF. After that, the PMs are just pretty metal. [However, both gold and silver DO have some inherent value in electronics manufacturing; they have properties that other metals do not. After TSHTF, however, that manufacturing will be no more.]

Will we be using pre-1965 dimes for purchases post-TEOTWAWKI? Doubtful (my guess is bullets, especially .22LR). But buying gold/silver now is not about setting up to be a "king," at least for those that anticipate hyperinflation in the coming years.

Timing is everything…


Lucas_SurvCache June 22, 2010 at 3:48 am

I like the adhesive nylon. They are like giant nylon stickers that you can use to patch tents and they are waterproof.


Rigante July 12, 2010 at 10:47 pm

Somtimes i like to sit in my home, look around at different things i see there and wonder "How could i use this in a survival situation?" I looked at my roll of trash bags and thought of a million diff ways i could construct a shelter using materials in the woods. Ive tried it a few times since then and found you can make a nice shelter using them if you have any common sense about construction. Now instead of a tarp or a tent I keep a full roll of industrial strength trash can liners in my BOB, much less weight and space, just a bit more time required from the survivalist. When SHTF thats one thing we will have plenty of…….


caine30 July 25, 2010 at 8:04 am

not sure that is a way you would want to go with it if you have a whole group to look out for I love nothing more than building my own shelter but at times they are just not practical.


shadow July 21, 2010 at 1:36 am

if your camping take both . on the run comfort wont really be an option so go light with a tarp. you may not have time to set up a tent anyway.shadow


caine30 July 25, 2010 at 8:06 am

true statement once in your AOP then make your permanent shelters till then use emergency shelters like ponchos and liners they make good shelters that are quick and easy to set up and tear down


Emerson August 2, 2010 at 6:59 pm

Either one really. The tent is good for shelter from the elements, wind, and bugs. A tarp is definitely light-weight and easier to carry. If you are going to go with the tarp, I would recommend a simple bug net to shelter you from the bugs. Pretty light-weight also (together, still lighter than a tent), and I just bought one at a sporting goods store for $15.00. Inexpensive yet useful. You can also cut the bottom portion off the extra length and use as a rough filter or a make-shift net to help catch fish.


Thomas August 3, 2010 at 1:59 am

Go with both, but get the lightest weight tent you can get away with, such as a bivy tent. Don't worry, it'll fit two people no problem. A 10 x 12 foot tarp is killer in a bug out situation using for mulitple purposes. I've also experimented with a 10×12 as a rain collector. This is how you do it. Go to WalMart and pick up a 2 dollar plastic hair strainer you normally would use in a bathtub. Find the center of your tarp and make an 1 and 1/2 inch hole or however big the circumference of the strainer is. Stick the hair strainer through and use a rubber band to secure it on the bottom side. Now you have yourself a great rain collector. Tie up the corners of the tarp somewhere suitable and place the container under the strainer and within minutes the container will fill with 100% pure rainwater for drinking or whatever. Even in a non-bug out situation it works fantastic. Especially if you can't trust the water you're drinking.


pepe September 17, 2010 at 2:02 pm

Got both. Wife thinks a tent is something big enough to stand up in and have furniture. Not me. My tent is 5.5 lbs., 4 season, and has been wind tunnel tested to stand up to high winds. Been ridge line camping during a wind event and saw the effects. Loud but it kept us warm and protected. My buddy’s tent didn’t fare so well. It's also a lot easier to camouflage than a canvas garage. Top of the line tents? They have a 4 lb, 4 season tent for $299.


stu September 26, 2010 at 7:28 am

i'm 60 years old this year. when i was in the boy scouts, we went to philmont and used tarps for tents. one night, a mother bear came to our camp with two cubs. they raided our food supplies that had been sent up the trees and when they left, the two cubs mozied right through the two tarps 10 of us were sleeping under while mom went around. one of the cubs stepped on the guy next to me and woke him up. he grunted and i heard momma grunt back…SHUT UP!! after that i always wanted a tent so, at least cubs, would walk around….hopefully :) however, i am always looking for a good tarp system for the short-term excursion.


Kevinthenurse September 27, 2010 at 7:02 pm

QUESTION……. What do you guys think about hammock camping? Not the old mesh/net backyard hammocks, but the actual bug-netted covered silnylon/ripstop types designed specifically for hammock camping.


Kevinthenurse September 29, 2010 at 9:25 am

If stationary…….Tent. If mobile…..Tarp (sil-nylon if possible). If you are buggin' out, weight is everything. Weight = work = food/water. A 12-16oz tarp is far more calorie/water efficient than a 4-5 pound one person tent. I can shelter myself and wife nicely with a 8×12 tarp better than pack us like sardines in a 1-man tent. If you are going to carry a heavier tent you will need to have or find more calories and water. This just increased your workload exponentially. Either by having to carry more food/water (weight…which equals work and calories AGAIN) or find more food/water (work). See the cycle?

