Tarp Size Question

I am interested in a Cookes Custom Tarp. I was wondering from tarp owners what size would be the most preferable and useful if you were to own only one.

I don’t want anything too small that I will eventually wish I had ordered up a size or 2, or anything too large that will make it cumbersome.

There will be 2 to 4 people that it could be used for generally (of course more if a paddling with a large group) I was thinking it could be used as a fly for a couple of 2 person tents as they are single walled MSR Flings. Also which weight is most preferred - Cookes show 2 different weights and not sure if one is most preferable over the other as I have not ever seen one of these tarps but hear only good things about them.

Thanks for any suggestions!

cook/hang-out area
For the tents, you’re better off having individual tarps sized exactly to the tent. And you don’t really need a high quality tarp for that purpose, unless maybe wind tears are a persistent problem.

Good quality tarps are better used for a cook/hang-out area, and in foul weather they can be very much worth it. They also make a good survival tool in dire circumstances. I’d go for the heavier version and as big as possible, or rather, as big as you can stand to carry. You’ll want to practice several different configurations for different weather conditions, one of which uses part of the area as partial walls, so you really can’t go much smaller than 10x15 or so. I used a 16x20 one for several years, and it was rarely too big.

I’d suggest getting a center grommet installed and reinforced, so you can make various configurations that use a center pole. When you don’t use the center pole, use a plastic plug (or just tape) to cover the hole so water doesn’t leak there.

Here’s a link to more than anybody needs to know about using tarps:


I Recommend 2 Tarps
I have a Cookes 10x10 sil-net that is fantastic for a two person cookfly or a back-up for larger groups.

I am planning on adding a Cookes 15x15 heavy weight for large group trips and car camping.

I have two 10x12’s that I sewed myself as knock-offs of Cookes designs. They are handy tarps but I often find myself wishing for the bigger 15x15.

My needs
I have a 10’x12’ and it works well for what I need. Basically used to cover a smaller table, 2 chairs, and some gear. Anything smaller wouldn’t do that for us. We tend to pitch it like a lean to, 12’ along the ground and high end and 10’ along the sides. We carry an adjustable aluminum extention pole made for paint roller to peak the high end.


Center Pole
One of the cool things about Cooke Custom Sewing’s tarps is that there’s a reinforced patch at the center which is surrounded by webbing loops to which you can attach ropes. That makes it easy to lash the top of the pole snugly to the tarp, which eliminates that age-old problem of the pole falling down anytime a gust gets under the tarp and lifts it. I wouldn’t be surprised if Cooke’s bigger tarps are equipped to have two center poles. His stuff tends to be VERY intelligently designed.

I Know
You didn’t ask…but for a good durable tarp it’s hard to beat for price


And for a reasonably cost effective for light weight


Best wishes


10x10 - wish I had 10x12

– Last Updated: Jan-31-09 7:17 PM EST –

I've had the 10x10 Tundra Tarp for two years and it's the first thing out the boat at camp and the last thing back in. I hang it over my hammock, then use the center tie points to hold my hammock out of the way while I'm cooking or sitting or entertaining. The centerpathc guideboatguy is talkign about is worth the price of the tarp IMHO. I use it with my kayak paddle and always have plenty of headroom and no tarp collapsing because of collecting water. Another trick to keep water from pooling on the roof is on each side make one corner lower than the other so water can easily run off. I wish I had the 10x12 because my Eno hammock is almost 10' long and when the wind is driving rain it can come in on the end of my hammock. I've not had a problem yet but I see the potential. When this 10x10 wears out I'll replace it with a 10x12. I paid $100 for mine and could have got the lighter one for $50 more but I didn't see the need to save 4 ounces or so. Be sure and treat the seams with the little tube of stuff Dan sends with the tarp. And, the glow in the dark rope he sells is well worth the price in not tripping over guy lines when its dark. Enjoy your Cooke Tarp, it's a wonderful tool for being comfortable in the outdoors and you won't find a better made product anywhere IMHO

Tarp Size
I have been using a 12x12 Kelty Noah’s Tarp for several years. Completely covers a standard picnic table and you can let a side down for wind/blowing rain protection. Packs very small, plus you can add adjustable Kelty Poles to raise as much of it as needed. Has a number of loops on the body, and the center one is great for hanging from a tree limb. No provision for a center pole, but that is easily fixed with Campmor’s self-storing sectional backpackers aluminum pole, an ethafoam block and some self-stick velcro. Also loops and grommets around the perimeter, so the rigging possibilities are almost endless. I keep 15’ of parachute cord tied to the corner and center loops…more can be added to other locations as needed. The best stakes I have found are the 7" North Face aluminum “V” stakes. You get 10 for about $13.00. Much more durable than the aluminum L or crooked end wire stakes, and not much heavier.

I agree about tents with built in full-coverag flys, or individual tarps. Most quality tents come with full-coverage flys, which are worth their weight in gold, allowing the inner surface to breathe, preventing ondensation.