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.”
Another common complaint from tent campers is the insect problem that comes with any open air camping. A tent protects you from biting buggers as long as you’re not leaving the door open. But most hammocks will leave you completely exposed to mosquitoes. Fear not! Many options exist for you to protect yourself from biting insects. Many bug nets are designed specifically for a hammock. They’ll give you complete 360 degree protection.
Overall, smaller campers have more options since, larger campers will prefer roomier designs. We felt that there were no double models that slept a pair comfortably, though larger doubles fit two loungers better than a single, and slept one very comfortably. All of that considered, we still had to pick some winners and losers from the perspective of our astute testers. The hangs that we found the most comfortable were the Bear Butt Double, Grand Trunk Skeeter Beeter, Warbonnet Ridgerunner and the REI Co-op Flash Air, though all for different reasons.
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.
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.
Insulate. In warm temps, the air circulation provided by a hammock will keep you cooler than sleeping in a tent. But in colder weather, tent camping offers an advantage in that the ground acts as insulation, returning the heat you give off. When you’re sleeping in a hammock, your body heat escapes out the bottom and is lost; this is the cause of what’s called “Cold Butt Syndrome” — the top of you is warm because it’s covered in blankets, but your bottom is chilled.
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.]
The idea with inflatable pads or mats is to provide a barrier between the hanger and the cold air. Instead of being attached below the hammock, as is the case with underquilts, pads or mats are placed in the hammock. The hanger lays on the pad and insulates himself/herself from the air below. Inflatable pads or mats can be adjusted on-the-fly. Each user can decide just how much or little air to use in the inflatable pad or mat. Some people like to pump them up nice and firm while others like just a wee bit of inflation. As long as there's a warm air barrier between the hanger and the cold air around the hammock, you can't go wrong.
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.
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.
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.

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]

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.
That said, there are other benefits for pitching a Hennessy with a sag on the suspension lines instead of drum tight. First, you reduce the strain on all the components (a nice safety feature) and lower the tensile force against the anchor points. Second, if you connect your tarp directly to the Hennessy Hammock, you can avoid the “limp tarp” effect that happens when you pitch it too tight. A third benefit, which is really tangential, is that you develop skills that work with other hammocks, such as net-less Mayan-style hammocks. A lot of folks who start with a Hennessy end up getting other hammocks for family and friends that are less feature rich, but if they are accustomed to pitching things tight, the end up having problems.
 Each and every order is very important to us and we will continue to work on getting your order out as fast as possible.  Please keep in mind that we are a small shop and do not warehouse any sewn products. What this means to you is flexibility in color combinations, American Made cottage goods but it also means that it will take a little longer to get to your door. 
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.
1. The practical approach. Swing both feet over the same side, plant them on the ground, sightly spread apart, and turn your torso a bit more towards that side so that you can push up with one arm. Push until you are sitting in an upright position. You then have the difficult choice to make, whether to stand up the rest of the way or let gravity win and pull you back into the hammock where life is good.
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.”

When I Thru-hiked the AT in 2012 I switched to a hammock in Harpers Ferry. My tent was just to hot at this point. I went to Trail Days and picked up a Hennessy for 50% off. The hammock was amazing. I agree with all of your points. By the time I reached Maine it started to get very cold at night and I would often hang my hammock up in a shelter trying to get the heat from the other hikers.
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.

First and foremost, hanging requires a suspension system, and many models don't come with this essential component. While many manufacturers sell compatible suspension systems, quite a number of options either don't have suspension systems factored into the cost or have poorly designed systems included, such as the rope slings that come with the Grand Trunk Skeeter Beeter or Bear Butt Double. Many of the expedition models come with suspension systems, such as the Hennessy Ultralite Backpacker and Expedition, REI Co-op Flash Air and the ENO SubLink Shelter System (though the Sub7 does not if you buy it on its own). Both Warbonnet models had two optional suspension systems available for an additional cost, or you could choose to purchase just the hammock and attach it to another suspension system.


