Seven Survival Uses for a Tarp

Get creative with a blue poly tarp to save the day.

That blue poly tarp you’ve stashed in the footlocker can be used for more than just an emergency roof patch.

1. Gather Water: Funnel rain into a bucket for a water supply. A light rainstorm caught in a 5×7 tarp will produce a couple gallons of water.

2. Survival Stretcher: With parachute cord and two long poles, make a litter to carry an injured companion.

3. Strapper’s Delight: To create a makeshift tow strap, twist and roll a large blue tarp tightly. Tie knots in the ends. It’s strong enough to pull an ATV.

4. Cool Down: Pack a field-dressed deer with bags of ice and double-wrap with a blue tarp to keep the carcass cool.

5. Rest Easy: Jury-rig a tarp hammock by gathering the ends in a J-shape and securing with a sheet-bend knot. Tie to posts or trees.

6. Private Event: Create a tarp shower stall. Tie the two end grommets along the short edge of the tarp to an overhanging branch to create a U-shaped curtain. Drape a hose overhead.

7. Float On: Build a debris raft. Wind brush, saplings, and vines in a large doughnut shape. Place on top of the tarp, tie the corners up, and secure with wraps of p-cord.

Be sure to check out our ultimate survival kits:

The Deer-Camp Companion

The Backcountry Beast

The Water Works

The Pocket Protector

Photograph by Jim Golden. Styling by Beverly James Neel