Sleeping in a hammock has some real advantages over sleeping in a tent once you get used to it. Chief among them is mobility: you can pitch camp just about anywhere below treeline. This is handy if you want to beat the crowds and camp in solitude or if you are between shelters and you need to stop for the evening. A hammock has very low impact when you pick a stealth camping site, since you won't compress the forest duff in the same way that pitching a tent or tarp will.
Though, packing for your trek is not always the most pleasant of experiences. There are so many different variables to take into account when planning trips into the woods. One variable is the size/weight of your pack. There is nothing more annoying than being out on the trail and realizing that you over packed. Being under prepared is rather annoying as well, but that’s a different story.
Can you get a flat lay with an underquilt? It seems all the pictures of underquilts are bananas, and those of a angled lay are have either feet and/or heads off the hammock. Are these hammocks too small or do you generally lay with your feet out in a top quilt foot box? Should I be able to lay in my hammock (if correctly sized) with my head and feet still inside the hammock?

Though down quilts are superior in many respects, there are also synthetic versions available. Like sleeping bags, these share the same advantages and disadvantages. Synthetic loft quilts are cheaper than their down counterparts. Unfortunately they are also heavier and do not compress as well. One advantage is that synthetic materials are resistant to the delofting effects of moisture. They keep their insulating properties even when wet. This is not true for down which ends up being completely useless if it absorbs too much water. A synthetic under quilt will cost more than a foam pad, but it can be cheap enough for budget campers. Keep in mind that quilts can only be used with a hammock. If for whatever reason, you end up sleeping on the ground, only a pad will provide your insulation!
Derek – Awesome site. My buddy and I have used our Eno OneLink systems twice now and love the entire idea. May never go back to a tent. We are trying to figure out our best option for hanging the tarp ridgeline. He’s running his using the Atlas strap webbing and I’m running a continuous ridgeline between trees. Thoughts? Recommendations? Better ideas?
My other favorite is an old army surplus extreme cold weather sleeping bag. I was introduced to this bag by a friend. It weighs in around 10 lbs but that doesn't bother me. The bag is so effective, that I've found I don't need any other insulation below me to cut the wind or chill. I can just throw the darn thing inside my hammock, crawl in, and be really warm in a matter of seconds. Not sure what type of insulation is used inside the old surplus bag, but it is heavenly! It uses a zipper and snap system down the middle instead of down one side, like most bags. Makes crawling into the bag MUCH easier.Sleeping bags can also be used as top insulation to help cut the chill.
Expedition models need to offer a good night's sleep for many nights in a row, regardless of the weather or terrain. All of the Hennessy and Warbonnet models tested as well as the REI Flash Air do this well. Conversely, some of the smaller, lightweight models, like the Grand Trunk Nano 7 or Ultralight Starter or the ENO Sub7, may not be the most preferable to camp in for more than a night or two. However, if you're taking on an adventure where weight matters, like thru-hiking the Appalachian or Pacific Crest Trail, this might be a worthwhile tradeoff.

Big believer in hammocks too lately. One of the big benefits for me is a reduced footprint generally speaking for a campsite, and the speed at which I can put up and take down a hammock. The first trip I committed to using a hammock I pitched in a rain storm and was uneasy about how well it would handle. I pitched a flying ridgeline that I tied previously, Staked out the tarp, and then slung the hammock out of a bishop bag. Done in 5 minutes or less and my hammock stayed bone dry. It was great. Since then I’ve been in wind storms and a few other scenarios and it’s been a great system. I’d just say find a tarp that has tie outs along the middle of the tarp. I have a small-ish tarp that is closer to the old A-frame style and in strong wind it snaps. First time I slept through a wind gust I was waking up every 20 minutes thinking my tarp was ripping or getting ready to fly away. Adjusting the pitch helped a lot.


I would also hang my hammock anywhere. I slept in it from the lift tower on top of Bromley. I hung it from the rafters in the new AMC Madison hut. I even stealth camped at the lookout just south of the Summit of North Kinsman. The trees were very short up there and I rigged up 5 to six of them to support me without any problems. The sunset / sunrise from up there was just amazing.
I know it’s super comfy to jump in your hammock. And after a long day of trekking you probably want to pass out the second you lay down. But take a second and make sure everything is set up to your liking. Adjust your sleeping pad or quilt. Get your perfect angle. Make sure the hammock is level. The last thing you want to do is wake up in the middle of the night uncomfortable. Then you’ll have to make adjustments in the dark while you’re tired and groggy. So make sure everything is just to your liking before you call it a day. And don’t forget to keep your headlamp in the stuff sack – just in case you need to get up while it’s still dark out.
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!
This past year I used such opportunities — specifically my intro-level 3-day/2-night guided trips — to finally experiment with hammock systems, which had piqued my curiosity while writing The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide because I knew little about them despite their fanatical cult following. When my colleague Alan Dixon first saw my hammock in North Carolina, he immediately saw its potential and committed himself to this experiment, too. Based on his new first-hand experience, he has submitted a three-part series on hammocks:
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.
It’s a myth that hammocks are cold. Properly setup, a true backpacking hammock (with a good under-quilt) is quite warm. I’ve slept warm and comfortable in a hammock many a cold winter night in the Mid-Atlantic. The main reason for the “sleeping cold” myth is that people unaccustomed to sleeping in a hammock do not use an under-quilt or don’t adjust it properly leaving huge gaps. [Not using an under-quilt with a hammock is equivalent of someone using their sleeping bag directly on the snow without an insulating ground pad and saying that all sleeping bags are cold.]
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.

