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.”
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:
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.
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.

I am brand new to hammocking. I recently bought a Nube shelter with Pares hammock. They were the only ones that offered what I wanted in a hammock. In the twenty minutes I’ve spent on your website, I’ve learned more than the three or four weeks I spent on YouTube before purchasing, and learned, consequently, that I’ve been setting up my Pares incorrectly. I need a good tip for achieving the 30-degree angle on the suspension lines.
Hey Derek I’ve been researching a lot and want your opinion. I narrowed my hammock search down to a eno double, treklight, or the kammok roo. I plan on mostly using it for music festivals and camping, so comfort and durablitly are my main concerns. I am about 6ft tall and about 205 lbs. So when taking that into consideration which hammock would you recommend (leaning towards kammok as of now).
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.
I do a lot of car camping. I like going to local parks with friends, hanging out, telling tall-tales, eating too much, comparing our latest camping or hammock gadgets, and enjoying great fellowship. I don't worry about what things weigh or how large they are. Camping out of my car affords me the ability to bring all kinds of stuff and try different things. While some hikers would find my gear on the heavy side, that doesn't bother me. I'm not into that sort of thing. That's okay. I do my thing with like-minded friends and we have a great time. I like being able to walk over to my truck, pull out my heavy sleeping bags, plop them into my hammock, and be comfortable from the elements all night long.
Rope hammocks are just one of many styles of hammocks. But there are many options out there that provide a superior night’s sleep. Besides the bridge hammock, there are gathered end, and bed hammocks. Gathered end hammocks have each end tied together to a point. The camper lies along the horizontal plane of the hammock. Bed hammocks are designed so that you lie perpendicular to the plane of the hammock instead. We’ll be walking through the more popular gathered end hammock. Let’s first weigh the pros and cons of hammocks.
Good. Then either a 10.5 foot or 11 foot ~58″ wide hammock. After that, get a good top and underquilt. The Hammock Gear Econs would be a good choice (tell them I sent you). And then a hammock specific tarp, again Hammock Gear would be fine, but there are a number of good hammock tarps. Larger is better altho, I am not a fan of “doors. Silynlon is the best value but DCF (Cuben) is awesome great if you can afford it. Warmest, -alan
Alan, the only thing I think is missing here is a short nod to taking a hammock to the ground. Those that dismiss hammocks because of lack of anchor points (e.g., “above the treeline”) may benefit from knowing that a hammock kit can be pitched on the ground similar to any tarp set-up. A lot of UL hikers use minimal tarp systems like the Gossamer Gear Twinn, using trekking poles or sticks to erect their shelter. A hammock with an integrated bug net easily doubles as a ground bivvy in such cases.
We've tested the best contenders and rated their comfort, versatility, durability, protection, weight, and ease of use. We've tested these models over hundreds of hours from chilly alpine nights to hot summer afternoons. We also keep our eyes on the market and test new contenders as they appear, ensuring that you always have the most up-to-date 'mock info at your fingertips.

The Warbonnet Blackbird is one of the most comfortable camping hammocks on the market. It has an asymmetrical design for flat sleeping and a convenient shelf panel for gear storage. It comes in a single-layer or double-layer design and two different fabric thicknesses. The double-layer design increases the max weight rating and provides a compartment to hold a sleeping pad in place. Choosing the thicker fabric will increase durability and max weight rating as well. Both of those options will add weight to the hammock, but it’s a light design any way you slice it. The Blackbird doesn’t come with a tarp, so you’ll want to add one of Warbonnet’s tarps or buy an aftermarket tarp. It also doesn’t come with carabiners, which need to be purchased separately.
If you get a hammock, it should only take one or two nights for you to get comfortable to sleeping in it. That first night however can be a little disconcerting and you might want to take a Benedryl to help you get drowsy and settle down. I made the mistake of sleeping in a hammock for the first time in very hot weather in Maine near the Kennebec River. However, with a little practice and experience, you will learn how to orient your hammock to take advantage of cooling breezes and avoid being hot at night.
Looking to add a little fun, functionality to your living room? Your hammock can double as an extra lounge chair--minus the chair. Especially for those of you who reside in compact living spaces, your hammock could be the perfect space-saving addition to a small living room or studio apartment. Plus, you’ll be the cool friend who thought of hanging a hammock in your living room. You’re welcome.

One way to guarantee a cold night is by setting up tarp ends parallel to the wind (above).  The issue was compounded by pulling the side tie outs to give the wind more area to blow through. This issue is very easy to spot because the wind will blow up the tarp like a bouncy castle. The usual triangle shape of your tarp can approach half-circle status if the wind picks up enough.  If it’s windy, grab some leaves and drop them to get an idea of which way the wind is blowing. Then set the long side of the tarp into the wind with the sides fairly low to keep wind out.
I think your fear is unfounded. Bears will smell you, regardless of whether you are in a tent or a hammock. If you smell like food AND if it’s an aggressive bear, I think they’ll do what they want with you. Because aggressive bears tend to hang out in high-use backcountry (and frontcountry) areas, this makes a strong argument for smart campsite selection no matter what you use.
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.
One way to guarantee a cold night is by setting up tarp ends parallel to the wind (above).  The issue was compounded by pulling the side tie outs to give the wind more area to blow through. This issue is very easy to spot because the wind will blow up the tarp like a bouncy castle. The usual triangle shape of your tarp can approach half-circle status if the wind picks up enough.  If it’s windy, grab some leaves and drop them to get an idea of which way the wind is blowing. Then set the long side of the tarp into the wind with the sides fairly low to keep wind out.

