Since I can remember, I’ve had a passion for the wilderness and adventure. I’ve learned my trade everywhere, from the rock faces of the Himalaya to the wilds of South America and Europe. My vision is simple, to connect more people to the awesome power of the great outdoors.
John is an avid traveler, hiker, and RVer. Moreover, it seems like he knows everything when it comes to fishing and hunting: his father started sharing all the tips and tricks he knew when John was a kid. No wonder we trust his opinion every time a new article is being created.
Last updated: November 25, 2021
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Are you getting ready for your next outdoor adventure, but you need a backpacking tarp? If the answer is yes, you’ve come to the right place!
A compact and light tarp that fits your backpack can be an essential piece of equipment for your next trip. You can place it over the hammock to protect yourself from sunlight and rain, or use it as a sleeping tent.
You can find countless options on the market, but what makes the best backpacking tarp? Our expert review team selected top-rated products in this category and reviewed them below. We focused on physical characteristics, such as weight and dimensions, as they can be important for portability. Next, we considered construction quality as only the best materials are capable of withstanding rain and extreme weather conditions, and they also affect the stability of your tent once mounted. Are you ready to learn more? Let’s go!
"This amazing shelter comes with guy lines, steel stakes and easy-to-follow instruction to make the installation process a breeze.39” x 84” x 35” size.All-weather and ultra-lightweight tarp.Can be used as a hammock tarp."
"With this backpacking tarp, you can rest assured that it stays incredibly stable at all times.118″ x 118″, 118” x 157.5”, 118” x 197” sizes.210D ripstop oxford fabric with coating.Excellent UV protection."
If you are looking for the best backpacking hammock tarp, you will find everything you need in this product. Aqua Quest did an amazing job and used 40D nylon fabric and dual coatings of silicone and polyurethane. Thanks to that, the product will keep all water out of the protected space. It is not the cheapest tarp out there, but it will be worth the investment.
The portability is surprising for a high-quality product like this. It is light and compact-sized once packed. That means you can carry it around easily. Once you choose a place to set up the tarp, you can follow the simple instructions and get the job done effortlessly.
The manufacturer offers a lifetime warranty, which is another indicator of the product’s quality. You can choose between multiple sizes and colors to fit your preference.
Why are we impressed?
Extremely durable and long-lasting (covered by a lifetime warranty)
The coatings will keep the water out of the protected space
Although this ultralight backpacking tarp is a budget-friendly deal, REDTARP made sure to use 210D polyester fabric to offer the best possible quality. As a result, this tent is surprisingly versatile. You can use it when backpacking, but also for picnics, beach, and sporting events.
The company mentions that the tent is waterproof, and the water resistance rating is surprisingly high for an entry-level product. That guarantees you will be protected from almost everything. The fabric has an interesting army green color. During the installation, you will mount six eyelets which are rustproof for better durability.
The manufacturer advertised a specific size, but the tarp might end up being a couple of inches shorter. That is not a big difference, so you probably won’t even notice it. It doesn’t change the fact that this item remains a true bargain deal.
LiteOutdoors designed a top-quality ultralight trap for all those that plan on using this item frequently. You can choose between multiple color combinations and sizes. That way, you can easily find the size that suits your preference.
The manufacturer used premium 20D nylon and placed silicone coating for improving durability and protection. You get 16 webbing loops for optimal stability, which gives you plenty of options for pitch configuration. The item has impressive water and wind-resistance rating for providing adequate protection.
Also, the packaged weight is surprisingly small and light, which makes it easy to carry. The largest tarp size weighs less than 17 ounces once packed.
The cost of this tarp might be a bit higher than for similar units available on the market. However, it will be a smart investment since it is a beautiful and durable solution for outdoor adventures.
Why is it special?
Pick between different sizes
Premium quality materials used for the construction
The first thing you notice once you get the item is that the stuff sack is surprisingly light and compact. This is one of the best lightweight tarps, especially if you are looking for a long-lasting and durable product. Although it only weighs 22 ounces, it is made of premium quality nylon material for optimal protection.
The tarp even features an attractive and modern design and a simple installation process. It is great for keeping yourself and the equipment dry. You use six points to connect it properly, and the rain protection is impressive. However, it is not 100% water-resistant, which means you should be careful of heavy downpours. Despite that, this product will offer you protection in most cases since it is very versatile and suitable for different weather conditions. You won’t have to worry about the shelter for your next outdoor adventure.
What are its best features?