Not all weight is bad weight. I'd choose a heavier Ka-bar over a lighter pocket knife and an ezbit stove over a jet-fuel stove. Why? A Ka-bar is more durable and I can always "power" an ezbit stove with twigs, etc.

I could easily pack a 300lb bag and be ready for ANYTHING. But how far can I actually get with it??? I'd need a mule (mental note… buy a mule/horse for the bug out bag)

I always ask myself 3 questions with each item in my bag.
1) Is there a lighter alternative?
2) Is the alternative worth the reduction in weight?
3) If my 72 hour stent turns into weeks of hiking, do I "NEED" to carrying the added weight?

I also only think redundancy should be limited to the "big 4" (maybe 5 if you consider guns).

Ingenuity, know-how, multi-purpose items, and skill will reduce more weight than anything.
ie… boiler pot, gallon water container, extra storage space, and food storage container………… or just opt for a gallon aluminum can with a lid and handle?

ok, I've gotten far enough off subject.


Dan October 6, 2010 at 3:56 am

On a 50 mile hike I take a one man tent, the bug protection is paramount for me. I have hiked with guys who swore by the tarp set up, but arranging it can be tricky.

For non tent camping and camo, I picked up a lightweight camo tarp at sportsmansguide dot com that I would string over my bivy and then a mosquito head net.


Richard Hanson October 15, 2010 at 10:23 am

Tarps are light and can be setup in a number of different way depending on the terrain and the weather. In a non tactical environment I generally rig mine as a lean to with a fire in front. This is warmer than a tent and it helps to keep the bugs down. I also like to be able to see the things that make noise in the night.


Woody_Debris October 18, 2010 at 10:47 pm

I have a sheet of 10X20 tyvek. Very light, waterproof, big enough to make a shelter for one or more and also double as raingear.


AkFreeBird November 1, 2010 at 5:54 am

I carry both and about 50ft of para cord. If the weather is nice enough I'll just sleep under the tarp, but if it's bad enough I will string up my tarp for some overhead cover for sitting next to a fire or just working and sleep in my tent. If nothing else I'll use the tarp as a footprint for my tent for some extra floor protection.


alex November 6, 2010 at 3:57 am

here in australia i feel alot safer in a tent simply because of snakes and insects, such as: brown snakes, tiger snakes, bull ants, funnel webs, white tails, redbacks, (just to name a few) = not fun, lol


cautionaryprose November 23, 2010 at 1:21 am

I have to go with a tent on this one. I live in the heart of the midwest and trees are not always easy to find for throwing a tarp over a line or setting up a hammock


ctstallings November 23, 2010 at 5:40 pm

The standard Walmart tarp is definitely a bad idea. It will only last a few weeks before it starts to break down, much less if its exposed to the sun. These tarps aren't very tough and they aren't that lightweight compared to nylon fabric. However, tarps are versatile and thats what makes them useful.

I would choose a good quality tarp in conjuction with a bivy sack and 550 cord. A tent is temporary shelter (unless its one of the those canvas hunting lodges, good luck carrying that in your BOB) and if you plan on settling in somewhere, I think you would be better off constructing a permanent or semi-permanent shelter out of natural materials.

However, if I were planning to head to a very cold or tropical climate, tent all the way. In cold it adds an extra layer of insulation and windbreak. In tropical climates it might keep you from going insane from the bugs.


survivalcyclist November 25, 2010 at 4:38 am

I have both. Modern tents are incredibly lightweight and durable, as well as easy to set up in a hurry. Shock-corded poles make for a fast, sturdy shelter. I have a 3 person backpacking tent that will hold my wife and I, plus our packs, with room to spare. It weighs less than 5 pounds.

I also have a very lightweight poly tarp (8'x8'), with grommeted edges and bungees/paracord to attach it. I can use it as an additional layer of shelter, a rainwater collector, a stretcher, a drag sack, or just about anything else I need.

If I *had* to choose one, I'd go with the tarp, because I live in temperate climate and the tarp gives extra options. But unless I'm forced to choose between the two, I'll always take both.


caine30 November 29, 2010 at 4:07 pm

they are great if you have trees around you… I have a hammock and i use it for storing supplys in trees away from bears as i make my shelter on the ground hidden because i build my own.


