gargoyle: We are talking about a tarp.. its not ever going to be totally bomb-proof.
Shug: [W]hen tarping you sometimes have to pay for that wonderful view, breeze and kitchen.
Tarping is a definite tradeoff -- less weight, less cost, more air, better views, a better aesthetic connection to the outdoors, greater flexibility, plus the manly satisfaction one gets by rigging one's own primitive shelter; all for what may be less-than-perfect coverage during adverse weather.
The Warbonnet Superfly is an interesting concept -- gain better adverse weather coverage at the cost of adding weight and cost and losing air, views, and aesthetics. But what about alternatives?
At backpackinglight.com, the fanatic ground dwellers opt for postage stamp-sized tarps with use of bivy to block the wind and stave off the precipitation that will inevitably come under the tarp during adverse weather. The ultralight experts have found such a system to be optimal for shelter system performance and keeping weight low.
The backpackinglight.com approach applied to hammocking would, it seems to me, drive one to use a minimal tarp with a water resistance hammock sock. I haven't opted for such a system because (1) if the weather is bad for a long time, I don't want to be confined to my hammock all day (I'd like to have some relatively protected ground to sit and cook on and provide some degree of mobility), (2) not being a DIYer, I'm unaware of any commercially available hammock socks, and (3) I think I'd find a sock somewhat confining, thus defeating some of the advantage to tarping.
Another alternative is to use synthetic rather than down quilts. If the quilts get wet, they'll continue to provide some warmth and will dry more quickly. Constructing the outer shells of such quilts -- over and under -- with a breathable water resistant fabric helps. There are several manufacturers of excellent synthetic topquilts; KickAssQuilts and Mountain Laurel Designs are the only manufacturers of synthetic underquilts that I'm aware of, but I can't tell what fabric KAQ uses.
I've read some posts about socks in these fora. I appreciate the research being done, but the lack of any commercial socks seems to indicate this approach has not yet matured. Condensation seems to be a concern. Could one modify a large commercial bivy to convert it into a sock?
Mountain Laurel Designs makes what appears to be a nice quilt that can serve as either a topquilt or underquilt. A breathable water resistant fabrice, Momentum, is used, and for an extra $70 one can get the quilt shell made of waterproof eVENT, which isn't as breathable as Momentum but will stand up to direct rain. Has anyone tried this approach? If so, how has it worked?