Impressive and attractive design
It is durable and long-lasting
The product is surprisingly lightweight and easy to carry around
This lightweight backpacking tarp is made from durable nylon and available in orange color. The product features a flame-retardant construction, which can be useful in case of an emergency.
It is possible to place a hammock beneath it or install it with a floor if you plan to sleep on the ground, which adds to its versatility.
You get the accessories required to set up the tarp on any ground. The grommets and securing straps might be positioned inconveniently, which could require some extra effort on your behalf. Fortunately, they are stable and provide excellent protection once mounted. The stakes are made of durable steel, which is a nice touch.
The product comes with an aluminized backside that provides impressive thermal insulation. Once you are done using it, the product is easy to store in the stuff sack and carry around.
What are its best features?
An aluminized backside for thermal insulation
Durable and flame-retardant materials
Easy to convert from a hammock tarp to a sleeping tent
What could be improved?
Grommets and securing straps could be better positioned
Unigear designed an extremely durable and stable backpacking tarp. It might be a bit heavier than expected, but three pounds for a large size isn’t that much, after all.
You get everything required for the installation, including long ropes. Despite their length, the adjusters make them easy to set. That will allow you to pick the desired position easily.
This tarp is made from premium quality oxford fabric, and it also features a special PU layer. Its task is to provide UV protection and keep you safe from the sunlight when it’s hot outdoors.
The waterproof rating is impressive, and the same could be told for the tarp’s resistance to ripping. You don’t have to worry about the wind ripping your tent, or doing that yourself while mounting. The product is available in different sizes and colors, and it should be easy to pick one that suits your preference.
Why are we impressed?
Extremely stable and resistant to ripping
Its PU inner layer will provide sun protection
The adjusters allow you to pick the desired position effortlessly
The manufacturer used high-quality material for this shelter but managed to keep it light. Since it is made from 30D nylon, it is surprising that this could be the best ultralight tarp out there.
The product itself weighs 16.5 ounces, but a full kit with accessories is a bit heavier. It is easy to carry because you get a bag with the shelter. Everything you need for the installation is in the kit, including the stakes. Unfortunately, the latter might be a bit flimsy, but the protection provided is impressive.
Thanks to the material quality, the product will keep you safe in case the rain starts falling. Since it comes in a hex shape, it is suitable to place a hammock under it. That will guarantee you can enjoy resting in your tarp until the rain stops. The item comes with a lifetime warranty, which speaks in favor of its quality.
This might be the best hammock tarp for backpacking since it is large enough to cover a hammock. It can also accommodate two persons with adequate comfort.
You can choose between different color combinations from the classic brown to orange, grey, and blue. The kit includes a hammock rain fly, multiple grommet and guy points, and guy lines with tensioners.
The reinforced ridgeline seam will keep the item in place during strong winds. The entire installation process is fast, and it shouldn’t take a lot of time, even if you are a beginner. If you consider the large size, this is a pretty lightweight unit.
While the product features a decent waterproof rating, you should still look to avoid heavy rains. As some owners noticed, it might leak, but that only happens in extreme weather conditions. Overall, the product seems durable and long-lasting, which makes it a wise investment.
What do we love it for?
Multiple colors available
A lightweight tent, especially considering its large size
More features: waterproof (2000 mm), quick-dry fabric, protects from rain, hail, sun, wind, and snow, 7 reinforced tie-downs with D-rings, 6 grommets, 6 reflective green guy ropes, 4 aluminum stakes, and 2 compression stuff sacks
With this kit, you get a convenient carrying sack to pack all the items received. If you are looking for oversized tents, this might be the best backpacking tarp shelter out there. It features an impressive size, and it is very stable once mounted. That is because you receive all the necessary equipment to ensure the installation goes smoothly.
The product is suitable for different weather conditions. Even strong wind won’t knock over the tarp easily, and the waterproof rating is above average. The aluminum stakes are surprisingly durable, and the double-taped seams improve resistance to water.
You can choose between two different color combinations. The sun might shine through the material, but it depends on how you mount the shelter. It is not the lightest unit out there, but it is fairly easy to carry around. Overall, the product seems like a smart investment for those getting ready for their next outdoor adventure.
Here is another candidate for the best lightweight nylon tarp. This tent was designed by SKL, and it is an entry-level product suitable for all backpacking enthusiasts.
The manufacturer used 210T ripstop nylon, which is quite durable. It also has a decent waterproof rating, and it is great at managing UV light. That is particularly true because the silver layer on the inside helps to improve sunlight protection.
You will receive aluminum stakes with the product, but they could be of better quality. Fortunately, it is inexpensive to replace them. The tarp comes with a 12-month warranty and a sack for packing the entire kit.