Old Scout December 4, 2010 at 4:17 am

Having seen over a half century and camped in the out doors using everything from just my bag under the open stars to the best of that North Face has to offer I agree with those who are saying that it depends upon the situation. But it also depends on the individual. When i was a kid I liked nothing more than to sleep out under the stars. As a young man my outfit was a pack board, with my clothes and equipment – of which I took little – wrapped in a tarp and tied to the pack board. I then had a bedroll of wool blankets wrapped length-ways, with a army poncho on the outside, tied in an upside down U over the top of my pack. I've had a wall tent, a tepee, small cheep dome tents, and good quality four season tents.
If I was going to be in one spot (ie. a bug out local) I would choose a wall tent or a tepee, the latter being more functional in my opinion. If I was going to be in constant flux, and had to carry everything on my back, weight takes priority. That said, and with the advents of better and lighter material, a tent is almost, or as, light as any tarp system that a person can put together. My preference however is towards the tarp as that is what I cut my teeth on and on light, quick treks I carry an ultralight tarp, mosquito netting, and a very light mesh hammock. Whether Tarp or tent though I would caution about buying cheep as I have spent many cold, windy, and rainy nights trying to piece back together a cheep piece of crap that I should have left on the shelf. IN my 50's though, my bones yearn for the warmth and comfort that a wall tent, wood stove, and a good cot with thick padding can provide.


Ron December 16, 2010 at 2:00 pm

I posted on the "stay Dry" comment site.
Tyvek is a lightweight, windproof, vaporproof building material. It is mostly white in color, noisy
but worth it. I used a 9'X15' of it up in Colorado on an elk hunt this year. Part for a ground cloth, the rest for a leanto. It also works as a rain catcher and with the tape that goes with it can protect
caches (burried or above ground). A 9'X15' piece weighs less than one pound. Ideal for backpackers and G.O.O.D. buckets. A little 550 cord, pegs and tarp clamps and this ultra strong material can withstand high winds and shed plenty rain from a leaky tent.
I plan on spray painting (camo) a piece of it to see if it will hold up as most Tyvek is white.
A 9'X150' roll goes for around $160 @ lumber yards but if ya know a house builder, ys might can get it real cheap. The 9'X15' piece I have got washed (no soap) in a commercial washing machine to take out alot of the NOISE problem and it still works.


ruger110 January 2, 2011 at 5:15 pm

We have a cabin tent in a small but well equipped off road trailer that is ready to go in a moments notice. it takes about 1 minute to hook it up to my jeep and we're mobile with everything needed to survive for 3 months. if for some reason the jeep/trailer combo is disabled and we have to pack out, each person in the family has their own bag that includes a tube style tent and a 10×12 tarp, one side is shiny silver to reflect sun away in hot environments and the other is dark to attract heat in cold ones.


ruger110 January 2, 2011 at 5:15 pm

We have a cabin tent in a small but well equipped off road trailer that is ready to go in a moments notice. it takes about 1 minute to hook it up to my jeep and we're mobile with everything needed to survive for 3 months. if for some reason the jeep/trailer combo is disabled and we have to pack out, each person in the family has their own bag that includes a tube style tent and a 10×12 tarp, one side is shiny silver to reflect sun away in hot environments and the other is dark to attract heat in cold ones.


Noah The Nerd February 9, 2011 at 6:33 pm

whats gonna happen when the wind is so hard it blows snow in2 your tarp?
when u move in your sleep while its raining (while in a tarp), the side of your sleeping bag goes outside, and-tada- u r soaked, or this happens 2 your backpack, or stove, or food


Pharestc February 22, 2011 at 5:40 pm

Get a tarp and sow bug netting to it, so you have best of both worlds.


Gutter February 27, 2011 at 7:11 pm

I use an alpini shelter and a camouflage guide tarp the total weight is under 2lbs. I did install two zippered screen windows on the shelter as i am not a mountain climber.


Gutter1 February 27, 2011 at 7:56 pm

I use an alpini shelter and a camouflage guide tarp the total weight is under 2lbs. I did install two zippered screen windows on the shelter as i am not a mountain climber. I posted first as Gutter but the name was in use so I am now Gutter1. I am sorry if this causes any confusion for anyone.


gst March 7, 2011 at 12:06 pm

12 by 12 ft tarp and a hammock with built in no-see-um netting. 98% of the time. I never have to worry about uneven, wet or rough ground, creepy crawlies, insulation from the ground and condensation. Set up time is less than 5 minutes, total.

With a few additional items I can camp comfortably in about 0 degrees Fahrenheit. I've managed it down to -15 degrees Fahrenheit, but by that time I could manage equal comfort in a tent with less weight.

Needless to say, I mainly camp in areas with heavy to moderate forests, and obviously would opt for a tent if I went hiking into the Scottish high moors or a treeless tundra.


T.Rapier March 31, 2011 at 11:56 pm

In addition to tarps and tents , you can go down to your local craft store and by ” decorative nets ” crafters use them to make nautical wall decor . What they actually are is recycled/reclaimed fishing nets , simply cut up into 5′x8′ sections and packaged . As such they are already a moldy green/brown color , nylon , small 1″x2″ weave , compact , and weigh next to nothing . Perfect to put a couple of packages into your pack to help camo your camp area once you get where you are going . All for less than $10 bucks .


