Everyone has their reasons for purchasing and owning a hammock, and we don't pretend to know yours! However, during our testing, we found those that are better suited to specific situations as well as those that are very versatile. Many of these uses we have already discussed, such as lightweight models for folks eager to cut down on pack weight, like the Sea to Summit Ultralight, Grand Trunk Nano 7 and Grand Trunk Ultralight Starter. We found models with integrated bug nets to be less versatile than those without, as many bug nets don't come completely off, or restrict usage for anything other than laying down.
I live in Spring, Texas. Why is that important to you? Well, we have 4 seasons here: hot, really hot, crazy hot + high humidity, and a few weeks of cool weather. I'm a native Texan so I'm used to the heat and humidity. What happens when the temperature drops a bit and I still want to enjoy some time in my hammock? If you've used a hammock for any length of time then you know that you need something below you to cut the chill when the temperature drops. A new hanger might discover this a bit too late while out on a camping or hiking trip. Yikes!
A hammock system can crossover and be a tarp/bivy system without much effort allowing an even wider geographic range of use. Most hammock tarp systems can go to ground pretty effectively (warbonnet superfly for 4 season) and the hammock (or bugnet portion of it) can be used on the ground as bug protection. Poncho for ground cloth or bring Polycryo. One of the main issues weight wise is that if you brought a dedicated hammock underquilt then you wouldn’t have a ground pad in a go-to-ground scenario. Putting your underquilt in your pack liner (maybe along with your reflectix sit pad) can create enough of an air/feather/material combination to serve as an effective ground pad. Some discussion here – https://www.hammockforums.net/forum/showthread.php/122939-Turning-an-Underquilt-into-a-Pad-(going-to-ground-ewww!) I have not seen in my experience that you can trap enough air to support your weight all night but I’m not convinced you need to since it is combined with other items. This liner ( http://www.zpacks.com/accessories/airplane_case.shtml ) works for me because of the pad size it creates. 20.5″ wide x 37.5″ tall. Stick the pack under your feet.
Having a hammock is not just great for relaxing and getting a great night’s sleep. The bright colors and large fabric makes the hammock a perfect item to have in the worst case scenario. If you ever find yourself lost, the eye-catching colors of a hammock can be an excellent flag to signal rescue crews. The large surface area allows the hammock to catch the wind and let’s you fly a bright, visible flag.
In the Desert Southwest, where trees only grow at the highest elevations and along perennial water sources, hammocks would be most challenged. Some hammocks have been designed to be pitched on the ground, and I have seen some creative rigging systems, but these approaches have significant trade-offs and seem forced. I’ll just bring my modular tent or tarp & bivy, thanks.
We did notice a few shortcomings in the system, however. The trunk staps are only long enough for smaller trees. That's not the best when California's burly conifers surround your campsites. So you might find yourself having to upgrade the strap. The overall size also comes up a bit short at just 9.5 feet by 3.5 feet, which may feel constraining for larger folks. In general, though, we felt the REI Flash Air takes camping to the next level of comfort and ease with this total set up — and for less than the competition!
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).
Adjust the height of the lines depending on how far apart the trees are. The closer the trees the higher up you’ll want to tie the lines (vice versa). When the lines are secure around the trees, clip the ends of your hammock to each line. By this time you hammock should be in the air and taught. Adjust the line height if the hammock is too high to get into. Put a little weight on the hammock to stretch the lines before putting your whole weight on it.
One of the slowest body parts to recover from body temperature is the foot. When you lie down in the SHEL hammock tent, it may take quite a while for your icy feet to heat up. If you put hot water in a warm bag such as a fashy, you can keep it warm for a long time. However, be careful not to let the hot water run out. Other products that can be useful during winter camping to keep you warm maybe hand or foot warmers.
As for damaging trees. Hammocks are actually some of the lowest impact hiking systems out there. Instead of grooming a flat spot or compacting earth, a hammock keeps you above all that. Tree bark can be protected by either flat straps similar to Hennessy Hammock Tree Huggers, or by using a rope system that uses multiple wraps to distribute the load that keeps the rope from digging into the trees.
2. The super-duper method (not recommended if you have surpassed your personal prime). If you have a gathered-end hammock, cocoon yourself into it by pulling the material on both sides until you are in a deep sag, and then pinching the material tightly closed with your arms and legs, putting your knees into deep pockets of material. Then, invert yourself by quickly shifting your weight till the hammock and your whole body turn 180 degrees and are facing the ground. WARNING: DO NOT LET GO of the material you are pinching just yet. Peek out of the cocoon and look for any painful objects (e.g. if you are inside, a plastic toy your kids placed underneath you while you slept, and if you are outside, a hard poky root or a rock you did not remove before entering the hammock). At this point, you may release the legs first and avoid a face-plant, or go all-out and do a belly-flop. I recommend only going the belly-flop route on grass or blankets.
Overall, smaller campers have more options since, larger campers will prefer roomier designs. We felt that there were no double models that slept a pair comfortably, though larger doubles fit two loungers better than a single, and slept one very comfortably. All of that considered, we still had to pick some winners and losers from the perspective of our astute testers. The hangs that we found the most comfortable were the Bear Butt Double, Grand Trunk Skeeter Beeter, Warbonnet Ridgerunner and the REI Co-op Flash Air, though all for different reasons.
