I once spent a month living in a hammock on a beach. Best. Summer. Vacation. Ever. However, the one major drawback was that I didn’t have a rainfly for my hammock. It meant that I had to sleep through enough wet nights that a vowed never to do it again without a tarp. I’ve compiled this list to help others avoid my mistakes while hammock camping.
I’ve included a bunch of budget options in here as a homage to my beach experience. But in my opinion, the best hammock tarps are rarely the cheapest, and you only get the reliability and durability you want when you spend a few extra dollars.
If you don't fancy reading through them all, I can tell you straight off the bat that my overall favorite is the Hennessy Hammock Hex Tarp.
Hennessy Hammock Hex Tarp
Chill Gorilla 10x10 Hammock Rain Fly
Roman Ventures Hammock Rain Fly
Chill Gorilla Fortress 2 , 4 Season Hammock Tarp
The Outdoors Way Camping Hammock Tarp
Wise Owl Outfitters Hammock Rain Fly
Krazy Outdoors Hammock Tarp
Made from 70D ripstop polyester and weighing 1.6lbs, the Hennessy Hammock Tarp packs down very compact and unpacks to 12’ x 10’ giving total coverage of 120 square feet. It has 6 attachment points and comes with 4 guy lines already attached and tucked neatly into the corner pockets. You can choose between their symmetrical hex tarp or asymmetrical hex tarp. And you have two colours to choose from; 'bark' or 'goldenrod'. ($$$)
The Hennessy is a great bit of kit that offers a good balance of pretty much everything you want: good coverage, very durable, compact when folded, not heavy and not expensive. You can pitch it so that the sides almost touch the ground, which obviously makes it very effective at blocking the wind and any other weather trying to get at you. And it’s got some pretty awesome pockets for the ropes! (It comes with guylines and a carry sack but no stakes).
The attachment points are tie-outs not grommets, making it more difficult to use with walking poles. It is big, and this means that there are lighter tarps on the market if you’re the sort of person who really watches the ounces. And it doesn’t come with stakes.
These guys also make great hammocks so they kinda know what they're talking about when it comes to hammock camping.
But if you’re looking for a great all-rounder that’s versatile and gonna last you a loo-oong time, the Hennessy will not disappoint!
This Chill Gorilla Hammock rainfly is 10' x 10' (100sq feet of coverage) and is made from 210D Ripstop Nylon. It's extremely compact when packed down. It comes as a kit which includes 6 guy lines and 4 stakes as well as tensioners and a stuff sack.
The tarp itself weighs just 1lb 4oz (the whole kit with stakes and guylines comes in at around 1lb 12oz). It has a 170" centerline, 9 attachment points and is extremely durable. ($$)
Chill Gorilla was set up by a former US Marine and you can tell the products have been thought through from the point of view of a user rather than a designer with no outdoor experience. The fact this tarp is flat-cut and square is a point in case...
10'x10' gives 100 square feet of protection, which means it's been designed to provide maximum protection. In fact, the company rails against diamond cut tarps because they feel they offer very poor protection in poor weather. That's not the case for this bad boy!
The square cut also allows for the maximum number of configurations, whereas other cuts are self-limiting in this regard. Now, personally, I don't think anyone should get too bogged down in tarp configurations because it can be off-putting, particularly if you're just getting started. But I do like kit that's versatile, because versatility is important if you want to stay dry under a tarp, which this rain fly certainly delivers!
One small gripe I have is that the paracord that comes as standard is black. I have consistently found that dark-colored guys are a trip hazard in camp and for that reason I always prefer fluorescent cord. It's a bit wasteful, but if you buy this kit, I would suggest swapping it out for something brighter.
Overall I like this tarp a lot. It's sturdy, it's well-designed and well-made. It is also very easy to set up and great value for money. The only thing I would say is that it isn't storm-proof, but guess what?! In their range they've also got the Chill Gorilla Fortress which has doors and is storm-proof. (The Fortress also made this list and you can read my review below or check it out on Amazon here).
Roman Ventures offer a number of different options. You can choose between a 13' x 10' (130sq feet of coverage) or 10' x 10' (100 sq feet of coverage) diamond tarps available in Blue or Forest Green and with 8 attachment points. Whatever you choose will come with 6 tri beam stakes, 14 line-lock tensioners (8 on the tarp and 6 on the stakes) and a whole bunch of guy lines. The whole lot packs into a neat carry case (4.5" x 12") and weighs approximately 1,5lbs. ($)
The Roman Ventures Hammock Rainfly is a great choice for those needing a simple and lightweight hammock tarp that's easy to set up on short hikes and for general relaxation. The materials are made of high-quality Ripstop nylon to prevent tears with a waterproof taped middle seam.