Knife0 May 6, 2011 at 1:28 am

My setup is good for a single person going bush. I will be using a light weight camouflaged hoochie/tarp with eyelets around the edges, two meters of para-cord on each eyelet and each length of cord coiled up for tidiness and ease of use when deploying the shelter. I will not be taking polls because sticks and trees can be used. To keep me dry underneath I will use a waterproof bivi bag with zip over face mosquito mesh and and for warmth I will use a high quality quilted survival blanket instead of a sleeping bag to save weight and space. I also have the option of digging a small drain around my tarp to channel surface water away. When sleeping my pack/gear will be stored inside the bivi bag at my feet. If I need to leave my location fast I can unzip the bottom of my bivi bag grab out my pack, stuff my bivi bag into the pack, pull the quick release knots tied around trees or pull up my strong plastic pegs and stuff it all into my pack. With practice you could go from sleeping to on the move within a minute. The tarp can be set up at ground level for more protection from the elements or if that is not required you can raise it up slightly for a 360 degree field of vision. Another good thing about the tarp is it can be hidden very fast by removing the polls/sticks which are holding it up, allowing it to collapse and have a small silhouette.


survivalkid May 7, 2011 at 5:43 pm

Thats hard but id rather a tarp. You can pee in ut make it into a fishing net make a shelter set a trap. Who knows what else


nate May 28, 2011 at 3:56 pm

Eagle Nest Outfitter Hammock Tents…. far lighter than other tents / far better than a tarp


tyler June 5, 2011 at 2:47 pm

i bring a 2 large conductor trash bags for a tent they are cheap, and light, you can make a tent out of one too, the risk is if you have little kids or are in a stressful sitiountion you can sufacate.


tyler June 5, 2011 at 2:51 pm

if you have a pick up truck you can put the tarp over the bed and sleep there but if someone tries to steal your truck. you have to be a light sleeper or have a guard dog.


Troy July 23, 2011 at 10:58 pm

Not sure if someone has mentioned this or not, didnt feel like reading through all the posts, but you can use a tent as a tarp. Just turn it upsaide down and prop it up like you would a tarp. In fact, the tent already has some poles with it.


James August 14, 2011 at 2:28 am

What about a jungle hammock?


SingleMom August 21, 2011 at 6:26 am

I'm more of a soft-core survivalist — an out-of-shape middle-aged woman with 2 teenagers and an elderly-but-physically-able grandmother dependent on me. I have both a 6-man tent (we have a large dog, too) and individual tarps for each BOB. The tent weighs 24 lbs., but if we're on foot we won't be moving quickly anyway. It's in its own separate bag with plenty of straps and loops to attach to a backpack or to discard if speed becomes a priority. If we're in the car, the weight won't matter.


Daniel August 21, 2011 at 7:29 pm

When I was 12 I went on my first 50 mile backpacking hike. I spent the first 2 days sleeping on and under a plastic tarp. It was hard to sleep and on a mountain top, there are millions of bugs(I was bitten over 40 times), late night rains and wind blowing your roof off you is not fun. On the 3rd day I slept in my dads tent. It was heaven, I slept like a rock, it was warmer and NO BUGS! A two man tent can sleep 3 in close quarters and isn't that much heavier than a bug tarp. Just my $.02


Josh G September 14, 2011 at 6:10 am

Hi everybody im a new viewer of the site but had a suggestion on the debate. When i was deployed in '09 they issued my unit individual bug net tents that come folded and zipped in a bag attached to the bottom of the tent. When unzipped you just throw it and it unfolds itself. If one was trying to pack light, one of these (or one for each person) and a tarp would work well together. Just a suggestion for anyone looking for new gear.


Ute October 4, 2011 at 1:03 pm

Am i the only one with small children? One Adult, with 4 children there is no way i can pack a tent. I did however get 4 small tarps. One tarp and blanket in each of my childrens bugout bag, Also clothing for two days and food for two days for me and the children (4-13). My bagpack carries the emergency radio mylar blanket, emergency kit, my clothing etc. Sure I would love to take a tent and i am sure that if you have a lot of adults in your group that works fine but for big families with a lot of children no way. Remember the little ones my need to be carried.


squiddy1 October 13, 2011 at 8:55 pm

Put me down for the Tarp, It just offers too many options that a Tent does not IMHO.
Uses include , shelter, solar still, ponchos, signal device, first aid strips, rain catch, a pull along for supplies, back pack, litter for wounded, insulation, rain gear, a privy curtain ( for our ladies ) sleeping bag, a pad to stay off the ground , its weight, its size, as a heat reflector .
Dont get me wrong I like my tent But I LOVE my Tarp


Anon October 26, 2011 at 8:03 pm

How about a tarp and camping hammock. Very good combo to consider.


Heftysmurf November 6, 2011 at 6:42 pm

A tent can weigh up to 15 lbs. thats a lot of weight. A tarp only weighs a few ounces. which would leave a lot more room for extera gear.
I prefer the one man pop up mosquito tent (2lbs) with a ripstop tarp(2lbs) and a bed roll(1lb) Best of both worlds.
Use the terrain to dictate the best shelter not solely on what you have with you.
Being versatile and light is the key.


