Not only do spreader bars cause hammocks to flip over, the poor implementation of them makes them uncomfortable. The wooden bars at both ends prevents your weight from collecting at a lowest point. Pressure points develop from the unnatural weight distribution. The uneven tension on the ropes can also make your back sag in strange ways, leading to back pain.


You should pay extra attention during winter hammock camping trips because the risk of getting hypothermia from the cold and snow. For ordinary hammocks, you have to prepare many things such as an underquilt, hammock sock, and top quilt for a warm and strong hammock tent. However, the SHEL covers everything just by itself. The SHEL is a hammock tent especially designed to keep you warm in any weather. Insulated with high loft goose down and lined with a heat reflective interior, the SHEL hammock tent keeps you warm, no sleeping bag needed. Designed with comfort in mind, it is breathable yet secure. It is the most comfortable hammock camping experience available. That being said, it never hurts to be over prepared. You may want to bring an extra blanket or sleeping bag to assure that you are ready for the harshest of conditions.
Weight always plays a role, but if I can get a full nights sleep and wake up TOTALLY refreshed, pain free and ready to hit the trail, I would gladly carry more weight. Luckily, I don’t have to! As SGT Rock said, sub one pound is as easy as watching his video! I love the hammock system and, if all else fails, the components can still be used to…gasp…go to ground if needed! The hammock system can cover it all. Great article!
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!

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.
But for me the comfort factor trumps all. Too many sleepless nights, even on good pads and I had all but given up on ever sleeping outdoors again (and no, I don’t count sleeping in RVs/trailers or any vehicle as sleeping outdoors). Then two years ago, I discovered the Deans of Hanging – Shug and Professor Grizz Adams – check out http://hammockforums.net. Now, I will gladly pay even a hefty weight penalty in exchange for the difference in comfort. However, as SGTROCK noted in the second article, UL weights with hammock gear rival, and may even beat, that of the UL tarp and pad crowd. I even managed to use UL rock climbing gear to anchor my hammock suspension when there were no suitable trees to be found. Short of an emergency bivouac, I will never go back “to ground.”

Another common source of confusion is attaching the hammock to the trees. Many hammocks come with a set of paracord or some other type of rope as their “suspension system”. Using a bare rope on the tree will dig into the bark of the tree. This damages the bark and causes stress on the tree. To avoid this, always use some form of webbing or tree straps when setting up the hammock. The width of the tree straps spreads the weight across a larger surface area. Remember that you’re using a living tree to get that perfect hang. Do it a favor and don’t cause unnecessary damage with cords and rope! If you need to tie your hammock to the webbing, here’s the only knot you’ll need.
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.

New to hammock camping and have yet to read your book – but I will! Thus far I’ve obtained everything I need except an underquilt – and I’m trying very hard to get good things at low prices as this is all a test for me now. After all, I might not like it out in the woods. Back to underquilts: they’re not cheap. I’m trying to accomplish the most comfortable summer night’s sleep with possible temps down to 60. I don’t want to try a pad as it seems too much to figit with for comfort. I’m aware blankets/comforters/etc beneath you can compress and lose their insulation benefits. . What recommendations do you have for a budget underquilt? Would a body heat reflective emergency blanket work to lay on? Would the Costco down comforter compress too much beneath me therefore offering very little insulation? Help me stay cheap!
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.
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!
Also note that an empty hammock tends to sag with a catenary curve that if measured, will be different (more obtuse) than if the hammock is pulled taut and is measured with straight line angles. For more accurate results, measure your hang angle with the hammock pulled down in the center to create straight lines. This is easily achieved by placing a small weight in the hammock, such as a sleeping bag or water bottle.
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.

Extras are in name only. In the backcountry, you’re probably going to want at least a few of them. So, let’s start with suspension. I love the ENO Atlas Hammock Suspension System. It goes up quickly—a bonus after a long day of getting beat up in the mountains. Also cool? They’re designed to lessen the impact your hang has on the trees you’re using.
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.
One way to guarantee a cold night is by setting up tarp ends parallel to the wind (above).  The issue was compounded by pulling the side tie outs to give the wind more area to blow through. This issue is very easy to spot because the wind will blow up the tarp like a bouncy castle. The usual triangle shape of your tarp can approach half-circle status if the wind picks up enough.  If it’s windy, grab some leaves and drop them to get an idea of which way the wind is blowing. Then set the long side of the tarp into the wind with the sides fairly low to keep wind out.
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.
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.
Im after a bit of advice for a total hammock set up for bike touring in the UK and Europe. I won’t be doing any extreme conditions, generally in the spring and summer months. Think ive settled on the DD Frontline hammock with their 3x3m tarp. I have a Therm-a-Rest which will be my insulation and gives me options of ground or hung sleeping. Firstly, i do like to monouvre in my sleep, will the Frontline be ok or is a bridge hammock best? This leads onto the bag question, ive tried a mummy type bag and just don’t seem to get on with them due to movemen restrictions. Im thinking a rectangular bag which can cope with most conditions, which is able to be unzipped to allow a cooler nights sleep, any suggestions?
These straps come in handy in so many ways. I like to keep my clothes and gear off the ground when I camp. The straps can easily be used to hang wet clothes from to dry off. If you’re a camera guy like me, you want to protect your baby. Hang your DSLR from the straps instead of having it sit in the dirt. If it’s raining and you’re really worried about your clothes or camera you can use your hammock tarp ridgeline as an alternative. By hanging your damp clothes right under the tarp, you can guarantee they won’t get soaked. Just make sure they’re not dripping wet before you hang them above you!

