Best Hammock Tarp Reviews & Guide
One of the biggest concerns for adventurers new to hammock camping is “how do I stay dry in the rain”. Just as there are many hammock options to choose from, there are as many tarp sizes and colors too choose from. This is good news and bad news. It is good news because it means you can customize your hammock shelter system to match any condition. It is bad because you have so many options available that you don’t know where to start. With the right equipment, you won’t have to worry about rain or snow!
Best Hammock Tarp 2020
|Dimensions (L x W)
|Bear Butt Rain Fly Hammock Tarp
|11 ft. 10 in. x 9 ft. 4 in.
|Serac Hammock Tent Tarp, Rain Fly
|12 ft. x 6 ft. 5 in.
|Chill Gorilla Pro Waterproof Tent Tarp, Rain Fly
|11 ft. 10 in. x 9 ft.
|Vigor Waterproof Rainfly
|10 ft. x 10 ft.
|Ultimate Survival Technologies BASE Tube Tarp 1.0
|7 ft. x 10 ft.
|Kelty Noah's Tarp Shelter
|9 ft. x 9 ft.
|YUEDGE Portable Lightweight Waterproof Rain Tarp
|9 ft. 10 in. x 9 ft. 10 in.
|Eagles Nest Outfitters (ENO) - ProFly Rain Tarp
|10 ft. 6 in. x 6 ft. 4 in.
|Paria Outdoor Products Sanctuary SilTarp
|10 ft. x 8 ft.
|Himal Waterproof Sunshade Tent Rain Fly Tent Tarp
|9 ft. 10 in. x 9 ft. 7 in.
|Aqua Quest Defender Tarp
|13 ft. x 10 ft.
#1 – Editor’s Choice – Bear Butt Rain Fly Hammock Tarp
The Bear Butt Rain Fly is an amazing bargain for both durability and its light weight. If you’re looking for an inexpensive diamond style tarp, this is the right one for you whether you are a new hammock camper or a rising pro. The diamond design pairs perfectly with any hammock and provides ample coverage in most conditions. The tarp has four guy points: two for the ridge line, and two for the side tie-outs. Small metal grommets are placed in reinforced triangles on each of these guy points. The extra reinforcement has held up perfectly in some very violent storms. It also comes in a sack to pack and with two stakes!
Hammock Tarp Overview
When it comes to tarps you need to know exactly what conditions you will be dealing with. Some outdoors people prefer full coverage while others do not want that. There’s no right or wrong answer when choosing the best tarp or the best carabiners. Your choice depends on many factors including coverage, tarp weight, versatility, weather resistance, durability, etc. While there are tarps designed specifically for hammocks, nearly any tarp will work as most of them will provide the coverage and weather resistance you are looking for.
Knowing the conditions you will be camping is very helpful when selecting the right tarp. There are tarps available that are full coverage, with extra material that act as doors. These types of tarps create a shelter that is almost akin to a floating tent surrounding your hammock and are best used in heavy storms or winter trips. Not only do they provide excellent protection from rain and snow, the encompassing shelter will also serve as an effective windshield and trap more heat. The downside for these shelters are that they are much more costly and heavy, usually with more pieces to carry with you for a proper setup.
Full coverage tarps, otherwise known as “winter” tarps are best for four-season camping and when you need maximum protection. Winter tarps usually come with extra flaps or “doors” to the ends of the tarp. Some manufacturers sell these provisional “doors” as an optional add-on to common hex or cat-cut tarps.
In moderate conditions, almost any tarp can be modified for good coverage, shelter, ventilation, and privacy. Some users have successfully used ponchos and even pocket blankets as tarps. Diamond tarps offer more coverage than a-sym design and are equally simple to pitch. Keep in mind that smaller tarps require greater skill to keep dry in adverse conditions since you don’t have that extra wiggle room. You need to make sure everything is perfect.
Large tarps provide good privacy for modesty when changing clothes, hanging out with bae, etc. There are some trade-offs with large tarps though. While you get extra coverage and protection from crazy weather, it can take some practice to master the pitching techniques to get the most out of these shelters. Large tarps typically weigh more and can require extra hardware (e.g., stakes) and advancing pitching techniques.
