Tarpaulins, commonly referred to as tarps, have such a wide array of uses that it’s hard to know where to even begin. While tarps are essential among campers and survivalists, they’re still a great thing to own for the average apartment tenant or homeowner.
There are a couple essential features that make tarps so useful. They’re made from a tough water-resistant or waterproof fabric. Another feature is the reinforced grommets on the ends, which make it easier to tie a tarp in place.
Around the house, tarps can be used as a drop cloth to protect the floor while painting or doing housework. They’re also useful for covering outdoor furniture, grills, bikes, and anything else you want to protect from the elements. For camping, tarps can be used to create a tent, a poncho, or as a picnic blanket on wet grass. If you have a pickup truck, use a tarp to keep your cargo clean and covered. Tarps aren’t all business, though. You can use them in the summer to make a slip n’ slide.
The best way to choose a tarp is to start by looking at its thickness. Thinner tarps can be useful in some contexts where a heavy tarp would be cumbersome, but heavy tarps are obviously better suited to situations where heavy-duty protection is needed.
We’ve rounded up the best tarps for a variety of applications.
1. Xpose Safety Brown Poly Tarp
When people think of weatherproofing, they typically think of wet and cold conditions. But hot and dry conditions are dangerous, too. This tarp is waterproof and UV resistant. Grommets are placed every 18 inches along the exterior, allowing the tarp to be easily tied down. The polyethylene fabric is an extra thick 16 mil weight, making it the most heavy-duty option on this list.
Pros: Heavyweight, grommets spaced every 18 inches for easy tying, available in a wide variety of sizes.
Cons: Grommets are not all reinforced.
2. DRY TOP Poly Tarp
This poly tarp comes in a wide range of sizes, and the white color makes it a good option for a patio covering where UV protection is crucial but you might still want to allow some sunlight to get through. Grommets are placed approximately every 18 inches, making it easy tie down the tarp. Plastic tips on the corners and rope hems add additional reinforcement. The tarp is 10 mil thick.
Pros: White color makes it versatile and aesthetically pleasing, seams and corners are reinforced.
Cons: Sizing can potentially be off.
3. B-Air Grizzly Tarps
This affordable and lightweight tarp makes a good option for on-the-go use like camping, but it’s still tough enough to protect outdoor equipment from rain. A wide range of sizes is available: between 8′ x 10′ and 20′ x 30′. At 5 mil, it’s the lightest option on this list.
Pros: Hem has a rope sewn in for reinforcement, durable but lightweight.
Cons: Sizing can be off, grommets are twice as far apart than the other options.