We did notice a few shortcomings in the system, however. The trunk staps are only long enough for smaller trees. That's not the best when California's burly conifers surround your campsites. So you might find yourself having to upgrade the strap. The overall size also comes up a bit short at just 9.5 feet by 3.5 feet, which may feel constraining for larger folks. In general, though, we felt the REI Flash Air takes camping to the next level of comfort and ease with this total set up — and for less than the competition!
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.
The lightest setup we tested was the Sea to Summit Ultralight, clocking in at a featherweight 5.8 ounces — and that included the integrated compression stuff sack! If you remove that feature, the hammock itself only weighs 4.8 ounces. This weight doesn't include suspension, but Sea to Summit offers a compatible ultralight suspension that will add less than 3 ounces to your setup.
Get your hammock set up with plenty of slack. It’s important to lie at an angle to get comfortable. All you are doing is shifting your body from the midline of the hammock 30 degrees so that you are lying at a diagonal. What you’ll notice is that the center of the hammock is the tightest, while the sides remain loose. By adjusting the angle of your body, you’ll be cutting across the curve of the hammock. The hammock will flatten out underneath you and give you a flat lay without pressure points. Your neck and feet will maintain a slight elevation and the hammock will conform to your back.
Serac hammocks come with the attached stuff sack. A great bonus for storing your camping hammock and compacting it down. It keeps the hammock small and the drawstring even allows you to clip it onto your backpack. But aside from the obvious, the attached stuff sack makes a great easy access pocket for when you’re lounging around on your hammock. I always love to empty my pocket of my keys or phone when I lay down. It’s much more comfortable, and I can make sure I have nothing sharp that might rip my hammock. The stuff sack is perfectly situated for you to store your belongings while you relax. You can even keep a cold beer in there. Don’t swing too wildly though or you’ll risk spilling your beer 😉
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.
space/emergency blankets work well under hammocks in place of quilts for added warmth. just attach/hang under like the quilt, cut a slit so you can still climb in and out. blocks wind, reflects heat, little weight added. ive thrown a zlite pad in my hennessey asym and slept comfortably down to 30 in a 25 degree bag + baselayers. pads help smooth some of the squeeze also on the shoulders and obviously adds a bit of warmth (and weight).
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.
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.
Hammocks do well for practicing Leave No Trace (LNT): With more campsite options, hammock campers can avoid further impacting popular campsites. And since hammocks don’t touch the ground, they have minimal impact. They do not crush or smother plants below them. Note: it’s easy to avoid impacting trees, just use wide tree-straps 1″ to 1.5″. Almost all backpacking hammocks are sold with this type of strap. For more see Leave No Trace.org on Hammock Camping.
When you think you’ve found a good spot, keep an eye out for any hazards that may be on the ground in case of a fall. While falls are unlikely, it’s not always a great idea to make a habit out of hanging above sharp rocks. It might look cool to hang your hammock high off the ground, but it doesn’t make a lot of practical sense. Hanging a foot off the ground is just as comfortable as hanging five feet off the ground. A good rule to follow is to always hang as high as you’re willing to fall.
When lying at an angle, you’re not restricted to only sleeping on your back. You can move around into all sorts of positions. Just find one that you are most comfortable with. I prefer to sleep on my side and I can comfortably sleep in that position when I angle my body. Since it’s almost impossible to flip in a well designed hammock, feel free to toss and turn as much as you want. Check out this hammock hang calculator to figure out your perfect hang!
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.
Just finished up day 4 on our JMT thru-hike!! The weather has been lovely, our packs are feeling good, and we’re very excited for what lies ahead. At the moment we’re chillin at Red’s Meadow on mile 60 of the trail. Eating some good food and enjoying a cold brewski. About 160 miles left in our journey, which we’re expecting will take about 12-13 more days. Hope all is well in your world!! . #jmt2018 #johnmuirtrail
If extreme comfort is your main goal, then you should get to know the Kammok Roo. The Roo is one of the largest, toughest, and most luxurious camping hammocks on the market. It's built with durable materials, is big enough to fit two comfortably, and it even comes with a lifetime warranty. It's heavier than the hammocks we prefer backpacking with, but it’s perfect for camping, hiking, and trips to the park.
The best part about a lightweight hammock is that it’s an incredible addition to your camping gear even if you don’t sleep in it. With our lightest hammock weighing only 14oz and packing down into a pouch smaller than your Nalgene bottle, you can easily bring it in addition to your tent and enjoy all the benefits the hammock offers without needing to commit to leaving your tent behind.