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.
Pros Easy to set up and use, large and comfortable, less expensive than similar models Large and comfortable, easy to use, versatile, low cost All one easy system, great value, simple to use, great protection Lightweight, stuff sack doubles as a pillow, package includes suspension, bug net, and rain fly Includes integrated bug net, comfortable, feature rich
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.
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.
Again, with any system, there are pros and cons to using self-inflating pads or mats. I'm sure you can imagine how devastating it would be if an inflatable pad or mat was your only insulation system while out on a hiking trip and you discover while setting up your sleep system for the night that it has a hole in it. Bad news unless you also carry a repair kit!
Even if I were counting grams, I would err on the side of a larger tarp. It will offer greater protection from wind and driving rain, and one or both sides can be “porched” for additional living space and ventilation without a critical sacrifice to storm-resistance. Finally, the weight penalty is miniscule — an extra three square yards of ultralight tarp fabric weigh as little as 1.5 ounces.
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.
Two things can add extra-comfort: a cap on your sleeping bag, with which you can surround your head and use it as another protection from the cold, and the size/weight of your sleeping bag. The best option would be an extra-light one, which you can squeeze in a very small case and that will allow you to save space and weight during your backpacking experiences. Indeed, hammock camping is particularly suitable for those who want to keep their backpack light and it wouldn’t make any sense to take up all the space (and the weight) with a sleeping bag, as much warm as it may be.
Tom, his wife Ann, his son James and friends are a small family run company whose only mission is to continually improve the evolution of hammock design. They have been granted up to five patents nationally and internationally. When serious adventurers are planning expeditions into unexplored areas of the world, when months-long medical expeditions trek into the deep jungles of Burma on missions of mercy, when adventure racers traverse mountains, rivers and jungles surrounded by all kinds of poisonous insects and reptiles, when families send a hammock to their soldier sons or daughters in areas of conflict, they all know that they are getting the hammock with a proven reputation for quality and comfort.
You can also tie your hammock into a makeshift backpack to carry any survival items you come across. Your tree straps are also useful to have. Use them to fasten branches together into an emergency raft. The large hammock can form a makeshift sail to increase how far your raft can take you. Get creative, there’s unlimited ways to put your hammock to use.
One of the misconceptions that has sprung from hammocks with structural ridge lines is to pitch the hammock taut between the anchor points since the hammock’s sag is unaffected. This has had catastrophic effect in some cases where ridge lines have snapped under the load. In the real world, it is nearly impossible to hang the hammock perfectly taut as all suspension line will have some stretch, especially when the line is under extreme tensile forces.
I think the bear issue is a big one for me. Ground tents are bigger and offer cover from the bear’s sight. The hammock tent is smaller and movement in them is constricted. I imagine waking up to a bear very close to my hammock tent and not being able to move much to appear threatening to the bear. Thus he gets closer and with a swipe I’m in trouble. This is a frightening scenario. Am I seeing this wrong?
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.

I have been hammock camping for several years and I am thoroughly enjoying it. However, after reading your book multiple times, spending time on this website, and practicing different techniques, I am still struggling with the perfect sag and the 30 degree angle. In particular I have recently been trying a 108 inch ridgeline on my hammock, but it has been causing me some confusion because it holds the hammock in a different position than it would if I removed the ridgeline. I use suspension straps with a cinch buckle, and I have a gathered end hammock. Any suggestions?


In fact, the only thing it didn't have that we wished it did was a set of trunk straps instead of harmful rope slings. But fear not, you can order your Bear Butt with trunk straps too! They do cost more though. While other inexpensive models like the Grand Trunk Ultralight Starter may leave you disappointed with their size or durability, the Bear Butt Double is an excellent all-around tree sling that won't empty your pocketbook.
Like any activity outdoors, be aware of your own safety when hammocking. Before you set up your hammock, check your gear. Make sure there are no defects or signs of significant wear on the hammock or the suspension. Examine your carabiners and make sure there hasn’t been any warping. When you choose a hammock spot, make sure you pick sturdy trees that can bear your weight. Avoid saplings as they will bend and stay away from dead trees because they can snap under the load. The ideal tree should be at least thick enough that you aren’t able to completely wrap your hands around the trunk.
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