Like any activity outdoors, be aware of your own safety when hammocking. Before you set up your hammock, check your gear. Make sure there are no defects or signs of significant wear on the hammock or the suspension. Examine your carabiners and make sure there hasn’t been any warping. When you choose a hammock spot, make sure you pick sturdy trees that can bear your weight. Avoid saplings as they will bend and stay away from dead trees because they can snap under the load. The ideal tree should be at least thick enough that you aren’t able to completely wrap your hands around the trunk.
You may want to consider bringing a small gas burner on your next winter hammock camping trip. Make sure to use fuel that is not frozen or problematic in cold weather. Gasoline fuels are generally not affected by temperature or pressure, so they can be used reliably. Since the boiling point of gas is 0.5 degrees Celsius below zero, the flames drop sharply, it is advisable to use a gasoline fuel source that produces a constant fire regardless of the temperature during winter camping. Also, It is the best way to prepare for accidents by separating gas lanterns and burners from the fuel tank. Since safety accidents such as suffocation, burns, and other incidents can occur at the campsite, you should always be careful when using heating equipment. It is not recommended to have an open flame burner in a SHEL hammock tent because of the movement in the air.
Hey Derek I’ve been researching a lot and want your opinion. I narrowed my hammock search down to a eno double, treklight, or the kammok roo. I plan on mostly using it for music festivals and camping, so comfort and durablitly are my main concerns. I am about 6ft tall and about 205 lbs. So when taking that into consideration which hammock would you recommend (leaning towards kammok as of now).
i’ve seen hammocks pull down live trees twice in maine. once nearly hitting me (an innocent bystander) and once nearly killing the guy in it- and it was a HUGE tree. it’s still laying across the stream at cooper brook falls lean-to in maine if you want to see it. so, in my opinion, the size of the tree matters little- you have to think about the topsoil-to-rock ratio its roots are in. i would think anywhere in new england is questionable.
All the things you heard about how hammocks can be set up in the worst places are absolutely true… but should be avoided if possible. Ground sleepers may get grumpy when they see a hammocker over a prime spot, but its first come first serve in the woods. Flat spots help with any late night bathroom breaks. Sleepily exiting a hammock on a decline and falling into your tarp does not make hammock camping more fun.
The area I refer to is a stretch of quite mountainous terrain along the eastern edge of the country. The parks have some large buck and antelope,which are the animals the poachers are after primarily for subsistence purposes, rather than commercial gain (as awful as that is). There is no doubt that some are quite desperate, and an encounter is unwelcome.
I guess it depends on where and how you use paracord. Some folks have tried to use a single line of paracord for hammock suspension as a way to reduce weight, but the cord often fails. The 550 lbs load limit does not afford much latitude for dynamic strain or if the hammock is pitched too tight. The forces on each side of a hammock can exceed the load weight due to sheer forces. These forces can exceed 550 lbs pretty easily. Check out my hammock calculator to play with the numbers.
The main difference 1.0 vs. 1.6 oz, is that the 1.6 oz fabric has a much stiffer, more supportive feel when lie in the hammock. Some people find the 1.0 a bit too stretchy to feel fully supported. I am also 160# and fine with the 1.0 fabric — when I am going super light for daily mileages in the 25 to 30 mile range I take a 1.0 oz hammock. But, when weight is not supercritical I’ll usually grab a 1.4 to 1.6 oz fabric hammock. The firmer 1.6 is more to my liking for full sleep comfort and it is a more durable fabric. So you choice. No bad ones.
Thanks for the post Andrew. I always use a hammock where I hike. Unfortunately poachers are an ever-present threat, even in the most remote parts of the country. The chance of having kit purloined is always a possibility. I usually pitch the tarp close to the ground to make some sort of enclosure under the hammock for kit, or alternatively buckle my pack tightly around one of the trees .
The Jacks ‘R’ Better Bear Mountain Bridge Hammock has a unique design that achieves a truly flat lay. This suspension bridge design keeps tension along the top edges of the hammock, which allows your feet and head to hang much lower than traditional hammocks. This flat-sleeping design also lends itself well to sleeping pad use. The downside of this design is that it adds weight. It’s also a wider design than many hammocks, so you’ll need a wider tarp for rain and wind protection, which will also add weight. The Bear Mountain Bridge doesn’t come with a tarp, so you’ll want to add one of Jack's tarps or buy an aftermarket tarp. This hammock is among the heavier backpacking hammocks we recommend, but the unique comfort it offers is worth the weight for some campers.
Sleep diagonally. Most people think you sleep in a hammock with your head and feet parallel to its ends. But this gives you an enclosed, “banana” effect that feels a little claustrophobic and puts your body in an uncomfortable position for sleeping. Instead, you want to lie in the hammock at a slight angle , which will allow you to lay in a much flatter and more ergonomic position. Choosing a hammock like the Hennessey with a built-in asymmetrical design makes getting and staying in this diagonal position even easier and more comfy.
