If you are one of the innovative, forward thinking adventurers who have discovered the joy, convenience, and comfort of hammock camping, then you are probably on the lookout for a good hammock rain fly to keep the elements at bay. Well, we’re big fans of hammock camping, so we’ve lined up 45 of the best hammock-specific rain tarps on the market, and now we’re narrowing it down to the top 6.
If you have never went camping in a hammock before, then let say that you’re likely missing out. More and more hikers, backpackers, and long distance trekkers have begun to realize just how comfortable hammocks can be, while also discovering their remarkable aptitude for replacing tents altogether. In fact, the only thing you need to turn your favorite hammock into a three-season shelter is a good hammock rain fly. And that’s why we’re here.
From big brands like ENO to the smaller guys like Hennessey, our list comprises a good cross-section of hammock tarps that suit a variety of needs. However, we tried to focus on the aspects that make hammock camping great: like carry weight, portability, and weatherproofing.
Editor’s Choice – Chill-Gorilla
We’re going to get started with the hammock rain fly that that has impressed our whole team in a surprising way. The Chill Gorilla hammock tarp is not only fully waterproof and windproof (unlike some of the cheaper tarps out there) but it is also quite affordable and easy to set up. Whether it’s long-term hammock backpacking or simply car camping out in the desert, the Chill Gorilla offers a fast and convenient solution to unexpected downturns in the weather. Our favorite feature is no doubt the overall size … it is easily possible for this thing to cover an entire double hammock and also a few camp chairs. Since we’re looking at about thirty bucks for this particular tarp, there are a few expected drawbacks that are worth mentioning. For one, the tarp was designed with 9 different tie-off loops, but only comes with four stakes. You’ll certainly need to pick up an extra pack of stakes while you’re shopping, and maybe some fresh guy line as well.
Best Rain Fly for UV Protection – Wise Owl Outfitters
The Wise Own Rainfly tarp is the perfect accessory to the single person hammock, as it’s more compact size (compared to larger models like the Chill-Gorilla) makes it more easily packable for things like backpacking and long-term outdoor excursions. It’s significantly lighter than the competition, but still manages to offer all the weather protection and water-shedding abilities that you need out of a good wilderness tarp. Most online retailers offer a bright selection of multiple colors, which is a cool way to further customize your camping gear. While a premium model is also available that offers nearly twice the coverage, it seems to be currently out of stock with some suppliers. We noticed a few weaker spots inside the Wide Owl’s stitching, which we think could lead to tearing or degradation over time, but as it stands, it doesn’t seem to affect the weatherproofing one bit.
Best Ultralight a Rain Fly – ENO ProFly
There are a select few backpackers out there who have discovered just how comfortable and relaxing a hammock can be for long distance adventures. Even with a good rain fly addition, the whole package is usually significantly lighter than a tent, especially if you go with equipment that was made specifically for this purpose. The ENO ProFly is the best ultralight option on our list, clocking in at a mere 22 ounces. When paired with and ENO ultralight hammock, you are getting out on the trail with less weight than someone with an old, outdated tent.
Now, it’s not the lightest model on our list … that honor goes to the Wise Owl Ultralight. However, the reliable weatherproofing and sturdy stitching make the ENO just a bit more dependable for long distance travel. The tradeoff is that the ENO ProFly is almost double the cost of the cheaper models … but it is more than worth it for the dedicated ultralight hiker.
Best 4-season Rain Fly & Tarp – Hennessy Hammock Hex Fly
While not as well-known or high-selling as the big brands like ENO, the Hennessey Hammock Hex Fly offers a professional-grade waterproofing and weatherproofing system that can stand up to the more popular brands any day of the week. The Hex Fly is what we could consider to be an upper-level rain fly for hammocks, and therefore a great option for people who are going to be spending extended amounts of time in the chaotic wilderness. At 27 ounces it is heavier than the ENO ProFly, but not by more than a few ounces.
That extra weight most likely comes from the increased square footage; the Hex Fly can be setup to offer an impressive amount of coverage, certainly more than other models. We wish that the Hex Fly came with a better stuff sack though. The one it comes in is too small to be effective, and to date we have not been able to get the dang thing back in. If you go with the Hex Fly, you might want to buy a small compression sack to go along with it.