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.


From the moment you step past the threshold, you are done for. Perfectly framed photography of incredible places and seemingly superhuman people dot the brick walls. The music, the gear, the decorations, and the store design create a hypnotizing ambiance. It's like you just wandered into your own area’s version of Everest Base Camp, plus a rock wall and coffee shop. People are talking about the thru-hikes they are planning, some guy is debating over which item to take ice climbing, a group is headed to an avalanche safety course, and then some perfectly rugged sales associate approaches to say, “Can I help you find something?”

The number of camp sites when you use a tent or tarp are limited to the places where you have flat ground, no pooling of water, no runoff flowing through, clear of brush, clear of rocks and roots, and many other little things to make your sleep enjoyable as well as just supporting the structure. Many times you must either crowd into a limited number of spots with others, go to designated sites, create a site (increasing impact), or take a less than perfect site. With a hammock, it's almost all good.
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.
From the moment you step past the threshold, you are done for. Perfectly framed photography of incredible places and seemingly superhuman people dot the brick walls. The music, the gear, the decorations, and the store design create a hypnotizing ambiance. It's like you just wandered into your own area’s version of Everest Base Camp, plus a rock wall and coffee shop. People are talking about the thru-hikes they are planning, some guy is debating over which item to take ice climbing, a group is headed to an avalanche safety course, and then some perfectly rugged sales associate approaches to say, “Can I help you find something?”
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.
Some hammocks are designed with a dedicated tarpaulin. Others come without a tarpaulin with the understanding the user will want to select the size and style of tarpaulin which best fits their needs. There are many different ways in which hammock campers generally hang their tarpaulin. In some, the tarpaulin is connected to the hammock's suspension line using a system of mitten hooks and plastic connectors. In others the tarpaulin is hung separately using either the hammocks integrated ridge line, or a separate ridge line placed under or even over the tarpaulin.
Insulate. In warm temps, the air circulation provided by a hammock will keep you cooler than sleeping in a tent. But in colder weather, tent camping offers an advantage in that the ground acts as insulation, returning the heat you give off. When you’re sleeping in a hammock, your body heat escapes out the bottom and is lost; this is the cause of what’s called “Cold Butt Syndrome” — the top of you is warm because it’s covered in blankets, but your bottom is chilled.

I own a Hennessy Hammock Backpacker Asym (31 oz.) which is a very popular model amongst hammock hangers. To get into it, you enter it from below, standing up in a slit that runs half way down the middle on one side. Once inside, you lean back and sit on the half that does not have the slit, raise your legs and lie back. The edges of the slit are covered with velcro and close together under your legs. To get out, you press your feet on the velcro seam which will open below you, stand up and slip under the hammock to get out.

These days it seems like there are 100s of companies making backpacking hammocks. The number of options can be overwhelming. Many of them make great hammocks, but we want to avoid cheap knock offs that use inferior materials and construction. We look for a few important markers of quality when selecting a hammock. First, we examine the seems to make sure they are triple stitched for strength, durability, and safety. Second, we look at the the weight the hammock is rated to safely support. Third, if we are going to be backpacking or hiking with the hammock we look at how much it weighs, more expensive fabrics will be light weight, durable and very strong. Fourth, we look at reviews online and from trusted blogs and outdoor publications. And lastly, we look at cost and value. For example does the hammock include the straps for hanging or do those cost extra (more on tree straps next). 
A few light hammock models use smaller dimensions that may confine you. For example, the Grand Trunk Nano-7 Hammock, and the BIAS Weight Weenie Micro 52 Hammock are both only around 50-52 inches wide, versus the 65″ wide of the Warbonnet Blackbird. Shorter and/or narrower hammocks also limit your ability to sleep flatter on a diagonal to the hammock’s center-line.

Thanks Derek. Since my question I now have three nights in the hammock – two in my backyard and one at a Cub Scout one nighter with my son – and can confirm sleeping ON two of the Costco down comforters doesn’t do much for temps in the mid to low 60’s. I had cold spots waking me up several times. Yes, I’ve read all about the loss if insulation properties when these things are compressed but I had to learn it myself as part of this “process”. Thanks for the suggestion!
When most people think of hammocks, they immediately picture a Pawley’s Island rope hammock. Or maybe they imagine of a heavy canvas hammock set up in the backyard. The hammocks are widespread but so different than the traditional Latin American hammocks. This popular hammock is actually quite uncomfortable for sleeping longer than a minute in. Besides the uncomfortable fabric, rope hammocks have a incorrectly implemented spreader bar.
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