Tarps are probably the best thing since sliced bread. And we’re not kidding. A tarp, as you well know, is the perfect tool for covering something you don’t want to get wet or exposed to the elements like an outdoor grill or your woodpiles. You probably have seen it used to cover vehicles such as cars, trucks, and boats. Others use tarps to keep floors, truck beds, and even driveways from getting dirty.
We’ve seen tarps used in construction projects, agriculture, and aviation. No doubt, there is an infinite number of applications. The problem then is, which tarp should you get? Well, we rounded up the best in the industry and placed them on a list. From there, we picked out 10 best tarps that were affordable, durable, strong, and perfect for its intended purpose.
Top 10 Tarps of 2017
- Top 10 Tarps of 2017
- 1. Grizzly Tarps Blue Series
- 2. Dry Top Heavy Duty Poly Tarp 10′ x 12′ Tarp
- 3. TarpsDirect Super Heavy Duty Brown Tarp
- 4. Trademark Supplies Tarp Cover Silver / Black Heavy Duty
- 5. HydraTarp Super Heavy Duty Waterproof Tarp
- 6. Hanjet Lightweight Outdoor Camping Tarp
- 7. Stansport Reinforced Multi-Purpose Tarp
- 8. Harpster Tarps Super Heavy Duty Brown Tarp
- 9. MP Heavy Duty Shade Mesh Tarp
- 10. HomePlus Multi Purpose Light Weight Poly-Tarp
- How to Choose the Best Tarp
1. Grizzly Tarps Blue SeriesTarp for the Money
When it comes to lightweight tarps, nobody does it better than Grizzly Tarps. Their Blue series are 5 mils thick with a tight 8×8 sq-inch polyethylene weave for exceptional durability. For added strength, the tarps have border piping (rope in the hem) and heat-sealed seams. Tearing it won’t be a problem you have to worry about. Like other tarps, these are waterproof. But they have an additional feature of being mildew-proof as well. Best of all, it’s thin and light enough that you can easily drag or lift it to where you want it to go.
- Heat-sealed seams and border piping
- Not for heavy duty applications
- Not UV protected
- Some consumers have reported that the sizes are incorrect
2. Dry Top Heavy Duty Poly Tarp 10′ x 12′ Tarp
If you’re looking for a tarp that can handle heavy duty applications, then this one from Dry Top is your best bet. This is a UV treated, reversible tarp that has silver on one side and brown on the other. It is made of polyethylene material with a 14×14 cross weave for incredible strength and durability. The grommets are rust resistant and help reinforce the corners. Because it is a heavy duty tarp, it can be used in a variety of ways from creating a roof for your patio or pool to outdoor camping.
- UV-treated tarp
- Rust resistant grommets
- Some consumers have reported randomly placed grommets
- Users have also complained of tearing when exposed too long to the hot sun
- A bit expensive for the quality
3. TarpsDirect Super Heavy Duty Brown TarpTarp for Roofs
TarpsDirect offers a UV treated, lightweight tarp that features heat sealed seams and hems for increased durability. This woven poly tarp is waterproof, mildew-proof, and acid resistant. At 16 mils thick, this is already considered a heavy duty tarp. And we’ve tested it so we know it can take a pretty decent beating and come out still whole. While the finished size isn’t exactly what was promised, the quality of the material and make is enough to cause us to overlook the size issues.
- Ruggedly built
- The edges are sealed very well
- Thick and tight
- Not lightweight as promised
- Finished size is smaller than advertised
- Grommets aren’t distributed evenly
4. Trademark Supplies Tarp Cover Silver / Black Heavy Duty
This tarp is made with a 12×14 weave with 8 mil thickness. It comes in black with a rope reinforced hem and heat sealed seams. It feels heavy and substantial in your hand. It’s not as thick as really heavy duty tarps but works great for covering pools, trucks, and firewood. And since it comes in black, it matches well with your roof, car, house, garage, truck, etc. However, the grommets are not as evenly spaced as we’d like. And the price is a bit more expensive than the competition.
- perfect for light duty jobs
- nice color
- not truly heavy duty
- not mildew-proof
5. HydraTarp Super Heavy Duty Waterproof Tarp
HydraTarp is one of the best heavy duty tarps you’ll ever find. It offers 16 Mil thickness, double reinforced corners, corrosive-free brass grommets every 18 inches, and rope in seam along all four edges of the tarp. The product also comes with a No Questions Asked 30-day Money Back Guarantee and a 1-year warranty. The tarp is offered in two sizes – 12ft x 16ft and 20ft x 30 ft. And yes, these tarps are very expensive but oh-so-worth the money. They’re heavier than what you’d usually find in your local home supply stores. It has been tested against Mother Nature (rain and the hot sun) and came out whole.
