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.
On the downside, the sling itself is narrow, making it one of the least comfortable models we tested. The material is also very thin, giving us concerns about how durable it will be. Also, with so many pieces to put take on your adventure or leave at home, be sure you're grabbing the parts you need, and don't forget anything important! Altogether though, this system's lightweight versatility makes it a solid choice for backcountry adventures.
Buy a tarp with adequate coverage. To sleep warm and dry in a hammock you need to keep wind and rain away from your hammock body. Smaller diamond or asymmetric tarps, e.g. the Hennessey Hyperlite Rainfly, affectionately known by some as a “napkin tarp,” may not provide adequate protection from blowing rain, or from the cooling effects of wind. While a few ounces heavier, a more pragmatic choice may be a larger hammock-specific “hex” tarp. A fairly standard hex size is a 10.5-foot ridgeline with an 8.5-foot width.
Alison hammock camping cold weather. And with a solid top cover hammock like this Dutchware Chameleon you can skip the weight and complexity of a tarp. I’ve comfortably slept down to around 10° F in a 3 lb (1.3 kg) hammock setup (hammock, top quilt, under quilt, tarp and suspension). That’s way lighter than most tent, sleeping bag, ground pad setups! [Note: a +20 under-quilt is not in the picture to better show the hammock body details.]

However, rain is not the only reason why you should set up a tarp. First of all, it will protect you from anything falling from above. This means that you will be able to set up your hammock even more easily, as insects, leaves and birds’ “precious gifts” won’t be a threat anymore. Also, it keeps humidity away and it helps to keep the hammock area dry and aired. Anything else?
I love my current hammock (Warbonnet) so much I am sleeping in it at home most nights. I tried to use my hammock in the So. Cal portions of the PCT last spring and found myself on the ground most nights so I sent it home till I could find a good part of the trail for hanging. I was sorry to see it go! Looking forward to reading the next installment.
Instead of pitching a square or rectangular tarp from the corners, you can always pitch it as a square A-frame on the 10 ft (3 m) side. You’ll have less end-to-end coverage depending on the size of the tarp. Each person will have their preference, but anywhere from 6 in (15 cm) to 1 ft (30 cm) over each end of the hammock will provide enough coverage.

Definitely use some Atlas Straps. When given the option of straps, choose the Atlas. Although they’re not the lightest strap, their daisy chain design and PolyFilament Webbing construction give you the most combined adjustment points, and least amount of stretch. And when you’re dealing with bigger trees, you’ll definitely appreciate the extra usability.
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.
Excellent overview Alan, I have been sleeping and camping in hammocks for almost 50 years and appreciate a nice clean introduction to it like yours. Derek H’s recommendation about “go to ground” options is critical. Please read the “sticky” articles at hammock forums BEFORE any on going crazy discussions by us engineer and research scientists who are excessively technical, passionate, and opinionated. An incremental approach to a new hobby or sport is always the best. Hammock hanging has actually been very simple and effective for thousands of years, have fun with it, your back will be more healthy.

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.

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Most companies offer several hammock sizes, including singles, doubles, and even extra-large models. In general, most hammocks measure between 9 and 11 feet long and can hold up to 300 or 400 pounds. According to many manufacturers, their best sellers are double hammocks. While pairs of people use them, individuals also like to sleep alone in a double and wrap the extra fabric around them for added warmth (even in warm months, you can get chilled in the early morning hours). As you choose between a single and double, keep in mind that two people will be pretty snug if they sleep together in a double. You have to *really *like your partner.
On the downside, the sling itself is narrow, making it one of the least comfortable models we tested. The material is also very thin, giving us concerns about how durable it will be. Also, with so many pieces to put take on your adventure or leave at home, be sure you're grabbing the parts you need, and don't forget anything important! Altogether though, this system's lightweight versatility makes it a solid choice for backcountry adventures.
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.
In other cases, your hammock equipment might be used in order to hang your hammock outdoors in your garden. In this case, it might include a nail and a hook, or perhaps carabiners for hanging on a hammock stand. We’ve reviewed two sets of carabiners, both of which are very effective at holding huge amounts of weight without taking up too much space in your bag!

So I just got a warbonnet blackbird XLC. Brandon mentions that you should hang the foot end of the hammock at least a foot higher than the head end. I noticed that you don’t mention anything about this. Is this recommended for other gathered end hammocks? It seems I lay the way Warbonnet recommends, my head would be closer and a little more center(still off to the side though) to the head end of the hammock while my feet would me much closer to the middle of the hammock and very much off to the side. I guess I’m just curious what you know about this.
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.
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.
I think what gets tricky here is the difference between a catenary angle and a straight line angle. When you measure the angle you want the hammock in a straight line. I usually put a small item in my hammock to tighten up the line without weighing it down too much. It’s a little more art than science. The calculator and thumb-finger methods are starting points but don’t take into account fabric type and stretch with all the components, all of which affect the final angle, which is what we are estimating. If you find the hang angle is too slack, tighten it up. Fiddle a little until you find the right hang angle for your hammock.

Seek natural shelter As you set up your hammock, a main goal is to deal with potential wind. Rather than setting up your hammock in exposed areas, move farther into the forest to enjoy the natural sheltering effect of the surrounding trees. Also, seek out natural wind breakers like rock formations, and think about hanging a tarp between two trees as an extra layer of protection.

