I've recently switched from using a tent to using a tarp, and on the whole I'm really enjoying it, however there is one thing I haven't solved.

How do people deal with situations where the wind switches ninety degrees in the night and suddenly starts howling through your tarp, making it a wind tunnel? Obviously being aware of dominant winds / likely localised-weather-effects helps in deciding which direction to pitch in, and finding a sheltered spot is a no brainer, but what about when pragmatism fails? Bear in mind I'm pitching using the classic A-frame setup.

This has happened to me on a number of occasions and my solutions have included moving my pack to block it (only viable in low wind), dropping the windward side of the tarp to the ground(cramped) and re-pitching in the middle of the night (naked, cold wind, unpleasant).

I've read Jardine's tarp book and he suggests tarp doors, but this starts to over-complicate what is a wonderfully simple bit of gear.

So what are my options for handing switches in wind?

Note: I'm not asking how to pitch in very high winds. I would take a tent if I was camping above the tree-line. I'm talking about general pitching where there is enough wind to strip the heat from you but not enough to blow you off a cliff.

  • 3
    A tarp basically isn't intended as protection against the wind.
    – user2169
    Oct 29, 2015 at 23:02
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    @BenCrowell Tarps are designed as basic protection/shelter from the elements including the wind (depending on the construction of the tarp). I agree with the spirit of your statement though that a tarp setup as an A-Frame can't possibly offer 360 degree protection against the wind.
    – Erik
    Oct 29, 2015 at 23:08
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    Possible duplicate of What is a good tarp setup for very high winds above the tree line?
    – ShemSeger
    Oct 30, 2015 at 2:25
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    @ShemSeger I don't feel it's a duplicate as I don't mention very high winds or pitching above the treeline. I'm talking about general usage. Oct 30, 2015 at 7:15
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    @imsodin The conclusion might be the same but the question isn't. I have no interest in sleeping above the tree-line, so even though I saw the question I didn't read any of the answers. At the moment as the site is young, there aren't many tarp questions, but as more questions are added it makes sense for them to be specific with specific answers. Otherwise you will get lots of people asking the same question I am. Oct 30, 2015 at 18:15

1 Answer 1


With luck and planning I would assume in mountainous/timbered areas you would be able to setup your tarp so one of the open sides of your tent were mostly/partially blocked by a tree/rock/bush/etc. which would solve roughly half of your problem.

After that it is about accepting the limitations of your tarp tent, or deciding that you want more reliable comfort and are willing to convert your tarp into a tent by adding doors etc. Keep in mind, when you decide to camp with just a tarp for shelter you are consciously choosing less protection from the elements. Either accept that you will have to re-pitch your tent periodically at night, or choose a different portable shelter IMO.

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