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Best Ultralight Tarps

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Best Ultralight Tarps

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This is a gear review about the best ultralight tarps for backpacking.

If you are going backpacking and want to have protection from the rain but not be weighed down with the extra weight of a tent, then purchasing an ultralight tarp is great solution.

An ultralight rain tarp will provide you with waterproof protection against any harsh weather, however, it can be overwhelming to know which option is best for you as there are a lot of choices available on the market.

I’ve narrowed down the choice of the best ultralight tarps available on the market that you should consider. I also added a Buyers Guide and FAQ so you can learn what to look out for when doing your research:

Here are the best ultralight tarps available on the market that you should consider:

Best Ultralight Tarps for Backpacking 2021

The Best Ultralight Tarps for Backpacking in 2021 are:


Best Backpacking Tarp 2021

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Flat Tarp

Weight: 8.85oz / 251g
Pros:
> Comes with unlimited pitching options
> Has flat edges and square corners
> Made from Dyneema Composite Fabric
> Extremely durable
> UV resistant
> Ultralight
Cons:
> Doesn’t come with stakes

The recommendation for best overall ultralight tarps is the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Flat Tarp. It features a minimalist and ultralight design making it ideal for ultralight backpacking.

It comes with unlimited pitching options meaning that you can set up this tarp no matter where you are. There are two sizes available, so you can make sure you get the best size for you.

The design means that you can set up regardless of the weather conditions, terrain, or requirements making it highly versatile and handy for those who want to minimize the amount of equipment they carry on their backpacking adventures. 

What makes this the top pick is that it has flat edges and square corners as well as a non-catenary cut which provides maximum versatility. This is not only a lightweight tarp but it is functional and very strong.

The tarp itself is made from Dyneema Composite Fabric in an upgrade from the previous design’s Cuban Fiber meaning that this tarp is extremely durable and UV resistant.

You can use adjustable trekking poles to set it up depending on your size and height and you will need to buy ultralight tent stakes separately.

Overall, this is the best ultralight tarp for backpacking. It is a great balance between cost, ultralight weight, durability and functionality.

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Best Ultralight Tarp 2021

Zpacks 7′ x 9′ Flat Tarp

Weight: 5.1oz / 144g
Pros:
> Ultralight
> Made from .55 oz/sqyd Dyneema Composite Fabric
> Two-year limited warranty
Cons:
> High price point

The Zpacks 7′ x 9′ Flat Tarp has a beautiful minimalist design that takes up little space and can be used on any terrain in any environment.

The lightweight material means that this tarp is ideal for ultralight hikers such as thru hikers who want to the lightest possible weight that doesn’t take up much space in the backpack.

It has been made from .55 oz/sqyd Dyneema Composite Fabric which has been treated to ensure that it is waterproof and resistant to harsh weather conditions. 

This tarp has been designed with a ridge seam that has been taped while the tie-outs have bonded reinforcements meaning that seam sealing isn’t necessary.

It comes with a small stuff sack so you can keep the full kit safe and secure in one place. When set up at camp, any condensation runs down the walls and out of the edges of the tarp thanks to the intricate design.

This tarp also comes with a two-year limited warranty so you can purchase it with peace of mind knowing that this is a product that is meant to last. 

Overall, this is the best ultralight tarp for thru hiking or ultralight hikers.

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Best Ultralight Ponch Tarp 2021

Six Moon Designs Gatewood Cape

Weight: 11oz / 310 g
Pros:
> Features micro buckles that help to connect the harness to the cape
> Full zippered entrance
> Comes with a lifetime warranty
> Works as a Waterproof poncho and waterproof tarp
Cons:
> Not suitable for taller people

The Six Moon Designs Gatewood Cape is a unique combination of an ultralight backpacking tarp and an ultralight rain poncho. As a rain poncho it covers not only the hiker but the backpack, keeping everything dry. This combination is one of the best ultralight gear setups for ultralight thru hikers.

It features micro buckles that help to connect the harness to the cape meaning that it is easy to install and remove while the full 360-degree protection means that you can use the tarp as a shelter regardless of the weather, terrain, or use.

As an ultralight rain tarp it has a full zippered entrance meaning that you will have complete protection and shelter whilst entering and exiting the tarp is quick and easy. The adjustable vestibule height means that you can adjust the ventilation without compromising the amount of rain protection. 

