Make your own Tarp for less than £10

I was recently in my local Wickes builders merchant and noticed that they were selling medium weight tarpaulin covers very cheaply. I also noticed that they had actually quoted the fabric weight on the packet at 85gsm. This is basically within a few grammes of the weight of 2oz PU-coated rip-stop nylon. Certainly it is close enough and cheap enough to allow you to make a fully functional tarp that could find a home in even an ultralight backpack let alone a traditional one.

The fabric that this tarp was made of was woven and pressed polypropylene. Exactly the same material that is used in budget tents as a groundsheet. It is light, it is strong and it will withstand a fair bit of wear and tear. Perfect!


  • One medium tarp which is at least 2.5M x 1.8M (any smaller and you may get wet).
  • 6 Tent pegs (borrow them from your existing tent or buy some cheap Aluminium or plastic ones
  • 20M of anywhere between 3mm and 7mm para cord. You can buy two packs of 15M cord from most camping shops
  • 2 Trees OR two Trekking Poles OR two old dead branches


  1. Decide how big your tarp will be. 2.5M x 1.8M is as small as you should go. Up to 3M x 2.5M will be luxury
  2. Mark out with a marker pen the area that will form your tarp
  3. Use a pair of scissors to cut out this fabric. (If your scissors are sharp you should be able to slice rather than cut the fabric). If possible leave in as many eyelets as you can.
  4. Cut your para cord into 4 lengths of 3M and leave the remainder as one length. Use a match or a lighter to seal the ends
  5. Tie one 3M length of cord to each corner of the tarp. If there are no eyelets in the corner then place a small stone or a 1p/2p/5p piece in the corner of the tarp and use this as an anchor point for the rope
  6. Use long para cord as a centre-line for your tarp and (with the aid of two trees or two poles) drape the tarp over the centre-line and then peg out each corner.
  7. Tension everything up so that it is nice and tight.

See Also: Ultralight Tent Pegs, DIY Short Tarp Pole, DIY Long Tarp Pole