As for damaging trees. Hammocks are actually some of the lowest impact hiking systems out there. Instead of grooming a flat spot or compacting earth, a hammock keeps you above all that. Tree bark can be protected by either flat straps similar to Hennessy Hammock Tree Huggers, or by using a rope system that uses multiple wraps to distribute the load that keeps the rope from digging into the trees.

When you are lying on your back in the hammock, there is mosquito netting above you and along the sides. Running lengthwise down the inside of the hammock is a cord called the ridgeline, which has a little pocket where you can store your glasses or an LED light for easy access during the night. All the rest of your gear is outside of the hammock. After hanging my bear bag, I usually hang my backpack on a nearby tree and cover it with my backpack cover in case it rains. If my boots are wet, I hang them from the ridgeline outside my hammock but still under the rain fly.
Hammocks are great but have a little bit of a learning curve. Everyone’s different so it’s a matter of finding what works and is comfortable for you. For anyone thinking about switching from ground dwelling to hanging should check out: https://hammockforums.net/forum/content.php Awesome resource for everything hammocks. Learn as much as you can before you buy, or even better, try to find someone with the gear you are thinking of purchasing and try theirs first. Hammock length, width, fabric material, etc all make a difference in how you lay and feel while resting. For me, I sleep better in my hammock than at home.
Some people think using an underquilt during the summer is overkill. But as long as you’re not using a 0 degree rated quilt, you should be ok using that in the summer. As a huge bonus, you might not even need a sleeping bag or top quilt! In warmer temperatures, the micro climate your underquilt creates can be enough to keep you warm through the night. Learn how to make an inexpensive summer underquilt.
When laying in a sleeping bag in a hammock, the weight of your body compresses the insulation and minimizes its ability to keep your backside warm. An extra layer underneath you is critical. Enter your sleeping pad. Keep those buns warm by partially inflating your pad and lying on top of it inside your hammock. Don’t have a sleeping pad? Check out the next number.
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).

Educate yourself on the local area you plan to be camping in before you head out. If there are protected species of trees, refrain from using those as anchors. For example, Joshua Tree National Park is dotted with thousands upon thousands of Joshua Trees. However, Joshua Trees are not actually trees and are protected with their population numbers are decreasing from climate change. They have shallow root systems that cannot easily support the horizontal force exerted by a hammock in addition to a trunk that isn’t as solid as a true tree. Due to their hollow structure and the dry ecosystems they live in, they are also brittle and can break off from the strain.


Put your pad inside your sleeping bag. This helps keep things from moving around, and helps the bag from bunching a little. It’s not a perfect system because you do have a lot of material under you that can bunch up. Laying the bag open and sitting in the middle before you get in helps. I’ll admit that with a sleep my bag you will need to do some maneuvering to get situated at first. This is why under quilts are so much beloved. They are less fussy. But pads and bags can do the job of keeping you warm, you just have to work a little more.

Having a safe and fun time out in the wilderness is dependent on the quality of your gear. A backpack or pair of boots failing far from the trailhead can be a significant problem, and your shelter system is no different. If you are planning to sleep in a hammock, the protection it provides and the durability of its construction are of extreme importance. A rip in the fabric can be as bad as having no tent poles and may leave you laying on the cold ground stringing your shelter up in some haphazard fashion or putting it over you like a blanket. Not fun.
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.]
I have 2 sleeping bag systems. They aren't for the faint-of-heart, though! They are heavy. I have a military modular system and an army surplus bag. The modular system consists of a lightly insulated bag inside an intermediate insulated bag inside a heavy insulated bag inside a waterproof bivy shell. Whew! Talk about warm! I nearly sweat to death using this system. The beauty is that I can use all the bags, some of the bags, just the waterproof/windproof bivy shell, or any combination while in my hammock.
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.

While silnylon is superior, any kind of tarp will work to create an effective shelter from the rain. The plastic blue tarps can make a variety of effective shelters for your hammock. They are also durable and cost only a fraction of a silnylon fly. The downside of these tarps is the bulk and weight, making them less than ideal for ultralight packs.

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.
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 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.

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.


Adirondacks ADK Alpha Guide Backpacking Biking Boots Camping Climb Climbing Cycle Cycling Fall Fitness Foliage Gear High Peaks Hike/Camp Hiking Ice Climbing Maine Massachusetts Mountain Biking Mountaineering Mount Washington Mud New Hampshire Newsflash New York NH Paddle Paddling Photography Presidential Range Presidentials Rock Climbing Running Ski Skiing Trail Run Travel Traveling Vermont Video White Mountains Winter
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.
Using a length of rope, tie a line above where the hammock straps meet the trees at each end of your hammock. Drape a tarp over the line and even it out. The middle of the tarp should run along the line and cover your entire hammock. Then, with a few more pieces of rope, tie a line from each of the four corners of the tarp. Run the new lines to nearby trees, roots, pegs or rocks that are heavy enough to act as an anchor. Tie those lines to the various anchors. These anchor lines will prevent the edges of your tarp from flying up in heavy winds.

Tip #6: When you find 2 perfect hammocking trees (thick trunks, alive, little or no ground cover between them), carefully check for sensitive plant life (especially vital at higher elevations), wildlife habitat and hazards such as insect nests or poisonous plants. Avoid stepping on roots and lichen, and minimize transporting non-native species by cleaning shoes between trips.
Hammock camping in cold weather can be warm and comfortable. But it requires a good under-quilt (usually down) that is well fitted (no gaps) to the hammock body. While not a difficult skill, beginner hammock campers should test out their winter system on low-risk, short-duration outings first in order to develop their skills and know-how. Note the full-length, under-quilt (green sleeping bag looking thing below the hammock). Photo by Jack Tier of Jacks ‘R’ Better.

I thought a reminder would help us stay focused. Applying the TOS to the holidays, it's ok to wish folks Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Solstice, Kwanzaa or whatever...but discussions about the religious aspects of the holidays will be removed. We're here to discuss hammocks, so if you have strong feelings about religion and the holidays, please find another forum to discuss them.


The hammock was developed in Pre-Columbian Latin America and continues to be produced widely throughout the region, among the Urarina of the Peruvian Amazon, for several years in Ghana,[2] and presently throughout North America, Europe, and Australia. The origin of the hammock remains unknown, though many maintain that it was created out of tradition and need. The word hammock comes from hamaca, a Taino Indian word which means 'thrown fishing net'. On long fishing trips, the Taíno would sleep in their nets, safe from snakes and other dangerous creatures.
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.
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.
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.
×