Our picks for the Best Hammock Tarps for backpacking and camping:
|ENO ProFly||Cat-Cut Hex||Ripstop Nylon or Sil-Nylon||Solid Pick|
|Hennessy Hex Rainfly||Cat-Cut Hex||Ripstop Nylon||Value Pick|
|Warbonnet MamaJamba||Cat-Cut Hex||Sil-Nylon||Top Pick|
|Arrowhead Equipment Toxaway||Cat-Cut Hex||Sil-Nylon||Top Pick|
|Hammock Gear Cuben Fiber Hex||Cat-Cut Hex||Cuben Fiber||Light-Weight Pick|
In order to stay dry while hammock camping, you need a tarp! Most of the time hanging a tarp is more complicated than hanging a hammock. Learning to tie a knot or two is a likely scenario. The best tarps are the ones that keep you dry, are light to carry, and are easy to setup. This article covers our choices for the best hammock tarps to use on a backpacking trip.
ENO ProFly Tarp
The ENO ProFly Tarp may be a great choice for a great choice for almost any hammock camper as it comes in a few different versions:
The standard ProFly is a nice middle-of-the-road tarp that balances usability with price. Once again, ENO comes through with a relatively lightweight, easy to use product that will suit the needs of most hammock campers.
ENO’s ProFly XL is substantially larger in its dimensions and built to make shelter for even the largest of hammocks.
The ProFly Sil is the same size as the standard model, but is made out of the silicone-impregnated nylon that is a lighter weight than the ripstop nylon used for the standard and XL models.
Also offered is the ProFly XLSil, which combines the larger size of the XL model with the lightweight sil-nylon of the Sil model.
Comparison of Specs
- ProFly: 10’6” x 6’4” – 22 oz. – PU coated nylon tafetta ripstop
- ProFlyXL: 13’ x 9’2” – 28 oz. – PU coated nylon tafetta ripstop
- ProFlySil: 10’6” x 6’ 4” – 16 oz. – Silicone Impregnated Ripstop nylon
- ProFly XLSil: 13’ x 9’2” – 26 oz. – Silicone Impregnated Ripstop nylon
- Easy to adjust guylines allow for an almost foolproof setup
- Cat-cut hex shape is ideal for hanging over a hammock
- Available at most outdoor retailers
- Short length (10’6″) is intended to be used with ENO hammocks, which are rather short, making it tough to cover some larger hammocks (this is solved by upgrading to the XL)
- Price point is a bit high
I really like what ENO has done with their ProFly line of hammock tarps. In my opinion, most hammock campers could choose from one of the four choices and be very happy with their tarp.
However, one thing to look our for is the short length (10’6″) of the ProFly and ProFlySil. These tarps are designed to fit almost perfectly over an ENO DoubleNest Hammock. If you’re already buying (or own) a DoubleNest, the 10’6″ size should do just fine. If you are purchasing a larger hammock (over 10′ in length) from another retailer, be sure to go for the ProFlyXL or ProFlyXLSil.
Beyond the size considerations, I love that ENO is offering silnylon versions, which not only save weight while backpacking, but pack down a little smaller as well. Another nice feature is the cinching mechanisms on the guylines that allow the user to pitch the tarp without even needing to tie a knot!
The one real drawback is that the ENO tarps, like most ENO products, are priced a little on the high side considering the materials and features. There are definitely some tarps on this list (e.g. the Hennessy Hex Rainfly below) that offer more bang for your buck.
Overall, I do recommend the ENO ProFly line of tarps, especially to new hammockers that are looking for a simple tarp that will serve them well.
Check current prices for the ENO ProFly Tarp:
Hennessy Hex Rainfly Tarp
For many years, they have offered an asymmetrical version that is specifically designed to fit their own hammock designs. Now they have added a symmetrical version that will work with most hammocks, regardless of the manufacturer.
- 11’11” x 10′ – 27 oz. – 70D Polyeurethane Coated Polyester Rip-stop
- Hex-shape is well-adapted for hammock camping
- Hand-made “cottage” style manufacturing ensures top quality of product
- Simple design makes for easy setup
- Silnylon version not offered in the symmetrical shape, so the tarp is on the heavy side
The Hennessy Hex Rainfly is a simple, well-constructed hammock tarp that is really hard to complain about. The catenary cuts on the edges are not very aggressive, and look as if they will render the sides with a loose, floppy pitch. That is not the case, as it usually goes up nice and taut. This “boxy” shape also makes the tarp a little more attractive in rainy weather where slimmer cut tarps may let in more moisture.
