Updated: Apr 19
As commercially available tents continue to improve through new materials and new technologies, some people still prefer to camp with nothing more than a tarp or two between them and the elements. There are a number of reasons why this relatively rustic option is still popular:
Lightweight. Tarps tend to be lighter than a tent. Additionally, they cover more space for their weight than most tents.
Adaptable. Most tents have a singular configuration. They cannot adapt to a variety of conditions the way a tarp can. This advantage of tarp camping is especially apparent when sleeping in a wilderness area instead of a campground.
Ventilation. Every camping aficionado has at least one memory of waking to a sleeping bag wet with condensation from the inside of their tent's walls. Sleeping under a tarp prevents this common issue.
Inexpensive. Even a heavy duty tarp is usually more affordable than a commercially available tent.
Connection. Sleeping under a tarp, you do not zip up an opening in a wall, shutting out the environment around you. Due to this, sleeping beneath a tent tarp may lead to a profound sense of connection with nature. This is true of many rustic options. Use of a camouflage tarp may help to encourage this feeling.