When you’re living off the land, there’s no time for frills. By rule of thumb, all you need to survive is food, water, and shelter.
But what is “shelter”? We know what food and water are – anything you can safely eat and liquid made of 2 parts hydrogen and one part oxygen – but shelter can be anything. It can be a wooden hut with a thatch roof, a tipi made of sticks, or a hammock made with a tarp and some string.
A survival shelter can be all of these things, but as you can probably imagine, many of these shelters require a huge amount of time or are very impractical (like the tarp hammock).
The three tarp survival shelters outlined below only take minutes to set up and allow you to enjoy the “luxury of practicality.”
Three Simple Tarp Survival Shelters
For these simple tarp shelters, you only need a tarp, a set of metal stakes, and a length of string (except for the last shelter that requires only a tarp!). It also helps to have an object to drive the stakes in when your foot isn’t enough. This can be a rock, a large stick, or refined tool like a hammer.
A-Frame Tarp Shelter
The A-frame tarp shelter is a great shelter for people surviving in hot areas. It offers a sufficient source of shade and gives you a place to call “home” in a matter of minutes. Because of its two open sides, it’s not ideal for storms, but it can weather light rain. It has six tie-down points and requires two trees, anywhere from 20-30 feet apart depending on the length of your tarp.
To set up the A-frame tarp shelter, follow these instructions:
1. Tie a length of rope to opposite center sections of your tarp (on 2 of 4 sides).
2. Tie one end to the closest tree, then tie the other end to the other tree – tightly.
3. Stake down the corners of your tarp and make taut.
Depending on your needs, you can either make your tent taller or longer. If you tie the longer sections of the tarp to the trees, your shelter will be taller; and if you tie shorter sections to the trees, you shelter will be longer.
Wedge Tarp Shelter
If you’re in an area that’s prone to frequent rain storms, the wedge tarp shelter is a better option than the A-frame tarp shelter. Unlike the A-frame, it only has one open side, which makes keeping rain out easier. During a storm, rain will come in the open end, but you can position the open side in the direction of the wind to decrease your rain exposure.
To set up the wedge tarp shelter, follow these instructions:
1. Spread your tarp out on the ground about 5 feet away from a tree, making sure the tree aligns with the tarp’s center loop.
2. Stake down the two corners of the tarp farthest away from the tree.
3. Tie a string through the center loop closest to the tree.
4. Pull the opposite end of string upward in a diagonal fashion and tie to the tree, preferably above a branch for added stability.
Stake down the two corners closest to the tree.
You can also station a tall stick behind the center loop to create a rain flap at the head of your shelter.
Tarp Burrito Shelter
This is the most basic tarp shelter, and it’s great for all kinds of weather conditions. While it’s not ideal for people with claustrophobia, it’s perfect for the survivalist who is on the go and needs to set up a shelter fast – 30 seconds-fast.
To set up the tarp burrito shelter:
1. Spread your tarp out flat and fold one end into a third.
2. Take that same end and fold again so that you’re left with a 3-layer-thick tarp.
3. Tuck one end of the tarp under itself and leave the opposite end open.
From the open end, you can slide your sleeping bag inside the tarp and any other gear for survival that will fit.