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.
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.
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.
John Lepak is an art director, graphic designer, and weekend mountaineer. He hasn’t met a rock scramble he didn’t like, and spends his free time either in the mountains or obsessively cooking Mexican food. When John isn’t pushing pixels, crushing miles, or making the best carnitas caseras you’ve ever tasted, you can find him living the dream in the Connecticut woods with his wife Kat and a muscly little pitbull named Fiona.
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.
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). 
You may want to consider bringing a small gas burner on your next winter hammock camping trip. Make sure to use fuel that is not frozen or problematic in cold weather. Gasoline fuels are generally not affected by temperature or pressure, so they can be used reliably. Since the boiling point of gas is 0.5 degrees Celsius below zero, the flames drop sharply, it is advisable to use a gasoline fuel source that produces a constant fire regardless of the temperature during winter camping. Also, It is the  best way to prepare for accidents by separating gas lanterns and burners from the fuel tank. Since safety accidents such as suffocation, burns, and other incidents can occur at the campsite, you should always be careful when using heating equipment. It is not recommended to have an open flame burner in a SHEL hammock tent because of the movement in the air.
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!
I use the “cowboy finger gun technique” the index finger is the barrel, the thumb stuck up in the air is the hammer…… when the barrel is held level, the angle from the end of the barrel (finger) to the tip of the raised hammer (thumb) will be very close to 30 degrees…. simply look at your finger gun in relation to your hanging hammock to see if your suspension is close.
Hammock camping is a form of camping in which a camper sleeps in a suspended hammock rather than a conventional tent on the ground. Due to the absence of poles and the reduced amount of material used, they tend to be significantly lighter than a tent. Their reduced weight often results in less space inside than a similar occupancy tent. In foul weather, a tarp is suspended above the hammock to keep the rain off of the camper. Mosquito netting, sometimes integrated into the camping hammock itself, is also used as climatic conditions warrant. Camping hammocks are used by campers who are looking for lighter weight, protection from ground-dwelling insects, or other ground complications such as sloped ground, rocky terrain and flooded terrain.[1]
I’m really glad that this blog chose to present this series. Hammocks are strong in their own niche, but I think they’re summarily dismissed by the California-heavy population of ULers. To be fair, if you plan to spend much time above treeline, a hammock is a limitation. But having grown up in Appalachia, the advantages of a hammock were immediately apparent to me.
Comfort is the most important quality we scored because if you're not comfortable, what's the point? We considered fabric feel, headspace, and overall size and roominess. We sat in them, laid in them, put sleeping bags and pads in them and even tested their capacity for adding a friend. Roomier models tend to sleep a bit better, while many of the lighter designs sacrificed comfort for less durable materials and a compact size that feel great in the pack but can impact your comfort quality of sleep. No matter what you're using your 'mock for, comfort is king!
Excellent overview Alan, I have been sleeping and camping in hammocks for almost 50 years and appreciate a nice clean introduction to it like yours. Derek H’s recommendation about “go to ground” options is critical. Please read the “sticky” articles at hammock forums BEFORE any on going crazy discussions by us engineer and research scientists who are excessively technical, passionate, and opinionated. An incremental approach to a new hobby or sport is always the best. Hammock hanging has actually been very simple and effective for thousands of years, have fun with it, your back will be more healthy.
If you are a side sleeper, sleeping in a hammock can take some getting use to but the Hennessy's are cut so that you can sleep on you side rather easily. If you sleep on your back you will be in heaven. There is the added benefit that your feet will be above the plain of your body, letting the blood in them drain at night, reducing swelling and fatigue.

There are a ton of different closed-cell foam (CCF) pads on the market. Some are made by major outdoor equipment manufacturers and others can be purchased at your favorite X-Mart store. The idea here is simple: the CCF provides a thin barrier between the hanger and the cold air or wind. CCF pads are cheap, most are quite durable, and all are very light.
If you have properly hung your hammock it will have enough slack to allow you to stretchout angled horizontally (see above for tips on the proper hang). Try a 30 degree angle as a starting point and adjust as to whatever feels most comfortable, this will allow you to lay flat while relaxing or sleeping. At an angle you can even sleep on your side (one of our favorite ways to sleep in our hammock). 
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.
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.
If you are a side sleeper, sleeping in a hammock can take some getting use to but the Hennessy's are cut so that you can sleep on you side rather easily. If you sleep on your back you will be in heaven. There is the added benefit that your feet will be above the plain of your body, letting the blood in them drain at night, reducing swelling and fatigue.
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.
Sleeping in a hammock can also be much more comfortable than sleeping on a sleeping pad. That's why a hammock is always my preferred shelter in certain places like the White Mountains or the AT in New Hampshire, where the ground is as hard as concrete. It can also be far more scenic since you can pitch it between two trees on steep slopes overlooking a fabulous sunset or beside a remote mountain lake in the Adirondacks (see above).
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.
Having a hammock is not just great for relaxing and getting a great night’s sleep. The bright colors and large fabric makes the hammock a perfect item to have in the worst case scenario. If you ever find yourself lost, the eye-catching colors of a hammock can be an excellent flag to signal rescue crews. The large surface area allows the hammock to catch the wind and let’s you fly a bright, visible flag.
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