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.).
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.