Set Up a Tarp Shelter Using Your Bike (Video)

Tarps are easily the most lightweight, versatile, and cost efficient shelters for sleeping in the backcountry. In this video, Cycling UK’s Sam Jones shows off two ways to use your bike to set up a simple tarp shelter…

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There’s no doubt that tarps are cheaper, lighter, and less bulky than tents. They can also be quicker to set up, and with no floor and open ends, they also keep you more connected to the outdoors than a completely enclosed shelter. As such, tarps aren’t for everyone, but if you’re interested, check out this video with Cycling UK’s Sam Jones showing his two preferred methods to set up a tarp using your bike as the structure.

For most of these pitches, Sam’s using a cheap 8 x 10′ tarp, similar to this one on Amazon for $12. There are also nicer, and more lightweight (and progressively expensive) options from MSR, Big Agnes (also read our full review of the Onyx), or even super light Dyneema options. But if you’re on a budget, or just getting started, use what you have or borrow one from somebody.

  • Using Bike to setup tarp shelter
  • Using Bike to setup tarp shelter
  • Using Bike to setup tarp shelter
  • Using Bike to setup tarp shelter
  • Using Bike to setup tarp shelter

“To tarp or to tent? For me really it is weather dependent – if on a long trip with a risk of bad weather, I take a tent – but lose space and gain weight. However, for short trips with a couple of nights out, a bivi bag and / or tarp is my first choice.” Read Sam Jone’s full article over at CyclingUK.org.

  • Bikepacking Tarp Shelter
  • Bikepacking Tarp Shelter
Left: A customized tarp made to sleep two with the bike as the center divider. Used on the Prairie Breaks bikepacking route; Right: another way of doing it, from our Bikepacking Hacks roundup from 2015.

Have other ways of pitching a tarp while bikepacking? Leave a photo in the comments below.

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