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.
A warm sleeping bag may not always work because the insulation becomes compressed and ineffective. Doubling up sleeping bags can be effective. But then you have to worry about carrying two sleeping bags (per hammock). A camping pad, one used for comfort on the hard floor of a tent, or a thick foam pad is another good option, although they can move around a bit. Some hammocks have sleeves for pads which holds them in place.
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.

Leave the Asym tarp (napkin) at home. The majority of water is kept divorced from precious down by a trap with adequate coverage. Hex or winter tarps provide the most coverage and are easier to center over hammocks during setup. This margin in setup avoids multiple adjustments.  Also consider bringing a section of material to place under the tarp to keep gear clean and dry. One thru-hiker favorite budget option is a sheet of Tyvek.
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.
Don’t want to have to deal with tying blankets to your hammock in the freezing cold? Hammock companies make underquilts that are easy to use and much more reliable than a hastily strung blanket. And, unlike a sleeping bag, the insulation doesn’t get compressed underneath you—leaving your cocoon toasty warm. Underquilts are typically paired with a sleeping bag or top quilt.

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?
And of course another important hammock accessory is your hammock stand. You can use a hammock stand to set up a permanent hammock in the garden or in a spare room, or you can use a portable hammock stand in order to fold it down and store easily when not in use. These can even be taken with you on a holiday or camping trip so that you don’t need to rely on having two nearby anchor points.
3. Lay on the diagonal. A lot of beginners try to sleep in line with the hammock, curving their bodies into a banana shape. I find that this takes a lot of effort, because with a good sag, your feet naturally slide to one side or the other, finding a “pocket” of fabric. By angling your body askew of center, you fall into a ergonomically flat position (it looks a bit like a recumbent bicyclist), where the hammock takes away all the pressure points naturally. The diagonal lay is the key to comfort in a gathered-end hammock.
So, because a hennessy hammock has an internal ridgeline for the bug net, and then the hammock curves beneath that, should you still tie it up at the 30* ? I’ve always pulled the sucker tight but seeing this info I might have it wrong. Still, Tom Hennessy has a video where he pretty much pulls it tight (though maybe not as tight as me). In your experience, should you still sag a hennessy?
You will be light on your feet and ready for any scenario with the ENO SubLink Shelter System with the Sub7 hammock in your pack. The Sub7 by itself was the second lightest model we tested, weighing in at just 6.4 ounces. That is downright impressive and we had to reward it. We tested the SubLink Shelter System upgrade. It contains suspension, a bug net, and a rain fly. Altogether, it's not a featherweight system, but each component individually is the lightest ENO offers, from the 4.1-ounce Helios Suspension System to the 16-ounce ProFly Sil Rain Tarp (the most substantial component). You can pick and choose what you need and leave the rest at home with this setup. Going out for just one summer night and trying to keep your weight down? Bring only the sling and suspension. Going into inclement weather? Bring it all. This setup will allow you to customize your adventure, staying lightweight at the same time.
2. Keeping it simple. Especially on HF there seems a atmosphere of tinkering and complicating the set up of a hammock. Like buying a Harley and then tricking it out. A lot of what people do over there is the flavor of the month with continuous ridge-lines, Sling-shot tie outs, multi-pocket gear organizers, pad extenders, etc. If you want to keep it light and make it work if you have to go to ground or get to stay in the trees, simple is better. And simple can be lighter too. You don’t have to have all the bells and whistles to have a great hammock.
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).
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.
These rainflys can be set up by creating a ridgeline above your hammock to suspend the tarp. The tarp is draped over the ridgeline. It is then tied in place with either some cord or a hook to keep the fly taught on both ends. Guylines pull the sides of the fly down and keep them in place. Just like a tent. Depending on the weather conditions, you can adjust the tarp accordingly. Keep it more open when there’s a light drizzle or pull the sides in if you’re facing a massive squall.
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.
Some models though, we felt were quite adaptable to everything from backyard hangs to multinight backpacking trips. Two contenders that stood out in this category were the ENO SubLink Shelter System and the Bear Butt Double, though for different reasons. The ENO SubLink has many pieces of a whole system that can be added and removed as you desire, based on the conditions you anticipate. Awesome! The Bear Butt Double was a much more straightforward model, that we felt was useful for many different activities and easy to add additional components in the future if we so desired.

If you believe in giving back with your purchases, this company plants 2 trees for every hammock sold. They also offer great discounts and the more you buy, the more trees are planted. They provide fruit and nut trees, as well as teach community members in less fortunate parts of Africa, how to utilize every benefit trees can give. This idea can bridge the gap in economical inequality one tree at a time. Check out the movement here: https://bit.ly/2H8ySN4
Leave the Asym tarp (napkin) at home. The majority of water is kept divorced from precious down by a trap with adequate coverage. Hex or winter tarps provide the most coverage and are easier to center over hammocks during setup. This margin in setup avoids multiple adjustments.  Also consider bringing a section of material to place under the tarp to keep gear clean and dry. One thru-hiker favorite budget option is a sheet of Tyvek.

