A tent rain fly is one of the most versatile pieces of gear you can take along on a camping trip. They’re lightweight, easy to carry, and can keep just about anything you cover it with, dry and out of the weather. The key is finding one that’s made with a strong, but lightweight, waterproof material that has enough tie-down loops to let out fasten it however you need—whether that’s over your gear to protect it from weather, or up above, to shelter you and your companions. Here are a few ways you can get more use out of one of the most versatile items in your backpack or camp box.


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Savvy campers know that if you have a good rain fly, you might not even need a tent, especially in mild, dry weather. You can use a rain fly like a tarp to create a shelter that is suited for camping in decent conditions or cover your gear outside your shelter to keep it dry. Look for a fly made with a waterproof-treated nylon coating for extra protection.

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The best part about a good rain fly is its light and easy to pack. Both are important to considerations for backpackers. A typical pack tent can weigh up to 10 pounds. A quality rain fly, on the other hand, might weigh a few pounds or even less, so the weight savings is substantial, and when you’re backpacking, every ounce you can shave off your load, the better.


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Since you can use a fly for a variety of purposes, a good rain fly should be made with strong materials that don’t tear easily. UV-protected, ripstop nylon is a good choice because it’s strong for its weight. Also, look for multiple strong loops or grommets positioned around the fly to help you tie down the sides or corners to something solid. Additional loops proportionately scattered over the fly provide additional tie-off points you can use to remove any slack and make the fly as taut as possible, which is critical in the rain and strong wind.