10 Best Tarp Poles for Camping in 2023 | Lightweight Tarp Poles

Last Updated on 27/08/2023

Top 10 Best Tarp Poles For Camping Shelters

In this guide to the best tarp poles for camping, we share the lightest, strongest, and easiest-to-use camping tarp poles available today. You will learn about the different types of tarp poles and how to use them correctly to get a taut rain fly sheet.

Camping wild is a great way to get away from the stress of modern life and get a little closer to nature. There are a few different options when it comes to sleeping outdoors, but camping with a tarp is by far one of the most lightweight and compact. You can see our list of recommended camping tarps here.

If you have any experience of wild camping with a tarp, then you will know that finding somewhere to set up without trees or branches can be a challenge. That is unless you have some hiking poles with you, which actually work great in most cases. But if you are not the type of person to carry hiking poles with you, then this list of the best tarp poles for camping has everything you need to build shelters.

10 Best Tarp Poles for Camping

Six Moon Designs 49″ Carbon Fiber Tent Pole

Six Moon Designs 49 Carbon Fiber Tarp Pole


  • WEIGHT: 1.8 oz / 51 g
  • LENGTH: 49 in / 124 cm
  • PACK SIZE: 16.5 in / 42 cm
  • MATERIALS: Carbon Fiber

The Six Moon Designs Carbon Fiber Tent Pole is by far the most lightweight tarp pole on this list and perhaps in the world. Fifty grams is absolutely nothing, and if the aim of the game is to travel light, then these are the best tarp poles for you.

Made from carbon fiber and, I believe, manufactured with Easton, they are technically stronger than aluminum and will not shatter even in the strongest winds. Any time I go hiking with a wild camp, these are the poles I take; if I have the car close by, then I will often take something longer and thicker. The Six Moon Designs carbon-fiber tarp pole also comes in a 45″ version, but as they weigh almost the same as each other, I would always opt for the longer version.

VERDICT: The Six Moon Designs 49-inch carbon fiber tent pole is our number one recommendation to anyone who wants a taut shelter. They are lightweight, strong, easy to use, compact, extendable, stable, and everything else you might want in a tarp pole.

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Big Agnes Accessory Backpacking Tarp Poles

Big Agnes Accessory Backpacking Tarp Poles


  • WEIGHT: 6.5 oz / 185 g
  • LENGTH: 33 – 45 in / 84 – 114 cm
  • PACK SIZE: 17 in / 43 cm
  • MATERIALS: DAC Pressfit Aluminum

The Big Agnes Accessory Backpacking Tarp Poles are our second pick for making personal shelters with your rainfly because they are so easy and carefree. Coming as a pair that weighs just 13 ounces together, you can comfortably add them to your pack without feeling the weight.

What we really like about these tarp poles is the rubber feet on both ends. These make setting up simple and fast on any type of ground and also mean less risk of ripping your tarp on pointy ends. They aren’t the tallest or the shortest when packed, but they are strong, lightweight, and super versatile when building shelters.

VERDICT: The Big Agnes Accessory Tarp Poles are definitely a close second for camping with a tarp, thanks to the wide feet that don’t sink into the ground. We recommend these as a slightly cheaper option to the Six Moons Tarp sticks above.

Outdoor Gear


MSR Adjustable Tarp Pole

MSR Adjustable Tarp Pole


  • WEIGHT: 10.7 oz / 305 g
  • LENGTH: 47 – 55 in / 119 – 140cm
  • PACK SIZE: 18 in / 47 cm
  • MATERIALS: Aluminium 6000 series

The MSR Adjustable Tarp Pole is available in 3 sizes, the 5-foot pole featured here, an 8-foot tarp pole, and a pair of 4-foot tarp poles which only weigh 380 grams for the two. The 8-foot pole is more suitable for larger groups, and the set of 4-foot poles is ideal for solo camping, but 5 feet is a workable size for most people and situations. If you are unsure which might suit your style best, then practice with some sticks/branches first.

The 5-foot pole, though, is ideal to use on its own for lightweight campers or as a pair for a spacious pitched shelter. MSR is a very well-respected brand that only produces high-quality outdoor gear, so you know you can count on these tarp poles.

