Hammocks are great but have a little bit of a learning curve. Everyone’s different so it’s a matter of finding what works and is comfortable for you. For anyone thinking about switching from ground dwelling to hanging should check out: https://hammockforums.net/forum/content.php Awesome resource for everything hammocks. Learn as much as you can before you buy, or even better, try to find someone with the gear you are thinking of purchasing and try theirs first. Hammock length, width, fabric material, etc all make a difference in how you lay and feel while resting. For me, I sleep better in my hammock than at home.
I also say weight because I select hammocks that are low on weight. Even the biggest hammock I have tested (the Hennessy Explorer A-Sym) weighs less than the standard solo tents. There are some hammock models out there that weight a lot more, but that is your choice as what to carry. But the absolute lightest camping hammock with bug protection and rain fly is less than a pound, the absolute lightest tent that gives bug protection weighs twice that.
In locations with ample trees of sufficient strength, the primary advantage of hammock systems is the huge increase in suitable campsites. In Shenandoah National Park, for example, most of the terrain is rocky and steeply sloping; the number areas suitable for ground camping (i.e. flat; and free of rocks, roots, and vegetation) is very limited. Moreover, many of these areas have developed into crowded, heavily impacted campsites.
Hammock camping in the winter can be exhilarating and unique. Imagine a white snow-covered mountain, a red burning campfire, and a warm cup of coffee. That being said, there are special preparations that need to be made to have a positive experience while winter camping. One of those preparations that we encourage here at Khione Outdoor Gear is the SHEL hammock tent. Hammocking is the simplest way to camp, and should be able to happen year round. Normal hammock covers or hammock tarps won’t be much protection from the cold, but a SHEL hammock tent is able to provide a waterproof barrier from the snow as well as an insulated shelter from the cold.
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.
Practice your hang. Much of your comfort level in a hammock comes down to how well you hang it and achieving the perfect amount of sag, and that comes down to a combination of height, angle, and the distance between your anchor points. Once you’ve got a good hang, a hammock like the Hennessey that comes with a ridgeline (a cord that stretches above the hammock) helps lock that ideal sag in place, so you don’t have to fiddle with it each night.
We're always on the hunt for the best products available, and the ever-shifting 'mock market has us on our toes! We've added several new models to help you choose the best system for your needs. From the complete set up of the REI Co-op Flash Air (a new Best Buy awardee) to the versatility of the Bear Butt Double and a brand new Editor's Choice, the Grand Trunk Skeeter Beeter, we're determined to keep you up-to-date. Whether this is your first 'mock purchase or you're a lounge addict, read our updated review to continue your search with confidence.
The Hennessy Hammock Expedition and Explorer hammocks offer a couple of options with the classic and zip models. You mention the velcro model which is the classic and gives the ability to enter through the bottom. They also have a zip type that can be entered through the side which gives another way to get in and out of the hammock. Good brand that makes a quality hammock. Nice article, good descriptions.
On the downside, the suspension system is sold separately, upping the price point overall. It's also on the heavy side, making it a tough option to pick for backcountry adventures. It's also disconcertingly easy to tip over. This tipsiness makes for excellent physical comedy but cuts down on the relaxation factor. If you've been dying to try suspended camping, but can't get comfortable sleeping on your back, give the Ridgerunner a try!
Serac hammocks come with the attached stuff sack. A great bonus for storing your camping hammock and compacting it down. It keeps the hammock small and the drawstring even allows you to clip it onto your backpack. But aside from the obvious, the attached stuff sack makes a great easy access pocket for when you’re lounging around on your hammock. I always love to empty my pocket of my keys or phone when I lay down. It’s much more comfortable, and I can make sure I have nothing sharp that might rip my hammock. The stuff sack is perfectly situated for you to store your belongings while you relax. You can even keep a cold beer in there. Don’t swing too wildly though or you’ll risk spilling your beer 😉
Absolutely! What you are probably seeing are promo shots that show an under quilt wrapped around a hammock with no one inside. When you sleep in a hammock correctly, diagonally, you sleep in that nice, ergonomically flat position. The under quilt moves to wrap around you in that same diagonal position. Your head and feet still stay inside the hammock. An under quilt will cover all or most of you, depending on the length of the quilt. I prefer 3/4 quilts, which covers from my shoulders to my lower legs, depending on the brand.
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That’s not to say that all spreader bars are bad. Some companies have designed camping hammocks with well positioned spreader bars. They’re known as bridge hammocks. They differ from the rope hammocks in a few important details. Your typical backyard hammock spreads the entire hammock fabric. While bridge hammocks only spread a part of the material open. The picture on the left shows a Warbonnet Ridgerunner hammock with spreader bars. Notice how it keeps a natural sag (we’ll get deeper into this later). This reduces the awkward center of gravity from a backyard spreader bar hammocks.