Tarp Tensioners


Regardless of whether you are in a hammock, under a tarp or a tent, the challenge can be making sure the shelter above stays tight and secure during the night. Many forms of nylon, polyester and other common materials will actually stretch a bit. Especially when including things like moisture, combined with a bit of wind and you can wake up in the middle of the night to either the noise of a flapping tarp, or worse still, the feeling of a wet surface that has sagged and is now touching you while you are asleep and under the cover.

One simple way of getting around this is making up some Tarp Tensioners. These are lines that will contract to take up any slack, but can only extend to a set length.

After reading up about this simple but effective way of dealing with varying tension on Hammock Forums, I thought I would have a go at making my own. I have now made a couple of sets, and thought I would quickly document how I go about it.

Essentially, all you need is some line (I use a 2m Dyneema Line) and some shock cord. I forget how thick the shock-cord is, but really, the stronger the better.


I cut the Dyneema down to length (whatever you would normally allow for tie-down lines – couple of meters normally) and around a 300 mm length of shock-cord. Then essentially, you want to tie the shock cord into the line in a way so that the shock-cord gets stretched out once the line is drawn tight.


These are very simple to use. You just put your tarp up as normal, pull it nice and tight, and then, in the middle of the night, when things are prone to loosen up a little, the shock-cord will retract, take up the slack, and keep everything nice and tight.

Things dry back out, and the shock cord gets stretched out, but will only every go as far as the line will let it. Easy.


I generally use these on all my pitches these days – this might change when I get some Cuben Fiber material – as it doesn’t stretch (noticeably) – but until then – these are always in the pack!