Sleeping in a hammock underneath a starry sky is an experience to be treasured. Lying underneath the night sky with the gentle swing of the hammock rocking you to sleep with the Milky Way in full view is breathtaking.
While this experience is magical, to say the least, one thing that will throw a wrench into it is wet weather. This is where the hammock tarp steps in to save the day. A hammock tarp is your most prized possession when mother nature decides to throw a curve ball at you.
Hammock tarps are designed to protect you from the rain and keep you dry. The single most important piece of gear that you never want to forget. This seemingly unimportant piece of fabric makes the difference between an enjoyable night and a soggy mess.
What is a hammock tarp?
A hammock tarp is a piece of waterproof plastic that’s made to be suspended over a hammock. What sets a hammock tarp apart from a standard rectangular tarp is their shape, design, grommets, and accessories included which make the process from beginning to end a simple endeavor.
There are different classifications of hammock tarps which depends on the weather. Winter tarps are made for winter camping and are more similar to a tent in that they have extra flaps that drape down to the floor and include a door. In moderate weather nearly any style of hammock tarp will work for adequate shelter and ventilation.
Why is a hammock tarp important?
It may seem like a hammock tarp is only needed in the rain or snow. Sure, staying dry is the ultimate goal, however, having a roof over your head prevents bird shit, leaves, twigs, and bugs from falling on you while you sleep.
Along with protecting you from debris falling from above, the beauty of using a hammock tarp is that you still get to enjoy open air sleeping. Sleeping outside is one of the best parts of hammock camping and with a tarp, you’ll stay dry and still get a chance to experience the wild world around you without walls on all 4 sides.
It creates a dry area to keep your gear dry throughout a rainy evening. Not only does your gear stay dry, limited exposure to weather prolongs the life of your gear in the long run.
The sun is awesome, that being said, there’s going to be certain times of the day you need a short break from the heat. A hammock tarp doubles as a sunshade during the day, giving you a covered place to enjoy a hot summer day.
Advantages of using a hammock tarp:
- Keeps you dry
- Protects you from overhead debris
- The full experience of open air sleeping
- Dry area to store your gear
- A sunshade during the day
The 4 styles of hammock tarps
There are 4 main hammock styles of hammock tarps. Each one has slight variations, however, they all achieve the ultimate goal.
1. Rectangular tarp
These tarps are the simplest design and as the name suggests are rectangular in design. There are anchor points on each corner and they require a separate ridgeline that runs along the center of the tarp. The tarp rests lengthwise over the ridgeline and the 4 corners are secured to the ground.
2. Hexagonal tarp
Hexagonal tarps resemble a rectangular tarp, however, the corners of the tarp angle inward. Typically these tarps are slightly lighter due to the fact that they are made of less material.
3. Catenary tarp
A catenary tarp or a cat tarp for short, are designed with curved cuts that further reduce the overall weight. These tarps allow for stretching and the increased strength comes from the tension in the material. The design and tension of these tarps are great to prevent dips in the middle and resistance to wind.
4. Square or diamond tarps
These tarps are an equal size on all 4 sides and give you limited coverage. Due to their shape, they are relatively easy to setup with a little common sense. They generally come with 2 anchor points and the shape gives you one method to set it up.
What to look for in the best hammock tarp
Hammock tarps come in a variety of shapes and we’ve put together a list of important factors to consider when choosing a hammock tarp for your next camping or backpacking adventure.
The obvious answer here is, find a tarp that completely covers your hammock. Using a tarp that’s too small is the same as using a cocktail umbrella to cover your head on the way to work. The average size is around 10 to 12 feet and this is the sweet spot in terms of size.
Hammock tarps by nature are fairly lightweight, however, if you’re using a hammock while backpacking every ounce counts. Your tarp should be less than 2 pounds and this includes the stakes, guy lines, and stuff sack. If you’re not on a long distance trip the weight isn’t really an issue, but it’s always a good idea to keep your gear as lightweight as possible.
Hammock tarps come in a few different styles and each one does the job in its own way. As long as you have durable anchor points and quality material the choice in style comes down to personal preference.
Whether you’re on a long distance backpacking trip or a weekend camping trip, you want your tarp to last for years. Durability is an important consideration anytime you make a purchase. While testing your tarp on multiple trips the most logical method, a more practical option is to look at verified user reviews to get an honest assessment of the overall quality and durability.
