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.
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The 5 Best Hammock Tarps
We have put together a list of the best hammock tarps
Chill Guerrilla Hammock Tarp/Rainfly
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
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Outdoors Way Hammock Tarp/Rainfly
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
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Wise Owl Outfitters Hammock Tarp/Rainfly
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
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Unigear Hammock Tarp/Rainfly
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
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Legit Camping Hammock Tarp/Rainfly
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
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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)
Camping in a hammock is an experience that everyone should try at least once. There’s a sense of freedom that you get from sleeping in a hammock that you don’t get inside a tent.
A hammock tarp is an important part of the hammock camping equation. It protects you the rain and gives you a shady place to take an afternoon nap in the summertime. Having a place to hide from the rain and sun while enjoying a relaxing afternoon while reading your favorite book or listening to the sounds of nature is what camping is all about.
Hopefully this guide helps you in the search for the best hammock tarp to enjoy your next camping trip from a new perspective. As always, get lost and keep wandering.