This hammock tarp will offer a great amount of shelter from the elements but depending on the tarp size you go for the curved shape of the sides of the tarp may not offer as much shelter from the wind. It is only offered in a lime green color which may put you off if you’d prefer to not stand out.
Overall this tarp is a wonderful choice for fair weather hiking enthusiasts or backyard hammock dwellers who enjoy reading a book under the comfort of a quality hammock.
The Chill Gorilla Fortress 2 is a 4-season hammock tarp made from 30D Ripstop Silnylon and weighs just 1lb 3oz. It has 4 doors, 8 tie outs and comes as a kit with 4 stakes, 6 guys and a stuff sack (the total kit weighs 1lb 15oz). It's hex cut, 112" wide and 184" long (door-to-door) with a 138" centerline. It packs down to a very respectable 12" x 4" x 3". ($$$$)
Whether you are venturing out for a winter camping trip, or in wild weather, or simply just want more privacy than a standard tarp can offer, the Fortress 2 has your back!
One of the main features this tarp has that a standard rain fly doesn't is the 4 doors (2 at each end). It's the ability to close them off that give you maximum protection from the elements (or prying eyes if privacy is an issue). Now, they don't connect with a zipper and you have to tie them together, but I don't consider that an issue personally (it's just worth knowing to manage expectations). But overall it's worth noting the massive coverage it provides.
It's about a foot longer than most hammock tarps, which means you can stow absolutely everything you needs underneath. It's basically a tent without a floor! The other advantage of having such good coverage is that there's significantly less chance of the tarp pressing in on you in a wind. When you throw in the abundance of tie outs, you have a recipe for a hammock tarp that could virtually be draft-proof if that's what you want!
The only thing I think I'd warn you of is that I'm not convinced the tarp is ready to take a real battering of rain straight out of the box. There's a few reports of leaking seams. It's not a massive quality issue because it can be very easily solved with a touch of seam sealer. But if you want to stay dry I definitely wouldn't skip that step. It's an awesome tarp and there's no point in risking a damp night for such a simple thing.
This really is the big daddy of the tarp world. I love the full coverage and the extra protection afforded by the doors. It's not the cheapest tarp on the market, but you'll struggle to find one that's as large, well-designed and lightweight as this is without doubling your budget! Perfect for nasty weather! Highly recommended!
Material: 190D Polyester
Weight: 1.1 lbs
Packed size: Very Compact
Unpacked size: 11’10” x 9’4”
Number of attachment points: 4
The Outdoors Way Camping Hammock Rain Fly is an excellent choice for basic backyard or wilderness relaxation. The strong and durable corner loops that the ropes run through allow it to withstand an occasional light rain. It’s diamond shape and dark grey color will shield your eyes well from the sun.
The 4 attachment points limit the number of configurations. It only comes with two ropes. And you may need to purchase separate ground stakes since the ones provided tend to be sharp enough to cut through the support ropes.
If relaxing out in the quiet woods, out for a picnic or in the backyard hammocking, you may really enjoy this excellent hammock rain tarp. It offers basic protection from various weather conditions but may not be suitable for use during extremely windy conditions.
Material: 210T Dacron
Weight: 1.6 lbs
Packed size: Very Compact
Unpacked size: 10’ x 10’
Number of attachment points: 8
This 10ft by 10ft rain tarp shelter serves well as a spacious and versatile hammock tarp or shelter for your outdoor needs. The tough 210T Dacron material with a taped center seam will keep you dry under rainstorms and stretches low enough to the ground to shield you from the wind other maximum weather protection while hammock camping. The 8 different attachment points ensure that your tarp will stay secure and allow you to set this tarp up for almost all weather conditions.
Although the materials are excellent, you may need to purchase separate cordage to add more strength to the overall attachment areas. The corner loops don’t have grommets which may cause them to tear if the weather turns really nasty.
If you are a hunter or wilderness expeditionist, you may really enjoy this hammock tarp. It offers a great deal of wind and rain protection out of the bag. With more improvements made to the corner loops and cordage, you will have an exceptionally sturdy, versatile and lightweight hammock tarp for most hammock camping occasions.