This tarp comes with a lifetime warranty so you can purchase it with peace of mind and the customer service team has been specially trained to assist with any technical issues or queries you may have so you can make the most of the product.

It can be set up with ultralight trekking poles or the poles and ultralight tent stakes are sold separately and do not come with this tarp’s kit. This ultralight tarp tent and poncho can be combined with the Serenity Ultralight NetTent to provide complete bug protection.

Overall, this is the best ultralight rain tarp and poncho on the market.

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Sea to Summit Escapist Tarp

Weight: 9.5oz / 269g
Pros:
> Ultralight and compact design
> Made from a tape seam-sealed waterproof 15 denier Ultra-Sil Nano nylon
> Cord lock and guy lines
Cons:
> High price point

The Sea to Summit Escapist Tarp is ultralight and compact in design making it ideal for those who need a tarp for long hiking trips and want to minimize the amount of equipment and weight that they are carrying.

The tarp is made from a tape seam-sealed waterproof 15 denier Ultra-Sil Nano nylon meaning that the material is highly durable and reliable thanks to its waterproof nature making it great for use in all weather conditions on any terrain with ease.

It comes with eight Hypalon and bar-tack reinforced tie-out points that are evenly distributed making it versatile for any kind of setup while also ensuring that the tarp will be pitched securely no matter what. 

This tarp comes with reinforced corners that feature cord lock and guy lines meaning that they can be adjusted from under the tarp so you don’t have to be exposed to poor weather conditions while adjusting the tarp.

It can be pitched in a variety of different positions using trekking poles or even trees meaning that you can provide yourself extra protection in harsh weather conditions without exposing yourself to heavy rainfall or otherwise. 

Overall, this is a great ultralight tarp.

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Paria Outdoor Products Sanctuary SilTarp

Weight: 27oz / 765g
Pros:
> Made from waterproof 30 deniers ripstop nylon treated with silicone/PU dual-coating
> 5000mm of hydro-static resistance
> Comes with everything you need including 18 meters of 1.5mm reflective Dyneema guy line, six aluminum Y-stakes, and six micro line-Lok adjusters
> Full lifetime warranty
Cons:
> Can be noisy when setup in heavy winds

The Paria Outdoor Products Sanctuary SilTarp is made from waterproof 30 deniers ripstop nylon that has been treated with silicone/PU dual-coating as well as fully taped seams meaning that this tarp has 5000mm of hydro-static resistance.

This tarp comes with everything you need including 18 meters of 1.5mm reflective Dyneema guy line, six aluminum Y-stakes, and six micro line-Lok adjusters so you can use this tarp in any environment regardless of the terrain.

This kit is not as light as the other tarps in this review. The tarp weighs 22oz / 620g and the full kit weighs in at 27oz / 765g making it ideal for those who like to go on long hiking adventures on a regular basis. 

This tarp is incredibly flexible when it comes to what you can use it for thanks to its flat shape which has been designed with a total of 16 perimeter attachment loops as well as one center loop meaning that you can set up the perfect shelter no matter where you are.

It also comes with a full lifetime warranty so you can purchase it with peace of mind knowing that this is a product that has been made to last for years to come. 

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Big Agnes Onyx UL Tarp

Weight: 6oz / 170g
Pros:
> Multiple guy-out points
> Comes with a strut pole that can be inserted into the Hypalon tabs
> Silicone treated nylon rip-stop with a 1200mm waterproof rating
Cons:
> Can take a while to set up compared to other options

Our sixth choice is the Big Agnes Onyx UL Tarp which is one of the most lightweight and minimalist tarps on this list making it highly versatile for those who like to do an array of outdoor activities.

This tarp has been made with a variety of guy-out points which help to create multiple configuration options thus providing maximum coverage regardless of location, weather conditions, or terrain.

It comes with a strut pole that can be inserted into the Hypalon tabs that have been laser-cut in the center of the tarp providing an increased amount of headroom making it ideal for those who are taller and need more space. 

What makes this tarp so versatile is that the strut pole that comes in the kit can also be used as a trekking pole when you are hiking meaning that you will have less equipment to carry around during the day.

The tarp itself is made from a highly durable and reliable silicone treated nylon rip-stop that has been coated with a 1200mm waterproof polyurethane making it one of the most protective tarps on this list. 

