Camping has been with us for a few hundred years now and shows no sign of waning, with plenty of people craving to be at one with nature and brave the many challenges thrown at them by the great outdoors.
Die-hard campers report that this pursuit gives them either a feeling of calm, a sense of adventure and a break away from the rat race.
However, some challenges aren’t easily overcome with just some spit and elbow grease, torrential rain being one of them. Unfortunately, if you are camping for longer than a day, the chances of the weather conditions staying fixed are extremely unlikely, and a sudden downpour can pretty much ruin your trip.
When out in the open air, you have to keep your essentials warm and dry, especially food and equipment such as flashlights. Not only will your camping trip be spoiled, but you run the risk of putting yourself in real danger, getting stranded in the dark without food.
That’s where a hammock tarp will be invaluable to you. This handy, waterproof strip of material can be stretched across your camping set or hammock to keep you and your things dry during the night.
The tarps can be uniquely customized to stretch across a wide surface so you get as much coverage as possible, with various shapes and configurations and several rigging options.
But where can you find the best tarp for your needs? What are the features and properties of a tarp that will help you stay dry during those temperamental weather conditions? How much can a decent quality tarp be looking to set you back in terms of price?
Well, camping enthusiasts need not worry, because we’ve compiled a list of some of the best hammock tarps currently available on the market. We then have a buyer's guide which should help you decide the best tarp for you and your style of camping, as well as some of the most frequently asked questions.
Top 5 Best Hammock Tarps
OUR TOP PICK
Our first tarp is a very user-friendly one, with aluminized and reinforced insulation that will keep you and your gear dry and warm for days on end.
This is a great all-weather tarp that can be stored away in your backpack and not contribute to the overall weight of your pack - introducing the UST Tube Tarp and Camping Shelter.
The UST Tube Tarp is made of the very best weather-resistant material, coming in waterproof and windproof laminate. You can use this as a hammock tarp and a sleeping tent in itself, particularly useful if your tent is damaged or waterlogged.
It comes in a very vibrant orange color that will ensure you are visible in dense green foliage. It will also help you to find your campsite in the dead darkness of the evening.
This tarp also comes with useful steel stakes that you can use to secure your tarp to a tree or straight into firm soil.
The reverse side of this tarp is also aluminum-lined, so you can use it for reflective signaling.
This tarp is resistant to hazardous materials such as water, fire and wind. You can use this tarp to smother your campfire if it gets out of control. You can also insulate yourself with the aluminum thermal underlining.
This model is ultra-compact, you can simply fold it up and place it in your rucksack and it won’t compromise the overall weight of your pack.
This might to a little too complex for the more casual camper who only pitches their tent once every few weeks.
This next tarp is one that can be spread widely over a large surface area, giving you the utmost privacy when you’re out in the wilderness.
It is a relatively simple piece of equipment, coming in a single hexagonal piece that gives you heavy-duty cover in a particularly torrential downpour - introducing the Hennessy Hammock.
This hammock is very portable, treated with a polyurethane 201D ripstop 100% nylon. It will last you an incredibly long time out in the open and you can store it in your backpack and take it on multiple trips and it will not wear.
This tarp weighs less than 2 pounds, so it won’t drag you down when negotiating difficult terrain.
It also comes with its own carry sack and handle and can be compacted to the size of a liter water bottle. This makes it probably the most portable tarp on our list.
This tarp is resistant to all the elements, including fire. It also covers a wider area than a lot of the tarps on this list, so you can use it to quickly cover your belongings or smother a fire if one breaks out in your camp.
The design of this tarp is very streamlined, allowing a very discreet shelter that can be adapted for any type of hammock.
The carry case is waterproof, as is the tarp itself, they are both built to last on the slopes. You can even erect this as a sleeping tent all by itself, which is particularly useful if your conventional tent gets water damaged.
The price - this unit is very affordable, making it an ideal choice for a first-time camper who doesn’t want to break the bank on top-of-the-range equipment.
This might not have as many durable features as some of the other tarps on this list.
This next tarp offers the very best in bad weather protection without being too heavy to carry in your already overloaded pack.
It comes with 6 guy points that can provide secure anchoring between trees or to the ground so you won’t have to worry about your tarp blowing away in the middle of the night - introducing Eagles Nest Outfitters ProFly Rain Tarp.
If you are planning on hiking across miles and miles of uphill terrain, this tarp is perfect, as it is probably the most lightweight option on this list. It weighs only 22 ounces and can be compacted down to an easily storable size in your backpack.
