A hanger has a few options available in order to stay warm. There is no right way or wrong way. It's all a matter of personal preference. Some people like underquilts, others like self-inflating pads or down-filled inflatable mats, closed-cell foam (CCF) pads, or even sleeping bags. (While sleeping bags alone aren't the best option, it's a cheap option nonetheless...and I'll explain later why it's probably not the best choice.) There are a wide variety of styles, colors, and options available to hangers by small, cottage-industry hammock business owners who go out of their way to keep up with the latest trends. I'm certainly no expert in this field and have learned a great deal of things from my friends at HammockForums.net, but I have personal experience with each of the options listed...so let's take a quick look at each one.
Big believer in hammocks too lately. One of the big benefits for me is a reduced footprint generally speaking for a campsite, and the speed at which I can put up and take down a hammock. The first trip I committed to using a hammock I pitched in a rain storm and was uneasy about how well it would handle. I pitched a flying ridgeline that I tied previously, Staked out the tarp, and then slung the hammock out of a bishop bag. Done in 5 minutes or less and my hammock stayed bone dry. It was great. Since then I’ve been in wind storms and a few other scenarios and it’s been a great system. I’d just say find a tarp that has tie outs along the middle of the tarp. I have a small-ish tarp that is closer to the old A-frame style and in strong wind it snaps. First time I slept through a wind gust I was waking up every 20 minutes thinking my tarp was ripping or getting ready to fly away. Adjusting the pitch helped a lot.
On the downside, the sling itself is narrow, making it one of the least comfortable models we tested. The material is also very thin, giving us concerns about how durable it will be. Also, with so many pieces to put take on your adventure or leave at home, be sure you're grabbing the parts you need, and don't forget anything important! Altogether though, this system's lightweight versatility makes it a solid choice for backcountry adventures.
So long as you can find two trees that are 12-15 feet apart, you can setup a hammock without regard to the surface below it, even on rocky tree root riddled ground. That means that with a hammock you often get the option of camping at prettier, more protected, or less buggy campsites. Furthermore, you can avoid the obvious flat campable areas that in many parks have developed into crowded, heavily impacted and not particularly attractive places to spend the night.
Excellent overview Alan, I have been sleeping and camping in hammocks for almost 50 years and appreciate a nice clean introduction to it like yours. Derek H’s recommendation about “go to ground” options is critical. Please read the “sticky” articles at hammock forums BEFORE any on going crazy discussions by us engineer and research scientists who are excessively technical, passionate, and opinionated. An incremental approach to a new hobby or sport is always the best. Hammock hanging has actually been very simple and effective for thousands of years, have fun with it, your back will be more healthy.
I am using the warbonnet BB XLC and a mamajamba with a yeti UQ for my AT thru hike this year. I agree on the middle of the road comment it suits my needs, I’m still a beginner hammocker with no significant cold weather experience. A cuben fiber tarp is about 6 ounces lighter but was a budget decision to stick with the mamajamba as it was a gift. My only issue im struggling with as I get into hammocking more is keeping a go to ground option for AT shelters. I was thinking of using the GG night light sleeping pad and maybe the thinlight 1/8th foam pad. It could also serve as extra insulation in spring in the Smokies. Any thoughts? Really struggling from a weight perspective on a solid go to ground/insulation option if I should even bring one.
Some models though, we felt were quite adaptable to everything from backyard hangs to multinight backpacking trips. Two contenders that stood out in this category were the ENO SubLink Shelter System and the Bear Butt Double, though for different reasons. The ENO SubLink has many pieces of a whole system that can be added and removed as you desire, based on the conditions you anticipate. Awesome! The Bear Butt Double was a much more straightforward model, that we felt was useful for many different activities and easy to add additional components in the future if we so desired.
Alan, the only thing I think is missing here is a short nod to taking a hammock to the ground. Those that dismiss hammocks because of lack of anchor points (e.g., “above the treeline”) may benefit from knowing that a hammock kit can be pitched on the ground similar to any tarp set-up. A lot of UL hikers use minimal tarp systems like the Gossamer Gear Twinn, using trekking poles or sticks to erect their shelter. A hammock with an integrated bug net easily doubles as a ground bivvy in such cases.
There are a ton of different closed-cell foam (CCF) pads on the market. Some are made by major outdoor equipment manufacturers and others can be purchased at your favorite X-Mart store. The idea here is simple: the CCF provides a thin barrier between the hanger and the cold air or wind. CCF pads are cheap, most are quite durable, and all are very light.
Nic, what hammock do you have? Some smaller hammocks actually benefit from a much shallower hang. My Grand Trunk Ultralight gets perfect at about 20 degrees. What you’re attempting to do is get a diagonal lay, which improves the flat lay and the ergonomics on your back while eliminating spine and shoulder squeeze. That said, I know that some folks have no problem with a tight pitch and a “canoe” effect. The Speer hammocks were designed to do this. It’s not traditional, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t comfortable for some folks.
Can you get a flat lay with an underquilt? It seems all the pictures of underquilts are bananas, and those of a angled lay are have either feet and/or heads off the hammock. Are these hammocks too small or do you generally lay with your feet out in a top quilt foot box? Should I be able to lay in my hammock (if correctly sized) with my head and feet still inside the hammock?

