Also note that an empty hammock tends to sag with a catenary curve that if measured, will be different (more obtuse) than if the hammock is pulled taut and is measured with straight line angles. For more accurate results, measure your hang angle with the hammock pulled down in the center to create straight lines. This is easily achieved by placing a small weight in the hammock, such as a sleeping bag or water bottle.
But why are spreader bars bad? It might seems like a good idea to spread open the hammock and create a flatter appearance. By spreading open the hammock, it appears to be a more inviting surface. But these spreaders created many unnecessary problems. For one, the spreader bars disrupt the natural center of gravity on the hammock. Spreaders cause the weight to distribute unevenly. You may have experienced the unbalanced shaking while getting into these hammocks. Or have even been a victim to sudden flips when you make the wrong move. Many people new to hammock camping recall experiences with these poorly designed hammocks. They end up associating all the negative experiences of rope hammocks with all hammocks.
When most people think of hammocks, they immediately picture a Pawley’s Island rope hammock. Or maybe they imagine of a heavy canvas hammock set up in the backyard. The hammocks are widespread but so different than the traditional Latin American hammocks. This popular hammock is actually quite uncomfortable for sleeping longer than a minute in. Besides the uncomfortable fabric, rope hammocks have a incorrectly implemented spreader bar.
Some hammocks are designed with a dedicated tarpaulin. Others come without a tarpaulin with the understanding the user will want to select the size and style of tarpaulin which best fits their needs. There are many different ways in which hammock campers generally hang their tarpaulin. In some, the tarpaulin is connected to the hammock's suspension line using a system of mitten hooks and plastic connectors. In others the tarpaulin is hung separately using either the hammocks integrated ridge line, or a separate ridge line placed under or even over the tarpaulin.
I think your fear is unfounded. Bears will smell you, regardless of whether you are in a tent or a hammock. If you smell like food AND if it’s an aggressive bear, I think they’ll do what they want with you. Because aggressive bears tend to hang out in high-use backcountry (and frontcountry) areas, this makes a strong argument for smart campsite selection no matter what you use.
Planning to do the High Sierra Trail this coming August, and was curious if anyone has experience taking a hammock rather than a ground setup on the HST? I know there will be at least one camp at Guitar Lake where I’d have to use my hammock as a bivy, but are there any other sites where this would be an issue, or other reasons hammock camping the HST would be a bad choice?
More comfort. Say goodbye to sleeping on rocks, roots, mud, bugs, and sloping, uneven ground. Hammock camping allows you to rise above it all. Learning to sleep comfortably in a hammock has a learning curve, but once folks get the, er, hang of it, they report getting the best night’s sleep in the outdoors they’ve ever experienced. Some even prefer their hammock to their bed at home. So if you want to hit the trails each morning well-refreshed, and return home feeling rejuvenated instead of exhausted, go with a hammock.
In a tent you lose the air flow (even with the windows open), you lose the stars, you can’t stand up to do anything and you can’t easily see what’s around you.  You often fall asleep in a cold box and wake up in a hot and stuffy box and, if you’re lucky, you didn’t roll over into that puddle that’s somehow accumulated in the corner even though your tent’s supposed to be waterproof.
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