Made for a composite of nylon and polyurethane composite, you can be expected to be rain-free for the entire duration of your trip.
It covers a large area of space, which is perfect if you’re thinking of setting up a larger campsite for more than one person.
This is the perfect addition to your campsite, allowing you rain and windproof cover, with numerous guy points at either end that you can adapt to protection from above or from the side.
The unique nylon and polyurethane composition of this tarp will shed water quickly and efficiently. If you’re moving away from the campsite, you can use the tarp to keep your camping equipment camouflaged and dry.
The low weight of the tarp means you can fold it up and stash it in your backpack. It will neither take up too much weight nor space, which is ideal if you think your pack is going to be weighed down already.
The price - with more features comes a higher price, which might not be appealing to the once-a-fortnight camper.
The larger surface area might not appeal to the solo camper.
Our final hammock tarp is uncomplicated to use and very lightweight, the numerous guy points enable you to lash it to uneven surfaces such as trees or compacted soil.
You can spread and adapt it to your unique camping situation, giving you coverage either from above or from the sides - introducing the OAV Hammock Tarp.
This tarp is made from a sturdy ripstop nylon fabric that features a 5,000 mm polyurethane coating that is water and windproof.
The nylon itself is very lightweight and you should have no problem folding this up and keeping it at the bottom of your backpack.
The ripstop fabric is also tear and puncture resistant, giving you protection from intense heat and rain.
The corner guy lines can be quickly set up and adapted for your particular campsite and hammock setup.
It has a generous surface area, so you’ll be able to get the maximum coverage for you and your camping essentials.
If you want a lightweight and versatile hammock tarp, then this is the one for you. You can change it efficiently and easily throughout the night, adjusting the guy points for the optimum height and coverage.
This hammock tarp is ideal not just for camping, but also for backpacking. You can stretch this tarp across any high wall in your garden to avoid your family gathering getting spoiled from a sudden shower.
The blue color and design are very subtle, visible enough to be seen through dense foliage, but not vivid enough to draw undue attention to you and your camping area.
The price - this tarp is at the higher end of the hammock tarp price spectrum, which might not suit the casual camper or barbeque enthusiast.
Best Hammock Tarp Buying Guide
When picking out a new tarp, there are numerous features other than just size and shape that you’ll have to consider.
You'll also have to think about the weight and how adjustable it is to the camping or backyard scenario you plan on using it for.
What Size Is The Tarp?
The first thing you’ll need to consider before buying your tarp is how much area you’re going to want to cover. If you know you have a lot of camping equipment, you’ll probably want a tarp that covers a few square feet.
If you’re planning on camping out in colder, frosty conditions, the best kind of tarp will be a wider one, as this will shield you from sleet and snowfall that could easily damage your equipment and lead to hypothermia.
However, if you are planning on camping in milder conditions for a shorter period, then you’ll probably want something smaller and lighter to keep away the small bugs.
Remember that the best tarps are designed to keep you safe as well as comfortable.
What Is The Shape Of Your Tarp?
Tarps are not just square or rectangular.
Ideally, you’ll want a tarp that loosely conforms to the shape of your hammock or one that encompasses both your hammock and the gear surrounding it.
What Are The Different Tarp Shapes?
Here’s a list of some of the basic tarp shapes that you can find on the market:
- Rectangle - these offer 4 guy points and a ridgeline that goes above your hammock. These tarps offer great protection against the elements and small insects, although some of them aren’t that breathable.
- Catenary - these tarps have curved areas that make them very light and do not tend to sag on the top. These work best in winter conditions.
- Diamond - these are the lightest tarps you can buy, however, they don’t offer a massive level of coverage.
- Hexagon - these are very much like rectangle tarps, although the corners are angled inward instead of outward. They often use a lot less material and as a result, are better ventilated.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is The Best Weight For A Hammock Tarp, Light Or Heavy?
If you are tempted to buy a heavier tarp, you’ll need to think about whether you’ll need the extra protection and warmth that they bring. Heavy tarps are only really suitable for more extreme weather conditions. Thick tarps are perfect if you’re expecting sleet, snowfall and torrential rain.
Most casual backpackers select a tarp that is made from lightweight nylon, as these are extremely easy to carry around in their packs and don't take up that much space.
Tarps made from polyethylene are heavier and also more expensive, again, we would recommend that these be purchased only by the most serious campers.
Before choosing the weight of your tarp, find out what material it’s made out of. If you know you’ll be lugging around a large backpack full of gear, you’ll probably want a nylon tarp to keep the weight down.