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The Benefits of Tarp TentsThe main benefit of using a tarp tent is the weight that can be saved by leaving your tent at home. Being enclosed at night has a few different benefits when you're in the wilderness, but leaving unnecessary weight at home is a benefit too. Like a lot of other pieces of lightweight gear, you have to weigh the options when choosing a tarp tent or a lightweight tent. Taking a look at the list of tarp tents though you can see that only a few tents manage to be under 500 grams, or 1.1 pounds. There are, however, a great many tarp tents that come in under 500 grams, or 1.1 pounds, so the weight you can save is in most cases going to be considerable.
Another benefit, or drawback depending on how you look at it, is the opportunity to be nice and close with nature at night. Depending on what climate you're in and the animals you may have to interact with at 3 in the morning, a tarp tent may or may not seem like a good idea, but there's little bad that can be said about going to sleep at night with the possibility of seeing the stars.
How to Use a Tarp TentUsing a tarp tent isn't all that difficult, but like any other kind of shelter there's a little equipment that's required. If you backpack with trekking poles it makes things easy, because you can use one or both trekking poles to form the peaks of a simple A-Frame with the tarp. Use stakes and rope if necessary to secure the corners of the tarp, and there you have your shelter. Alternatively, you can use a tree to tie the peaks of your structure to, or even use whatever wood there is lying around.
Another common shelter design you can make with a tarp tent is the lean to, where you use whatever's handy, be it trekking poles, sticks, or trees, to tie two corners up and have two staked to the ground, so that the tarp forms a lean to.
One more setup that you commonly see is to have the tarp tent staked down at all four corners and the middle of one of the long sides raised up by being tied to a trekking pole, tree, or handy stick. Really though it's a square piece of material, and can be used in a variety of different ways. It's just about what's convenient and what you can do with the materials you have.