Arnie November 6, 2011 at 8:18 pm

the tent wins over the tarp ‘there are lots of options in tents wind and water protection and just more comfy even in nice weather


The Cumbrian November 13, 2011 at 3:04 pm

Depends on location. In a survival situation you will need your sleep, for me bitting insects = disrupted sleep. My BOL is Mossi/Midge free, only ticks to be concerned with. So it's a tarp for my journey.

I think I would prefer to find a desterted cottage or out building though.

A yurt would be a good interim shelter untill you could build a cabin if you need to relocate…


Hemloche November 29, 2011 at 10:12 am

Is the intent to use the tent/tarp/hammock as a temporary or a permanent shelter? If you are planning to use it as a permanent shelter, good luck to you. If it is temporary, then I would place considerations like speed/camouflage/safety higher than convenience/comfort.


EulersGhost December 8, 2011 at 12:43 pm

Here's yet another take on the whole tarp vs. tent issue from an individual who has spent the majority of their life living in the 'outdoors'. If I need to live long term in any environment other than my shack, then I would build another shack or shelter and not worry about a tarp or tent. If I am going to stay anywhere in the world where the temperature is greater than freezing and I am by myself, then I use a tarp or just my plain old Ranger-roll (with a few modifications based on temperature) or I build a hasty shelter. If I need to stay anywhere with my family, then I use a tent or build a slightly larger shelter (huddle together and you will stay warm). In the end this debate is really like most other debates and quite worthless because, in the end, it comes down to individual preference and tolerance.


Max Cage December 11, 2011 at 8:09 pm

keep a tarp in ur tent bag


kevin December 15, 2011 at 5:45 pm

i have no camping experience, just alot of research, common sense, and the experience of having to rely on myself to get things done. my take would be dependent on exactly what your planning for.
if your plan is JUST to create a 72 hour pack, because you already have a more durable and sustinable place to hold up in somewhere else, then it would make sense just to pack for the journey to that place, i would say go with a cheap tent, because they are fast and you can set them up ABSOLUTELY anywhere. you can buy one of these lightweight 2/3 person tents anywhere for even less than $50. another reason a tent might be a good choice is if you will be travleing with small pets. they will definately be a little more convient and comfortable for that situation … i think this is the best option if your planning for like a storm or earthquake disaster, where your just going to try to get out of town and make it to another family members house. if your just trying to GET OUT as qucik and easy as possible, than this is a great choice.


kevin December 15, 2011 at 7:16 pm

However, if your planning and packing for SURVIVAL – I would be going with a quality canvas tarp. a decent tarp will stand up the elements and test of time. it can be configured in dozens of shapes to meet your needs. it will not rip if you lean against it, throw it around, or melt near fire. you can build your fire much closer, and sometimes even under a canvas tarp. lightweight tents have their place, but the defination of survival is to sustain life.. i would not trust my life on a cheap tent if i needed to really survive for any real lenght of time. a cheap tent usually has be treated the same way you would handle eggs.. another key part of planning for survival is to make sure you pack things that can serve more than just one purpose. a good tarp can be used for 1000's of duties, and a 9 x 12 canvas tarp can be bought for the same price as a cheap tent. if your planning on having to survive for more than a few days, i would suspect you would want to build yourself a more sturdy shelter anyway. at this point you can use the tarp to cover the floor, make a roof water proof, make a door, and awning, cover your firewood..


kevin December 15, 2011 at 7:16 pm

a tent will always just be a tent, and thats fine if thats all you want or need. But a tarp can be almost anything, and if you need or want versatility than you really only have one choice.


Joshua December 21, 2011 at 3:22 pm

i would choose the tarp for the simple reason it's lighter. it's easy to put up and disassemble which is a pro and a con if you need to move fast you can but strong wind and you might have to chase the tarp but the real reason for choosing a tarp is it's less expensive than a tent so that will leave more money to buy other supplies


JohnDoe1999 December 22, 2011 at 2:53 am

Personally, I dislike tents for the same reason I dislike sleeping bags: Because I can't fight easily from it. I'm not a fan of using tents and sleeping bags in regular camping let alone a collapse. If my buddy on watch yells "CONTACT" or wakes me quietly, I'd rather throw the blanket off me and roll out from under a tarp ready to return fire if need be. Just my 2 cents. P.S. I'm arachnophobic, and I still reject tents and sleeping bags.


hauseye January 2, 2012 at 10:41 pm

I recently (September) traveled 120km through the Canadian Rockies. Encountered; rain, sleet, snow, sub zero temps & Strong gale winds. I used a hilleberg tarp every night; 8 nights total. I think if you have a decent sleeping bag (mine rated to -9C) you will be fine. I slept like a baby each night. The only pro of a tent in my mind is bug protection.

