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Going Floorless

Floorless shelters, also known as tarp shelters, are a popular option among backpackers and hikers looking for a lightweight and versatile shelter option. These shelters typically consist of a waterproof tarp and a series of poles or trekking poles to provide support. While floorless shelters have many benefits, there are also a few potential downsides to consider before deciding to use one.


  • Lightweight: Without a floor, floorless shelters are typically much lighter than traditional tents. This can be especially beneficial for hikers and backpackers who need to carry their shelter with them on a long journey.

  • Versatile: Floorless shelters can be set up in a variety of ways, depending on the terrain and weather conditions. They can be pitched in a traditional A-frame shape, or set up in a more open configuration to take advantage of natural windbreaks or to provide a view of the surrounding area.

  • Cost-effective: Floorless shelters are often less expensive than traditional tents. This can make them a more budget-friendly option for those looking for a shelter on a budget.

  • Durable: Because floorless shelters do not have a floor, they are less likely to suffer from wear and tear over time. This can make them a more durable option for frequent hikers and backpackers.


  • No floor: The most obvious downside of a floorless shelter is that it does not have a floor. This means that hikers will need to bring a separate groundcloth or sleeping pad to protect themselves from the ground. Additionally, it can be more challenging to keep out insects, small animals and dirt.

  • Weather-dependent: Floorless shelters are not as weather-proof as traditional tents. They provide less protection from the elements and may not be suitable for use in extreme weather conditions such as heavy rain or high winds.

  • Less privacy: Floorless shelters provide less privacy than traditional tents. They are typically more open and can be less suitable for use in crowded camping areas.

  • Requires more skill: Setting up a floorless shelter can be more challenging than setting up a traditional tent. It requires more skill and experience to ensure that the shelter is set up properly and securely.

Floorless shelters can be a great option for backpackers and hikers looking for a lightweight and versatile shelter option. However, it's important to consider the potential downsides, such as the lack of a floor and the fact that they are more weather-dependent, before deciding to use one. Additionally, a floorless shelter requires more skill and experience to set up properly and securely. It's important to weigh the pros and cons and consider your own needs and preferences before making a decision.

If you are considering buying a floorless or floored shelter, check out VIAM Outdoors. They have a whole line of lightweight tarps and shelters. Use Promo Code TPR to save 5%

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