Styles of Hammock Tarps
Rectangular Tarp: Rectangular tarps are set up parallel to your hammock. There are 4 anchor points for this type of tarps. A ridgeline is set up above the hammock. The tarp is draped lengthwise on the ridgeline. The 4 anchors are then staked to the ground. This type of tarp provides excellent coverage of the hammock and the ends. Because of the extra coverage, ventilation will be limited. If these look similar to the ultralight tarp shelters used by some backpackers, it’s because they are functionally the same, with the exception that a hammock is placed underneath.
Hexagonal tarp: Hexagonal tarps are similar to rectangular tarps. The difference is the corners are angled inwards. This requires less material to construct, which means you have a lighter tarp. Ventilation is improved for this type of tarp. Unfortunately, you’ll find that generally, these are more expensive than rectangular tarps.
Catenary Tarp: Catenary Tarps are designed with special curved cuts to further reduce the weight of a hexagonal tarp. The sides of the hex tarp is cut at a curve to reduce the material used. This also prevents the tarp from sagging and flapping in the wind.
Diamond or Square Tarp: These tarps provide the least amount of coverage. Especially end coverage. The benefits to this tarp are the ease of setup and the weight. Square tarps only have 2 anchor points, so it’s quicker to pitch than most tarps.
Criteria for Evaluation of Hammock Tarps
Size: Regardless of what style tarp you decides to choose, you want to ensure the tarp extends between 5 to 12 inches over each end of your shelter area or hammock. An 8 ft x 10 ft tarp turned approximately 40 degrees to be an asym tarp provides a ridge line of nearly 13 feet. This would provide ample coverage for nearly any hammock or shelter area. Remember that a hammock sags when properly hung so a 10 foot long hammock will have a peak-to-peak length of just over 8 feet. Amazing right!
Style: Tarps commonly come in rectangular, hexagonal, catenary or diamond (square) shapes. Different shapes will provide you different coverage. They’ll also have different amounts of anchor points which will affect your ease of set up.
Material: A simple blue polyethylene tarp you find at the hardware store can be a versatile shelter. They are the cheapest option and are very durable. You can usually pick one out that’s the right size for under $10. The simple blue tarp is also extremely versatile outside of hammock camping. With some creative staking, there are hundreds of different shelters you can build with a simple plastic tarp. But these tarps are also heavy and can take up a lot of space in your pack. Which is not a huge problem if you’re car camping. But when you’re backpacking, you probably do your best to save space and weight. These heavy tarps also make a lot of noise. If you’ve ever had to fold one of these, the unmistakable crinkling is rather loud. While not a problem for some, you might have trouble catching z’s during a storm.
Silnylon tarps are much more popular, especially with the ultralight backpacking crowd. While more expensive than the basic plastic tarp, this material is very strong for how light it is. Plus it’s extremely waterproof. A silnylon tarp will cut down significantly on the weight and space. While providing the same weather protection. Many of these tarps exist as standalone shelters. They’re designed for ultralight backpackers who can throw one up and sleep directly on the ground. These work just as well as rain-flies designed specifically for hammock use.
Durability: This is perhaps the consideration that people must take into account while buying a hammock tarp. Since most people prefer buying these items to take along with them on camping trips or other outdoor activities, it becomes necessary for them to use it even during harsh weather conditions like rain or snow fall. The finest quality hammock tarps are made of “A” grade fabric that is weather resistant and barely show the effects of wear and tear after it has been used in tough weather situations. The fabric should also be easy to clean because resources are scarce in the outdoors and most of the time you’ll only have soap and water at your disposal.
Hammock tarps offer many significant advantages apart from keeping your dry. This equipment is highly portable and can be easily carried from one place to another. Hammock tarps can be easily assembled; they are much easier to assemble than a tent and are available in various shades of colors as well as many different fabrics.
They can last for decades if proper care is taken, and is the ideal product to keep you dry when you want to relax and spend a lazy day doing nothing on your hammock during bad weather conditions. To buy the perfect hammock tarp, follow the tips that we’ve mentioned above and you should be ready purchase a hammock tarp that will last you a lifetime.
Special thanks to the editors of Serac for providing content and guidance on this article.