Once packed, the tent doesn’t take a lot of room in your backpack. That will leave you plenty of room for other items you want to carry with you while ensuring you will be protected if you need a shelter.
Why are we impressed?
The reflectiveness on a single side helps to manage UV light
Easy to install
It doesn’t take a lot of backpack space
What negatives must you be aware of?
The stakes could be of better quality
Things to Consider
Now that you are familiar with our selection of products, it is time to find out how to pick a suitable one for you. Take a look at our backpacking tarp buying guide to learn more about these units.
We will start with reasons why you would even need ultralight tarp shelters and continue with factors to consider during the selection process. Since you probably have cleaning-related and other questions, our FAQ section will try to answer some that are asked frequently. We hope that this guide provides all the information you need on backpacking tarps!
Advantages of backpacking tarps
Are you still unsure whether a backpacking tarp will deliver the expected value for the money? If so, check out our list of advantages to see why you will find this product useful.
The benefits include:
Excellent fit for a hammock – you want to enjoy lying in a hammock, but you mind the strong sunlight. Placing a tarp over the hammock will protect you from UV light, but also from rain and other severe weather conditions.
You can use it as a groundsheet – do you want to sleep under the stars? A tarp can be the perfect item to place on the ground!
They can fit multiple persons – tarps are usually shelters for at least two people, although large units can fit four or even more.
Extremely light to carry – tarps rarely weigh more than a couple of pounds, which makes them very portable and easy to carry around.
Compact size when packed – you usually get a stuff sack with the tarp so that you can fit it in your backpack easily.
How to pick the best lightweight tarp?
Are you ready to discuss the most important features that a backpacking tarp should have? The truth is that there are numerous factors that could affect your decision, which is why you need to choose the product carefully.
Our team selected crucial features, and the idea was to offer information that could help you select the most suitable unit for your needs. Here is the list of things to take into account during the selection process!
We are starting with the crucial factor in choosing the best ultralight tarp for camping or another outdoor adventure. The materials will affect the durability, as well as the protection level of your tarp.
The most common material choices are polyester, nylon, and oxford fabric. You will find that nylon is usually described as rip-resistant, but polyester and oxford fabric can also be high-quality choices. It is critical to check the thickness of the material, too. For example, the Aqua Quest Guide Camping Tarp uses 40D ripstop nylon for extreme durability.
You want to check the materials for the cover. The coating will usually mix silicone and polyurethane, although you will find aluminized sides in some products for increased insulation. As for the coatings, the idea of these covers is to improve UV light protection and resistance to rain.
Have you ever considered how your backpacking tarp will look? The majority of them will remind of a tent, and the crucial thing when choosing a shape is that it provides decent protection and plenty of room. Apart from the shape, make sure to consider the color. Some products, such as the FREE SOLDIER Waterproof Portable Tarp, will offer you a choice between multiple colors. You can go with the classic green or pick grey, orange, and any other available color. This is basically up to your preference, but keep in mind some colors are more noticeable than the others.
Fortunately, most units feature easy to follow instructions and come with all the accessories required. Despite that, some items might be more difficult to install, so make sure to pick one that is simple to set up at any location.
Number of tie-outs
The next thing you want to consider is the number of attachment points and their position. The general rule is that attachment points should be positioned at multiple bottom corners. That way, they will ensure that the tarp stays in place even during strong wind and extreme weather conditions.
It is this stability that you want to aim for, which is why attachment points should be smartly positioned.
The attachment points will also be at the top. They should spread the tarp so that they secure enough cover for you in case of rain. The attachment points should also be strong and durable, which will secure that they can hold against the wind.
Seams and stakes
The seams have the task of sealing your tarp to improve its performance during rainy weather. You must get a product that ensures that the seams don’t leak.
Next, you will probably get multiple stakes as a part of your tarp kit. That is the case in the Unigear Backpacking Tarp, as well as most units currently available on the market.
The higher the number of stakes, the better, but you should also consider their material. For example, the stakes could be made of aluminum or steel. The general rule is that the ones made of steel are durable and stronger. Aluminum, however, is a lightweight material that can also be quite durable and is usually more affordable. Since both aluminum and steel can perform well, the choice is ultimately up to you.
You are buying the tarp to improve your comfort, and you achieve that by securing optimal protection against different elements.
What should a backpacking tarp protect you from? Here is what the unit can be great against:
UV light – if the weather is sunny and the day is hot, a tarp can provide shelter from UV light and extreme heat.
Rain – the majority of tarps will protect against everything but extremely heavy rainfalls. The degree of protection might vary from one unit to another.