- UV Protection Layer
- Rot-Proof construction
- grommets are not consistently placed
- very stiff
6. Hanjet Lightweight Outdoor Camping TarpTarp for Covering Wood
If you want an affordable, lightweight tarp that would cover your firewood, car, bike, etc., then this is the right choice. While it is the most inexpensive option, it doesn’t mean it’s the worst in quality. The tarp itself is pretty thin so it will tear when exposed to a sharp object. But for the purpose of providing cover from the elements, particularly from the rain and the sun, it gets the job done. And since it’s so lightweight and folds up nicely, it’s great for camping.
- good quality
- thin tarp
- water resistant, not waterproof
- for temporary use only
7. Stansport Reinforced Multi-Purpose TarpTarp for Camping
Stansport is our pick if you’re going for a multipurpose tarp that’s not blue. Yes, for some of us, that blue color of a tarp isn’t all that appealing. Color aside, this tarp features durable rip-stop polyethylene laminate on both sides, rope reinforced edges, and rust resistant grommets. Like our very first pick, this tarp is waterproof and washable. It is also advertised as shrink proof. If you’re thinking of using it as a heavy duty tarp, think again. But if you want something for camping, ground cover, or shelter, then this is a great choice.
- perfect for light duty to medium duty applications
- good color
- reinforced corners are pretty sturdy
- not mildew-proof
- doesn’t last more than a couple of months
- more expensive than similar tarps
8. Harpster Tarps Super Heavy Duty Brown TarpTarp for Shelter
Harpster Tarps Super Heavy Duty Brown Tarp is 16 Mils thick with reinforced corner grommets, aluminum eyelets, rope in hem, and heat-sealed seams. The lamination has been UV treated for a longer life span. This tarp is waterproof, dust-proof, and rot-proof. Because it is very thick, the tarp isn’t very pliable. Wrapping it around something as a cover isn’t going to be easy. Also, it does get pretty hot when exposed to the sun. But the good news is, even under the hot Arizona sun, this tarp is going to last.
- pretty thick
- good for heavy duty use
- holds up well in various conditions (extreme heat, snow, and rain)
- can get hot
- very stiff
- slightly more expensive than the usual options
9. MP Heavy Duty Shade Mesh TarpTarp for Shade
Unlike all our other picks, this heavy duty tarp is shade mesh tarp. It provides 70% shade while allowing cool air to pass through. Made out of commercial grade material, these tarps feature reinforced hems using 2″ wide nylon webbing and mighty #4 brass grommets. This tarp is well-constructed. It doesn’t break as easily as some plastic tarps out there. While the mesh isn’t as tightly woven as some prefer, it serves its purpose – providing a lot of shade and adequate ventilation. While this tarp may not be the number one choice for preventing your stuff from getting wet, it’s a great option if you wish to place a roof over your patio, your garage, animals, or garden.
- Very well-made
- Allows cool air to flow
- High quality eyelets
- Not water resistant
- Some consumers have reported getting lesser shade than was advertised (50% not 70%)
10. HomePlus Multi Purpose Light Weight Poly-TarpTarp for Backpacking
HomePLus’ Multi-purpose Poly-Tarp is the cheapest on our list. You actually get two for the price of one. This light duty tarp is waterproof with 8 rust proof aluminum rings located in each corner and in the middle of each side. Obviously, this is not a very thick tarp. But what it lacks in thickness, it makes up for in size.
Because it’s one of the smallest in the market, you’re able to do several jobs that are hard to do with big tarps such as cover a small portion of your floor while your kids are doing some finger painting project or you’re getting a foot bath. It also works great when using it for picnics, camping, a cover for equipment, an even as a shower curtain. However, it isn’t the sturdiest so when you put a lot of stress on the grommets, it’s not going to last.
- very affordable
- multipurpose light duty applications
- very thin
- aluminum grommets
- will not last long (couple of months only)
How to Choose the Best Tarp
A tarp, as we’ve already mentioned, has infinite uses. It’s the perfect cover for keeping your truck bed clean and for creating that extra roof on your patio. It can be a camping tent, a homemade Slip ‘N Slide, or even a rain-catching system when you’re surviving in the wild.
With so many uses, it’s important that you get best tarp for your purpose. And that’s where we come in. Instead of just letting you buy the first tarp you see, we’ve constructed a buying guide to give you a better understanding of what makes a great tarp. And we’ve included some tips to help you in figuring out which ones are the best for the job you have in mind.
What’s your purpose?