VERDICT: The MSR Adjustable Tarp Pole is an excellent choice for lightweight backpackers and hikers who want a tarp pole that won’t bend in the wind and will support the center of the roof. Highly recommended by our editor, who uses one regularly.

Outdoor Gear


Thermarest Tranquility 6 Awning Poles


  • WEIGHT: 12 oz / 364 g per pair
  • LENGTH: 62 in / 157 cm
  • PACK SIZE: 20 x 3 in / 51 x 8 cm
  • MATERIALS: Aluminum

The Thermarest Tranquility 6 Awning Poles are designed to be used specifically with the Tranquility 6 tent, but they work perfectly well with tarps for shelter building. You can set a tarp up over your tent for extra protection or use it on its own with a sleeping pad and bag.

They come in a nice fabric roll bag with 3 x stakes and guy lines, which weigh an additional 140 grams, but you can leave that at home if you wish. They are fairly thin but sturdy nonetheless and will hold up to strong wind or pools of water on your tarp in heavy rain. At just 364 grams for the pair, these tarp poles are super lightweight and lighter than a pair of most hiking poles.

VERDICT: This separate tent pitching pole for tarps comes in a pack of two, which is ideal for pitched rooves and A-frame tarp setups. Thermarest is more well known for its sleeping pads, but these tarp rods for camping make a great addition to your bushcraft kit.

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Kelty Staff Tarp Pole

Kelty Staff Tarp Pole


  • WEIGHT: 17.6 oz / 500 g
  • LENGTH: 78 in / 198 cm
  • PACK SIZE: 21.5 in / 55 cm
  • MATERIALS: Aluminum

The Kelty Staff Tarp Pole is designed to work perfectly with the Kelty Noah’s Tarp but will provide plenty of structural integrity to any tarp shelter set up. We recommend getting two for a simple freestanding pitched roof design, but it is tall enough to work on its own.

These are not designed for the ultra-lightweight backpacker, but they are solid, and you don’t have to worry about them breaking in heavy winds. It does also come in a steel version, which is cheaper, and an adjustable version, which is heavier, but I think the Aluminium Staff Tarp Pole offers the best all-around performance.

VERDICT: The Kelty Staff Pole is a favorite of wild campers and backpackers around the world who like to get closer to nature with a tarp tent. If you want to set up a central pole to lift the middle of your roof up then this is a great choice.

Outdoor Gear


Azarxis Aluminum Alloy Tarp Poles

Azarxis Aluminum Alloy Tarp Pole


  • WEIGHT: 22 oz / 623 g per pair
  • LENGTH: 78.7 in / 200 cm
  • PACK SIZE: 21.6 in / 55 cm
  • MATERIALS: 6063 aluminum alloy

The Azarxis Aluminum Alloy Tarp Poles are a happy medium between affordability and lightweight gear you can trust. They are made from durable 6063 aluminum alloy, which has excellent strength-to-weight ratios and resists corrosion very well.

They have a spike design on the foot for rooting into the soft ground like an anchor, which is a contrast to the many flat, rubber foot designs out there. Of all the affordable tarp poles out there, I think these offer the best value for money and do not look cheap in any way. They look great. Top marks for being lightweight without feeling too thin or fragile and offering two meters of headroom which is more than enough for most people.

VERDICT: The Aluminum Alloy Tarp Poles by Azarxis are extra durable and reliable for heavier tarps made from canvas or for use in bad weather. They lock in like a collapsable hiking pole and pack away nice and compact – we like to roll them up in the tarp with the pegs.

Outdoor Gear


Paria Outdoor Products Adjustable Tarp and Tent Poles

Paria Outdoor Products Adjustable Tarp and Tent Poles


  • WEIGHT: 28 oz / 794 g per pair
  • LENGTH: 32 in / 81 cm (3 sections) – 72 in / 183 cm (5 sections)
  • PACK SIZE: 17.5 in / 44 cm
  • MATERIALS: 7000-series anodized aluminum alloy

The Paria Outdoor Products Adjustable Tarp and Tent Poles are not the lightest, but they are incredibly sturdy and versatile. There is a wide rubber foot on one end so that it works on practically any surface and a thinner tin at the top, which has excellent clearance through tarp eyelets.