Guy lines are the foundation that gives your tarp its rigid form that is going protect you from the rain and sun. Guy lines should be 6 feet in length at the minimum and 12 feet maximum. A reflective layer is an extra bonus that will minimize accidents late at night, however, it’s not a standard feature.
Hanging the tarp
At the end of a long day, the last thing you want to do is to struggle setting up your tarp up, especially if the weather sucks. Hammock tarps generally come with 4 to 6 stakes and grommets along the perimeter. Just like a tent, it’s always a good rule of thumb to practice hanging your tarp a few times before you leave.
The main purpose of a hammock tarp is to keep you dry at night, it should be 100% waterproof. A hammock tarp needs to be able to withstand all levels of rain and keep you completely dry.
A warrant is basically a vote of confidence from the manufacturer. Not every manufacturer includes a warranty, however, be sure to do your research and find out what the warranty policy is for every purchase, large or small.
How to set up a hammock tarp (video tutorial)
The 5 Best Hammock Tarps
We have put together a list of the 5 best hammock tarps available today.
Chill Guerrilla Hammock Tarp/Rainfly
- SUPER-FLY IS OUR MOST VERSATILE RAINFLY. 2 CENTERLINES, 9 TIE DOWNS. INCLUDES STAKES, ROPES AND TENSIONERS! Truly waterproof in a torrential downpour! 170" long diagonal ridgeline keeps you dry; Bear Butt centerline only 142"! Easily covers enos doublenest hammock. SQUARE DESIGN = MORE COVERAGE & SETUP OPTIONS THAN DIAMOND FLYS. Use with double hammocks, mosquito & bug nets, tents, underquilt, camp / sleeping outdoors, fishing or as ultralight sun canopy. Fits in your backpack. GET YOURS TODAY!
- UNBELIEVABLE WATER SHEDDING WITH TRUE ALL WEATHER PROTECTION. Polyurethane-treated ripstop nylon offers long-lasting protection, instant shade, and is perfect for sudden downpours or building a water-front basecamp or emergency shelter. Square shape with 9 guy points gives you the ultimate rain fly with a LONG 170" CENTERLINE and can be pitched in multiple configurations. Keep in your pack, car, truck, motorcycle, boat, and ATV so you are always ready. HURRY, Click the ADD TO CART Button Now!
- LIGHTWEIGHT, PORTABLE, VERSATILE, INDESTRUCTIBLY BUILT & BACKPACKER APPROVED. 9 tie double tie downs for multiple anchoring points our hammock tarp is ideal for hiking, camping, backpacking, cycling, boating, sporting events, festivals and travelling. Sets up in minutes. Comes with a rain proof gear sack, making it convenient to take on trips or store when not in use. Chill Gorilla gear is practical, reliable, lightweight and durable. DON'T WAIT, GET YOURS TODAY!
- CHILL GORILLA CRUSHES COMPETITION ESPECIALLY SMALL DIAMOND TARPS (Diamonds = poor coverage, little rain protection & only 1 configuration) Compare to BearButt (it's a diamond, not even ripstop), ENO, Kelty Noah, Outad, Eagle Nest Outfitters, Triwonder, Golden, Fox, Free Soldier, YuEdge, Ultimate Survival Technologies, W-UpBird, Hennessy, Grand Trunk, Kammok, Eureka, Terra Hiker, Unigear, Pro Venture, Wise Owl, TNH, Anyoo, Bushcraft, Kodiak, UST, NHO, Legit, Foxelli. BEST VALUE FOR YOUR MONEY!
The Chill Guerilla Hammock Tarp is a hex-style tarp that comes with a tie point on all 4 corners and 2 tie points in the middle that support the ridgeline. Overall, it is 10′ x 10′ and made of waterproof 210D Ripstop Nylon.
It has a 170 inch ridgeline that is large enough to cover nearly any hammock you’ll find. When you first open the hammock there’s a chemical smell that comes from the polyurethane coating and dissipates after airing out for a couple days.
The overall design is a little heavy and bulky, however, these are sacrifices worth making when you consider the price point and versatility. It’s an easy tarp to set up and when the guy lines are taught, it covers a wide area. This tent is a great addition to your hammock setup and has a proven track record.
