For example the plastic that one can attain from most hardware stores.

The heavier plastics that are less prone to tearing, and mainly used for construction. (like here)

What are some of pros and cons to this approach?

Which color would be more beneficial:

  • Clear
  • Black


  • Cheapest most efficient way to keep several people dry if needed.

Are there any other issues that I might want to consider?

The length I am considering: 10ft x 25ft

Weight: 3.8lbs

With 60ft of 550 parachord.

Related: - Why do people who backpack sleep in tents instead of tarps? - What is the proper way to tarp tent to avoid condensation?

  • 2
    you intend to use this to sleep under? to put over your tent instead of the fly that came with it? To put up elsewhere in the campsite to have a dry place to cook/eat/hangout like my answer to outdoors.stackexchange.com/a/6090/163 ? Jul 18, 2014 at 13:14
  • 1
    To sleep under. Your previous post is using a grommeted tarp, with woven polyethylene?
    – jmunsch
    Jul 18, 2014 at 13:23
  • 1
    You're going to need grommets or loops to tie to. When you put it up, you have to put tension on it, and I'd worry that it would tear at that point. It also has to be able to stand a heavy wind without tearing.
    – user2169
    Jul 18, 2014 at 14:09
  • 3
    Is the cost the only reason you're considering this idea? If so, then I think for just a little more money you could get a general purpose utility tarp and that would be far more durable. This kind of plastic wouldn't last more than a couple nights, that is, if it would even make it through one night without ripping or getting a hole in it somewhere.
    – montane
    Jul 19, 2014 at 0:50
  • 2
    I've used this stuff extensively for ground cover in the garden. I would venture 8 mil as a camping tarp and use a small round (not sharp!) rock to tie around. The 4 mil stuff is difficult to handle without tearing and I wouldn't bet on it. Sep 22, 2020 at 2:11

4 Answers 4


In my experience, even heavy plastics tear easily with wind. This from trying to use such plastics to cover cargo that I'm hauling with a truck. I think this would be the only thing that would deter me from using such a thing as a tarp.


This is my favorite clear plastic tent. I saw one of these at a distance, but could not get close to it to see the details of its construction:


I am planning to try to make one of these for myself using heavy crystal clear pvc film and sewing it with an industrial sewing machine. To keep it inflated, I plan to use a small battery operated blower.

It would be really cool to be inside one of these during a rainstorm! I would be cozy and dry, yet outside in the rain!

  • I seriously doubt how well this would work in any significant amount of wind. Interesting idea but seems impractical for a portable installation.
    – nhinkle
    Apr 4, 2015 at 7:21

enter image description hereenter image description here!

Made this tarp shelter using duct tape and clear shower curtains it should hold up to anything but hurricane strength winds


There are a bunch of questions you need to think of, and the final answer will depend on all these various factors...

How long do you want your tarp to hold up?
Is it simply for a single-use construction to keep some folks dry during an outdoor party? Is it a permanent cover that will stay (and have to hold up) for months or even years? --> Cheap plastic might work in the short term but will deteriorate quickly, especially if you don't invest in UV-resistant product.

What winds are you building this for?
How sheltered is the tarped location? Does it have to hold up during high winds? --> The more wind forces you expect the higher your need for a proper sturdy tarp.

Once-off or repeated setup?
Do you set this up once and then leave it in place, or do you plan do use this as an easy shelter to take with you on camping trips? --> If you want to re-use your tarp you'll be happy to have a good sturdy tarp with nice grommets/loops to help you set up. If it's just a once-off thing you can work around the lack of grommets with various tricks (e.g. using a stone to tie your rope around).

Will there be snow loaded on the tarp?
If you expect snow loads you'll need a sturdier overall construction.

Do you want shade or simply rain-protection
--> Obviously if you want shade then don't pick a transparent tarp/plastic, but a darker colour. Take care that if there is not good ventilation beneath then a dark tarp / tent will heat up the air below it quite considerably...

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