I personally like the nice, big size. The ridgeline is nearly 12 feet long, and should fit over nearly any hammock on the market. Backpackers looking to go lightweight may find this tarp a little heavy and bulky. And unfortunately, Hennessy does not offer a lighter silnylon version in the symmetrical style at this time.
The price is also right, and I think this might be the best value hammock tarp on the market right now!
Check current prices for the Hennessy Hex Rainfly:
Warbonnet MamaJamba Tarp
This is currently my go-to tarp! A fairly large hex-cut silnylon tarp, the Warbonnet MamaJamba is designed to fit most gathered end hammocks. Warbonnet itself is a small “cottage” manufacturer from Colorado that hand-sews top quality hammock hear. I also own a Warbonnet Blackbird XLC hammock, and am very satisfied with their quality of work.
- 11′ x 10′ – 14 oz. – 1.1oz/30D 2000mm NeverMist™ Silnylon
- Cat-cut hex shape is ideal for hammock camping
- Silnylon material makes for a relatively small size and light weight when backpacking
- “Panel pull” tie-outs allow for more head-space and standing room inside
- Very high quality
- Panel pulls do not come seam-sealed, leaving that up to the buyer to complete
The Warbonnet MamaJamba is one of the best hammock tarps for 3-season backpacking because of its combination of high quality construction, light weight and large size. I really like the panel pulls, that open up some extra space inside the tarp. The silnylon construction makes this tarp light to carry and easy to pack, and does come shipped with its own stuff sack.
I’ve used the MamaJamba tarp on my last few backpacking trips, and it has worked great! I even took it on a winter trip in the Grand Canyon during some cold, rainy weather and it held up like a champ. The only small leaks were through the panel pulls that I forgot to seal before I headed out, but the leaks were so tiny, it wasn’t even a problem.
Overall, I’m very happy with my own Warbonnet MamaJamba and recommend it as a solid, lightweight 3-season tarp that provides ample coverage. Of all the hammock tarps on the market, the MamaJamba is a top pick because of its combination of large size, light weight, and excellent build quality.
Additional Options From Warbonnet Outdoors
The MamaJamba does have an interesting accessory option: attachable doors that cover the open ends of the tarp. This option may be useful for users that enjoy camping in winter conditions as the doors add maximum wind and cold protection to the tarp. The tarp door kit is available at an additional cost.
Also, Warbonnet has other tarp offerings on their website, such as the Superfly Tarp (it’s the same as the Mamajamba but with permanent winter doors) and the Edge (a smaller tarp suited for summer trips). Check out the Warbonnet website for more!
Arrowhead Equipment Tarps
Another cottage-style gear maker, these guys have a couple nice tarps, the larger Toxaway Tarp, and the smaller Shangri La Tarp. I don’t have experience with their tarps specifically, but have purchased some of their accessories, such as the tarp ridgeline / carabiner kit that streamlines the process of hanging your tarp!
All of the products I have purchased from Arrowhead are high quality, and their tarps come highly recommended from many reputable hammock backpackers. Their line of synthetic insulation hammock underquilts was the first of its kind, so you know Arrowhead is an innovative company. I definitely recommend taking a look at their site to browse their offerings.
Hammock Gear Cuben Fiber Hammock Hex Tarp
Cuben fiber tarps are the ultimate in ultra-lightweight backpacking shelters for hammocks. Hammock Gear, an amazing cottage manufacturer, makes an excellent one! Their Cuben Fiber Hammock Hex Tarp is perhaps the most well-round ultralight hammock tarp available.
11′ model (also available in 12′ and 10′)
- Dimensions: 11′ x 8’6″ / 335 x 259cm
- Cat-cut hex shape is ideal for hammock camping
- Ultra-lighweight: cuben fiber is the lightest material available
- Excellent build quality
- Pull-tabs allow for extra space inside tarp when pitched
- Cuben fiber is not as durable as other materials
The Hammock Gear Cuben Fiber Hammock Hex Tarp is a superior ultra-light backpacking tarp. It’s hexagonal shape and large size offers plenty of coverage that keep a hammock dry through majority of weather conditions. Yet the ultra-lightweight cuben fiber material keeps the weight of this tarp to a bare minimum.
Hammock Gear does not list an official weight for this tarp, but it appears to weigh in the vicinity of 5 oz / 142 grams. This is extremely lightweight, nearly one-third the weight of a similarly sized sil-nylon tarp!