- Strong stakes
- Well built fabric
- High quality guy lines
- Soft grommets
- Only comes with 4 stakes
- No instructions
Outdoors Way Hammock Tarp/Rainfly
- WHILE OTHER HAMMOCK TARPS ARE EITHER TOO SMALL OR DON'T INCLUDE NECESSARY EQUIPMENT (Like tent stakes or guy lines) the rain fly from The Outdoors Way has you covered! Our Rain Tarp has a 12 foot ridge line so you don't have to worry that your feet or head will get cold and wet and the 210D Ripstop Nylon is tough and waterproof! Enjoy stress free hammock camping.
- ELIMINATE BUYER'S REMORSE! Our Rain Fly has the highest quality components so you have peace of mind that you made the Right Choice! Compare to the Eno Rain Fly and see the value for yourself!
- HAVE MORE FUN ON YOUR NEXT BACKPACKING OR CAMPING TRIP! Don't let rain or too much sun ruin a great trip and lasting memories.
- CONVENIENCE FOR ANY OUTDOOR ACTIVITY! Very portable and the right size and weight for your next adventure including: hiking, kayaking, rock climbing, traveling or just relaxing at the park!
This hammock tarp has a 12 foot ridgeline and is also made of waterproof 210D Ripstop Nylon. The seam that runs down the center of the tent is reinforced giving it structure and eliminating the need for running cord ran across the middle.
It comes with 4 aluminum tent stakes and 6 guy lines. The grommets are made of stout plastic which prevents tears and rips at the support points. When you roll your tarp up there is space in the middle that perfectly fits the stake and guyline bag.
Overall, it’s a lightweight and durable tarp that holds up in all weather conditions. It would be nice to have high visibility guylines, however, this tarp keeps you bone dry even in heavy rainfall. It’s a highly rated tarp and a quality investment.
- Lightweight material
- Reinforced ridgeline seam
- Accessories included
- Guylines not reflective
- Somewhat heavy
- Cat cut ends
Wise Owl Outfitters Hammock Tarp/Rainfly
- SUPREME STRONG QUALITY ULTRALIGHT RIPSTOP NYLON rainfly will keep you dryer, longer with unparalleled weather protection and water shedding ability. NOT cheap and unreliable polyester.
- NEVER GET WET OUTDOOR! The heavy duty large ultimate Wise Owl WiseFly rain tarp is bigger than the ENO ProFly tarp so you will stay dry as it covers you. It's 11 ft long by 9 ft wide but packs down to just 5" x 9", making it extremely easy to take with you, put in your backpack, etc. Will easily cover a Singlenest, Doublenest, SinlgleOwl, DoubleOwl & any other brand on the market. It's a survival essential.
- HAS EVERYTHING YOU NEED & FOR THE BEST VALUE - 4 high quality aluminum tent stakes & 6 guy tie lines that are 10 feet each that are already attached, giving you plenty of room and versatility in all different situations.
- LIGHTWEIGHT, PORTABLE AND VERSATILE - Our WiseFly Rain Tarps are moisture proof and ideal for sunshade, hiking, camping, backpacking , boating, sporting events, festivals and traveling. Sets up in minutes. Comes with a pouch making it convenient to take on trips or store when not in use. Wise Owl gear is thoughtfully designed, practical, reliable and durable
This tarp is 11 feet long and 9 feet wide and packs down to 5 x 9 inches. It’s made with high quality ripstop nylon fabric and each edge is double sewn. It weighs in at 1.3 pounds, making it the perfect companion for any outdoor activity.
The Wise Owl Outfitters Hammock Tarp comes with 4 aluminum stakes along with 6 guy lines that measure 10 feet in length. The guy lines come firmly attached to the rainfly, so there are no knots to learn and cords to lose.
It’s lightweight, ultra portable, and versatile in all situations. This hammock comes with a 100% satisfaction guarantee, so if you don’t like anything about it just let Wise Owl and they’ll give you a refund.
