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Hammocks camping is growing in popularity and something I highly recommend, but for those used to a tent, there are a few worries to address.
One of the biggest worries is whether hammocks can withstand the rain as well as a tent set up. So, are hammocks waterproof?
No, most hammocks are not waterproof, especially not cotton hammocks. However, many camping hammocks are made from nylon or polyester with a water-resistant coating. These fare better against the rain and dry quickly.
If camping in the rain, you should use a tarp to keep dry and not rely on your hammock.
In the rest of this guide, I’ll share some of the ways you can tell if your hammock is waterproof and some other tips for camping in poor weather.
Are Hammocks Waterproof?
Cotton hammocks are not waterproof so shouldn’t be left out in the rain. Cotton absorbs moisture and can become very damp. They are also prone to mold and mildew if frequently exposed to the rain and aren’t properly cleaned. Most Brazilian and Mayan hammocks will be made from cotton.
Hammocks made from synthetic materials tend to be much more resistant to the rain, but this doesn’t mean they are waterproof.
Nylon is the go-to material for camping hammocks thanks to its strength and weight, but on its own it isn’t very waterproof and will absorb some water. Luckily, nylon is very quick to dry and water is unlikely to impact its performance.
As with many pieces of outdoor gear, many Nylon hammocks are coated with durable water repellent (DWR) which give the material protection against the sun and rain.
Polyester is another popular synthetic used in hammocks. This material is far more water resistant than Nylon and is often used in hammocks that are made to be kept outside. Some polyester hammocks are also coated with PVC or other materials to give it waterproof properties, one example of this is a quilted hammock which is generally kept in your backyard.
What’s the Best Hammock for Camping?
Made from Nylon taffeta, they are strong but still very breathable.
At 16oz, they are one of the lightest hammocks on the market which makes them ideal if you need to carry them with you for camping in a woodland or rural area.
As for the rain, ENO hammocks won’t get damaged by water, however you will need a tarp if you want to stay dry during the rain. See my recommendations below.
Can You Leave a Hammock in the Rain?
Whilst the occasional shower is unlikely to cause any issues other than a wet bottom, for the most part, hammocks are not waterproof so shouldn’t be left out in the rain.
If you do plan to leave your hammock out year-round, opt for one that has been designed for this such as a quilted hammock.
Rope hammocks are also a god choice for leaving out in bad weather, water will not pool in these as they have lots of holes, plus the increased air circulation and surface area will help them dry a lot quicker.
How to Make Your Hammock Waterproof
Most camping hammocks will have a DWR (durable water repellence) coating that is applied during manufacturer. This is what gives them their water resistance and causes it to bead.
If your hammock doesn’t have a DRW coating, or if you’ve noticed the water repellence has degraded, you can use a spray on DWR waterproof coating for extra protection.
Nikwax is one of the most popular solutions, their Nikwax Tent and Gear Solarproof is suitable for all your outdoor gear including your hammock and tarp.
The coating adds a dry layer on to the individual fibres, this causes water to bead when it hits the surface. In addition, the coating adds extra protection against UV rays from the sun which can deteriorate and fade the fabric over time.
Camping With a Hammock in the Rain
If you are camping in the rain with your hammock, then you will need a hammock tarp to keep you and your belongings dry.
A hammock tarp (also known as a rain fly) is a shelter that is strung up above your hammock.
Tarps come in all sorts of shapes, but the best shape is a hexagonal shape that can provide extra protection from side rain and wind.
A good tarp should protrude at least 30cm each side of your hammock. The wider the shelter the more protection from the rain, but it will also make it harder to find a suitable camping spot.
Here’s a video that shows a good set up of a hammock with rain tarp:
Below are a few more tips for hammock camping in the rain:
- Be prepared – First and foremost, you need to have all the correct equipment. If you anticipate rain, you should also practice putting everything up beforehand in case you get caught out. See some equipment recommendations below.
- Hang the tarp first – Get your tarp up first so you can your belongings can stay dry. I recommend hanging as high as you can reach to give yourself enough room to stand up underneath.
- Use a hammock dripline – This is a piece of rope that you hang from the straps or ropes to give the water somewhere to drip rather than trickling into your hammock. If you don’t have a dripline, a shoelace can make a DIY alternative
- Keep good ground clearance – Don’t hang your hammock too close to the ground as the water can splash off the floor and get your wet.
- Be extra careful about site selection – The wind and rain can make trees more vulnerable to falling. Use natural wind breakers such as bushes to minimise breezes.
What’s the Best Tarp for Hammock Camping?
My recommended tarp for hammock camping is the WiseFly from Wise Owl Outfitters.
The hex shape is better than a rectangular design as it’s easier to get the required tension and saves weight to carry.
The WiseFly comes in two sizes, the premium has wider sides for better protection from side rain, whereas the Lite version prioritises carry weight.
Both versions are suitable for a wide variety of hammocks including ENO. They are 100% waterproof with sealed seams and tighteners on every corner.
How to Stay Warm When Hammock Camping
Rain is the least of your problems when trying to get a good night’s sleep, you need to make sure you stay warm too. Here are some tips to keep in mind if camping out at night in colder weather:
Insulation is key, but it’s important that the insulation is on the outside of the hammock, otherwise you’ll just squash it with your body and won’t get the full effect.
Hammock underquilts are the most popular form of insulation. These hang below your hammock giving an extra layer of warmth to your back.
Underquilts are available in different sizes (full length or ¾ length) and various temperature ratings. You will need to find the right balance between warmth and carry weight.
Some hammocks (called double layer hammocks) have a pouch on the outside for putting an inflatable sleeping pad in as an alternative.
2. Wind breakers
Choosing the right spot is essential for keeping warm. Try to use objects such as bushes and dense trees as natural windbreakers.
3. Sleeping bag
Some people recommend switching out a sleeping bag for a top quilt to save on room in your bag, this is perfectly fine if you’re tight on space, but I like a mummy-style sleeping bag that wraps around your whole body, including your head.
You can also get sleeping bag pod that wraps around the outside of your hammock for even more insulation.