Hammock camping in the winter can be exhilarating and unique. Imagine a white snow-covered mountain, a red burning campfire, and a warm cup of coffee. That being said, there are special preparations that need to be made to have a positive experience while winter camping. One of those preparations that we encourage here at Khione Outdoor Gear is the SHEL hammock tent. Hammocking is the simplest way to camp, and should be able to happen year round. Normal hammock covers or hammock tarps won’t be much protection from the cold, but a SHEL hammock tent is able to provide a waterproof barrier from the snow as well as an insulated shelter from the cold.
I own a BIAS Weight Weenie Micro, and it’s not fair to lump it with a GT Nano-7. BIAS believes that a comfortable lay comes from the length of the hammock, not the width, which is why they sell a 52-inch wide model, believing that the 11 ft. length of the BIAS hammocks more than compensates for a reduced width. I happen to agree with them, that 10-11 ft. hammocks provide a much better lay, which is why I bought a Weight Weenie Micro (albeit a 60-inch).
For many, a swaying hammock is synonymous with relaxation. The word alone conjures memories of breezy summer afternoons: a cold beer sweating in the heat, dappled sunlight dancing through leaves, and gentle rocking that lulls you into a midday nap. It is the physical manifestation of the word “chill.” But, its portable, lightweight design is just as convenient for camping in the backcountry as it is for lounging in the yard, the park, or on the beach.
INSULATION DESIGNED FOR EVERY HENNESSY HAMMOCK: Most places in the world, even jungles, require some insulation at night especially at altitude. We offer two choices with different temperature ranges. Both of these systems have insulation pads that are a wider mummy shape that will protect your arms and shoulders much better than the standard tent pad.
Though down quilts are superior in many respects, there are also synthetic versions available. Like sleeping bags, these share the same advantages and disadvantages. Synthetic loft quilts are cheaper than their down counterparts. Unfortunately they are also heavier and do not compress as well. One advantage is that synthetic materials are resistant to the delofting effects of moisture. They keep their insulating properties even when wet. This is not true for down which ends up being completely useless if it absorbs too much water. A synthetic under quilt will cost more than a foam pad, but it can be cheap enough for budget campers. Keep in mind that quilts can only be used with a hammock. If for whatever reason, you end up sleeping on the ground, only a pad will provide your insulation!
Narrowly beating out the previous champion, the Warbonnet Blackbird, the Grand Trunk Skeeter Beeter Pro is our new favorite backcountry hammock! We loved how comfortable and easy it is to use. Both the sling and bug net are made of strong and soft material, making this super wide option a comfortable choice for camping in mosquito country. With a simple carabiner to clip to your suspension system, it's shockingly easy to set up and doesn't require the stakes and tie-out lines of the Blackbird. This simplicity cuts out what can be a time-consuming adjustment process, allowing you to escape the hungry attention of flying bloodsuckers quickly. Since it's so much broader than the Blackbird and more balanced than the Warbonnet Ridgerunner, we had no problems finding many comfortable positions for spending a night in the backcountry tucked away from biting insects inside the Skeeter Beeter. And if performance alone isn't enough for you, also consider that the Skeeter Beeter is about half the cost of the Warbonnet offerings!
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.
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.
Three-season is sensible, but I’d add that hammocks can be awesome in deep winter as well. Once set up camp in a couple feet of snow. I set up wearing my snowshoes the whole time, didn’t need to dig or stomp down snow in any way. Use deadfall branches as snow-stakes for your tarp- easy. I have spent nights in my hammock in deep cold (down to -36f thus far), it is work but it can be done.
The traverse powerlock from REI would work. REI made some deal with Komperdell, and Komperdell makes their poles. REI replaces the 3-year no-questions-asked Komperdell warranty with their (lame) 1-year warranty. Thanks, REI. (Bias disclosure: I hate REI.) I had to scour for Ridgehiker Cork Powerlock from Komperdell when I wanted to get a backup pair of poles, though my originals are still going strong after 5000 miles. I see they are now on Backcountry. Y’all give Andrew some compensation, and click on his backcountry link (or, fine, whatever, REI) and get you a pair. (I have no affiliation with anybody.)
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.”
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:
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.
It seems obvious enough, but a tarp or rainfly is critical if you’re out in weather or in a place where weather can move in quickly. For this, I use the ENO DryFly Rain Tarp. It’s light, it’s quick to set up, and it has kept me dry. The trick is, rig the tarp just above the hammock, so when the hammock sags under your body weight, you’re not exposed to the rain and wind blowing in from under the sides.
Most folks that go the homemade route when they are new don’t have a grasp of what exactly they need and it usually leads to a cold and or wet nights sleep and them not wanting to hammock again which is absolutely what I want to avoid when giving advice. If the homemade gear works well then by all means use it often. I am happy to hear you were able to use what you could find to make a bottom wind break for your hammock and that it kept you toasty warm.
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).
Unless you’re camping out in the hot tropical rainforests, you’ll need a way to stay warm. The traditional sleeping bag and sleeping pad combo works just as well suspended in the air. But why do I need a sleeping pad? Since I’m not on the ground, shouldn’t my sleeping bag be enough? That is not the case! The breathable fabric of a camping hammock that is so comfortable in the summer heat, also allows for the cold night air to pass through just as easily. A sleeping bag will cover your top insulation, but it is less effective underneath . A cheap foam pad can go a long way oftentimes. An inflatable pad can also work well in a hammock.