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REI Co-op Quarter Dome SL Tarp

Weight: 12oz / 340g
Pros:
> Made from polyurethane-coated ripstop nylon
> Waterproof and extremely durable
> Corner grommets are double-layer reinforced
> Comes with six guylines with tighteners as well as eight stakes and a stuff sack to store it all
Cons:
> Tarp poles are not included

The final recommendation is the REI Co-op Quarter Dome SL Tarp which is made from polyurethane-coated ripstop nylon which ensures that the tarp is both waterproof and extremely durable.

The design of the tarp has been seam-sealed to ensure full weather protection while the symmetrical square-cut provides versatility and maximum coverage regardless of terrain and environment.

This tarp is incredibly versatile in use as it can be used to sleep, cook, and eat spaces if the weather conditions are harsh. 

This tarp boasts reliable performance thanks to the corner grommets which have been made with a double-layer reinforcement, providing a stable and strong pitch while the multiple webbing loop lash points are evenly distributed along the side and provide an easy setup every time.

This tarp comes with six guylines with tighteners as well as eight stakes and a stuff sack to store it all. The guylines have been designed with a reflective feature meaning that you will have nighttime visibility. 

Overall, it is one of the best budget tarps for backpacking.

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REI

Buyers Guide

When conducting your research, there are certain factors that you need to consider before making a purchase to prevent disappointment and allow you to know what to expect when the product arrives.

Always think about the material that the tarp is made from, the size of the tarp, any warranty period, and your budget. Once you have weighed these aspects against your own needs and requirements, you’ll be able to make a fully informed decision with confidence.

Material

The first thing you need to think about is the material used to make the tarp as this will determine the overall quality and longevity of the product.

The best material to look out for is nylon as it has the durability needed to go camping, especially during harsh weather conditions.

Nylon is also extremely lightweight and doesn’t take up much space meaning that you don’t have to worry about it weighing you down if you are going hiking. 

Size

When you research ultralight tarps, it’s important to know what size you are looking for so you can be assured that you have full coverage.

If you purchase a tarp that is too small then it isn’t going to cover the whole surface and thus not give you the protection needed while a tarp that is too large is going to overwhelm and not be as easy to control when setting it up.

Making sure that you measure your tent will mean that you can get a tarp that covers it properly. 

Warranty

Another important factor to think about is whether the product comes with a warranty period or returns policy which will give you extra peace of mind.

Purchasing a product that is backed by a warranty will ensure that you make the most of the product. You can also be assured that the customer service teams are specially trained to assist you with any technical issues and queries you may have.

Budget

Lastly, always consider your budget.

As you can see from the recommendations in this article, there are options available at varying price points which mean that whether you have the money to spend or are working with a stricter budget, you’ll be able to find an option that is perfect for you that doesn’t break the bank. 

Conclusion

The Best Ultralight Tarps for Backpacking in 2021 are the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Flat Tarp which is lightweight and durable. The Zpacks 7′ x 9′ Flat Tarp is the king of the ultralight hiking tarps and the Six Moon Designs Gatewood Cape is the best poncho tarp.

Overall, any of these three backpacking tarps would be a great choice.


Frequently Asked Questions

What Is The Lightest Tarp Material?

The lightest tarp material Dyneema Composite Fiber because it barely weighed anything whilst also remaining sturdy, lightweight, and resistant to abrasions.
Nylon is another lightweight tarp material but it is not as waterproof so if you are camping in places that are susceptible to strong winds and rain then you will need to get another protective layer. 

What Is The Lightest Waterproof Material?

If you need a lightweight waterproof tarp then the best materials are Dyneem Composite Fiber and silnylon which both boasts strong resistance to heavy rain and are leakproof while still maintaining its lightweight design.
Silnylon is nylon that has been injected with silicone to make it sturdier and stronger against water. 

What Makes A Tent Ultralight?

Tents are ultralight when they are made from light materials such as Silnylon, Dyneema Composite Fiber and Nylon which are easy to store away when not being used while still being incredibly durable and reliable.
Dyneema Composite Fiber is the lightest and certain nylon materials are heavier than others but this is determined by whether the fabric has been treated. 

Another one of the Best Hiking Gear Reviews from BikeHikeSafari.

Best Ultralight Tarps for Backpacking

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About the Author:
Brad is an Australian who has completed the hiking Triple Crown after he hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail and Appalachian Trail. He has hiked on every continent (except Antarctica) and has cycled from Alaska to Ecuador. He is an expert on outdoor gear currently living in Sydney, Australia.

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