While comfort is personal, extra space and features that lend themselves to being able to get cozy are rarely ever a bad thing. Ultralight models, like our Top Pick the ENO Sub7 and the featherweight Sea to Summit Ultralight sacrifice extra space for lighter weight and smaller packed size, which is why these models didn't score as high in this metric. At the end of a long day, a tired summer camper or thru-hiker can nap reasonably well in even the most minimalist design. However, if weight is less of an issue for you, the added comfort of some of the larger models may be worth it. From a simple design like our Editor's Choice Grand Trunk Skeeter Beeter to a more intricate system like the REI Co-op Flash Air, adding a little weight can add a lot of comfort.


You won’t want your car’s window shade in the winter. So, if it’s reflective (like an emergency blanket), throw that in your hammock for insulation. Though the constant crinkle noise may keep you up, the extra layer between your sleeping bag and the hammock will work wonders. Also, any closed-cell foam pad will work as a thin barrier to the elements. Consider criss-crossing the shades or pads underneath your shoulders to increase the width in the vital areas.
When you have a hammock, your campsites are limited by imagination. All you need is a couple of trees the right distance apart. What is under you may not matter at all. I have personally slept on the side of a mountain, and on the Hennessy web site, there is even a photo of a guy sleeping over his boat in a swamp. There are things that make better camps than others, and some safety things to consider, but unless you are camping where there are no trees, then the hammock will increase your camp sites.
The next lightest model was the Sub7, weighing in at just 6.4 ounces. We tested this one as part of the ENO SubLink Shelter System and awarded the impressive package our Top Pick for Ultralight Versatility. Granted, the entire shelter system (a package upgrade that ENO offers for all of its slings) weighed in at the high end of the pack at 44.3 ounces. But the beauty of getting the Sub7 as part of the SubLink Shelter System is that you can take what you need and leave the rest. Going out in the middle of the summer for just one night? Grab the Sub7 and the 4.1-ounce Helios Suspension System that comes with the system, and you're good to go. Heading to a buggy area? Bring the 13 ounce Guardian SL Bug Net and ditch the tarp (the heaviest component, at 16 ounces). You get the idea. The light and customizable nature of the SubLink Shelter System with the Sub7 earned it our Top Pick for Ultralight Versatility.

In 2000 I was looking for a lighter shelter than a tent for backpacking. I was looking for maybe some tarp or light tent but hadn't made a choice.  I was stationed at Fort Polk and had been using a net hammock with a poncho as a shelter when in the field and was very pleased with using them except for the bug problems, which can be annoying  for a place like Fort Polk.
Setting up a Hennessy or taking it down can be very fast if you use Snakeskins. These are nylon tubes that you slide over your hammock when you pack it up. Rather than dismantling the rain fly and the hammock, you roll them together tightly while they are still hanging and slide the Snakeskins over them starting from each tree until they meet in the middle. This forms a long snakey nylon tube which I store in an external side pocket on my pack. When you go to set the hammock up again, all you need to do to tie it off on two trees and slide the snakeskins towards the trees, which wil unfurl the hammock and fly. All you have to do is to stake out the fly and your hammock is fully set up. Snakeskins greatly expedite setup and tear down, particularly in the rain, and can greatly help in keeping the rest of your gear dry.
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?
With a hammock, you also have more freedom to sleep where you please. If a campsite doesn’t have a proper patch of clear, flat land for your tent, no worries. You just have to find two well-spaced trees (which isn’t difficult in an Alabama forest). In your hammock, you can nod off while gazing at a starry sky, while folks in their tents are stuck staring at nylon walls.
Just spent the first few nights in my new HH Explorer Ultralight (light intermittent drizzle, 50' at night, hammock chilly to touch but fine in my 20' Dick's cheapo synthetic bag without pads or other addons). Love it, I'm a convert now, and I really LOVED my REI HC T2 tent before this, so that says a lot. I agree, getting ground conditions (rocky/thorny/muddy etc) out of the equation changes everything. So far I've not been out in a real marathon downpour, but will probably spring for a larger tarp (a hex in camo). +1 on snakeskins improving setup/takedown; included free if you order direct from the HH website (limited time offer?) Looking at slap-strap-pro or another just-wrap-and-click solution. I recommend the HH Explorer Ultralight for those over 6' and wanting a little more durability while still keeping weight down (39 oz).
4. Insulate underneath. Hammocks are a godsend in hot, muggy areas where the extra air circulation makes outdoor camping tolerable. But as temperatures drop below 70°F (21°C), you’ll start to feel the effects of convective heat loss known as Cold Butt Syndrome (CBS). A sleeping pad (closed-cell foam or self-inflating) works great, and some hangers use them year-round. Purpose-built “under quilts” are another popular option for keeping you warm underneath. For hot summer nights, you may only need a thin blanket to regulate your temperature.
Excellent article and replies. I have been using a hammock since I was in scouts back in the late ’80s. The old fishnet style hammocks. Now I own four ENO double nest hammocks and routinely take my son and his friends to teach them how to use a hammock instead of a tent. I even took my hammock on my deployments with the military. We called them our hanging hooches.

Rainflys come in many different shapes and materials. Almost any kind of tarp can turn into a sturdy shelter to protect your hammock from the elements. But there are several rainflys out there that are specifically designed for hammocking. These have some hammock specific features to differentiate them from a standard ultralight tarp. These rainflys are made with silnylon, a strong waterproof material. Silnylon is much lighter than the standard blue plastic tarp but just as effective of a shelter.

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