Just to be difficult (I cant spell contravertial!) I thought I would risk being shot down in flames and put up an argument not to use a tarp, so here goes (get ready to duck
Ok, I still don’t get the whole tarp thing, I have read all the benefits of tarps – but still don’t get why you really need one?
Modern tents are designed to be weather/water proof, they are UV stable, and a tent with a fly offers additional insulation/protection. If you approached a tent manufacturer and asked do I need to erect a tarp to protect my tent I guess they would all say no, its not needed otherwise they would provide them or change the design.
I have camped in the UK and all over France (including the French Alps) and they don’t use tarps and the weather can be a lot worse, colder and wetter.
I can understand using a tarp to cover a kitchen or eating area if you don’t have an awning (but a gazebo is an alternative) and maybe to provide additional shade to keep your tent cooler, I guess this is particularly so with the reflective backing – but again modern tents are well ventilated and we wouldn’t be in the tent much during the heat of the day and then they cool down at night (and sometimes it is nice to try and capture some of that heat for cooler nights).
Wet tents are a pain, we got well and truly rained on over Easter, the CT didn’t leak, we had to pack it away damp as it kept on raining, we got it home put it up on the front of the house (2-3mins) while we sorted everything out and it was completely dry within half an hour. We also find any dew etc also dries out quickly, usually we pack up everything else first and when we come to fold up the tent it is dry – this also was the same when we had a Coleman.
For some reason the canvas seems to repel water and dry out quicker than our nylon tents.
Bird deposits etc, we usually just sponge them off anyway – I guess you would with a tarp.
To me tarps seem a hassle to put up, extra poles, guys, pegs etc and it is more to buy, transport and take down (I’m sure I will be told otherwise!).
I am not saying don’t get a tarp, I know a lot of people on the forum swear by them and I respect that. I just wanted to put across another point of view, try camping without a tarp a couple of times, see how you go – you can always get one at a later stage if you feel that is what you need.