In the mountains, two trees are often easier to find than a patch of earth flat enough to pitch a tent. This factor alone is enough reason to give hammock camping a try. It’ll take some time to feel out your preference—the perfect hang is subjective—but you’re good to go with two trees and enough line or a pair of straps (more on that below). Keep it off the trail (human or game), and give yourself about two feet of ground clearance. That’s just enough space to keep yourself from an unfortunate midnight run-in with a curious porcupine.
Tom, his wife Ann, his son James and friends are a small family run company whose only mission is to continually improve the evolution of hammock design. They have been granted up to five patents nationally and internationally. When serious adventurers are planning expeditions into unexplored areas of the world, when months-long medical expeditions trek into the deep jungles of Burma on missions of mercy, when adventure racers traverse mountains, rivers and jungles surrounded by all kinds of poisonous insects and reptiles, when families send a hammock to their soldier sons or daughters in areas of conflict, they all know that they are getting the hammock with a proven reputation for quality and comfort.
CHOOSING STOCK MODELS: All "Stock" Hennessy Hammocks are a complete shelter system including tightly woven fabrics and high quality support ropes, a matching detachable rainfly, a "no see um" mosquito mesh, a gear loft on the ridge line and a stuff sack with set up instructions on the back. Hennessy Hammock also provides complimentary "Tree Hugger" webbing straps to protect the rope and the tender bark of trees.
Put your pad inside your sleeping bag. This helps keep things from moving around, and helps the bag from bunching a little. It’s not a perfect system because you do have a lot of material under you that can bunch up. Laying the bag open and sitting in the middle before you get in helps. I’ll admit that with a sleep my bag you will need to do some maneuvering to get situated at first. This is why under quilts are so much beloved. They are less fussy. But pads and bags can do the job of keeping you warm, you just have to work a little more.
Your sleeping bag must resist low temperatures and assure you protection from the cold at night. Also, it should be 100% waterproof, not only to avoid getting wet because of the rain (which should not be a problem if you have your hammock tarp), but also to protect you from the moisture in the air, which can be very high at night or in bad weather conditions.
Since I’m a big fan of outdoor activities, I agree that hammocks are best for outdoor adventures, not only because of their lightweight features, but because other hammocks are also fitted for a king’s comfort. Have you tried the Serac Hammock? I’ve been using it for some time now, and it’s one of those good quality hammocks that can surely be compared to the Hobo hammock.
Now, sleeping in a hammock is completely different from sleeping on a surface and takes some getting used to. There’s no one way to get comfy, and just like in the yard, it’s going to take some time to find the best fit. So, try out a few different ways to see what feels comfortable. Shift your bag up or down, and change the tension on the straps—do what feels good, and don’t be afraid to adjust! Hopefully, by the time you’ve tucked yourself in, you’ve also gotten your miles in and crushed a couple of mountains. If you’ve done it well, they’ve crushed you back, and you’re just about ready to sleep the sleep of the dead, anyway.
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.
A common issue with hammockers is the lack of adequate insulation under them, which leads to a cold night and the promise to never hammock again. Ground-sleeper top insulation (sleeping bag) can be recycled. However, when getting into a hammock in a sleeping bag, the bottom compresses rendering it useless in keeping the underside warm from the cold air. A flat sleeping bag in conjunction with any wind under your tarp leads to both conductive and convective heat loss. The result of all these losses is cold butt syndrome (CBS) and an chilly nights sleep. The simplest (not comfy) way to avoid this is by using a sleeping pad in the hammock.
Hammock camping in cold weather can be warm and comfortable. But it requires a good under-quilt (usually down) that is well fitted (no gaps) to the hammock body. While not a difficult skill, beginner hammock campers should test out their winter system on low-risk, short-duration outings first in order to develop their skills and know-how. Note the full-length, under-quilt (green sleeping bag looking thing below the hammock). Photo by Jack Tier of Jacks ‘R’ Better.
This seems to be a very old thread but I’ll bump it anyway. I’ve got a Blackbird but I haven’t geared it up for cold weather. Earlier in these posting I see that someone mentioned using and emergency blanket as a sub for an under quilt. I wonder how well that works and has there been a clever way thought of to attach it? Hope some of you guys are still reading this.
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?
Recommended Hammock: We think Serac Hammocks makes a great ultra light hammock. The included tree straps and carabiners make setup a snap and it has held up to some serious abuse on our backpacking and hiking adventures. Best of all the price won't use your gear budget for the year like some hammocks of similar quality. Serac Hammocks can be found on Amazon!
We already know, from Dutch’s backpacking experience on the Appalachian Trail, that experienced hikers know what they want and need for their hammock and backpacking gear — it’s simply the challenge of finding the items in stores. Since many stores don’t offer what hikers want, many opt to create their own camping gear to meet their backpacking needs.
I switched to a hammock a couple years back and got a Hennessy Jungle hammock. *Very* comfortable, dual layer, came with a hex tarp but def. not light. The hammock is built to be pretty tough. The dual layers are nice in that it’s a little warmer in colder weather and bugs can’t bite through during the summer (sometimes an issue with single layer hammocks).
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.