In my mind, the idea behind the tarp is that you are still "out in nature". If i have to spend 3-4 days waiting for bad weather to pass at least i can still see outside the walls and enjoy my surroundings. Anyways, I use to be a tent guy and now I'm use to less weight and really understanding that a tent is a should, not a must.


Ieuan January 4, 2012 at 1:14 pm

I recently upgraded from a tent to a Clark Jungle Hammock, while they are expensive the thought that went into the design make it well worth it. It’s very light weight at 3lb 2oz, and is stuffed into it’s own pocket making it very compact. There are also six large pockets underneath hammock bed designed to store gear and provide insulation against the cold, and, two interior pockets for small items. The “no-tip” design makes it possible to sleep on your side.


asian_of_ak January 11, 2012 at 11:22 am

I would much rather put up with the weight of a tent. Up here in Alaska, it is too difficult to keep the cold or the bugs out with just a tarp. Not saying it can't be done, but you are tougher than I. Anyone whose hunted up this way can tell you the Mosquitoes will drive you crazy and the cold can kill you.

Tents. Fully enclosed more available to insulation outweighs any cons


Anthony February 7, 2012 at 12:28 am

Cabellas light weight tentvall the way! For aboutva hundred and fifty bucks and it weighs only five pounds.


CollegePrepper February 23, 2012 at 1:35 pm

Another good option besides a tent or a tarp would be a bivy cover for your sleeping bag. They are lightweight, 100% waterproof and windproof, and usually come in camo colors. If you had your sleeping bag in the bivy cover and were under some type of natural shelter, you could be almost completely protected from the majority of the elements mother nature can throw at you.


DriveToSurvive February 27, 2012 at 2:27 pm

Personally, I`m a tarp guy. Its so much easier than a tent, because you can put it up almost anywhere. Unlike a tents were you need relatively flat ground and a good amount of open space.


Isheian February 29, 2012 at 3:41 pm

Hammock. Just my $.02


DriveToSurvive February 29, 2012 at 6:55 pm

I carry a tarp and a hammock in my BoB, it is very light and its easy to set up. tents just take up to much space, and when you are thinking about being "stealthy", a tent is just begging for attention.


Dan March 22, 2012 at 4:33 pm

One point that hasn't been brought up is the presence of a three to you or your group. Should there be a threat of being attacked on your site a camouflaged tarp or "basha" is a more secure option; pitched at around 35-40 degrees in a lean to fashion with your head at the opening it would allow you to instantly identify any unfriendly movement. The means you can take the appropriate action more quickly and is less visible especially at night without any night optics. When used in combination with a warm sleeping bag and a bivi bag it is comfortable enough and waterproof, should the wind be blasting in the direction of the opening then tough, security would be more important than comfort.


hillbillywldmn April 27, 2012 at 9:10 pm

I choose a lightweight tent and a tarp, tarp for extra waterproofing, tent for more heat retention, also wind resistance. My wife and I walk with trek poles so the sticks for holding up the tarp is no problem. when the whole family catches up, we have a 10×20 pole tent with a pipe flap in the top. that is stashed away in my Bug Out Trailer. but to get to the BOT I have a 2hiking tarps by Ozark Trail sewn together to make a 10×8 tent using our trek poles, stashed away in my EDC(Every Day Carry) bag. I walk everywhere with my EDC, and my trek pole, even in town.


LocoGatillo May 14, 2012 at 2:53 pm

I watched a survival documentary where the expert guy survived in the amazonas using a hammock, mosquito net and poncho/tarp. He was able to pack all this in a very small size and it was lightweight. This combination remove two of your 3 CONS.


Ajax August 9, 2012 at 10:37 am

when sleeping under tarps you have much greater spacial awareness and can get up/out ready for defense whatever much faster.


tagcat4242 August 24, 2012 at 6:07 am

I am new to this site,but many years ago when i was in the woods or jungle i like to move fast with as little weight and bulk as possible(just my wife&me a little older and slower),so i go with poncho,light weight tarp(2) and 100' paracord.That way i can lash to trees etc keep off the ground Keep supplies from critters etc.This just gives me more choices and room in my bob for things that i personally find priority .I am sure i will tweak this with peoples help.
tagcat. P.S. to the guy that posted about earthquakes,well i live in north west ar and we are in a earthquake zone.My insurance just sent me a cancelation on that part of coverage.go figure???


bwcaman January 18, 2013 at 1:19 pm

I do a lot of camping in cold weather and rain. A tent with a tarp, INSIDE the tent is the way to go, even if water puddles up below the tent, you and your gear stay dry, if it gets bad enough to bug out, you are not going to want just a tarp between you and the world for very long. a tent is worth the weight,