Best Bang for the Buck – Pro Venture
The Pro Venture portable hammock tarp can be thought of as the heavier, cheaper version of the Hennessey HEX Fly. They have a similar coverage area, utilize the same hexagonal shape, and even perform almost comparably to one another. It might be no surprise that the Pro Venture is not quite as waterproof as the Hex Fly, but it repels the rain just as well, and it will certainly keep you dry. The increased size compared to other models make the Pro Venture less ideal for long distance hiking, but the more affordable price makes it the ideal portable shelter to keep in the back of your SUV or truck. At 29 ounces, it is not actually too heavy for backpacking, but it certainly would not be considered an ultralight product by any stretch of the imagination. We aren’t quite sure why this model doesn’t seem to come with any instructions. A simple illustrative guide on how to use the plastic tensioners would certainly be helpful for people who are new to hammock camping.
Best of the Rest – Bear Butt
For anyone who is new to hammock camping and unsure if it is for them, the Bear Butt Hammock Fly is the easiest way to protect yourself from the weather while snoozing in a hammock. It is significantly cheaper than all of the other models on our list, while also managing to be a bit lighter. While the waterproofing is not as reliable with the Bear But, the rain should bead off of it and onto the ground instead of onto you. It just can’t handle tsunami-level storms, if you know what we’re saying. Setup is quite simple with the Bear Butt … one guy line on either side is enough to hold it taut. There is only one setup configuration, which can feel limiting for the experienced hammock camper, but it shouldn’t be an issue for first-timers. No doubt, the Bear Butt is only a starter tarp, but functions just as well as a backup or as a ‘beater’ tarp that you can keep in the back of the Subaru. For the price, it certainly is not a bad purchase by any means.
Comprehensive Buyer’s Guide: Hammock Rain Flies and Tarps
The 8 different hammock tarps that we feature here are but a small selection of a much larger world. As hammock camping becomes more and more popular, manufacturers have found an opportunity to flood the market with all sorts of solutions to hammock-specific shelter solutions. There are quite literally hundreds of different hammock tarps out there to choose from, and if we’re being honest, some of them could very well be better than the flies featured on our list.
Learning how to choose the best hammock rain fly is not that complicated. (Remember: when it comes to hammocks, nothing should be that complicated. That’s the entire point of a hammock!)
What follows is a brief exploration of the different features and factors that go into the construction of a great portable hammock tarp. After that, we’ll share our Editor’s Pick for the best lightweight hammock rain fly of the 2020 season.
Taking a holiday in the wilderness is all about making things comfortable, and an overly-heavy pack is one of the most common destroyers of outdoor happiness. Shaving off pounds and even ounces can have an incredibly liberating effect on the adventurer, and hammock tarps are certainly no exception.
While the lightest tarps we have seen are just around one pound, the best ultralight hammocks are slightly heavier, at about 1 pound an 6 ounces. While weight is important, it is not the only thing that makes a product suited for backpacking. Those extra six ounces are incredibly important for the stability and waterproofing of a good rain fly.
Nylon is pretty much the name of the game when it comes to hammocks and hammock tarps, and it is easy to see why. This lightweight material is usually far stronger that you’d think it should be. The intricate way that the synthetic fibers are woven into one another give nylon fabrics a better strength-to-weight ratio than almost any other material.
Nylon itself is not a waterproof material, though it can be naturally water resistant depending on the weave level. The waterproofing element comes from specially designed chemical treatments that are allows to soak into the fabric before it is sewn together. The waterproofing process of hammocks vary wildly by manufacturer and model, but remember: you don’t need a fly to be 100% waterproof; it just needs to be repellent enough to keep the rain out. This is very similar to how it is with traditional tent flies.
Size & Coverage
Contrary to what a lot of people think, you don’t need that much coverage to be protected from the elements when you are in a hammock. A longitudinal length of about 12’ is about the smallest you will find, and that’s large enough to cover most people from head to toe.
The lateral length is another matter, as the angle at which you set the guy lines will determine how much overall square footage is being protected from the rain. For instance, setting the sides of the tarp at a sharp angle will provide less square footage of coverage, but will also create a more windproof enclosure for the hammock sleeper.