Some people prefer hammock camping because it allows them to ditch an armful of traditional gear and carry a more nimble sleeping system. As you compare brands, you’ll see that they all use similar nylon fabrics that are lightweight and breathable. Also, one company’s single or double hammock will weigh about the same as a competitor’s products. However, a couple of manufacturers offer super lightweight hammocks that weigh less than 7 ounces, which could be a good choice if you want are planning a backpacking trip.
What’s the distance between your anchor points? While polyester and polypropylene stretch less than nylon, they still stretch, and if you have a long hang (>=15 ft) the stretch will be more pronounced. Is your hammock also polyester? Most hammocks are nylon, so there will be some stretch there too. The fabric weight makes a difference. A lightweight 1.0 or 1.5 fabric will stretch more than a 2.0 oz fabric. Email me a photo of your hang and maybe I can see something else.

A hanger has a few options available in order to stay warm. There is no right way or wrong way. It's all a matter of personal preference. Some people like underquilts, others like self-inflating pads or down-filled inflatable mats, closed-cell foam (CCF) pads, or even sleeping bags. (While sleeping bags alone aren't the best option, it's a cheap option nonetheless...and I'll explain later why it's probably not the best choice.) There are a wide variety of styles, colors, and options available to hangers by small, cottage-industry hammock business owners who go out of their way to keep up with the latest trends. I'm certainly no expert in this field and have learned a great deal of things from my friends at HammockForums.net, but I have personal experience with each of the options listed...so let's take a quick look at each one.

Some campers pushing into the 175+ lb weight range are fine with lighter hammock body fabrics (e.g. 1.0-1.1 oz nylon). Other campers in the 175+ lb weight range feel that these lighter hammocks do not give enough body support even if they are technically within the hammock’s weight range, and therefore opt for 1.7-1.9 oz or heavier hammock body fabrics.
If you’re the type that gets motion sickness, this may not be for you. You’re going to move around, be it from wind or your own tossing and turning. Over the period of a night’s sleep, this may lead to some problems. If you’re unsure, give it a go for an hour or two out in the yard on some sunny afternoon to see how it makes you feel. Laborious, I know, but sometimes, that’s just the way it goes.
Most people (with a properly setup, true backpacking hammock) find it far more comfortable than sleeping on the ground. As such, they get a better night’s sleep, every night. In contrast, ground sleeping changes (many times for the worst) nearly every night due to sloping ground, bumps, depressions, wet areas, rocks & tree roots. It can be near impossible to find a good area large enough for a tent.
So long as you can find two trees that are 12-15 feet apart, you can setup a hammock without regard to the surface below it, even on rocky tree root riddled ground. That means that with a hammock you often get the option of camping at prettier, more protected, or less buggy campsites. Furthermore, you can avoid the obvious flat campable areas that in many parks have developed into crowded, heavily impacted and not particularly attractive places to spend the night.
Most importantly, if you do try spending a night in a hammock and have any issues, don’t give up.  We hear from people every day that are ‘instant converts’ – like my own experience, one night in the hammock can be all it takes to proclaim it one of the best night’s sleep you’ve ever had and decide to leave the tent behind for good.  But for every one of those experiences there are plenty of people who go through a little bit more of a learning curve and adjustment period.  You’ve been sleeping in a bed or on the ground your entire life, unless you’re a rock star sleeper your body and mind may just take a night or two to get used to it.
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