Coming as a set of two tarp poles, you have the option of creating two identical lengths or one long/one short that enables you to create a pitched A-frame tarp shelter amongst many other designs that aren’t possible with identical poles. The adjustable slots make these tarp shelter poles more adaptable to a wider range of tarp sizes as well as enable you to adjust the tension once you’ve set up.

VERDICT: The Paria Tarp Poles look a bit like a collapsable walking aid with such chunky rubber feet, but these are actually designed to provide stability when pitching a tarp. Packaged as a set of two, these lightweight tarp poles give an extra taut tent and collapse down into five pieces that are connected with an elastic cord.

Outdoor Gear


Eureka 6 ft. Nested Aluminum Backpacker Upright Pole


  • WEIGHT: 12 oz / 340 g
  • LENGTH: 72 in / 183 cm
  • PACK SIZE: 26.5 in / 67 cm
  • MATERIALS: Aluminum

The Eureka 6 ft. Nested Aluminum Backpacker Upright Pole is your standard 1-inch tube in three sections that slot into each other, aka ‘nested’. You might like these if you are a fan of their tents; otherwise, there is nothing special to write home about.

These tarp shafts are fairly lightweight for the money and offer decent headroom, but the pack size isn’t too good at 67 cm. You will struggle to fit this inside most backpacks. That being said, they are tough and reliable for any kind of shelter building and also come in a foot version. I even use mine as a whacking stick to clear weeds and shrubs when pitching my tarp in the woods.

VERDICT: This is a solid tarp pole for hammock tarps or rain fly shelters and features a blunt spike/tip that easily slots through an eyelet for rapid setup. While it is strong and robust it only breaks down into three pieces that aren’t that small, so you may have to carry them on the outside of your pack.

Outdoor Gear


Odoland Adjustable Tarp Poles

Odoland Adjustable Tarp Poles


  • WEIGHT: 30 oz / 860 g per pair
  • LENGTH: 79 – 98 in / 200 – 250 cm
  • PACK SIZE: 26.8 in / 68 cm
  • MATERIALS: Aluminum Alloy

The Odoland Adjustable Tarp Poles come as a set that by no means could be classed as lightweight, but you can obviously cut the weight in half by just taking one pole. The length of these tarp poles is ideal for creating steeply pitched rooves or raised shelters that let a breeze through.

They are significantly heavier than some of the shorter poles on this list, and that is because the longer they are, the sturdier/thicker they need to be. If you want to stay lightweight, you will have to put up with shorter poles, but if you want the comfort that headspace brings, then these long tarp poles might be what you need.

VERDICT: This set of two adjustable tarp poles by Odoland is great if you like to set your tarp up first and adjust your tarp poles to create tension on the roof. The two reasons to buy are because they are adjustable and come in a set of two. The reason not to buy them is that they are quite heavy.

Outdoor Gear


HYOUT Adjustable Tarp Poles

HYOUT Adjustable Tarp Poles


  • WEIGHT: 32 oz / 907 g
  • LENGTH: 76 – 85 in / 185 – 215 cm
  • PACK SIZE: 23 in / 58 cm
  • MATERIALS: 7075 Aluminium alloy

The HYOUT Adjustable Tarp Poles are very similar to the Azarxis tarp poles above; however, these have about a foot of adjustability which is great for creating pitched shelters for shedding heavy rain.

They have the spiked foot, which again works great for soft ground but may pose issues on any hard or solid ground. We’ll let you decide. The adjustable mechanisms do add some weight when compared to the Azarxis’s, but they are just as strong and still lighter than the Kelty staff pole when weighed individually. Not a bad choice for beach shelters, festivals, and small groups but quite bulky for small solo campers.

VERDICT: The HYOUT spiked tarp poles are really cool and work well on all but the hardest ground types (but who camps on concrete anyway?). The spike helps when setting up and to prevent any movement if camping in strong winds.

Outdoor Gear


*Another set of tarp poles worth mentioning are the Exped 115 Tarp Poles which didn’t make the list because they seem to be rather hard to come by these days.