Setting the “wings” of the hammock out wider can be a great way to create a large rain shelter for multiple people or even multiple hammocks, but there is a greater chance that side-blown rain and wind will get in overnight, especially in the case of extreme weather and mountain storms.
Loops & Tie-Outs
Hammock tarps are essentially a piece of fabric with connectors at the top, bottom, and sides (and sometimes in a more evenly spaced hexagonal pattern). They operate by allowing the user to connect these loops, tie outs, and grommets to ropes, which can them be attached to either the ground or other trees. There is a lot of flexibility in where and how these lines can be set, and the specifics can lead to differently shaped shelters and styles.
One of the most common complaints that we read about in user reviews is that the tent stakes and guy lines that come with hammock flies are usually pretty cheaply made. This is simply the manufacturer trying to save a few bucks, even if it is coming from a more reputable company like ENO.
No matter where you get your hammock tarp from, it’s not a bad idea to supplement the stakes and lines with some new, higher-grade pieces. They are usually not that expensive and can end up making things a lot easier for you down the line.
Stuff Sacks vs. Compression Bags for Tarp Storage
If all of the hammocks on our list have one thing is common, it is that they are delivered in tiny little stuff sacks that are to small and tight to be used for camping. In fact, most of them are completely useless after the first use, because it seems almost impossible to get the tarp back into the bag.
The best option here is to order a small compression bag to both store and transport your tarp. These cool little bags have straps or pull-ties that can be used to even further compact your gear, cutting down on valuable pack space in the process.
Pro Tip: Set Up Your Hammock Tarp Before Your Adventure
Before we go, we’d like to offer a valuable piece of advice that has saved us a lot of time and hassle over the years. When your new hammock fly arrives, take the time to set it up in the backyard or at the city park to see how it works. Not only will it make both setup and break down faster in the wilderness, but it gives the user an opportunity to inspect their new product before taking it into a wilderness situation.
As some products are often shipped with incorrect contents, this is also a good time to make sure that all the tent stakes are there!
Conclusion: The Best Lightweight Hammock Flies and Tarps
Sometimes it’s quite hard to boil our list down to a single top product, and sometimes it’s a bit easier. In the case of waterproof hammock tarps, it wasn’t really very hard at all.
The Hennessey Hex Fly offers the most protection from the elements, both with its impressive coverage size and unmatched weatherproof, windproof, and waterproof material. While it is about twice the cost of entry-level hammock flies and slightly heavier than the ultralight-specific models, it offers the most rounded set of positive features that come together to create a simply great product.
Frequently Asked Questions
A: If you are using a single hammock and trying to keep the weight down, then you really don’t need a large hammock fly at all. You want at least 12” of length from top to bottom, which in this case is from the ‘head’ strap to the ‘foot’ strap. The lateral length should be at least 8 feet. This is the standard size of the smaller rain flies.
However, there is nothing stopping someone from bringing a larger fly than they need. Having some extra space that is protected from the elements can be incredibly valuable if the weather goes bad in the wilderness. It also allows for the use of a double-wide hammock, which offers up a whole new level of outdoor fun.
A: This is kind of a matter of personal preference, because it really depends on how high your hammock is. While we have seen pictures of people who hang their hammocks way up in the tree, we are simply not bold enough for that. The truth is, a hammock works just as well one foot off the ground than it does at ten feet off the ground. As long as your butt isn’t scraping the dirt, you are good to go.
The hammock fly should be two to 3 feet above the hammock itself, which will give the user enough headspace to read a book, operate a lantern, or simply hand out and chill. Of course, there is no hard and fast rule here. If you want, you can set the hammock fly higher in the air and create a standing space for those rainy day camping parties.
A: Setting up a hammock rain fly is only slightly more complicated that setting up the hammock itself, which is a stunningly easy process. Almost all hammock flies rely on the same two hanging points as the hammock, which is usually a pair of trees. By attaching each end of the fly to those same trees, only a few feet above, the main tension line is established.
Then, additional grommets or connectors around the hammock can be secured laterally, either to the ground or to other trees. This creates the perfect slope for the shelter, as rain water will just drip off the sides before it has a chance to soak into the material.