Additionally, the build quality of this tarp is excellent, featuring high-quality D-ring anchor points and fine stitch-work that Hammock Gear guarantees will not need seam-sealing by the user. Just be forewarned that the lightweight nature of this material means that is not altogether durable, regardless of the tarp’s build quality. The tarp also includes pull-tabs on the walls that can be tied-out with guylines to allow extra headroom under the tarp.
If you are weight-conscious and willing to pay the price ($235 for the 11′ version), this is a fantastic tarp. I highly recommend this hammock tarp to ultra-light backpackers looking for a large tarp that weighs next to nothing.
Factors for Choosing a Hammock Tarp
Generally speaking, your tarp needs to be able cover your hammock. A good rule of thumb is to have at least 6 inches / 15 cm coverage on either end of the hammock. As such, you will need to know the length of your hammock (when hanging) to determine the required length of your tarp. If you plan on hanging in extreme weather (high wind, heavy rain, snow, ect.) you might want your tarp to be extra long for more coverage.
The width of the tarp is less important than the length, but again, if you plan to hang in extreme weather, you may want a wider tarp. Do consider that a “wider” tarp means that the sides will drape closer to the ground. This not only adds extra protection during storms, but extra privacy when in your hammock. A wide tarp is not a necessity for most hammock campers, but may be a preference for many.
The size of the tarp can also be a determining factor for the tarp’s weight (more on that below). A tarp’s size is often determined by the tarp’s shape (more on that below as well).
Weight is mostly of concerned if you are backpacking, as opposed to car camping, kayak camping, ect. If you fall under the category of either a lighweight or ultralight backpacker, you may be especially concerned about lightening your load. Just know the biggest factor for determining weight is the tarp’s material. In the hammock world, there are three common tarp-building materials:
- Ripstop Nylon: The heaviest of the three materials, ripstop nylon is still the fairly light in weight. However, if you are a weight-conscious backpacker, you will likely want a lighter material. Of course, the benefit of a heavier material like ripstop nylon is that it is the most durable.
- Silicon-Impregnated Ripstop Nylon: Commonly known as sil-nylon, this is a nice middle-of-road material that is light in weight and fairly durable. Sil-nylon is my own preferred tarp material.
- Cuben Fiber: The lightest of the materials, cuben fiber is a favorite among ultralight backpackers. Just be wary that it is also the least durable material.
As you may have noticed above in the weight section, a tarp’s weight and durability act as a balancing act. If you want a more durable tarp made out of ripstop nylon, you will have to take a weight penalty.
Also note that a secondary factor in the tarp’s durability is build quality of the tarp. A tarp that is poorly made tarp is more likely to tear than a well-made tarp.
The most common tarps shapes are:
Rectangular: The old standard, rectangular tarps offer the most coverage but also use more material so are often the heaviest and bulkiest.
Square: Similar to the rectangular tarps, square tarps can come in a variety of sizes. As such, some are very small and are used by ultralight backpackers for ultimate weight savings. However, the larger square tarps can offer big weather coverage and be quite a bit heavier.
Hexagon: Hex-shaped tarps are quickly becoming the most popular hammock camping tarp because of balanced combination of good weather coverage while being lighter and less bulky than rectangles. For the majority of hammock campers, this is the best choice.
Diamond: Also known as asymmetrical tarps, these are often designed to go with asymmetrical hammocks such as the Hennessy Expedition. They are also often used by ultralight backpackers for their efficient use of space and material. However, care must be taken when orientating them so that the open end is not facing into the wind or you could have a very cold and wet night.
Build Quality and Price
This will likely seem obvious, but the overall build quality will effect the durability, usability, and life-span of the tarp! The biggest factor at odds with build quality is price. If you buy a super cheap tarp, it will likely fall apart much faster than if you invest in a well made tarp. If you are on a tight budget you may have to live with a crummy tarp, but may be better served saving up a little for a tarp that will last for years to come as this is often more cost-effective in the long run.
How Should I Pitch My Hammock Tarp?
There are a million and one variations on pitching a tarp. Of course, pitching over a hammock make things a bit more straightforward. Generally speaking, you create an A-frame shape that fits right over top the hammock. Simple right? Clear as mud is more like it.
In the future we’ll offer some tarp pitching tips here on site. For now, have look at these easy-to-follow resources from our amigos over at the Ultimate Hang:
More Hammock Resources From Mountain Tripper
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