Wind and other weather conditions – these units should be stable enough to keep providing shelter above your head in case of the wind.
Have you ever considered the size of your desired ultralight tarp? Some products might be available in multiple sizes. While some are compact, others are large-sized, such as the N8URE Outdoors Hammock Camping Rain Fly Tarp.
The general rule is that it might be easier to set up and carry smaller tarps. However, if you want to fit multiple people beneath it, you want a unit that is as large as possible.
Apart from the actual size, you can refer to the product description to see how many persons can fit beneath the tarp. These products vary from single-person units to those that can accommodate three or four persons. Make sure to pick a suitable size so that you can enjoy optimal comfort when you need the tarp.
The good news is that the tarps are usually light and compact-sized. Now that we’ve mentioned that, it is worth noting that each pound matters, especially when carrying them in your backpack for miles.
The general rule is that the tarp weight rarely exceeds three pounds. Some units, such as the UST Tube Tarp and Camping Shelter, might be a bit heavier, but they provide additional sturdiness. Other units can weight around 15 ounces, which is considered very light, especially since tarps are not that small.
When it comes to weight, you always want to consider how much you gear you take with you and how long is your hike. If you plan to walk for miles, go with the lightest tarp out there. But if you plan on camping in severe weather conditions, it might be wise to get a stable and heavier backpacking tarp.
These products usually come with accessories required for installation. The additional items might include:
Guy lines – these can be essential when you expect bad weather and strong wind. They will help to keep the tent stable.
Ropes – the ropes should be long enough, but also offer the way to adjust them to suit your needs.
Stuff sack – these are carrying sacks that are optimized for that kit. The sack should fit all the items easily and ensure everything is packed as tight as possible. That way, the product will take as little space as possible in your backpack. It also guarantees you won’t lose any accessories.
The final thing to consider is the warranty, which can significantly vary. Now, some products, such as the SKL Hammock Rain Fly Tent Tarp, might come with a risk-free purchase guarantee. That means you have 30 days or another specified timeframe to return the item if you are not happy with it.
As for the warranty, the coverage period should last at least 12 months. However, if you pick models like the Paria Outdoor Products Sanctuary SilTarp, you might enjoy a lifetime warranty. That indicates the manufacturer is convinced they made a high-quality item. At the same time, make sure to read the terms and conditions of the deal. Most warranties are limited and not applicable in all situations.
That depends on multiple factors, but the crucial one is material quality. If the manufacturer used materials of premium quality, the odds are that your backpacking tarp will last for years. Some units even come with a lifetime warranty. However, severe weather conditions might lead to rips in tarps, so you will have to find a replacement. Additionally, entry-level and low-quality tarps might not be as durable. Their usual lifespan could be anywhere from several months to a couple of years. Finally, don’t forget that proper use and maintenance of your tarp can contribute to its longevity, too.
You use these items outdoors, which means even the best backpacking hammock tarp will get dirty after a while. If you want to increase their longevity, it is important to maintain them properly. That includes cleaning your tarp whenever that is necessary. The best way to do that is to take it outside and spread it in the driveway or another large space. Remove any debris and visible dirt first, and then use your hose to give it a rinse. If there are persistent stains, you can use mild soap and warm water to clean them. Hang the tarp over the clothesline or leave it in the open to dry.
Yes, the tarp is a multi-purpose product, which means it can be used as a tent footprint. You might not get a footprint with your tent, which makes things complicated. It is possible to purchase a footprint accessory, but they are not that cheap. If you already have a tarp or want to get the most of your investment, feel free to use it as a footprint. The comfort will depend on the tarp, but the important thing is that you will keep the floor protected. It is always a smart idea for the floor to stay protected, especially if the weather conditions are harsh.
At the end of our roundup, let’s pinpoint once again that our favorite is the Aqua Quest Guide Camping Trap. The impressive 40D nylon and multiple-material coatings ensure excellent protection against UV light and rain. The reinforced webbing loops contribute to stability, and the tarp looks great.
If you are looking for an affordable alternative, check out the REDCAMP Waterproof Camping Tarp. It is a budget-friendly model that comes with decent material quality and rustproof eyelets. It is easy to install and available in multiple sizes, which means it should be easy to find one that suits your preference.
Finally, the LiteOutdoors Silnylon Tarp is the best backpacking tarp for those seeking for a premium unit. You have a choice of multiple colors and sizes, and the item is surprisingly lightweight for its quality.
Ultimately, always pick a product that suits your needs as that is the only way to ensure it meets your expectations!