Tarp Shelters

When you go out on your next backcountry atv adventure, you’re likely to encounter some unwanted weather. Whether that’s rain, wind, snow, or all of these, one of the most handy pieces of equipment to carry is a tarp. One of the best things about ATV tarp shelter setups is the fact that you have an ATV. This is an advantage because by attaching the tarp to the ATV, you instantly have an anchor for the tarp. This means that you do needs tree’s to setup a quick shelter.

We learned this on our first trip to the Paiute in 2014 when a rain storm surprised us as we reached the top of the Monroe Mountains. Within a matter a minutes, we had setup a rain shelter using just a couple of ATV’s and some tent stakes. In this article, we’ll show you our favorite tarp shelter setups for ATV camping and share a few tips we’e learned over the years.


Tarp size does matter. One of our most used tarps is a 10′ X 12′ heavy duty tarp [CLICK HERE]. For our use, we found that the extra 2 feet on each side made all the difference in our ability to completely enclose our tents when needed, but not be too large for setting a quick shelter with tent poles.

Tarp Poles

For the first few years of our ATV camp trips, we only used tarps if it was raining. But then we discovered tarp poles, which quickly transformed our shelter possibilities.

If you have a couple of tarp poles, you can quickly put up a shelter regardless of the weather. If it’s dry, it will provide
you with shade. Rain, that’s the obvious one. But even if it’s not raining, if you’re going to be camping, it’s still a good idea to setup a tarp shelter. During the night it will keep falling debris from hitting your tent, and in the morning your gear will not be damp from the morning dew.

While we have not tried differing brands of poles yet, we carry both 8′ and 6′ poles that we purchased at REI. We would love to hear from you if you have a brand of tarp pole that you would recommend.

Recommended Tarp Poles

Tarp Shelter Setups

The configurations for tarp shelters is almost endless. Having said that, we almost always come back to the simplest setup that we call “The Patio”.

The Patio

The patio is our go to set up when you’re camped at that Scenic viewpoint. It’s also great for making fires just outside of the tarp. It will provide you shelter from rain and keep sap and falling debris from hitting your tent. If you are using tarp poles, don’t forget to bring some paracord and a few stakes.


Tarp shelter tarp shelter tarp shelter

The Stadium

If you have multiple ATVs and multiple tarp poles, you can build what we call the Stadium. The stadium is great for a crowd or small group of people. It provides you with ample shelter from the rain, and plenty of room to enjoy the fire. You’ll still need to secure this shelter using guy lines, so don’t forget to bring some paracord and a couple of stakes.

The Envelope

The envelope is the perfect solo setup If you’re Expecting high winds and or rain. This set up completely encloses your tent and should give you a good night’s rest without worrying about water intrusion. Additionally, being completely enclosed helps hold in some of the heat. I personally used the setup on the Paiute ATV trail on a cold rainy night, and I remained very warm considering the conditions.

These are our favorite and most used ATV camping tarp shelter setups. If you have other ideas or suggestions, would love to hear from you. Send us a link or leave a comment below.

Be sure to stay tuned to ATVOverland.com for future videos about tarp shelter setups and other ATV camping videos. As always, we look forward to seeing you out on the trail.