Adirondack Tarp Shelter
The Adirondack is a great 3 sided shelter that can be used throughout
the year in different environments. In the Spring, Summer, and Fall it can
be used with or without a fire, but in the winter you would want a long-fire
in front of the shelter. The heat reflects off of the inside of
your tarp keeping you warm in whatever weather you find yourself! When you
set up your shelter, always remember to put the shelter crosswise to the
prevailing wind. If you set it up with the back to the wind, you will end
up with a back draft and your tarp shelter will fill up with smoke!
To build the Adirondack you need a square tarp. I use a 10X10, but you could use
a 10X12 as well simply by folding the 2 foot extra on the long end under the
tarp. This will also serve as a ground cloth of sorts to put your bedding or
gear on in case of rain. Once that you have a square tarp, lay it out in a
diamond shape as seen in the picture below. You will fold under the back part of
the diamond so that there is about a 7 foot long edge in the back.
I then use tarp clips to stake out the two points that I have just made on the
back edge of the tarp. The tarp clips that you see in the picture are the best
that I have found for working with tarps. They generally make something called
"Alligator" tarp clips now, which slip off the tarp and don’t work
near as well. Simply attach your clips to the rear 2 points on the tarp and
stake them to the ground with a metal or wooden stake.
Now we will take the right point of our diamond and bring it to the front in
line with the rear stake. You want the rear edge and the right side to make a 90
degree angle where they meet. Once that you pull this edge into position stake
it down through the grommet in the tarp. Once that you have finished with the
right edge, do the very same thing with the left point of your original diamond.
You will then have a 3 sided square.
The next step is to use trekking poles, or cut 2 poles from wood to prop up the
front ends of your shelter. In the next picture I make short work of a 1"
branch with my Tom Brown Tracker knife. It cleanly cuts the length that I need.
You will have to measure on your tarp how long the prop is, but on mine it was
about 4′ high. I then put a sock over the branch to make sure that it doesn’t
cut through my tarp. Put these props up on the left and right front of your tarp
respectively and tie around the top with a short piece of cordage to hold them
In order to hold our props up we will tie stake out lines. 2 lines from each
upright will suffice, one straight out to the front and one 90 degrees to the
left or right. This will give a lot of strength to the shelter. I have had mine
up with winds blowing 60 MPH and it has not been compromised. Not too bad for a
Once we have stakes out the uprights our shelter is finished. You can tie an
additional cord to the front point and either tie it out for extra shade or
protection from the rain, or flip it back over the shelter for an open front.
Here is a picture of the finished shelter with the point to the back. This
shelter can be used to sit in while work on crafts as well as slept under
lengthwise toward the back on the "pointed ground cloth". As I said
earlier.. you will stay warm and dry with a small fire toward the front of your
shelter! Go out and test the Adirondack setup. I think you will be well pleased!