Before we get any further on the subject of tarps, let’s first consider what you plan to do with it. If you plan on covering against the sun, you’ll need to get a UV treated tarp to protect you or your valuables from the harmful effect of UV rays such as the Dry Top Heavy Duty Poly Tarp 10′ x 12′ Tarp or the TarpsDirect Super Heavy Duty Brown Tarp.
For protection against the rain, polyethylene tarps are the perfect choice since these are naturally 100% waterproof. One good example is the Grizzly Tarps Blue Series. Canvas tarps are water resistant, however, it will leak if enough water accumulates on top of the tarp.
If you wish for protection from the wind, you’ll need a heavy duty tarp with grommets that will hold up well and securely tie down your tarp to create a snug fit on your stuff. We recommend the HydraTarp Super Heavy Duty Waterproof Tarp or the Harpster Tarps Super Heavy Duty Brown Tarp.
In winter, you can use heavy duty poly tarps. But the best option for you is vinyl tarps because they are specifically designed to hold up well in extremely cold temperatures (up to -40 degrees).
What should my tarp be made out of?
You may have noticed that all our choices are made out of Polyethylene. This is because, aside from being the most affordable option, poly tarps are truly multipurpose. They range from light duty to super heavy duty. These are perfect for backyard applications, construction projects, camping, etc.
Poly tarps are generally waterproof, UV treated, and offer more color and size options that any other kind of tarp. However, they do tend to disintegrate over time when exposed to too much sun (not UV treated), can become brittle when exposed to cold weather, and generally not last as long as vinyl or canvas.
What features should I look at?
When you shop around for a tarp, you’ve probably seen various descriptions used to describe the product such as Mils, weave, grommets, lamination, and rot resistant. These are all important features that will help you decide if a tarp will be perfect for the purpose you have in mind.
First, tarp thickness. The thickness of a tarp is measured in mils which is 1/1000 of an inch. The higher the number is, the thicker the tarp is. For lightweight tarps, the thickness is generally around 5 to 8 Mils such as the Grizzly Tarps Blue Series. Medium weight tarps are around 9 to 10 Mils. Heavy duty tarps are around 12 to 13 tarps. Super heavy duty ones can range from 16 to 24 mils such as the TarpsDirect Super Heavy Duty Brown Tarp.
When it comes to size, you need to take note that what is advertised by the manufacturer never really is the actual size you’ll be getting. In general, you’ll be getting something that is 4 to 6 inches less on each dimension. This is because manufacturers use the measurement of the tarp before it is hemmed at the edges. So keep that in mind.
Poly tarps typically have a layer of polyethylene film. The more layers there are, the longer the tarp will last. Tarps also come in a wide range of colors. Now, it’s easy to just choose something that appeals to you or matches your decor. But there is a purpose to some of them.
Silver tarps such as the Dry Top Heavy Duty Poly Tarp 10′ x 12′ Tarp or the Trademark Supplies Tarp Cover Silver / Black Heavy Duty are great for blocking out the sun while keeping you cool underneath. White tarps provide you with a bit of shade but still allows some light to come through. The blue, green, and brown tarps are usually generally utility tarps, used in general construction, landscaping, camping, etc.
Some features that you also need to look at – waterproof vs water resistant and mildew proof or rot proof. While poly tarps are naturally waterproof, some have been specifically designed to only be water resistant. A water resistant tarp will allow you to prevent your valuables from getting wet up to a point. After a certain amount of water has accumulated on top of your tarp, it’s going to leak. What about mildew-proof or rot proof tarps?
We all know how mold forms. The same goes for mildew, its white cousin. Heat combined with some overnight dew can cause mold or mildew to breed on your tarp. If this is the kind of environment that your tarp will be exposed to, you probably need to choose something that will not become a breeding ground for mold, potentially harming you and your family.
Lastly, but definitely not the least, grommets. These are the metal rings that you see around the edges of your tarp which enable you to securely tie down your tarp. Depending on the size and the grade of the tarp, spacing between grommets can range from 18 to 36 inches. Most heavy duty tarps have their grommets place 18 inches apart. Grommets can be made out of aluminum, brass, or plated steel. All of these are rust proof. However, aluminum grommets aren’t that strong; can only handle light duty applications. Brass grommets are the most durable.
Whether you’re buying a tarp for your outdoor equipment, a homemade Slip ‘N Slide, a camping tent, or for any industrial application, it’s important that you get the features right. Not all tarps are made the same. And they’re not just for covering some stuff you want to keep dry. As we’ve pointed out, it can be a whole lot more. You just need to figure out what you can do with it before you go on a buying spree.