13oz. Ultralight Shelter (DIY build guide)

Before you start building, check out my video! 

This is a really easy ultralight project that will reduce your base weight significantly. At 13 oz this ultralight shelter can't be matched on weight or cost. The materials below come to about $20.

A tarp is a versatile shelter which can either be left off (when sleeping under a clear sky), or pitched low and tight when in windy and wet conditions.

You should absolutely practice multiple pitch types before taking this out for your shelter. Understanding site selection is also key to getting the most out of it.

ultralight tent

Step One (Materials)

-Painters drop cloth (9ft X 12ft)

-Grommet Kit with punch and tools

-Gorilla duct tape 

-masons twine

-Extra large cardboard moving box

-Scrap wood

-Permanent marker




Step Two (Tracing and cutting the ground sheet)


-Open the large painters tarp on the floor. Then open the cardboard so it lays flat on one edge of the large tarp. Both the ground sheet and the tarp are made from this piece.


-Mark and cut a rectangular shape that is large enough for your sleeping system to fit on. Remember, you can always cut off extra material  so its best to give yourself room just in case.


Save any large cardboard tabs that you cut off. They will be used to make the tarp pattern later.

cardboard box as a pattern

Step Three (Making the tarp pattern and cutting the tarp)


-Extend the length of the groundsheet pattern by taping the left over cardboard to it. This will give us almost 9 feet of tracing length, which is a standard tarp dimension.


-Trace a large rectangle on the remaining section of the plastic and cut carefully. I recommend doing this outside on a flat surface to make it easier. 

tracing out the tarp for the shelter

Step Four (Taping the anchor points)

I highly recommend you watch the video to see how I did this portion exactly.


-Start by folding the edge of the tarp one inch in on itself. Crease the folds so the tarp doesn't unravel. You can also use extra tape to hold it down if you need to. 


-For the corner tie outs, cut multiple 2 inch strips of gorilla tape. Then overlap the tape as shown in the video.


Repeat the same steps for the straight edge tie outs, but use 4 inch strips of tape instead. The more side tie outs you add, the more pitching options you have to choose from. I chose 3 on each edge to cut down on weight.

making the ultralight shelter tie outs

Step Five (Attach Grommets)

Read the directions that come with your grommet kit. It should come with a hole punch, and forming tool.

I chose metal grommets over plastic to save weight, but plastic should hold up just fine.


-Hole punch the center of each anchor point. Set the grommets using scrap wood and a hammer.

ultralight tarp grommet

Step Six (Make guy lines)

Guy lines are what connect your tap to the stakes.

-For the corner and long sides, measure and cut 2 feet of twine for each tie out.

The long guy lines that hold up the poles should be at least 6 feet.

Secure the guy lines to the stakes and tie outs with a Taught line hitch. Add an extra hitch to each knot to prevent slippage.

Ultralight tarp guylines

If you need help with this, or any other project, just ask on one of my social media pages and I will help you out!