Starting my adventures in spring, I have a few months before actually having to invest in those quilts. I wanted to start with a second setup, for 3-season camping (>+10°C). Not exactly sure what to pack here yet. I was hoping a sleeping bag (or quilt) plus sleeping pad would be enough, but many of the not-exactly-cheap underquilts you tested were only just suited for exactly that kind of temperatures, so how could a sleeping pad suffice?
WHOOPIE SLINGS - Whoopie slings are an adjustable, lightweight way to hang a hammock. Designs for whoopie slings have slight differences, but in general they use a simple loop and knot system that holds tension with weight, but can be easily adjusted when not under pressure. We like the products listed below, but there are a lot of options for lightweight whoopie slings.
The best kind are styles that are designed to fit inside the sleeping bag such as the Kylmit Inertia X Frame. One of the biggest annoyances when trying to use a sleeping pad with a hammock is staying on top of the pad. It’s easy to shift your weight and move the sleeping pad from out underneath you. Some hammocks feature two layers to hold sleeping pads in place. Other hammockers like to stuff their pad inside their sleeping bag as long as it fits.
Depending on where you are in Georgia you don’t need to stay at state parks. If you’re in north Georgia you have the entire Chattahoochee National Forest in which to play. Only a very small portion of it is state (national?) park land. You can hang free of charge anywhere to which you are willing to walk. I personally, after living in Georgia for three years, only paid to stay in a state park once. While there I spent at least one night but up to seven nights a month backpacking. Hammocks rule!
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.
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.
2. The super-duper method (not recommended if you have surpassed your personal prime). If you have a gathered-end hammock, cocoon yourself into it by pulling the material on both sides until you are in a deep sag, and then pinching the material tightly closed with your arms and legs, putting your knees into deep pockets of material. Then, invert yourself by quickly shifting your weight till the hammock and your whole body turn 180 degrees and are facing the ground. WARNING: DO NOT LET GO of the material you are pinching just yet. Peek out of the cocoon and look for any painful objects (e.g. if you are inside, a plastic toy your kids placed underneath you while you slept, and if you are outside, a hard poky root or a rock you did not remove before entering the hammock). At this point, you may release the legs first and avoid a face-plant, or go all-out and do a belly-flop. I recommend only going the belly-flop route on grass or blankets.
As to actual hammock size wider and or/longer is generally more comfortable. Most unfinished fabrics are limited to around 60″ wide which means that most hammocks are around 58″ wide when finished. This can be a bit short for some folks. That can be a bit narrow for some people in a 10′ length. As such, the trend these days is for an 11 foot hammock. This extra length gives you more room to lie diagonally, which keeps your body flatter which most people find more comfortable.
It can seem difficult to strike balance between overconcern and under preparation. That line was blurry to me when I began hiking alone, often resulting in me placing myself in needlessly uncomfortable and unsafe situations. What seemed missing was a description of the necessities of safe hiking, presented with reason and practicality for the beginner hiker in mind.
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!
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.
In 3-season conditions and in locations where trees are readily available — which includes nearly all of the eastern United States plus a fair portion of the Mountain West — I have concluded that a hammock is the best overall sleep system. This is especially true for mileage-driven backpackers because they need not make two critical sacrifices often demanded by ground systems:
2. Keep it simple. The folks on Hammock Forums are incorrigible tinkerers, and a lot of them give no thought to weight and/or complexity. It’s easy to turn following tip (1) into a never-ending spiral of experimentation. That may be your style, and if so, more power to you. But I’m guessing most readers of this blog want a reliable, simple, lightweight set-up that they don’t need to fuss with. With discipline, this can be done with a minimum of iterations and expense.
Planning to do the High Sierra Trail this coming August, and was curious if anyone has experience taking a hammock rather than a ground setup on the HST? I know there will be at least one camp at Guitar Lake where I’d have to use my hammock as a bivy, but are there any other sites where this would be an issue, or other reasons hammock camping the HST would be a bad choice?
We placed a decent amount of importance on this metric because many people want to purchase a lightweight option for sleeping out while backpacking or traveling. However, if your motivation for owning a hammock is based more on wanting to relax in your backyard or take a nap a short distance from your car, then this metric probably is less important to you. If you aren't overly concerned with weight, then by all means, go for more fabric and a roomier design! With what you'll gain in comfort, we don't think you'll be sorry with that decision.
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).
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.
Tip #3: Look for an established (pre-existing) campsite to set up your hammock. Per Leave No Trace principles: “Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary.” Large hammocking groups should split into smaller groups to prevent unnecessary disturbance. Leave No Trace advises: “Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent.”
Your Trek Light Hammock isn’t meant to be stuck in the closet with your other camping gear, it’s a hammock after all. You’ll string your hammock between two cars next time you’re tailgating, you’ll hang out in the backyard for the next BBQ, you’ll take it on vacation, use it indoors during the winter, and you’ll set it up on your next summer lunch break and watch the day’s stress disappear in no time.