If you plan to spend a few days in a base camp,
you should set up a kitchen shelter.

A kitchen shelter, also called a kitchen fly or dining fly, can protect you from sun, rain, and dew fall. If it has walls, it can also protect you from the wind. It provides a comfortable place to prepare your meals, eat your meals, read books, work on projects, bathe (if necessary), and sit near the campfire.

You can find several different types of shelters in outdoor outfitter stores but they all have important limitations. Generally, they are expensive, require considerable packing space, require considerable set-up time, and provide only a small protected area. Those without walls do not protect you from the wind. Sun shelters are not waterproof and, thus, will not protect you from rain. Screen rooms are very expensive, very small, and can not provide complete protection from flies and mosquitoes. EZ up canopies are difficult to set up and can be easily damaged by wind.

After considering all of the options, we decided to make our own kitchen shelter from tarps. The materials for a good shelter can be purchased for less than $40. You’ll need four 8 by 10 tarps, three 8 foot poles, one 6 foot pole, 100 feet of 3mm utility cord, and ten 10-inch nail stakes. One of these tarps will be cut diagonally to make triangular sides for the lean-to back wall. The poles could be the most expensive item but you can use closet rods, sheet rock poles, electrical conduit, or small saplings cut from private property.

Once the shelter has been set up, you can hang lights from the poles for night time use, citronella candles to ward off mosquitoes, and a metallic space blanket behind your campfire to reflect heat into the shelter. Reflector campfire screens have been used for many years in northeast wilderness areas to heat Baker tents, Wheelen tents, and other open front shelters similar to this tarp shelter.