Manufacturers of underquilts usually provide some sort of compression sack, too. They compress into the sack a great deal when storage in a pack is at a premium. They are lightweight, easy to compress, easy to fluff, easy to hang, and provide excellent protection from cold and wind. I like underquilts because they allow me to enjoy the soft feel of the hammock fabric while still providing warmth beneath me. No pads to mess with, no fidgeting or adjusting at night, don't have to worry about compressing the material, etc.
I love my camo Trek Light Double Hammock! It's been many places with me and is my go-to hammock on camping trips, hiking adventures, kayak explorations, and lazy afternoons in my backyard. The only problem I've discovered is that I can't lay in it with a good book very long before dozing off. It's just so darn relaxing! Hanging in a Trek Light hammock is an awesome way to let your cares and troubles fade away.
Big Agnes ditched their bags’ bottom layer of insulation for a built-in pocket to fit an air pad. But, really, you can use any bag-pad combo. Once you’re in the hammock, your weight will pin the pad down, and the sides help keep it in place overnight. I dig this setup primarily because, unlike with an under-quilt, I can use it in a tent or for cowboy camping just as easily.
So you’ve decided to stick with your hammock even through the thickest of storms. Don’t fret, there are shelters designed to encase your hammock on all sides – complete with zippable doors. These extreme shelter systems will convert your hammock into a floating fortress. You’re now protected from anything the clouds are going to throw at you (just as long you’re not hammocking on the tallest tree in a lightning storm). Essentially, your shelter becomes a suspended tent. You’ll have the comfort of sleeping in your hammock with the complete protection of a tent. But these fully enclosed shelters are restricted to a single hammock. If you are trekking with a group, each person will need their own fortress. In lighter rain, a single rainfly can provide enough coverage to protect 2 or even 3 hammocks. With a large tarp, you and your friends can hang together while waiting for the bad weather to pass.
The idea with inflatable pads or mats is to provide a barrier between the hanger and the cold air. Instead of being attached below the hammock, as is the case with underquilts, pads or mats are placed in the hammock. The hanger lays on the pad and insulates himself/herself from the air below. Inflatable pads or mats can be adjusted on-the-fly. Each user can decide just how much or little air to use in the inflatable pad or mat. Some people like to pump them up nice and firm while others like just a wee bit of inflation. As long as there's a warm air barrier between the hanger and the cold air around the hammock, you can't go wrong.
But my favorite option is hammock underquilt – especially from the guys at Hammock Gear. From a weight to warmth ratio perspective, there’s no beating a down underquilt. I find that the incubator 20 isn’t too warm for autumn nights and is actually rated conservatively. I’ve taken it down into the teens before. But that will also depend from person to person. The one downside to an underquilt is if you get stuck without trees, you can’t use it for bottom insulation. By laying directly on the underquilt on the ground, you compress the down and that takes away any insulation.
When you’re lost, you might find yourself stranded in a place where there are no trees for your hammock. In this case, your hammock can be your impromptu bivvy and provide some protection from the elements. Crawl into the hammock on the ground and wrap the sides around you. This might not be the most comfortable, but it’s better than no protection.
BUYING ONLINE - Check the seller's return policy before you buy, but you can almost always return an unused hammock within a certain time frame after purchasing. We recommend buying your top choice, testing it at home, and returning or exchanging if it doesn’t feel quite right. We've been buying lightweight hammocks online for years and we've yet to have any problems.
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 addition, I’ve listed key hammock manufactures and purchasing resources below. I own and like hammocks from all these companies. I know all their owners personally. They produce excellent hammocks that have widespread use and good reputations. Most also offer all the hammock accessories you might need, top quilts, under-quilts, tarps etc. Give them a call if you have questions on how to equip or comment below and I’ll try and answer.
More openness. Adventurers like Alastair Humphreys aren’t fans of tent camping, as you’re essentially trading a sturdy roof at home for a thinner roof in the woods. If your goal with camping is to get as much nature and fresh air as you can, sleeping in a hammock is the way to go. You’ll rock to gentle breezes, fall asleep while watching the stars, and open your eyes to the sky. If the forecast calls for rain, or you’d like to sleep past sunrise, just put a rain tarp over your hammock.
A problem that may arise from using a sleeping pad in a hammock is that the pad may be too narrow for your shoulders. Depending on the slack of your setup, the sides of the hammock may give your shoulders a slight squeeze. Even if it’s slight, it can compress your sleeping bag in that area. This will reduce the amount of insulation around your shoulders. Luckily there are a couple easy solutions for this. You can stuff your extra clothes along your sides to give you some extra protection. You can also buy specially designed sleeping pads for hammocks that feature “wings” on both sides. The “wings’ add insulation for your shoulders and arms when in a hammock. You can also modify your foam pad to make your own “wings”. Just cut two pieces off a cheap foam pad and attach it to your main pad with some duct tape.