Hammock Water Breaks and Drip Lines

Make sure that your water break or drip line is protected under your tarp!

Make sure that your water break or drip line is protected under your tarp!

Any exposed portion of your tarp or hammock suspension can convey water during a rain storm (or other precipitation). Using a water break or drip line will help prevent water from seeping down your suspension line and soaking your hammock.

(Hammock Water Breaks and Drip Lines Video)

In my testing, I found that most hardware devices are not 100% effective as I had originally thought. I was a little disappointed to find that some hardware devices were only good in certain conditions, and if there was a slight twist, even small amounts of water flow easily past the water break and continue down the suspension.

The only thing that worked 99.9% of the time was a simple string tied to the suspension. The best method was to tie a Prusik or Klemheist knot, which provided a firm connection to the suspension and helped divert the water the best. My recommendation is to add a simple string to your suspension, regardless of what suspension system you use.

Regarding Tarps

If you use a continuous ridge line to tie up your tarp, you have the option of running the line over or under the tarp. In times past, I have recommended running the line under the tarp in certain adverse conditions. I now do not recommend this at all. I highly recommend always running a continuous ridge line over the tarp for the best drip protection, among other advantages.

Last year during a very wet and rainy camping trip, I awoke with a start after feeling a drip of cold water on my face. Feeling around in the dark, I also felt pools of water on my sleeping bag. Camping with the Boy Scouts, I half expected to see my scouts trying to play a prank, but I was stunned to see a large quantity of water forming under my tarp that was dripping constantly on my sleeping gear.

At first, I worried my tarp had a leak, but after inspecting the tarp, I found that water was running down the tarp ridge line and then flowing under the tarp, adhering to the ridge line that was also running under the tarp. Unwittingly, I had provided a conveyance for the water, and as it hit certain low points on the tarp, it would cohere and then drip down the inner part of the tarp.

A Continuous Ridge Line for a Tarp using Two Carabiners

I learned a lot about water on that trip. I don’t think I’ve ever camped in such a wet  camp nor had this type of saturation. The rain was so constant that the tree trunks were running with water and it looked like someone had turned on a hose and stuck it on my hammock and tarp suspension; it was flowing that thick and strong.

Thankfully, the water break on my hammock suspension did its job, but I realized that I also needed to do something similar with my tarp. By running my continuous ridge lines over my tarp, I have solved nearly all those issues. I also prefer to use simple hardware devices such as the LoopAlien or the Dutchware Stingers that provide a hardware water break as well.