Dave June 8, 2013 at 6:27 pm

I spent last weekend, (in heavy rain) in an HQ issue bivvy tent- from and it was nice and dry. About 35 bucks, rolls up to about 6”X12″ and it has a camo fly on it. When this tent is not in use, it lives in my BOB.
I brung along a spare tent for my Bud- this one was also from sportsmansguide, also 35 bucks. Brand new French military surplus, (They said it is a solo tent, but it could sleep two).
This tent is somewhat bulkier, but it is the one I would use for winter camping. (You don’t need to spend a lot of money, for quality gear from sportsmansguide.) I also have two 10′X12′ camo tarps from them, and I always have one in my BOB- these could also be used as two-person tents, and very durable and light.


kc7cjo June 11, 2013 at 6:00 pm

I would do both, but I would NOT choose a large tent because of the weight (after all, WHO is going to have to carry it??)

I would, however, beef up the tarp with "Mule Tape" and put more eyelets than what comes with the tarp! You can buy inexpensive kits for the eyelets and they are easy to put in.

The Mule Tape is a nylon tape usually used for pulling cable and the such through pipe and comes in varying strengths.

Buy a larger tarp than what you think you would need. Then take the mule tape and lay it out along the edge of the tarp, then fold that edge back over the mule tape twice. Then punch holes for your eyelets and put the eyelets THROUGH the tarp and mule tape.

This will make the edge of the tarp MUCH stronger and it will be able to withstand much stronger winds!


Joe August 2, 2013 at 3:33 pm

Take both? That's the worst idea I've heard today, lol.


Zashanae Love☻♥ October 31, 2013 at 10:03 am

I Stay In Canada & My Dad Passed Because He Was Trapped Inn The Candaian Wilderness.He Passed Because Of Drinking The Water Without Cleaning (Purfication)


Madd☻☺☻ October 31, 2013 at 10:04 am

Its Messed Up Zashanae!? Is Yo Boyfriend Jaheim Thomas??


Zashanae Love♥☻ November 7, 2013 at 10:42 am

My dad diedd in canadian woods by drinking dirty water!


Tina Matthew November 7, 2013 at 10:43 am

Is yo babe name Jaheim ?


BOB BIHH November 7, 2013 at 10:49 am

My Namee BOB & Yhu Need Yhu Tinaa Matthew SHUTUP


Tina Matthew November 7, 2013 at 10:50 am

I dont no u so bitch shushh


Geuss Suite November 7, 2013 at 10:52 am

Who Yhu?? I Didnt Say Anythinqq !


Tina Matthew November 7, 2013 at 10:53 am

Bye lil child :) u foolish


Geuss Suite November 7, 2013 at 10:57 am

Are Yhu Speakinqq Tooo Mee ? Childd :) ;)


Tina Matthew November 7, 2013 at 10:58 am

Who gave u a name like Geuss Suite ?


Geuss Suite November 7, 2013 at 11:00 am

These Hairy Nuts ! Yhu Wantt Summmmmmmmmmmmm ??


Happy Camper November 27, 2013 at 10:04 pm

In a simple camping scenario any tent will win hands down.
In a Bugging out scenario the following reasons might favour a tarp.
1: Provide visibility to see trouble coming. You can't see sh*t sitting in a tent!
2: Easy pack-up and run. Tent requires careful folding to ensure a small package.
3: Easier to dry if wet. Tent is a pain and very heavy if wet.
4: Tarp is more versatile and can be set up in multiple configurations. Tent has one configuration.
5: Tarp can be used to line a bin or container and used for water storage amongst other non-shelter related duties. Other examples…. Use as a sail, blanket, poncho(sort of thing), groundsheet etc etc etc.


Roger December 26, 2013 at 4:25 pm

I carry a heavy-duty poncho with my survival vest as a Bare-bones shelter/rain/snow gear. For camping (primitive or 'modern'), I carry a 3-man tent and a canvas tarp which is heavier than a plastic one but is much more durable and more fire-resistant. Why? Because spending more than one or two nights 'in the woods' pushes on the endurance of most (including myself) people. A good night's sleep is a necessary especially on a long term basis; if you're not sleeping fairly well, you won't be in good shape very long! A tent, even a lightweight, cheap one gives you a micro-climate which is what our houses do on a larger scale, a level of comfort and protection. Ever woke up in the middle of the night because something just ran over your face; not much fun! Since most tents are water-resistant not water-proof, especially in a rainy situation, the canvas tarp tied with a air-circulation gap on top of the tent will greatly improve the dryness of your sleeping area. Also, that tarp can cover a pile of dry firewood to keep it dry and readily usable and/or be used as a heat reflector to increase the heat from your campfire to your tent/shelter, especially if the tent has a vestibule, and even help keep your fire from being doused out by rain water. Remember that a thick bed of coals gives off a lot of heat and is safer than a roaring fire, and a fire hole and ring of rocks helps gets the embers from being blown out and causing a unwanted fire! Another ideal is that grass and/or pine needles or even debris can be used to make an elevated sleeping platform to erect your tent on for comfort and insulation from the cold, hard and/or snow-covered ground. A tarp, especially a plastic one will form more condensation on the interior, thus wetting you and your gear if used as primary shelter. I always tend to shift and roll in my sleep and can easily wake up outside a tarp shelter, again not fun! Why such a 'large' tent for one, because I prefer my dog to be inside keeping watch and small creatures out, and also room for another person (just-in-case), and for plenty of gear and maybe firewood inside out of the rain/snow/mouths of small furry critters, etc.


