Waterproof polyester tarp

Best Hammock Tarp Material: 3 Top Selections

You got a camping hammock and now you need a tarp for it. But which materials are best for hammock camping? In this article you will get a quick intro to the best hammock tarp material for your hammock.

There are a variety of fabrics and materials in the world of tarps that can be used for hammock camping. Every material used has its pros and cons.

When it comes to tarps, as it is with a lot of camping gear, it’s a balancing act of weight, cost, longevity, robustness, and how much space the tarp will take up. You can read all about hammock tarps in this beginners guide, before reading on.

Hang on as we dive into the best materials, and in which situations you should buy each of them.

hammock tarp material

Best Hammock Tarp Material: The Top 3 Selections

The best hammock tarp material selections is based on what has been tested over time by happy hammock campers.

It consists of popular materials selected by most hammock campers, and also what the vendors are offering.

What makes these tarp materials good, is the level of waterproofness, cost, bulk size, and weight compared to other materials, and depending on your use case.

You have to consider cost and the purpose of your camping or backpacking trip. Each material has advantages and drawbacks.

Related: Do I Need a Tarp For Hammock Camping?

Now for the top 3 choices:

Waterproof polyester tarp

1. Waterproof Polyester

Great for trying hammock camping in the beginning, as these are fairly cheap, waterproof tarps and can be bought in hardware or department stores ($5-10). It is also great for social camping, car camping, etc. where you need to “roof” the campout area, without spending much.

This type of tarp is pretty strong, but bulky.

If you plan to backpack or hike anything other than a short distance, a poly tarp would not be recommended. If you are an ultralight backpacker, a polyester tarp is pretty much out of the question. Bringing the wrong tarp for the wrong purpose is one of five classic hammock tarp mistakes that beginners make.

2. Silnylon (Silicone Impregnated Nylon)

This is a popular choice for hammock camping tarps, as it is a strong fabric for its weight.

Silnylon, short for silicone-impregnated nylon, is a widely used material in the outdoor industry, especially for making lightweight tarps.

This fabric is crafted by permeating nylon with silicone, resulting in a material that is remarkably strong and tear-resistant for its weight.

The silicone treatment gives silnylon excellent water-resistant properties, making it an ideal choice for tarps in hammock camping where protection from rain is essential.

However, it is not breathable.

It strikes a balance between being lightweight, which is crucial for backpackers and hikers, and durable enough to withstand the rigors of outdoor use.

Silnylon tarps are known for their compactness when packed, ease of handling, and relatively affordable cost, making them a popular choice among those seeking a reliable, lightweight hammock camping shelter solution.

Tarps made of silnylon can absorb moisture, which can add weight if you are packing it up to go backpacking on.

Silpoly tarp

Silpoly is another option. Silpoly is silicone-coated polyester. It is heavier than silnylon, but not as stretchy. If you want to avoid the extra weight from moisture when backpacking, silpoly is more waterproof than silnylon.

3. Dyneema (previously Cuben Fiber)

Dyneema is extremely light.

Dyneema Composite Fabric, which was formerly known as Cuben Fiber, represents the cutting edge in ultralight outdoor gear materials.

Tarps made from Dyneema are high-end tarps. This fabric is a composite of Dyneema fibers – one of the strongest man-made fibers, known for its high strength-to-weight ratio – laminated between layers of polyester film. The result is an extraordinarily lightweight yet durable material.

Dyneema tarps are almost unparalleled in terms of their weight efficiency, offering significant weight savings for backpackers and thru-hikers without sacrificing strength or durability.

They are highly water-resistant, making them ideal for protecting against heavy rains and harsh weather conditions.

Additionally, Dyneema doesn’t stretch or sag when wet, maintaining tautness and effectiveness.

On the other hand, Dyneema is more prone to abrasion than silnylon and silpoly. When packed down, it is also bulkier. A DCF tarp lets in a lot more light, which some like and some don’t. Then there’s the juicy price tag that DCF ticks in at.

While more expensive than traditional materials like silnylon, the investment in a Dyneema tarp is often justified by its longevity, performance, and the significant weight savings it offers for backpackers prioritizing a lightweight setup.

In other words, if you’re an ultralight hiker who wants an ultralight wallet – go right ahead with Dyneema as your choice of hammock tarp.

Hammock camping tarps guide for beginners

Conclusion: Best Hammock Tarp Material

Now you know 3 of the best materials for your hammock camping tarp. Each has its best use cases.

All the way from the budget option to the premium pick.

Which tarp material are you considering? Leave a comment down below!

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