10 Amazing Uses for a Tarp in Van Life


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If you want to get the best out of living a van life, you should have the essential accessories. One of the essential accessories is a tarp, a versatile, rugged, flexible, and waterproof material. People often take tarps for granted, yet there are amazing uses for a tarp in van life and other areas of life. 

Here are 10 amazing uses for a tarp in van life:

  1. Protecting the van from the elements.
  2. Protecting the van from dirt and debris.
  3. Use a tarp as a ground cover.
  4. Water harvesting.
  5. Use it as a canopy.
  6. Use a tarp as a groundsheet.
  7. A stretcher.
  8. To partially insulate the van.
  9. A makeshift container.
  10. Use a tarp to cover stuff.

In this article, I’ll discuss the amazing uses of a tarp in van life. Let’s get started, shall we?


1. Protecting the Van From the Elements

You can use a tarp to protect your van from the elements. When you live a van life, you park your van in one place for a given period. The van can be significantly affected by the weather outside.

For instance, if you live in a hot place, the sun can crack the paint on the van’s roof. In the rainy season, the adhesive sealant can wear out and cause water to leak into the van. So, it’s good to install a tarp on the roof of your van. The tarp protects the van from the vagaries of the weather. 

By doing so, your van will serve you longer, and you’ll also have peace of mind. 


2. Protecting the Van From Dirt and Debris

When you’re moving in your van or park it in one place, it collects dirt and debris, which include sand, dust, hail, leaves, pine cones, or other materials. These things can accumulate in hard-to-reach parts of the van. Eventually, they can ruin the outer covering of the truck. 

In this case, a multipurpose protective tarp comes in handy. You can use it to protect the van from dirt and debris. You drape the tarp over the edges of the truck. All the soil and debris will collect on it. 

After some time, you can remove the tarp and clean it. 


3. Use a Tarp as a Ground Cover

During the rainy season, you might experience continuous rain for days on end. As a result, the ground around the van can become wet and muddy. It, therefore, becomes challenging for you to step into and out of the van. 

You could lay a tarp as a ground cover from the entrance of the van. Peg all the sides of the tarp to the ground using tent stakes. Since the tarp is waterproof, it prevents the ground from getting wet and muddy and it helps to drain the water outside the van. 

You can therefore step out of the van without getting messy, then remove it when the rains stop.


4. Water Harvesting

Sometimes in van life, you may experience a water shortage depending on where you are. Incidentally, a tarp can help you to collect water, especially when there’s a steady downpour.

To collect water, tie the corners of the tap to tree branches using a cord. Then form a ‘V’ shape on the tarp by sloping it downwards. You then place a container below the ‘V’. The rainwater will collect into the container/s. 

If there are no trees nearby, you can use poles or sticks to hoist the tarp. 


5. Use It as a Canopy

If you live a van life, the last thing you want is to be cooped up inside the van all day. The good news is that you can create a canopy on your van using a tarp. All you need is some poles and a cord. 

Hammer the posts into the ground and set up the tarp above them, just at the doorstep of the van. You can then relax outside under the tarp canopy instead of having to bear the sweltering heat inside the truck. 

You can even enjoy candlelit dinners under the tarp.


6. Use a Tarp as a Groundsheet

As a van dweller, there are days you want to lay outside as you bask in the sun, or sleep outside gazing at the stars on those cool nights. On such days, you can use a tarp as your groundsheet just outside the van.

Start by removing any stones that might puncture the tarp or hurt you, then spread the tarp on the ground, and you are good to go. The tarp will make you comfortable and also protect you from any harmful insects. 

If you decide to sleep on the tarp at night, you could put your sleeping bag on top of the tarp.  


7. A Stretcher

If the worst comes to the worst, you could use a tarp as a stretcher. For instance, if you’re fishing with your family and one of you gets hurt, you can make a temporary stretcher using a tarp. 

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Since people are heavy to carry, you need a heavy-duty tarp such as the Trademark Supplies Tarp Cover (available on Amazon.com) to make the stretcher. You also need two strong poles so that the stretcher doesn’t give in on your way to the van.


8. To Partially Insulate the Van

In van life, you often experience extreme weather conditions, such as sweltering heat during summer, and unbearable cold during the winter. You can also use a tarp to partially insulate the van.

You can drape the van with a light-colored tarp during the hot season, which reflects heat and keeps the van cool. During the cold season, you could drape the van with a dark-colored tarp. The dark color absorbs heat, thus helping to retain some heat in the truck. 


9. A Makeshift Container

As a van dweller, sometimes you need to ferry things to your van. For instance, you could catch rabbits or fetch firewood in the woods, and you’ll need something to carry the firewood or the rabbits you have hunted.

In such a case, a tarp would make a perfect makeshift container. Roll the rabbit or firewood onto the tarp and either drag the tarp or carry it on your back.


10. Use a Tarp To Cover Stuff

In van life, there’s usually no shed to store your stuff, but you’ll need to protect things like firewood from rain and snow. When firewood is wet, it can’t light. In such a scenario, a tarp can come to your rescue.

Since a tarp is waterproof, you can use it to cover firewood and other stuff. Ensure that you tuck in the corners of the tarp underneath the firewood, as well as place a stone on top of the tarp so that it’s not blown away by strong winds.


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Here are some of my favorite van build tools:

Thank you for reading this article. I hope you found it helpful as you build your own campervan. Here are some tools that I use daily while living on the road that made my life easier. I hope you’ll also find them as useful as me. These are affiliate links, so if you do decide to purchase any of them, I’ll earn a commission.
But in all honesty, these are the exact tools that I use and recommend to everyone, even my closest friends and family.


Electricity: When I first started my van life journey, I was using the Renogy 200W RV Kit, and I’ve recently upgraded my setup to the Renogy 400W RV Kit. I’m fully autonomous regarding power now, thanks to this upgrade. I don’t know why I didn’t choose this option from the beginning.

Quick Fixes: Whenever I need to fix something inside my van, I use my multitool from Victorinox. It’s compact and comes with a leather pouch that lets you store it wherever you want. Whenever I need more tools, I get my Cartmann toolset out.

Power tools: If you’re converting a van, you’ll need some serious tools for the building process. I can assure you, good power tools can make a huge difference. You’ll save time and avoid a lot of frustration while having some professional-looking final results. I personally went big with the full combo set from Dewalt.

To see all of my most up-to-date recommendations about van build, check out this resource that I made for you!

Martin

As an independent traveler, I try to share my positive and negative observations about van life as well as tips and tricks to make your life on the road easier. I travel and work in my old RV and would greatly appreciate a coffee from you if you find my content useful.

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