Tarp Setup For Winter & Bad Weather

This February I decided to take my tarp out for the first time in winter conditions. To be honest, the conditions were pretty perfect. There was snow (around 15 centimetres) and temperatures were well below freezing point. This meant there was no melting snow and everything was basically dry. When you look at the setup, it may look a bit complicated. So for those interested I decided to explain it in a post.

Winter tarp setup

The Tarp

The tarp I’m using is the DD Tarp (3×3) from DD Hammocks. I got mine five years ago from www.tarpshop.nl and I’ve been very happy with it.
It has accompanied me on some trips as an extra shelter for the evenings when I’m out with a group or as my main sleeping system when on my own. It’s not super lightweight but it is a durable piece of gear for a very reasonable price compared to other brands.


  • 19 reinforced attachment points: 16 around the sides and corners, 3 along the centre (ridge line)
  • Made from 190T polyester with PU 3000mm waterproof coating
  • Weight: 790g (excl. pegs & guy lines)
  • Price: € 45,95
dd tarp

Since I bought mine, they have added a new version of the tarp to their collection: the DD Superlight Tarp. It is a lot lighter (460 grams vs. 790 grams) but more expensive (€ 85,95 vs. € 45,95). I got the small version of the Superlight series a while ago and hope to test it out soon!

The Setup

Step 1

Lay the tarp open on the ground. Angle it so you have the entrance of your shelter where you want it to be. Make sure to align the ridge attachment points from the back to the front. Now take a stake and put it in point A.

Tarp setup - step 1
Tarp setup

Step 2

Now put a stake in B and C.

Tarp setup - step 2
Tarp setup

Step 3

Put a stake in D and E. Now tuck the corners away under the tarp.

Tarp setup - step 3
Tarp - 3

Step 4

Go to the front of the tarp and move point F to the right until it’s aligned with point B, stake it right there. Do the same for point G, move it to the left until it’s aligned with point C.

Tarp setup - step 4

Step 5

Now take a hiking pole and place it under the front of the tarp so that the handle will be under point H.
Attach a line to point I, pull it tight and stake it out in front of the tarp. Now we have the basis for our tarp setup, time for some improvements.

Tarp setup - step 5

Step 6

Go to the back of the tarp and place another hiking pole upside down, close to point A. Attach a line on point J, go around the hiking pole once and stake out the line. To have a real secure setup, you can use a double line as I did.

Tarp setup - step 6

Step 7

Now take some cordage and create the system from the image below two times. On one end, I have a fixed loop. On the other end, I created a loop with a friction knot and attached a carabiner. This friction knot can be replaced by using a guyline tensioner.

Tarp setup - tensioner

Attach the fixed loop to point K, then take a stake and put it in point K. Clip the carabiner in point L (between I and G). Now use the friction knot (or guyline tensioner) to tighten your setup and open the door. Do the same thing on the other side of the tarp.

Tarp setup - the door
Tarp setup - step 7

The reason I use a carabiner is that it’s now easy to adjust the setup when I need more protection when going to sleep. You can just unclip the carabiners from the lines and connect them with each other, it’s like closing the door of your shelter.

Tarp setup

Step 8

The last step to perfection is to look around the tarp and put stakes a bit further out where possible to make the tarp tighter.

DONE! Have a good night! Don’t forget to take a good sleeping bag and mattress when going out in winter! For people looking to rent gear in the Leuven area, check out www.outdooranimation.be/verhuur.

Tarp setup for winter

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3 thoughts on “Tarp Setup For Winter & Bad Weather”

  1. A chimney resting on the ground and with a clamp on the chimney under a stove or roof jack supporting a square tarp as a centre pole is so simple but not used by any of the tents you have listed. A pole support keeping the tarp above a persons head in each corner at midpoint between centre and tent corner. No doors are needed because each side can be lifted for entry or ventilation. A stove with inside baffle can hang on the chimney. I have been experimenting with centre pole chimneys for years. It is a concept that works so well but must be so radical to be accepted. I am 82 and the chimney centre pole idea might die with me. Google chimpac

  2. that should give a guy 6′ tall room to sleep I would think…..now just wondering about 50 mph winds….think it will hold up in winter conditions?

    good article and thank you

    1. Wouter Vorsters

      Hi Michael, thanks for your message. Yes that should work in my opinion. As for the winds.. I have no idea 🙂 It is however ideal (winter or not) when you are below the treeline. Good luck, let me know if you try it out!

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