The Pedalshift Project 295: Making Your Tent Stealthier

Stealth camping is a great skill to develop and a fantastic option to have for emergencies or maybe even your main overnight plan on a bike tour. But what if your tent is so bright it can be seen from miles away? On this episode, we talk about what worked for my last tent and what I’m trying on my newer one.

The Pedalshift Project 295: Making Your Tent Stealthier

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Before diving in, wanted to send condolences to Steve Wallis who many of you know from his great stealth camping YouTube channel Camping with Steve. A week or so ago he posted a video saying his wife suddenly and shockingly died in her sleep. I’ve learned a ton from Steve’s channel and this really hit pretty hard. Hope he’s finding peace and healing in these very hard times.

Making a Tent Stealthier

The old tent – ALPS Mountaineering Zephyr 2

Spray panting the tarp
Tarp was orange so it needed full coverage
Used a matte forest green
Took 3 full cans to cover (more than I expected)
Then covered with a waterproofing spray (think KIWI brand)
Tarp worked like a charm – water beaded off just like before
Was stiffer and heavier than before
Tarp has finally failed at the zippers so it needs to be replaced
Color has also worn off over time, although it still is predominantly well covered

The newer tent -ALPS Mountaineering Zephyr 2 (again)

New tent is blue and very light gray, tarp is mostly the light gray
Better than orange, but still needs stealthification
Redditor recommended Rit dying
I was a bit skeptical but decided to go for it
Got 2 dark forest greens and 1 chocolate brown that was designed for nylon
A lot of boiling water (9 gallons!) and a big bin
Let it get in there overnight and…
It sort of worked.  It’s super brown on one side, but perhaps predictably the back of the tarp, not the water repellant side
So, dye job is not recommended

Before, during and after shots:

What am I going to do?

I have one tarp that is forest green but not terribly suitable for heavy rain
I have another tarp that is very light gray and perfect for rain
The reverse side is dark brown and not suitable for anything but dry weather
I’m bringing *both* tarps for my next tour
I can see where a brown tarp and a green tarp could help depending on where I’m tucked in
I need to know I have a good rain option
I don’t always need to be stealth
The lineup
No need for stealth? Use the new tarp in the normal position regardless of weather
Stealth and dry? Use green tarp for tent and brown side out tarp for the bike (or maybe vice versa)
Stealth and rain? Use the green tarp over the proper-side-out gray tarp. This is the least likely scenario in a way… if it’s really storming would people be out?


Folks, best bet is to get a tent with a slealthy tarp. They are weirdly hard to come by
Dye? Not recommended
Spray paint? Effective, but with its flaws.

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