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.
1. There are “camps” in the hammock world (just like in most endeavors) that have become fans of a manufacturer or style of hammocks. Not everyone likes a bridge, not everyone likes a gathered end hammock. Not everyone that uses a gathered end will agree about how to whip the ends, how long to make it, or how wide it should be. Sometimes people that are fans cannot see past what they are fans of enough to understand there may be a better way, or a way people like better.
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.
For the tips of the poles, be careful if you have flexible plastic tips, which is typical. If you don’t do the below, the tip can bend, the spreader bar will pop out, and you will plummet. (Me, into the everglades, where a gator must have heard me splash… its only funny now!) To keep the tip stiff, I sawed two sections of the aluminum foot-end spreader pole that came with the WBRR. It fits just right over my Leki and Komperdell tips. You can just use the end pieces, so that the male insert from the spreader bar pole is in tact, but this is not necessary. Since it is a tiny bit lighter, I use a section that is open on both ends, sized to just barely allow the carbide tip of the pole to mate into the hammock hardware, while still grabbing the trekking pole over the portion where the plastic tip and the aluminum shaft overlap. Maybe 1.5 inches overlap. You may have to push it past the threads for the snowbasket. Mine are worn down, but you can also “screw” it on.

First time hammock campers often hang their hammock with little slack thinking this will be more comfortable. However, hanging it loose with slack in the middle actually makes the hammock easier to sit and lay in (more on laying in your hammock below). You should also aim to keep the hammock lower to the ground. A low hung hammock is better because you can reach your belongings on the ground without getting up and if you accidentally fall out of the hammock you won't get hurt. 

The Scout model from Hennessy is their smallest hammock. I would only recommend that for youth. All the Hennessy hammocks are high-quality in build and materials and in all the details put into them, so I wouldn’t worry about that. One of the biggest “complaints” about the Hennessy models is size. If you are taller than 6 feet, I would get a Safari model. I’m 5’10” and feel just right in the Hennessy models, but I couldn’t imagine being much taller and stretching out. If you’re looking for more value for what you get (e.g., and all-in-one hammock), the DD Hammock line has a great assortment. It’s mid-range quality, but still good. They ship extraordinarily fast.

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.
I like to keep my options open and I have just WAY too much hammock gear. Not only do I use underquilts but I also use inflatable mats. I have a goose down-filled inflatable mat which I love. It's easy to inflate and deflate, is a deluxe model (i.e. very long and wide), and provides a great deal of warmth and wind protection. These aren't cheap X-Mart inflatable toys. Inflatable pads by any of the major hiking/camping gear manufacturers use top-notch materials and craftsmanship. Some have insulation, some just use the air in them as the barrier between the user and the cold ground or cold air, and some use a combination of air and insulation.
I own a BIAS Weight Weenie Micro, and it’s not fair to lump it with a GT Nano-7. BIAS believes that a comfortable lay comes from the length of the hammock, not the width, which is why they sell a 52-inch wide model, believing that the 11 ft. length of the BIAS hammocks more than compensates for a reduced width. I happen to agree with them, that 10-11 ft. hammocks provide a much better lay, which is why I bought a Weight Weenie Micro (albeit a 60-inch).
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.
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.
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 .
Lightweight and space saving. Camping hammocks like the Hennessey include a rain fly and mosquito netting, and yet still weigh under 3 lbs. It’s so comfy you can forgo the pillow and sleeping pad you would have brought in order to sleep comfortably in your tent too. And the great thing about camping hammocks is that you can break them into individual components and only take the things you need. If you’re camping in a warm, bug-free area on a clear night, for example, all you’ll need to bring is something like the Grand Trunk Double Parachute, which weighs only 28 ounces, and packs down to the size of a softball.

There are different options for bug nets when hammocking. Nets designed for hammocks are set up by stringing the hammock through the two open ends. The open ends are tightened once the hammock is inside. The net is then attached to a ridgeline with loops located at the top of the net. These mosquito nets have a zipper or velcro opening to allow you to get in and out. You can also use an all purpose mosquito net and drape it over a ridgeline above your hammock. Then just let the sides fall to the ground or tie them together once you’re in your hammock.
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