Depending on the size of your hammock (and how tall you are), you may feel a tight ridge under your legs when lying diagonally. This can cause hyper-extension on your knees. Ouch! To relieve this pressure, place some padding under your knees. Extra clothes or a small pillow would work great. (Remember: Longer, not wider, hammocks are generally more comfortable, allowing you to lie diagonally without leg hyperextension.)
Brandon at Warbonnet makes some nice underquilts that will work well with your BB. I prefer the Yeti http://www.warbonnetoutdoors.com/yeti-underquilts/ 3/4 underquilt. I just jam a small piece of foam like a sitpad into the footbox of my top quilt to provide insulation under my feet and calves. Hammock Gear also makes some nice underquilts http://www.hammockgear.com/under-quilts/. Hope this helps. Warm hanging, -alan
i’ve seen hammocks pull down live trees twice in maine. once nearly hitting me (an innocent bystander) and once nearly killing the guy in it- and it was a HUGE tree. it’s still laying across the stream at cooper brook falls lean-to in maine if you want to see it. so, in my opinion, the size of the tree matters little- you have to think about the topsoil-to-rock ratio its roots are in. i would think anywhere in new england is questionable.

There are a wide variety of hammock designs on the market, plus all sorts of accessories, such as straps to hang the hammock, rain flies, mosquito nets, and quilts for cold weather If you have a limited budget, and you are only going to camp in clear, warm weather, you can start simple and just buy a hammock and straps. But keep in mind that in the future you might need a fly, bug net, and cold-weather accessories. With most brands, you can buy the various items individually, or purchase kits that combine many of the pieces and can save you a bit of money in the long run.

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.


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.

So, because a hennessy hammock has an internal ridgeline for the bug net, and then the hammock curves beneath that, should you still tie it up at the 30* ? I’ve always pulled the sucker tight but seeing this info I might have it wrong. Still, Tom Hennessy has a video where he pretty much pulls it tight (though maybe not as tight as me). In your experience, should you still sag a hennessy?

Conversely, most backpackers do not understand the first thing about backpacking hammocks. There is a bit of an art to setting up a hammock and sleeping in one. Thus, learning to hammock camp may initially take more time. As noted earlier, however, there is nothing terribly difficult about setting up a hammock, and in the long term it is probably faster to set up a hammock than a ground system.
As for complete expedition setups, the heaviest was, again, the Expedition Asym Zip at 49.2 ounces. Not much less were the REI Co-op Flash Air at 44.8 ounces and the ENO SubLink Shelter System at 44.6 ounces. Considering all three include rain flies and bug nets, we thought this trade-off in weight gains was fair. Several models include integrated bug nets but not rain flies and were quite competitively weighted, including the Warbonnet Ridgerunner weighing a hefty 38.4 ounces, the Editor's Choice Grand Trunk Skeeter Beeter Pro weighing 28.8 ounces, and the Warbonnet Blackbird weighing an impressive 19.2 ounces.
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.
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?

Brandon at Warbonnet makes some nice underquilts that will work well with your BB. I prefer the Yeti http://www.warbonnetoutdoors.com/yeti-underquilts/ 3/4 underquilt. I just jam a small piece of foam like a sitpad into the footbox of my top quilt to provide insulation under my feet and calves. Hammock Gear also makes some nice underquilts http://www.hammockgear.com/under-quilts/. Hope this helps. Warm hanging, -alan
A lot of folks think all you need is a sleeping bag to stay warm in a hammock. After all, you’re off the ground, so you don’t need a pad for comfort. What that pad does help with, however, is warmth. You’ll compress the sleeping bag insulation under your body in a hammock just like you would on the ground, so you’ll feel cold in a hammock without some uncompressed insulation beneath you. To keep the sleeping pad from slipping out from under you, try putting it inside your sleeping bag.
An additional component of comfort that is often overlooked or difficult to decide on when internet shopping is fabric type. The models with the softest, most supple fabric were the Bear Butt Double, and the Grand Trunk Skeeter Beeter. The Trek Light Single and Sea to Summit Ultralight lost some love here due to the slight scratchiness of the thin nylon. If you plan to be wrapped up in a sleeping bag, this isn't a big deal, but it's something to keep in mind if you will be napping in your short shorts.

The spacious and durable Eagles Nest Outfitters DoubleNest is an excellent hammock for outdoor lovers. It's wide and tough enough to fit two people comfortably. It also comes in a bunch of different color combinations. It's heavier than the hammocks we prefer to backpack with, but it’s perfect for camping, hiking, and trips to the park. For the same dimensions but nearly half the weight, we recommend checking out the ENO SuperSub Hammock. 
Bring warmer sleeping clothes and invest in a warmer sleeping quilt. One thing to remember about hammock camping is you’re going to be colder up in the air than you would be on the ground, thanks to the air passing over and beneath you as you hang. So bundle up a little and invest in an Underquilt and/or Topquilt rated for colder weather, like 20–30 degrees, to be sure of staying warm and toasty all night. Check out more info on Hammock Insulation in our post, “Hammock Insulation – Bags vs. Quilts.”
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.
The reasons to hammock are not always clear to people that have never tried one. Often I get comments about how a person hates sleeping on their back or can only sleep on their side, or how sleeping with that curve will wreck their back, or even how they don't want to damage trees with the cords. All these are valid concerns, yet each are simply the worries of the uninformed, similar to family fears we hikers are all in danger of getting eaten by bears daily.
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.
Conversely, most backpackers do not understand the first thing about backpacking hammocks. There is a bit of an art to setting up a hammock and sleeping in one. Thus, learning to hammock camp may initially take more time. As noted earlier, however, there is nothing terribly difficult about setting up a hammock, and in the long term it is probably faster to set up a hammock than a ground system.

You may need to adjust your ridge line length….. with a thirty degree angle and a diagonal lay, your ridge line should be taunt …. not guitar string tight …..( when you are in your hammock ). If you will look at the hammock calculator on this site … notice the crazy changes in the stresses on the equipment with less than thirty degrees. (bottom line, keep the thirty degrees and adjust everything else to fit) Derek … If you disagree, please jump in here.

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!
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.]

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.
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