Choosing A Tarp for a Hammock

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35 Responses

  1. Alan Vales says:

    So I am seriously considering going all hammock! I only did my first backpacking trip this weekend. My buddy (also his first trip) had a hammock. I am also working to develop my rig as a light weight (not ready for ultralight) setup. So probably trying to get too much out of my equipment, but I was hoping to get a hammock I could use my exped pad in and hold off on an under quilt for now. My tarp needs replaced anyways but the Grand trunk funky forest tarp seems too heavy (essentially my hammock setup replaces a light weight tent or tarp setup) but cuben fiber hex tarp is too expensive. Is there a Hex/ Cat-Cut that is light and not so expensive that would work for light weight and hammock to ground transition if needed? I purchased you book this week but have so many questions didn’t want to wait the few days extra to start researching the setup.


    • Derek says:

      Welcome to the light side, Alan! Have you read my à la carte post? There’s a lot of great info there and lists on available tarps and hammocks that may serve you. The best hammocks that work with pads are those with two layers or sleeves. The bridge hammocks are the best for pads because they conform well to the pad. Gathered-end hammocks tend to twist the pad like the rifling effect of a gun barrel. Hennessy Hammock sells some inexpensive hammock tarps that you may fit your budget. I’d go with a hex tarp for all-around utility.

      • Alan Vales says:

        Thanks Derek! Your book came today..already read once through! I had heard about the double layer hammocks to use with pads and realize it isn’t the most ideal, just trying to get the most (maybe too much) out of my gear. I’ll check in to it. The light side tends to get expensive fast yes? 🙂 Trying to choose gear wisely and not buy things I’ll want to replace later but that may be unavoidable on some level. Love the site and the book. I’ll check out the a la carte post now that I have a bit more understanding of the options. Thanks!

        • Dave B says:

          Try hanging an older (or cheaper) hammock under your sleeping hammock. Any manner of “quilting” can be added or secured between the two. I use an older ENO under my ENO DoubleNest and find I can easily regulate the amount of insulation to ward off CBS and get a great night’s sleep. Weight wise this system works well because the “insulation” works double duty during the day (i.e. a parka, poncho woobie, etc.)

          • bob says:

            I’m trying this with my new Brazilian woven cotton hammock( bed size 98.5″ x 59″) on top & my old older less wide cloth hammock underneath with a 7-1/2 foot long piece of 24″ wide Reflectix sandwiched between. It will only drop to the mid 50’sF but quite a change from 81F last night. If the 2 part system works an old sleeping bag could sandwiched there for colder temps. thanks for the 2 part suggestion as trying to keep a pad underneath me is a struggle.

  2. Ryan says:

    Awesome Guide. Thanks Derek. Made it easy for me to go for a Hex tarp.

  3. Jim Johnsrud says:

    As of now I’m using a Diamond tarp from Claytor for most of my hangs and borrowing my girlfriends Big Rain Fly also from Claytor for winterhanging or when I need more cover. I also use a full length Ridgeline underneath for strength in hard winds and to dry clothes. For guylines I use the fail safe rubber bant tarp line tensioners, only made of elastic cord. Also I’ve sewn in bits of reflectic material to the edges of the tarp to be able to find it if it’s pitch black in the night. The Diamond is great for weight but sometimes provides little cover at the gatherings of the hammock and the big winter tarp is great for coverage, but is a bit heavy to drag along on long steap trips, so I would like to go with a hex, preferably something like the Black Cat tarp. In my experience dark colors will let you sleep longer in the mornin sun.
    Also i use guy line tensioners like these: (I had to reverse them to get them to do what i want them to do) to adjust the length of my guylines in a hurry.

  4. ChiefH says:

    No mention to the water resistance for these tarps. What is adequate (1000mm)? or a higher rating? All the discussion is on the shape and rigging style and nothing on the water resistance which is the most important part of choosing a tarp, to keep dry.

  5. forestfairy says:

    Thank you lots for all the great advice on this website. I’m looking for a no-fuss (ie. structurally sound) tarp that is able to take torrents (summertime in the Alps:)) and these on photo 6 and 8 caught my eye. Would you mind sharing the model name(s) please. I can’t quite distinguish if it’s the same tarp in 2 setups, but what I do see is that it’s quite an awesome one. Care to share the experience?

    • Derek says:

      If I’m matching the right photos, they are both different makes but both are hex designs. One is an OES MacCat standard and the other is the Hennessy Hex tarp. There are many companies who sell hex tarps, including Warbonnet and wilderness logics.