Making Tarp Pole Camping Shelters

There are almost endless ways you can pitch a tar

Using Trekking Poles With Your Tarp

Suppose you carry hiking poles or another suitable pole that can be reliably used for shelter building, like a camera tripod, for example. Then you might not necessarily need any of these top 10 best tarp poles as having multi-use items is far more weight-efficient. We plan on writing an article about the best trekking poles for tarp shelters in the future, but in the meantime, you can check out our lightweight hiking pole recommendations here.

2 Tarp Poles Vs 1 Tarp Pole

You will notice that some of the best tarp poles on this list come in pairs, and others are sold in singles. This isn’t what makes one pole better than the other; it just depends on what kind of shelter you want.

With a single pole that extends nice and long, you can create any number of tepee-style shelters as well as angled lean-tos and bivvy bags.

With two shorter tarp poles, you can create pitched roofs, A-frames, and lots of other lean-too-type shelters. The choice is ultimately up to you, but some set-ups do require some skill to get right, so be sure to make a few different shelters before you buy any tarp poles.

What to Look for in a Tarp Pole to get a Taut Roof

The idea behind camping with a tarp is that you are lightweight and adaptable, so adding a tarp pole into the mix can be a tough hurdle to overcome. If, like me, you have been caught out in the rain without a tarp pole before, then carrying a little bit of extra weight is a small price to pay. Here are the main things to consider when buying a tarp pole:


For some people, this may be the most important factor when shopping for a tarp pole, while others should certainly pay attention to it. If you are used to carrying a tarp that weighs around 500 grams, for example, a set of hiking poles that weigh anything over that will seem like too much. There are some super lightweight options out there for the gram counters.

However, most do seem to be on the heavier side. Whatever way you look at it, it is still far lighter than most tents and far cheaper than a Hilleberg!


For other people, the length and/or pack size may be more important than weight, as this often dictates whether you would be better with 2. If you consider that your average lightweight 1-2 man backpacking tent is less than 100 cm high inside, you can safely assume that a 110 cm tarp pole will give you a similar amount of headroom. So anything over 150 cm is going to offer significantly better headspace than most tents, as well as being lighter and cheaper.


The materials are often what have the biggest impact on the price and weight, with carbon fiber or titanium being the most expensive/lightweight and steel being the cheapest/heaviest.

If you are dedicated to wild camping, then you will no doubt be accustomed to hiking with a heavy backpack, but you will also understand the importance of buying lightweight. The strength of the tarp pole is arguably the most important feature when choosing a material, but all the best tarp poles on this list can be trusted in strong wind.

Tarp Vs Tent Vs Hammock

Tarp poles are essential for pitching a rain fly, but should you be looking at tents and hammocks instead? Here are some of the benefits of each type of shelter, including those you make with tarp poles

Benefits of Tarps

Tarps are incredibly lightweight, portable, affordable, and offer the most versatility in that they can be set up in hundreds of different ways depending on the situation you are in. The downside is that you don’t get any kind of bug protection unless you add your own, which can be a bit of a hassle.

Benefits of Tents

Tents are great if you don’t mind carrying a big heavy backpack or forking out hundreds on the most lightweight one person tents. They provide excellent rain and bug protection but are very limited in what they can do compared to a tarp, and if a pole or zip breaks in heavy wind, replacements are expensive.

Benefits of Hammocks

Hammocks, for me, offer the most comfort and the best night’s sleep of all three options listed here. But they require two sturdy hanging points to be used AND still require you to bring a tarp (unless they are sewn together). The idea is that if you can’t find a place to hang your hammock, then you can use the tarp… But what if you are above the tree line and you can’t even find a single tie-off point that is suitable? You need some kind of tarp pole to support the roof.


Thanks for reading right to the end of this article about the Best Tarp Poles for Camping, be sure to like us on Facebook and subscribe to stay in the loop.

Gear Assistant
Gear Assistant

This article has been written and/or edited by Andrew N. 20+ years of hiking, mountaineering, and camping experience, with access to all the latest outdoor gear.

Gear Assistant