- Edges are double sewn
- Adjustable cord tensioners
- The tarp is long and wide
- Short stakes
- Could use a ceiling hook
- No reflective guylines
Unigear Hammock Tarp/Rainfly
- WATERPROOF SOLID 210D OXFORD FABRIC: Unigear Tent tarp takes super strong 210D rip-stop Oxford fabric and provides excellent water, tears and punctures resistance. All corners and 8 tie downs of our camping shelter perfects for camping, backpacking, hiking, cycling , traveling or other outdoor activities
- MULTIPLE USES FOR ALL WEATHER PROTECTION: The tarp shelter with silver coated interior and PU2000mm waterproof provides excellent UV-resistance and rain fly protection to keep you from sunshade, rain shade, high winds, and snow shade. It can be widely used as tent tarp, hammock shelter, outdoor kitchen cover, simple tent, tent footprint, ground sheet, instant shade and sudden downpours
- EASY TO SET UP: Package induces 1 rain fly, 6 adjustable nylon ropes (157inc/4m), 6 Aluminum stakes, 1 sack for ropes and Aluminum poles, 1 carrying pouch for all gear. With 8 tie down loops and grommets for multiple anchoring points, it's easy to set up in minutes and very convenient for storage to take on trips
- MULTIPLE CHOISES FOR YOUR TRAVELLING: Both 2 sizes of our tarp are big enough to cover a tent, double hammock or outdoor kitchen. The smaller size is 94×87inch/240×220cm(L×W), the bigger size is 116×118inch/295×300cm(L×W). 3 Colors are available for you: Blue, Brown and Green
The Unigear Hammock Tarp is just under 10 feet in size and is made of 210D rip-stop Oxford fabric that provides excellent water resistance. The overall weight is 2.2 pounds making it a decent option for either backpacking or camping.
It comes with 6 aluminum stakes, 6 nylon ropes, tarp, and 2 carrying cases. All of the grommets, corners, and edges are made with double reinforced stitching to prevent unexpected damage from everyday usage.
This hammock comes with a silver coating on the interior which provides excellent UV protection during sunny days. The one thing that really sets this tarp apart is the UV protective layer which offers versatility all year round, protecting you from the sun, as well as, the rain.
- Strong metal grommets
- Reflective underside
- Completely waterproof
- Weak tent stakes
- Challenging to repack
- Thin guylines
Legit Camping Hammock Tarp/Rainfly
- MAXIMUM COVERAGE FOR MAXIMUM PROTECTION: Our camping rain tent tarp is designed to provide you with a simple and effective way to protect yourself against the weather when in the outdoors. This 10x10 tent tarp with a 170" Centerline is one of the most essential camping accessories that can easily cover double hammocks.
- UNMATCHED WEATHER PROTECTION: Hate it when you have to find shelter due to sudden downpours when hiking, camping or backpacking? We do too! This is exactly why we used Polyurethane-Treated Ripstop Nylon that is ultra-lightweight with 9 guy points so you can quickly set up the rainfly in a diamond or square shape.
- MULTIPLE USE FOR ALL OCCASIONS: Our camping tarp shelter provides complete protection against water so that you can sleep and camp in the outdoors without having the fear of getting wet. It provides excellent UV resistance and can easily be used as a tent tarp, hammock shelter, outdoor kitchen cover, simple tent or wind block.
- LIGHTWEIGHT, PORTABLE & VERSATILE: Legit Camping Waterproof Hammock Rain Fly Tent Tarp is a lightweight practical and convenient outdoor survival accessory that you can take with you wherever you go. When packed into the included stuff sack, it will easily fit into your backpack for convenient travel. It comes with 6 adjustable guy lines and 4 aluminum tent stakes so you have everything you need to enjoy your outdoor adventure and Legit Hammock Tarp on day 1.
This hammock is a 10′ x 10′ tarp and is made of Polyurethane-Treated Ripstop Nylon. It’s an ultralight hammock with a versatile weight of 1.9 pounds that can be used either backpacking or camping comfortably.
It comes with 4 lightweight stakes and 6 pieces of rope for supporting the corners and ridgeline. There are 9 guy points on the tarp so you can set it up in either a diamond or square shape. The stakes and rope come with a separate carrying case which fits comfortably into the stuff sack with the tarp.
The biggest drawback is the lack of instructions on how to set up the hammock tarp. Other than that, this tarp is large enough to cover a double hammock, has a versatile design, and sheds water like a champ.
- Lifetime warranty
- Ripstop nylon fabric
- Multiple tie down points
- No instructions
- Small stuff sack
- Plastic grommets