The Holden tent

Over the past few years, I’ve experimented with a bunch of different camping shelters, from tipi-like kota tents to modern dome tents to a DIY convertible A-frame poncho tent to various tarp shelter configurations. My current favorite open shelter is the “Holden tent”, a very simple but ingenious tarp tent which uses a basic rectangular or square tarp (or rain poncho etc.).

Holden tent made with a cheap 2 m x 3 m (6.5′ x 9.75′) tarp

Small Holden tent made from a rain poncho

Setup is very easy. Here’s how I like to do it:

  • Place the tarp on the ground and then stake down one of the long sides* from end to end. This will be the back of the tent.
  • Find the center point of the opposite long side and raise it to the desired height using a tent pole or stick (or tie it to a tree branch above).
  • Stake down the front corners of the tent, making sure all three walls are taught. If necessary, run a guy line from the pole/stick to a stake in front of the tent (as seen in the poncho picture above).

*Alternate setup: If you want the shelter to be deeper, rather than wider, use the short sides as the front and back instead of the long sides. This will lower the height of the tent, but it provides sleeping room for more people.

I really like this shelter configuration for a lot of reasons:

  • Very quick and easy to set up and take down.
  • At a maximum, uses only five tent stakes, one guy line and one pole (pole not required if suspended from tree branch; guy line not required if you can attach pole/stick directly to tarp).
  • Even a small tarp provides enough room for sleeping and gear storage.
  • Good protection from sun, rain and snow (multi-season shelter).
  • Ideal for use with a heating fire outside.
  • Allows for good ventilation.

If you’re interested in open tarp shelters, I highly recommend this simple setup. It’s not perfect, but it has a lot going for it. For more tarp shelter configurations, check this out.


12 comments on “The Holden tent

  1. korpijaakko says:

    Nice setup. Should see if it fits two nicely with the traditional Erätoveri. Usually I go with the flying diamond pitch for two but it’s not as shelteres

    Also a neat trick: Instead of stakes you can use a piece of cord and thread it under a small punch of roots of the surface vegetation and tie a loop. No need for stakes so you can pitch shelter only from piece of cloth and some cord. 🙂 Works in most places but not everywhere.

    • Thanks for the comments! Yeah, there probably would be enough room for two if you use a 3 x 3 m erätoveri. 🙂

      Thanks for the cord-threading tip. I’ll have to keep it in mind and try it when I’m in a suitable place for it!

  2. mv71 says:

    enjoyed this, looks like it would do a great job. thanks for the instructions i’m going to try this

  3. Good one. Nice and simpe.

  4. I’m definitely going to give this a go. Makes a simpler and nice change to the a frame style I use.

    • Thanks for the comment!

      What’s nice about the Holden tent is that it’s only one step away from being an a-frame (which I also like to use), so it’s easy to convert between the two to suit the weather, activity etc. 🙂

      Hope you try it and like it!

  5. rudewoodsman says:

    great setup, I’ll try this one for sure!

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