Tents and tarps are the most common shelters used by overnight bushwalkers. They come in many different shapes, sizes and designs, with plenty of options to find something that works well for you.
Tents are self contained units with an inner and an outer, whereas tarps have open sides and are simply an outer cover without insect protection. Tarps are generally pitched using trees or sticks for support, whereas tents have designated poles. Some tents can be pitched like a tarp by simply using the outer and groundsheet components.
Tents are great for people starting out bushwalking, whereas tarps require a little more thinking about in terms of where to pitch them and how to avoid insects and rainfall getting in. Bushwalkers that do a variety of different kinds of trips often own both and choose the one that best suits their trip.
Although it may take time to find a tent or tarp that is best for you, it’s a piece of equipment that lasts a long time, so very worth the time getting one that work well for the trips you typically do.