Just found this great series of articles. I had often wondered if one of the Deans of long distance UL hiking would ever find his way to “light side,” and now he has. I know there are strong opinions on both sides of issue because, like sailing or flying or any activity where weight is a governing factor, every consideration is really just a compromise – light weight, low cost, strong and durable – pick 2!
In 3-season conditions and in locations where trees are readily available — which includes nearly all of the eastern United States plus a fair portion of the Mountain West — I have concluded that a hammock is the best overall sleep system. This is especially true for mileage-driven backpackers because they need not make two critical sacrifices often demanded by ground systems:
Derek – Awesome site. My buddy and I have used our Eno OneLink systems twice now and love the entire idea. May never go back to a tent. We are trying to figure out our best option for hanging the tarp ridgeline. He’s running his using the Atlas strap webbing and I’m running a continuous ridgeline between trees. Thoughts? Recommendations? Better ideas?

For the seasoned hammock camper, the ultimate form of insulation comes from an under quilt-top quilt combo. Under quilts provide an insulating layer beneath your hammock that you hang on the outer layer. Since the under quilt is on the outside, it can expand and provide a ton of insulating surface area. And it won’t compress when you lay in your hammock. The camper then uses the top quilt as a blanket while the under quilt keeps his bottom warm. When used together, a top quilt and under quilt function like a sleeping bag around the whole hammock. The only downside is the high price tag attached to purchasing a top quilt and an under quilt.
An often overlooked aspect of hanging a hammock is the angle of the hammock suspension to the ground. In the hammock community, the magic angle is 30 degrees. This may bring back geometry nightmares but Derek Hanson figured that this angle can be approximated with ones hand (mine was 28 degrees). Derek wrote one of the best hammock reference manuals on the market, The Ultimate Hang, which is the place to start with all hammock questions.
Top quilts are just plain comfy. Since they don’t have a full zipper (or any zipper) like a sleeping bag, they make hammock entry and exit easy. Many companies make them, but you can also make one yourself. Find any cheap, quilt-style sleeping bag, get all set up in your hammock, sling it over you, zip it up to your calves, and let the rest of it lay over you and bunch up on your sides. See? Glorious.
Hammocks have been used as traditional bedding for thousands of years. But just now, they’re starting to gain ground in modern sleep science. The indigenous people of Latin America have long embraced the use of hammocks. Even to this day, some people grow up sleeping in a hammock every night. The Navy also replaced their cots with hammocks shortly after Europeans discovered them in South America. Sailors spent months at a time aboard sea vessels where each man was assigned a hammock.
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