One of the biggest concerns for adventurers new to hammock camping is “how do I stay dry in the rain”.
Fortunately, you have a vast selection of tarps and riggings that you can choose from that will suit any weather condition. With the right equipment, you won’t have to worry about rain or snow.
20 Tips for Hammock Camping in the Rain
Camping with a hammock in the rain can be the toughest job without using proper shading of tarps and other materials. Here are some tips on how you can get a perfect shelter for Hammock Camping in the Rain
BEFORE THE TRIP
1) Buy the right tarp for you
– Asymmetrical tarps – least coverage. Requires more site selection planning and I’d recommend more practice.
– Hex tarps – more coverage
– Hex tarps with doors – most coverage
– Tarp width – a 10′ 1/2″ wide tarp is 1 foot longer on each side than an 8′ 1/2″ tarp – wider tarps can make a big difference in keeping sideways rain/splash off your gear.
My personal preference is larger tarps with doors as I like to camp on windy ridges & not worry about site selection, but recently went with a less wide tarp to reduce weight for hiking longer trails. If you lean toward smaller tarps, you aren’t alone – these used to be the norm around here.
2) Seam seal pull-outs –
The benefits are any person or gear under the pullout won’t get wet from water dripping from the pull-outs, especially in porch mode. If you don’t seam-seal the pull-outs, make sure to not put anything under them. If you don’t use porch mode, the water typically will run down the side of the tarp, so it isn’t a huge deal. I’ve used Permatex Flowable silicon from the auto parts store to seal my pullouts & it has worked great.
3) Tarp ridgeline setup –
The general guideline for rainy conditions is to use a continuous ridgeline (CRL) above the tarp or separate ridgelines on each end between the tarp and tree. A CRL below the tarp allows water to travel down the ridgeline under the tarp and onto your hammock. This can be offset by a dripline, but why risk it.
4) Practice. Practice. Practice.
Go on a short trip on a rainy day & practice before you head on a multi-day trip where it really matters.
PRE-SETUP IN THE WOODS
5) Site Selection –
Depending on your tarp, you may need to leverage structure (hills; shrubs; etc) in the field to help shield your setup from rain/wind. The smaller the tarp or crazier the conditions, the more important this becomes.
6) Keep your tarp easily accessible –
Backpackers typically will keep the tarp easily accessible, stored either in the mesh outside their backpack or inside the top of their pack. You want it easy to grab.
7) Check for widowmakers –
This is easy to forget if the rain is dumping on you but it is even more critical in stormy weather as branches are more likely to fall in windy conditions. I also like to give smaller trees a little shove to make sure they don’t easily topple over
8) Quick tree selection –
Quickly find trees to hang from by holding your hiking poles & extending them horizontally with your arms extended as you stand between two trees. Personally, I like to find trees that are a couple of feet beyond the end of the poles on each end. YMMV.
9) Setup your tarp first –
Setup your tarp first so you can put the rest of your gear under it. I find it helps to use snakeskins in really windy conditions.
10) Tarp driplines –
Use cotton shoestrings on the ridgelines as driplines (or whatever works for you). Make sure they are placed under the tarp. If you forgot a dripline, use your shoestrings in a pinch. See Derek Hansen’s video on Water Breaks and Drip Line Test for a visual on how driplines work (or don’t work).
11) Consider running your guyline from the stake to the tarp –
Consider tying your guyline to your stakes, then running it to your hardware attached on the tarp (such as Dutch Tarp Fleaz or Tarpworms). This allows you to tension (or re-tension) your tarp while you are under your tarp. I personally don’t do this because I worry I’ll grab the wrong stakes at home & end up without a guyline in the field.
12) Keep one hiking pole shorter in porch mode –
If the rain is vertical, it is nice to enjoy watching it fall while you are safely under your tarp in porch mode. Meanwhile, your friends are imprisoned in their tent. Just remember to have one hiking pole a little shorter than the other so water runs off the tarp & doesn’t pool.
13) Pooling water caused by CRL below the tarp –
If you do use this method, make sure the CRL doesn’t create a flat spot for water to pool near the tarp ridge seam. Ridgeseams (when applicable) aren’t built to withstand pooling water against them & can leak water.
14) Pooling water cased by pole mod –
If you are using pole mods on your tarp, make sure they don’t create a flat area that pools water. This can cause the ridge seam to leak.
15) Hammock driplines –
Use cotton shoestrings on the ridgelines as driplines (or whatever works for you). If you forgot a dripline, use your shoestrings in a pinch.
16) Twist tree straps –
If you are using straps, make sure to put a few twists in the straps so water doesn’t flow unimpeded down the strap to your hammock.
17) Consider detaching straps –
If you are using straps, remember you can ‘disconnect’ these from the hammock body. This would allow you to setup the straps on the tree first, then connect the hammock to the straps under the tarp.
18) Tuck up under the tarp ridgeline aka storm mode –
Keep the hammock ridgeline close to the tarp ridgeline – say 6″. Being tucked up close to the tarp will reduce exposure to your underquilt/hammock to the rain/wind.
19) Don’t hag too low to the ground –
Don’t hang too close to the ground, or rain splash will bounce up & hit your gear
20) Consider a UQP –
Some find an Underquilt Protector (UQP) is helpful to keep their UQ dry from rain splash. Some just use a large tarp.
20) Get up & fix it –
If you are getting wet, get up and fix it. It won’t magically improve overnight & you are likely to get even wetter.
21) Break-down your setup by reversing the setup steps –
The last thing you take down will be your tarp, allowing you to keep your gear under it until the last minute.