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Full pack on your back.
8 miles into your backpacking trip.
I bet you wish you had some lighter gear with you insead of that giant heavy $10 tarp from walmart.
But you get to camp and set up. Then it starts raining as it always seems to do at the worst times.
Your tarp provides enough coverage, but the water seeps through slowly dripping onto your head throughout the night.
Now tarps are very important when it comes to hammock camping as you can imagine the scenario above. So that’s why we wrote this comparing the best hammock tarps for backpacking.
|Eno ProFly Sil Nylon||16oz||10’6”||Cat Cut Hex||Check Price on Amazon.com|
|Eno ProFly Sil Nylon XL||26oz||13’||Cat Cut Hex||Check Price on Amazon.com|
|Warbonnet Mamajamba||12.5-13.5oz||11’||Cat Cut Hex||Check Price on WarbonnetOutdoors.com|
|Arrowhead Toxaway Tarp||14oz||12’||Cat Cut Hex||Check Price on Arrowhead-Equipment.com|
|Hammockgear Cuben Fiber Tarp w/ Doors||6.7-9.3oz||10-12’||Cat Cut Hex||Check Price on HammockGear.com|
Ah yes we meet again.
I’ve written about this tarp before in the hammocks with mosquito net and rainfly article.
But for those of you that missed it, I really like this tarp.
It’s a great combination of value, versatility, weight, and coverage.
Coming in at 16oz it’s not the lightest but it’ll do.
It’s made of an interesting material – Silicone Impregnated Ripstop Nylon – that provides great waterprotection out of the box.
But there is one downside.
It’s only 10’6” long.
This length will be great for all the ENO hammocks.
But if you have anything else or think you might upgrade in the future you might want to think twice about this one.
Onto the XL Version.
Now almost everything is the same on this one except the weight and the size.
It weighs in at 26oz.
Anyways the only difference here is that it’s 12’6” long and it’s 2 feet wider than the standard version.
There’s a few different colors and materials available for this one which is why we have a range for the weight from 12.5-13.5oz.
Either way you’ve got an awfully light tarp.
You get two choices of materials which are nylon and polyester.
The polyester version is more stretch reisistent and has lower water absorbtion.
While the nylon version is more durable.
Both versions have a minimum of a 2000mm hydrostatic head. Which for those of you scratching your head wondering what that means like I was it basically means it’s very waterproof.
It only comes in one size which can make it difficult for those of you with a longer tarp or a bridge hammock.
That size is an 11’ ridgeline.
Image courtesy of Warbonnet Outdoors
Now there isn’t much information available on this tarp.
But it is big.
It has a 12’ ridgeline which will fit nearly any hammock on the market right now.
And honestly I haven’t seen any hammocks that would need a bigger one.
You can purchase it with and without the seams sealed.
I highly recommend that you purchase it with the seams sealed unless you plan on doing it yourself.
Image courtesy of Warbonnet Outdoors
This is my personal favorite.
It’s light, versatile, and provides great coverage (as long as you get the right size).
It comes in multiple sizes – 10 to 12 foot ridgelines – and a few colors – green and camo.
Now a little bit about cuben fiber.
It’s extremely light, as shown by the 6.7-9.3oz weight of this tarp depending on the size you order.
But it’s not the strongest material in the world, and it’s extremely expensive.
As long as you use it for what it’s supposed to be – a rainfly – it will last you.
Anyways back to the tarp. This version has doors which make it much more versatile and provides better coverage.
These doors completely surround your hammock which makes it nearly impossible for rain to land directly on your hammock.
I think it’s fairly obvious where I’m leaning.
And that is towards more coverage, the weight thing is negligable to me.
And that’s towards the Hammock Gear Cuben Fiber with Doors. This thing is great, and it’s gotten me through many nights.
My only regret is that I didn’t get the 12’ version (I have the 11’ version).
But this tarp is very expensive.
So if you’re willing to part with the chunk of money necessary to get the Cuben Fiber tarp I highly recommend it.
Now if you don’t want to spend that much money go with the ENO Profly SilNylon XL Rain Tarp
First and most importantly you want a tarp that’s long enough for your hammock.
Long story short that means 1 to 2 feet longer than the ridgline of your hammock.
Then you want to make sure you have enough coverage for the weather your camping in.
If it’s winter you’re going to want a tarp with doors.
These doors are extra fabric by where your hammock suspension is that you can tie out to ensure that you are protected from the wind in all directions.
Personally I just purchased a light tarp with doors and called it a day.
Anyways if it’s summer you can get away with a smaller rectangular or asymmetrical tarp. Just make sure it’s big enough to protect you from the rain (and speaking of rain make sure you have drip lines too).
Now when it comes to backpacking you have to think about how tired you’re going to be at the end of the day, the weight of the tarp, and how versatile it is.
So because most likely you’re going to be exhausted you need to make sure that you can easily and quickly set up your tarp.
For some people — including myself — setting up the tarp is the most time consuming part of the shelter.
Next you want to take into consideration the weight of the tarp, as you’re going to be carrying it all day for several days on your back.
Usually the lighter materials are more expensive, but another approach to lighten the load is to take a smaller tarp.
But that brings us to our next point. How versatile is your tarp? And how versatile do you need it to be?
Mother Nature laughs last. I’ve learned this the hard way. So trust me when I say don’t underestimate her — be prepared.
So make sure your tarp will protect you if it rains and have a plan if it gets colder than expected at night.