I saw people using a square tarp sort of like this:

enter image description here

Will you not get flooded during rain? Specifically, I'm wondering about water flowing in on the ground from the front.

Tyically, tents have a kind of rim around them on the bottom:


The entrance is not right at the floor but is above that black rim on the bottom.

With a tarp having one whole side open, and no rim, what happens if it rains?

  • 4
    No more than a tent. Just don't set it up in a hollow or at the bottom or a hill, etc. common sense stuff really
    – user2766
    Jul 7, 2017 at 15:05
  • I'm mostly worried about rain coming in in the open potion. Both dropping in as it falls and also running in on the ground you see? Jul 7, 2017 at 15:45
  • 5
    I've voted to reopen the question now that you've clarified the question. The answer to your question is really what @Liam hinted at. Sure this can be a problem if you choose a poor location, but this problem is easily mitigated by some foresight. Any kind of open shelter is more fiddly to setup so weather doesn't come in the openings, but people who use these shelters are accustomed to making adjustments so this is minimized. If/when the question is reopened I or others with more experience can give you a more complete answer.
    – Erik
    Jul 7, 2017 at 23:44
  • 3
    The tarp systems definitely provide less weather protection than a tent like the one in your picture. People conscientiously choose the tarp over the tent because they are much lighter, pack smaller, and are more simple. You give up something to get something. Jul 8, 2017 at 12:18

2 Answers 2


Setup is the answer here. You would preferably want your open side to be lower in elevation than your closed side, so that you dont have ground runoff running into your tent. Same as for a regular closed tent. On a totally flat piece of ground, your probably going to want to dig a shallow trench (think moat) around the shelter to redirect any sheeting water around the shelter. Use the dirt from your moat to build up a raised area for actually sleeping, plus a good ground cover, you should be OK.

Also, if possible, make sure that your closed side is facing into the wind, so you don't have rain blowing into the shelter. Even better if you can fashion a bit of an overhang or 'porch' on the open side. Look up 'whelen' tents, you will see what I mean.


Probably the main thing about this answer is I am not prepared to be drawn into a pointless religious debate over whats better.

In general, Tents are better at keeping water out but heavier and in some people opinion, more complicated. Tarps are lighter to carry and simple (In theory) to set up, if you have the skills.

Some people find tarps are 'good enough' at keeping water out, like their other features (weight, simplicity, open to the wild etc) and prefer tarps. Others prefer tents, feeling that the extra weight is worth the perceived advantages.

As far as getting flooded in rain, it comes down to your bushman-ship. A skilled person won't have any problems, will select a good site and position the tarp so rain is not a problem. In the same situation, a less skill person may find themselves soaking wet and drowning in an inch of water. The tub floor of a tent is more of an advantage to a less skilled person.

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