Andrew March 4, 2014 at 6:25 pm

I have 2 tarps and I ducktaped an emergency blanket to each of them. I’m thinking about investing in a tent now.


Lucas_SurvCache April 22, 2010 at 1:36 pm


Thanks for the heads up. I can add that fairly easily, I just hadn't thought about it


Starydog January 10, 2011 at 3:28 pm

I'm glad someone mentioned Campmor! I use to use them alot when I was backpacking, ie younger! I'd find what I wanted in the high end shops, then check out campmor. Always a much better deal and great service.


Nurseryman75 January 19, 2011 at 11:49 am

Hopefully you have your caches marked on a map and not only relying on GPS.


Bris September 14, 2012 at 5:34 pm

Actually, the tarp tent is heavy and is pretty much a regular tarp with a fancy name (and a hefty price tag, you may as well get a tent). If you know what you're doing with a tarp all kinds of shapes can be made for a tenth of the tarp tent's price and half the weight (or so).


Josh February 9, 2011 at 5:50 pm

I am an active scouter and can understand what you mean about when you sleep under a tarp you are really close to everything that goes bump in the night. Philmont is on my list of camps to go to for sure.


Josh February 9, 2011 at 5:51 pm

It looks like a sound concept, but I have not actually tested it personally.


Mr_Pond February 13, 2011 at 1:21 am



jees e james April 22, 2011 at 10:17 pm

thier junk i bought the best one on the market ..lasted about six months then split right down the middle…now they make the entrance on the side…no thanks


NelsonHawkins57 May 31, 2011 at 9:30 pm

I used a simple net hammock for many years in the Army. Set it low to keep me just a foot or so off the ground, ran some 550 cord a little higher and put my ponch over the top and staked the corners down using little green bungee cords. Sheltered, low to the ground and out of the rain, but away from the crawlies and off the cold ground. Doesn't get much better. Have the same set up in my BOB (w/ modern mosquito netted hammock), but also keep a large tent in the family BOV.


Survivalguy September 22, 2011 at 1:25 pm

I own a hennessy hammock and have loved every min of it. I have the expedition a-sym but I would get the woodland evader, woodland survivor or Universal survivors these are more expensive bot better suited for teotwawki or shtf cause they are camouflaged


Wyatt July 19, 2012 at 4:46 pm

I've never used a hammock, but I have to say that it could be quite a hassle if you had no sturdy trees or structures near by to tie it too, and it doesnt protect you much from weather. I use a tent with a foldout cot inside. You just flip it open and there you go, elevated from insects and water that gets in, comfy, I love it!


Kevinthenurse June 14, 2011 at 6:55 pm

I too am a BIG fan of Tyvek. I have made my own ground-sheet, and a few stuff sack out of it. Just be sure not to get too close to the fire with it!!!!!!!!!


Kevinthenurse June 14, 2011 at 6:58 pm

Made a ground sheet and several stuff sacks out of the stuff (compliments of the USPS) Great stuff!


Joe March 11, 2012 at 6:21 pm

The only caveat on the plastic sheet, is that it deteriorates with time, cold, and UV exposure. If your packing for the "someday I might need this" event, by a good quality tarp. Two years down the road, you'll be glad you did.


ZOMCON1 May 16, 2013 at 4:51 pm

How about both?


Joe March 11, 2012 at 6:26 pm

For families with kids, (and I speak from experience here) try it out in the backyard when you can still return it. It's better to find out that the 6-Man tent won't really contain 2 adults, and three kids before something happens :-)


Tim June 8, 2012 at 8:10 am

Just got back from 10 days backpacking in a remote area of the North Cascades. Used my Clark Jungle Hammock the whole time. They pack very small and light. Come with rainfly. Newer models for four seasons. To stay quick and light it is hard to beat, but for a long term I'd definitely go with a tent. That being said a hammock allowed me to do ten days in the backcountry with a 55 liter bag because it packs so much smaller than a tent.…


Parshae Denson October 31, 2013 at 9:59 am

Most likely hes going to say YOU Welcome!


FineAhh Keisha October 31, 2013 at 10:00 am

I would rather have a tent!


Geuss Bitchh November 7, 2013 at 11:01 am

Thats That Moneyyy Mann


Leave a Comment

{ 8 trackbacks }