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.
As mentioned previously, never use rope or paracord to directly tie your hammock onto a tree. The weight exerted by your body causes a rope to dig into a tree. This can severely damage the bark, especially if the tree is being constantly used to hammock from. The bark protects the soft layer underneath that brings food from the roots to the leaves. If the damage to the bark goes more than 50% of the way around the trunk of the tree, the tree will lose branches and leaves if not completely die.
Are you one of those backpackers or thru-hikers that weighs every item that goes in your pack? Are you traveling for an extended period and space in your bag is highly limited? If you answered yes to any of that, then the Sea to Summit Ultralight might be your golden ticket. This impressively tiny option weighs a mere 5.8 ounces, including its integrated compression stuff sack and a shocking 4.8 ounces without it. Even better? It packs down to about the size of a can of pop. It doesn't include suspension, but Sea to Summit offers an ultralight option for that too, weighing less than 3 ounces and small enough to also fit into the stuff sack.
Again, with any system, there are pros and cons to using self-inflating pads or mats. I'm sure you can imagine how devastating it would be if an inflatable pad or mat was your only insulation system while out on a hiking trip and you discover while setting up your sleep system for the night that it has a hole in it. Bad news unless you also carry a repair kit!
I started hammock camping a couple of seasons ago, and on solo overnight trips, it’s my absolute go-to. It’s wicked easy to set up after a long day of hiking, and it’s a significantly more sustainable, lower-impact way to camp. Provided you don’t need all the add-ons for every trip—like a rainfly or bug netting—it’ll even lighten the load in your pack. It is a different game, though, and you have to consider a couple of things before grabbing your hammock and hitting the trail.
I think the bear issue is a big one for me. Ground tents are bigger and offer cover from the bear’s sight. The hammock tent is smaller and movement in them is constricted. I imagine waking up to a bear very close to my hammock tent and not being able to move much to appear threatening to the bear. Thus he gets closer and with a swipe I’m in trouble. This is a frightening scenario. Am I seeing this wrong?
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.
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.
Several of the expedition models had a bit of a learning curve to their set up to be able to get comfortable. The Warbonnet Blackbird and Ridgerunner fell into this category, but after practice, we were able to set them up with relative ease and confidence. Additionally, some slings don't come with all the components you need to set them up — beyond just a lack of suspension system. Both the Warbonnet Blackbird and both Hennessey models lack the stakes necessary for a complete set-up.
The best protection from the elements was offered by complete systems such as the REI Co-op Flash Air, Hennessy Expedition Asym Zip and Warbonnet Blackbird (with accessories), so they scored the highest. These designs provide integrated bug nets, and wind protection with a rain fly or extra fabric. Compared to some of the other models we tested though, these systems aren't cheap!
I am using the warbonnet BB XLC and a mamajamba with a yeti UQ for my AT thru hike this year. I agree on the middle of the road comment it suits my needs, I’m still a beginner hammocker with no significant cold weather experience. A cuben fiber tarp is about 6 ounces lighter but was a budget decision to stick with the mamajamba as it was a gift. My only issue im struggling with as I get into hammocking more is keeping a go to ground option for AT shelters. I was thinking of using the GG night light sleeping pad and maybe the thinlight 1/8th foam pad. It could also serve as extra insulation in spring in the Smokies. Any thoughts? Really struggling from a weight perspective on a solid go to ground/insulation option if I should even bring one.
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.
Most folks that go the homemade route when they are new don’t have a grasp of what exactly they need and it usually leads to a cold and or wet nights sleep and them not wanting to hammock again which is absolutely what I want to avoid when giving advice. If the homemade gear works well then by all means use it often. I am happy to hear you were able to use what you could find to make a bottom wind break for your hammock and that it kept you toasty warm.
We've tested the best contenders and rated their comfort, versatility, durability, protection, weight, and ease of use. We've tested these models over hundreds of hours from chilly alpine nights to hot summer afternoons. We also keep our eyes on the market and test new contenders as they appear, ensuring that you always have the most up-to-date 'mock info at your fingertips.
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.
Comparing the weight of a hammock system against a ground system is difficult and complex. Both systems have several popular designs and configurations — Which systems should be compared? And how could we ensure that the systems being compared offer a comparable user experience, in terms of camp comfort, sleep quality, and environmental protections?
QQ: I’ve got a Dream Hammock with a Hammock Gear hex tarp. Last time I was out, there were some pretty big storms and I pitched the tarp low over the hammock, so the lines tied around the tree below the straps, etc. It ended up keeping me dry, but there was one problem: The tight pitch meant that the tree straps rubbed against the edge of the tarp, if that makes sense. And cuben, while strong, does not handle abrasion well.
Been reading up on hammock camping for weeks now. I haven’t been real camping in 10yrs due to back problems and cant sleep on the ground. But from reading your stories and stuff I feel that a hammock might be the way to go. So thanks in part to you guys im going for a quick two nighter this weekend. Im so excited to be getting back out there. Thanks.
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.
I would start with an adjustable ridgeline and get it to the length when you lay in your hammock and you’re in your “sweet spot.” Also, please note that the 30° hang angle and 83% ridgeline length are just recommended starting points. In my new book, I have more detail about some advanced techniques that look at hammock size, hang angle, and lay angle, and how they are interconnected. Smaller hammocks, for example, work better with a shallower hang angle (15–20°) where larger hammocks can go up to 45° and allow for a perpendicular lay.
Comfort is the most important quality we scored because if you're not comfortable, what's the point? We considered fabric feel, headspace, and overall size and roominess. We sat in them, laid in them, put sleeping bags and pads in them and even tested their capacity for adding a friend. Roomier models tend to sleep a bit better, while many of the lighter designs sacrificed comfort for less durable materials and a compact size that feel great in the pack but can impact your comfort quality of sleep. No matter what you're using your 'mock for, comfort is king!
Pads in the hammock work, but they are kind of a pain. It is a good way to see if you like it though. If you want to try a cheap under quilt look up gemini underquilt. If you are into making your own gear look up clew underquilt. I am sure the cottage venders will be picking this suspension up soon. It is lighter and easier to setup than traditional underquilt suspensions.
Another thing to look for are widowmakers. Named for their potential to seriously injure the unaware. Make sure you’re not hammocking underneath sections of dead branches. This is especially important if you are camping in the winter where ice and snow can accumulate on branches above. The increased weight can be just enough to send the heavy branch falling on top of you.