Every list basic survival gear should include a simple emergency shelter. In many cases, such as day hikes or rides, carrying a full tent would be overkill. There are a number of alternatives, however, from simple blue tarps to rain ponchos that unfold into shelters.

Here are a few options, in case you’re in the market for tarp shelters.

Blue Tarp

Blue trap as emergency wilderness shelterThe duct tape of shelters. They aren’t light for their size, but you can’t beat the price of the good old blue tarp.
Cost: $3.50
Weight: 11 oz.
Area: 48 sq. ft.


Outdoor Products Coated Tarp

Outdoors Products outdoors tarp
Made from a supple polyurethane-coated nylon, this is a step up from the blue tarp in quality – and cost.
Cost: $42
Weight: 1 lb. 4 oz. (small size)
Area: 63 sq. ft.


Kelty Noah’s Tarp

Kelty Noah's Tarp
This simple tarp is relatively cheap and would come in handy in a pinch. Kelty makes three sizes, the smallest of which is 972 square feet and design for up to three people.
Cost: $59.95
Weight: 1 lb. 13 oz. / 0.82 kg
Size: 81 sq. ft.


Go-Lite Poncho Tarp

Go Lite Pancho Tarp
Go Lite Poncho Tarp as survival shelter
This poncho can be unfolded into a tarp that lives up to it’s manufacturer’s name: it’s super light. It’s also very small, designed for one person.
Cost: $120
Weight: 7 oz
Area: 42.3 sq. ft


Sea-to-Summit Tarp Poncho

Sea to Summit survival shelter and poncho

Another poncho that turns into a tarp, made with silicone coated Cordura.

Cost: $89.95
Weight: 12 oz
Area: 39 sq. ft.


MSR E-Wing Shelter

MSR E-Wing Shelter
This MSR tarp is about the same size as the Kelty survival shelter, but weights much less. It will protect two people from the elements.

Cost: $169.95
Weight: 1 lb
Area: 65 sq. ft.