  6. forestfairy says:

    So kind of you! Thanks for helping me to lose weight 🙂

  7. I use an ENO Doublenest with a Warbonnet Superfly….great combination.

  8. Bryce says:

    Could you possibly tell me the names or vendors of the tarp in your pictures, some of those hex and rectangular ones look interesting. Thanks Bryce

    • Derek says:

      Hennessy hammock. Grand trunk. Warbonnet. Ticket to the moon. Wilderness logics. Arrowhead equipment. Outdoor equipment supplier. Underground Equipment. Hammock Gear. KAMMOK. Eagles nest outfitters. Hammock bliss. Jacks R Better. Who did I miss?

  9. Doug says:

    I use a 12×9 tarp from walmart was about 12$ works great and goes all the way to the ground. I havent figured out why people leave there cover so far from the ground as the point is to stay dry guess everyone likes getting there feet wet. Me on the other hand like to keep myself and my gear dry hense the reason my tarp goes all the way to the ground it is light weight and very effective. Just my opinion.

  10. Mittagsfrost says:

    Derek, in the section “ridge lines” I detected a little mistake. You wrote “With the ridgeline running under the hammock, it also provides handy points for clipping gear to air dry, or to attach a bug net.” I’m sure you mean “under the tarp”.

  11. ChiefH says:

    I read it as being under the hammock straps, since mention of the tarp line being attached to the tree under the hammock straps.

  12. G Smith says:

    I know, last post. Here are my 2 cents. HH with self inflating pad and poncho liner in the winter along with a mylar insulting pad used for pipes,I slept well in to the teens. Along with my Kelty bag of course. The a-sym tarp that came with the Hennessy provides good coverage from rain, snow and wind. Experimenting with Aqua Quest sil tarp for extended coverage. Derek, thanks for all the great info over my past 2 years as a hanger.

  13. Tommy says:

    Great article! After much evaluation I made my first tarp the Wilderness Logistics Big Daddy hex tarp with side panel pulls and an extra tie-out on the bottom of each side for more versatile pitching options. Any recommended guy line lengths for side and corners? I have read about 3 feet for the corners but don’t want to waste rope trying to figure it out. Any guidance or resource would be greatly appreciated. Cheers! ~Tommy.

    • Derek says:

      I like long guy line because I’m often using other trees or branches to tie off and the extra length is nice. I also camp in rocky areas where instead of stakes I wrap the line around rocks. I also don’t invest in expensive guy line. I don’t think it’s worth it. It’s something I know gets a lot of abuse. I buy a spool of #18 braided nylon mason line. It’s strong and light and cheap. I actually have line that has lasted many years.

  14. MoniqueWS says:

    Derek would you kindly share a little more about winter tarp guying of doors? I see the drawings but need a little more walk through please.

    • Derek says:

      Are you talking about using a large rectangular tarp and modifying it by pulling in the ends to create makeshift doors?

  15. Grey McGloon says:

    with the exception of the 4 season tarp, how do these tarps deal with sideways rain (something I see unfortunately often)?

    • Derek says:

      Site selection is my usual course of action, but you can’t always choose your ideal spot. If you choose a minimal tarp (diamond or asym), you can use a storm pitch, by bringing the sides down at a steeper angle, and then augment the protection with a weather shield. I like the cover from Therm-a-Rest as it also has an aluminized inner, helping to reflect some heat back to the hanger.

  16. Vernon says:

    If any of you hangers have them wonder hoses that expand when the water is turned on, then you have plenty of tarp tensioners. All you have to do is run over the hose with the lawn mower (oops) and pull out all the 3/8 dia. surgical tubing (trust me, the hose method is way cheaper than trying to buy the tubing outright) and integrate sections into your guy lines. WAaa, LAaa

  17. I’ve always been hesitant to use my hammock overnight. I think i’ll try it out now. There’s some really good info here and I’ll need to start looking into which tarp I want.

  18. Jack Billington says:

    I don`t completely understand, can it be used if outside is raining? Or default tent is better?

  19. Anna P says:

    Hi Derek, I noticed that the standard length of the tarp ridge line that people choose is 11 feet. Wherever I go, I hear people recommending 11 feet. I’m planing to buy the tarp with doors from Hammock Gear, and I thought that 10 feet might be a great idea to shave off a few grams, because, considering what you wrote, a 3 meter hammock sags and is just over 8 ft. So wouldn’t buying a 10 feet tarp make more sense? If you still have around 30 cm to spare? What’s your take?

    • dejoha says:

      Yes that’s possible. I often hang with tarps that small. Just note that you’re at a minimum clearance. Use the Hang calculator to verify.

  20. bob says:

    I sort of chuckle at these OCD gram counters. A 1st class letter(up to 1 ounce) can travel can travel for 49 cents. That 1 ounce equates to 28.35 grams. I’m fairly sensitive to weights but can I detect a 1 ounce discrepancy in a pack weight of 10 pounds?

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