Survival Uses for Tarps
Tarps are quite versatile. Generally, a tarp is a sheet of flexible, typically, waterproof material. It comes in various sizes and is made of different materials.
A tarp performs a multitude of functions. It primarily functions to protect from rain, sunlight, and other elements. They can also become a fundamental part of your survival supplies, in which case it can be referred to as a survival tarp.
In this article you will learn the common types of tarps and the many emergency and survival situations you can use them for. In addition, we will review the several factors you should consider when selecting a survival tarp.
Top 5 Types of Tarps for Survival
There are many tarps available on the market, so it's easy to get overwhelmed by options.
1. Vinyl Tarps
These tarps are tempered, laminated, or coated using vinyl. Thanks to the high strength of vinyl, these tarps tend to be tear-resistant. This makes them perfect to withstand extreme weather conditions such as snowstorms, heavy rain, or heat. They can also resist mildew, grease, and even some acids.
2. Canvas Tarps
Canvas is a heavy, robust material. As a result, canvas tarps are heavier than most tarps. A wax coating is typically applied to introduce a water-resistant layer. Canvas is a breathable fabric making this type of tarp good for usages that require air to pass through the tarp.
3. Mesh Tarps
Like canvas tarps, mesh tarps are constructed using breathable materials that let in air moisture, and sunlight. Depending on the size of the mesh holes, the level of airflow will vary. They usually come with grommets at the edges, which allows you to fasten them to the ground. For added security the hems of a mesh tarp are often double stitched.
4. Heavy-Duty Tarps
As the name rightly suggests, these types of tarps are meant for heavy-duty purposes. Heavy-duty tarps are made of high-end fiber materials and find the most use in the agricultural and industrial sectors. They are, by nature, durable and can withstand extremely harsh conditions. As a survival tarp, it can serve as a temporary roof in the event of an emergency.
5. Poly Tarps
Poly tarps are made using the plastic material, polyethylene. They can be made from high-density or from low-density forms, which results in heavy-duty poly tarps and light-duty poly tarps respectively. While light-duty poly tarps can cover items over a short period, the much tougher heavy-duty tarp can serve the same purpose long-term. Poly tarps are waterproof and are typically pretty affordable.
Considerations When Selecting Your Tarp
When determining what kind of tarp(s) you want as part of your preps there are a few things to consider. Note the use cases you will need these tarps for and ensure the proper factors are taken into account.
When you are shopping for tarps to add to your supplies, depending on the uses, the size will matter. You want to get exactly what you need without wasting extra resources or being short on size. If you are not sure, it’s better to err on the side of caution, going bigger rather than smaller. A heavy-duty 8’X10′ tarp from your local supply store will almost always do in a pinch unless you are looking for something in particular, like covering a large portion of your roof, in which case a much larger tarp may be needed.
Water-resistance is another factor to consider. A mesh or canvas tarp, for example, will be perfect for providing some shade over your tent, but if you are looking to protect supplies from moisture or rain, a heavy-duty poly or vinyl tarp would be your best bet. Most tarps will have some form of water-resistance, outside of mesh tents, which given its name, will have a series of holes that will most definitely not protect from any water or moisture collection.
How well can your tarp hold under immense pressure and force? You don’t want a tarp that will tear or collapse in on itself during a survival scenario. Start by looking out for the material used in the construction and the weaving technique employed. If you’re anticipating heavy wind, you can’t rely on a light-duty poly tarp or a mesh tarp, best to stick with a canvas or heavy-duty poly tarp.
Another thing to consider is how your tarp of choice would fair when it’s faced with corrosion. Some elements that can cause corrosion to your tarp include sunlight, acids, oils, mildew, and greases. Get a survival tarp that has a special coating to help bolster its resistance. Overtime sunlight, rain, and other effects can degrade the efficacy of your tarp.
Similar to corrosion resistance, abrasion resistance is something to consider when getting your tarp. Confirm how much it can resist tearing, splitting, and rubbing as a result of sharp edges, stretching, or scratches. In this respect, vinyl and canvas tarps perform better than poly or mesh tarps.
As with every other supply you buy, consider its features. Some features to consider when selecting your tarp include rope construction, grommets, special coatings (flame retardant, corrosion-resistant, etc), and accessories (replacement grommets, ropes, anti-mildew treatments, etc.), just to mention a few. If you are looking to fasten your tarp, grommets are the way to go. If you are looking to protect firewood or other structures from water damage waterproof and flame resistance may be good options too.
Your Desired Use(s)
Lastly, you must consider what it is you want to use the tarp for. Different tarps serve different purposes. For instance, the high-end fiber materials of heavy-duty tarps make them suitable for damage covers, yard work, makeshift hammocks, etc. Whereas, if you simply want to keep water of your wood or boat, poly or vinyl tarps will do perfectly.
Top 18 Emergency and Survival Uses
Tarps are one of the most versatile supplies out there and every prepper should include atleast one in their emergency supplies.
One of the most important uses of a tarp is making survival shelters to protect you from the elements. With a bit of cordage and a decent tarp, you can make yourself a makeshift lean to or pup tent.
You may have to collect water somehow in a survival situation, in which case a tarp will come in handy. Water collected in a tarp can then be filtered and used for drinking, cooking, and cleaning.
Waterproof tarps will keep out the rain, whether you are out camping or you want additional coverage during a storm. Waterproof tarps are perfect to keep rain and moister off your firewood, boats, motorcycles, cars, and more.
A leak on the roof or damage to your windows should be attended to promptly. But since you might not be able to repair it in time, a tarp can serve as a temporary measure. In the case of severe damage during a natural disaster a heavy duty tarp should be purchased and placed over the damage, then anchored to create a waterproof seal until a repair man can get out to fix it.
A tarp can serve as the much-needed barrier between you and the ground, whether below your tent to protect the base of the tent, or as your only layer of protection in a survival situation. When placed below you, you are protected against inconveniences like insects and water. Using a tarp as ground cover can also reference protecting the ground and not yourself. If you are doing a lot of gardening you can place the extra dirt, leaves, or plants on the tarp to prevent having to rake your yard once done.
Makeshift Bag / Container
When in a pinch or a SHTF scenario you can wrap your belongings and valuables in a tarp as a way of protecting them from rain or damage. This makeshift bag or container will make for easy transport.
Whether it be vinyl, canvas, mesh, heavy duty, or poly tarps; keeping them in your preparedness supplies is a must. Such a versatile and often compact supply can come in rather handy in a survival scenario. Shelter, water collection, rain protection, to make cord, as a fishing net; a survival tarp can be used to cover you, nourish you, and protect you.