check out that 12X9.5 Chinook tarp mentioned above. You have to look for them but they come in green too. Bomb proof tarp.
Also the Kelty Noah 12 is excellent too.
I have a Kelty Noah's Tarp 12 which I've owned and used since before I got a hammock. It's a solid purchase and handy as a group dining area.
I use the 70d Hennessy Hex for hanging. Relatively heavy and quite nice but I wish I had invested in the lighter one or one of the cottage tarps. That said, it's only $20ish more than the Kelty. I've never weighed either but it packs much smaller and seems lighter than the Kelty.
I think either of these would be a decent option for now. I think Hennessy does a yearly sale in October. If you could grab a Hex for cheap that might be a great option.
Either that or blue tarp it for now.
Agreed on the tarp being the most important piece of equipment.
I love my Warbonnet Superfly.
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Don't get a "beginner" tarp. Get a tarp that will serve you for years, as others have said it's a vital part of your gear. Tadpole, Old Man Winter, superfly, MacCat, really any of the cottage vendor tarps here are great. Do a little research looking at profiles, reading the forums and get to a group hang or two, there will be all sorts of tarp selection, and opinions on them there. The For Sale section here is where I got started.......
I also vote tadpole. Great tarp for under $100
Thank you all for your suggestions and help. I understand the buy once, cry once thought. But I don't want to do that while not knowing what I want. I hear several people recommend the tadpole tarp and the Kelty Noah 12 among others, but, while being very green to hammocking, I want to be able to practice and work on a tarp setup without ruining what I would call a higher end tarp.
What you need to understand is materials. The Noah and heavier Hennessy hex are polyester coated with urethane. That puts the tarps in the two pound range but at roughly half the price of Silicone Nylon at roughly 1 pound and twice the price.
Urethane comes in either light or heavy weight coatings but if made well ages well. The tarps will be the lighter weight. Some military grade is significantly heavier. Either way it quickly becomes apparent if there is an adhesion problem as it flakes off.
Sil also seems to come in various quality levels hence the issues with some of the low cost sil tarps. The "bad" sil feels right but leaks in heavy rain.
Just some points to consider when making a decision.
Free advice worth what you paid for it. ;-)