Material: 70D Ripstop Polyester
Weight: 1.2 lbs
Packed size: Extremely Compact
Unpacked size: 12’ x 9’4”
Number of attachment points: 4
While not the best hammock rain fly, this option by Krazy Outdoors is a very credible budget choice. It's very easy and quick to set up with its 4 attachment cords and lightweight design. The basic 70D Ripstop nylon material offers decent rain coverage that can cover a wide area, making it a good for a backup rainfly or simple hammock tarp.
Although it’s lightweight and does prevent mild amounts of rain, it may not be sturdy enough to withstand a heavy storm with its basic 4 attachment points. With only two tie-outs to the side, there’s a good chance of rain coming in around the edges.
This hammock tarp is great if you are on a budget and only plan on using it in calm conditions. It’s nice a simple (which can go both ways, depending on how heavy you are into pitching tarps…). But definitely does the job.
How to Choose the Best Hammock Tarp for You
Hammocks and tarps may be used by hunters who have free roam of a hunting reservation that stretches for miles, allowing them to quickly choose an area to make camp so they can relax and get something to eat. Likewise, backpackers or hikers may also be able to choose a rest area or scenic spot to take in the sights without the sun or rain beating down on them. The lightweight and easy setup of hammock and tarps make them an excellent choice for outdoor activities of all kinds that require a simple shelter. It’s basically the opposite of going camping with a large tent.
What to consider when buying a hammock tarp?
Before purchasing a hammock tarp, there are several qualities you should consider to choose the right tarp for your needs. Coverage is extremely important. Too much coverage and you will be lugging unnecessary weight. Too little coverage and your feet might get wet! Read the reviews of any tarp you're considering buying and look for comments about coverage.
Best Shape Tarp for Hammock Camping
You've basically got a few different shapes to consider when buying a hammock tarp: hex tarps, diamond tarps, square tarps, rectangular tarps and catenary tarps. Each shape comes with pros and cons. Generally speaking, with square tarps (and to a certain extent with rectangular tarps) you get the most coverage and the largest number of configuration options. It's also really easy to see the ridgeline. But that comes at the price of weight (and potentially less weather protection). If in doubt, I suggest you read reviews of different shapes and look for reviewers who sound most like you to help you make a judgement call.
Best Size Tarp for Hammock Camping
The right tarp size partly depends on the size of your hammock! By and large, look for hammock tarps that have a centreline of at least 10 foot. With square and rectangular tarps, this measurement is easy to take. With other shaped tarps, look for the longest measurement.
It also depends on how much weight and bulk you want to travel with. So just be aware different hammocks = different tarps.
A possible concern for someone purchasing hammock tarps is the number of attachment points. More attachment points generally means tarps can be configured in many more ways. Conversely, fewer attachment points means tarps are limited in the number of ways you can configure them. You will also get a pretty general idea of how the tarp is anchored down by the type of tightening mechanisms the ropes have.
A hammock tarp that is made of durable materials will be less likely to tear or come untied and will provide a waterproof roof for your hammock. The features of a hammock tarp that require excellent quality are the hammock rain tarp itself, attachment ropes, stakes, and seams. If any of these parts were to break or fail, the shelter over your hammock may be rendered unusable, requiring you to make quick fixes or adjustments to your setup or completely end your trip early. It’s best to avoid possible manufacturer flaws and go for tarps that are well made. Simply put, well made hammocks will stand up to the weather whereas poor quality hammocks increase your chances of getting beaten by the weather.
You will most likely want a hammock tarp that is lightweight, especially if you are carrying gear for long distances. When combined with your hammock and other gear, the tarp itself can make the load even heavier. Although a lighter tarp may be better for reducing your carrying weight, you may expect a heavier weight to be a sign of higher quality material in tarps. This aspect of the tarp may be completely up to your personal preferences (look for reviews written by people who seem similar to you for some guidance on what you think will work), what you’re willing to carry versus how much guaranteed protection you want.
The packed size can also be an important aspect of the tarp if you are hiking. Combined with all your other gear, you won’t want a bulky bag that swings around much on your pack or something that requires you to carry by hand. Hammock tarps may seem pretty similar in size while they are packed away, but even a few inches can make all the difference. Closely consider what other gear you will have on your pack and how you would make space for the packed tarp.