3 Fool-Proof Ways to Make a Tarp Shelter Without Trees

There are dozens, even hundreds of tarp shelter configurations. Most of them utilize trees. Well, in some situations, you may find yourself on terrain with no trees in sight, with no time to look into each way of making a tarp shelter. How to make a tarp shelter without trees then? Read on to find the building blocks for the three swiftest and most durable tarp shelter configurations!

1) Diamond Frame Tarp Shelter

How to make a tarp shelter without trees that closely resembles an actual tent? Well, you can make a diamond frame configuration that has one entrance, with three enclosed sides to protect you from the weather elements! It is not the easiest method to set up a tarp shelter without trees, but if you pay attention to the instructions below, you’ll have it up in no time!

For the diamond frame tarp shelter setup, you will need:

  • One tent pole (or trekking poles)
  • Tarp
  • A guyline (or paracord for extra stability)
  • At least three tent pegs

Now that you have all the required gear from above, you can start by placing your tent pole in the ground. The pole serves as a base for the entrance of this shelter. Make sure that you place the pole so that the wind hits your back. In that way, when you finish building this tarp shelter, the shelter will block out the wind, as the entrance will be opposite from the wind.

Throw the tarp over the pole. Now, pay extra attention to the positioning of the tarp edges. Lean one edge on the top of the tent pole, and put the remaining three edges to flow down on the sides. Adjust the tarp positions accordingly, until you get a suitable construction for your new shelter.

Now, it’s time to put those pegs to use! You must stake the tarp in a preset order so that the shelter stays stable as it should. The first side that you should stake is the one directly opposite from the tent pole. When you do that, you will notice the straight edges forming on the side of the tarp. Pull the tarp sides down to the ground and stake them both out. Don’t worry if the tarp falls from the pole; it is crucial to stake the tarp sides tight at this point.

Now, if the tarp fell off the pole, you will need to position the pole so that the tarp is pushing it down to the ground, forming a stable base and entrance. If you want a lower shelter, align the pole closer to the ground, and the opposite if you want a higher profile shelter.

You have successfully made a diamond frame tarp shelter! This type of shelter is great for wind and rain protection and closely resembles a tent. It is very stable, albeit it takes a bit more effort and experimentation to build it properly. If you’re planning to pitch your backpacking tent, but not sure about the weather conditions, making a diamond shelter is a must thing.

2) A-Frame Tarp Shelter

While the A-frame configuration will leave you with more open space, it is good to protect you from wind and rain. This structure is also pretty simple to make, and for that, you will require:

  • Two tent poles (or trekking poles)
  • A guyline (or paracord for more stability)
  • Tarp
  • At least four tent pegs

First of all, you should measure your tarp’s length so that you don’t need to readjust the base of this shelter later. Pick up your desired poles and place them at least 30 cm outside of the tarp range. Make sure to secure the poles so that they are stable. If you want an adequate tarp shelter, keep the poles sticking at least 5ft (152 cm) from the ground.

Then, you will need to create a line with the rope you have at hand. This part of the process can take some time, as you want the rope to be as tight as possible. If you need to do it, place the tent poles as you find fit until the rope isn’t firmly tight. Knot the rope to both ends of the poles. Make sure that you align the knots at the same time, and pay attention at the desired height of the shelter.

Note: if doing this with guy lines, make sure to stake them so that they stay tight!

Now, you can place the tarp on the line. Keep in mind that the tarp is centered on the rope, and check if it is stable. You don’t want the tarp falling off the rope once it gets windy. Of course, to make this a shelter, you need to stake down the tarp to the ground. Make sure that the tarp is tight and stable after you stake it. Use additional pegs if required.

You are almost done! Now you can further optimize the setup of this tarp shelter! As both ends of the shelter are exposed to the wind, place the shelter’s longer side to face the wind. This optimization will help absorb the wind force, and won’t turn your shelter into a wind tunnel!

Pro Tip: If you have any sort of tent flooring (any type of groundsheet will suffice), you can fold the longer side of the tarp under it to be more stable under unstable weather. Put some rocks on that side to increase the durability even further!

This type of tarp shelter is easy to assemble and will offer adequate protection from rain and snow if set up correctly. The best thing about a tight A-frame tarp shelter is that all the wind and the rain will pour down its sides. If you don’t set it up tight, then there is the risk of sagging. Also, make sure to get some groundsheets down, so that all that rain (or snow) doesn’t flood you!

3) Holden Tarp Shelter

This type of fly shelter is the simplest one to make, as you can make it in less than five minutes if you follow the instructions correctly. It offers excellent wind resistance (especially if you’re pitching a tent in high winds), at the cost of being very small, maybe not the best type of tarp shelter for taller campers.

To create the Holden tarp shelter, you will need:

  • One tent pole (or a trekking pole)
  • Tarp
  • At least four tent pegs

Place your tarp on the ground first. Then, stake one of the longer edges of it. Find the center point on the way to the opposite long edge, and place the pole at this point. Now, stake out the other sides, and make sure that you align the front edges inwards for the best wind protection.

Simple as that, and you have your small, albeit durable tarp shelter! The shelter’s triangular shape is fit for high winds, and when you consider that it takes less than five minutes to set it up, it is an ideal type of tarp shelter for those in a rush.


These are just three ways of how to make a tarp shelter without trees. While there are a few more of them, we chose these three specifically because of their high stability and ease of assembly. Well, seems like you don’t need trees to set up a reliable tarp shelter after all!

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