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!
Most companies offer several hammock sizes, including singles, doubles, and even extra-large models. In general, most hammocks measure between 9 and 11 feet long and can hold up to 300 or 400 pounds. According to many manufacturers, their best sellers are double hammocks. While pairs of people use them, individuals also like to sleep alone in a double and wrap the extra fabric around them for added warmth (even in warm months, you can get chilled in the early morning hours). As you choose between a single and double, keep in mind that two people will be pretty snug if they sleep together in a double. You have to *really *like your partner.
When laying in a sleeping bag in a hammock, the weight of your body compresses the insulation and minimizes its ability to keep your backside warm. An extra layer underneath you is critical. Enter your sleeping pad. Keep those buns warm by partially inflating your pad and lying on top of it inside your hammock. Don’t have a sleeping pad? Check out the next number.
REI has made hammock sleeping protected and straightforward with this complete set-up for an incredible price. It's hard to go wrong with the bug net, rain fly, suspension system, and stakes all included in one bag that only weighs 44.8 oz! We found this system simple to set up, following the instructions printed helpfully inside the bag, and easy to keep organized in its stuff sack. While many manufacturers like ENO, Hennessey and Grand Trunk offer systems and accessories you can piece together to make a complete system, this one from REI comes with everything you need all in one bag. No more reading through specs and opening your new package to find that carabiners, trunk straps, or stakes aren't included and will cost you extra.
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!
Manufacturers of underquilts usually provide some sort of compression sack, too. They compress into the sack a great deal when storage in a pack is at a premium. They are lightweight, easy to compress, easy to fluff, easy to hang, and provide excellent protection from cold and wind. I like underquilts because they allow me to enjoy the soft feel of the hammock fabric while still providing warmth beneath me. No pads to mess with, no fidgeting or adjusting at night, don't have to worry about compressing the material, etc.
Choose a great sleeper hammock. Eagle’s Nest Outfitters makes this so easy. Check out ENO’s selection of great OneLink sleep systems, which include single and double styles. Oh, and they all include a rain tarp, bug net, the choice between SlapStrapPRO or Atlas, carabiners and stakes. Rest assured, Mother Nature will not ruin your trip. Oh, and thanks to the way everything packs together, you won’t forget anything at home.
Underquilts are my favorite option. They are lightweight devices which provide insulation and serve as a wind barrier when hung beneath the hammock. There are a plethora of manufacturers of underquilts in all different shapes, sizes, colors, fabrics, temperature ranges, attachment methods, and insulation choices for any kind of hammock on the market today. The two most popular means of insulation are goose down and Climashield synthetic material. Each has its own unique set of pros and cons, but that's a topic of discussion for another day.
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.
A water break—or drip line—is a piece of line added to all lines running under the hammock tarp to provide a path for water to the ground. They are not included on some hammocks, and instructions lack detail on the need for them. Sometimes suspension hardware, like a Dutch Biner, provides some water break, but always add a drip line for the cheap insurance it provides. Videos that further investigate the how and why of drip lines are linked below. This <$1 item protects sleeping gear from getting wet. A cotton shoelace works great, but other options are below. I wrapped a small piece of line around the suspension line and tied a taut line hitch. This seemed to stay tight on the line better than other methods.
Hammock camping in cold weather can be warm and comfortable. But it requires a good under-quilt (usually down) that is well fitted (no gaps) to the hammock body. While not a difficult skill, beginner hammock campers should test out their winter system on low-risk, short-duration outings first in order to develop their skills and know-how. Note the full-length, under-quilt (green sleeping bag looking thing below the hammock). Photo by Jack Tier of Jacks ‘R’ Better.
Some models though, we felt were quite adaptable to everything from backyard hangs to multinight backpacking trips. Two contenders that stood out in this category were the ENO SubLink Shelter System and the Bear Butt Double, though for different reasons. The ENO SubLink has many pieces of a whole system that can be added and removed as you desire, based on the conditions you anticipate. Awesome! The Bear Butt Double was a much more straightforward model, that we felt was useful for many different activities and easy to add additional components in the future if we so desired.
But even if you can sleep on your side, after a while you may decide not to. After a few days on the trail in a hammock, that natural slight curve becomes your friend. The tired knotted back muscles relax extremely well sleeping in that curve, and after getting used to it, you will prefer it. Often I find he transition into the hammock after a long break from the field is fairly easy, but getting used to a flat bed after a few weeks in a hammock is actually harder. Another point about sleeping like this. When you can elevate your feet above your body, it helps to reduce the swelling that sometimes happens overnight after a good hard day of hiking.
If you’re the type that gets motion sickness, this may not be for you. You’re going to move around, be it from wind or your own tossing and turning. Over the period of a night’s sleep, this may lead to some problems. If you’re unsure, give it a go for an hour or two out in the yard on some sunny afternoon to see how it makes you feel. Laborious, I know, but sometimes, that’s just the way it goes.
I thought a reminder would help us stay focused. Applying the TOS to the holidays, it's ok to wish folks Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Solstice, Kwanzaa or whatever...but discussions about the religious aspects of the holidays will be removed. We're here to discuss hammocks, so if you have strong feelings about religion and the holidays, please find another forum to discuss them.
A hammock system can crossover and be a tarp/bivy system without much effort allowing an even wider geographic range of use. Most hammock tarp systems can go to ground pretty effectively (warbonnet superfly for 4 season) and the hammock (or bugnet portion of it) can be used on the ground as bug protection. Poncho for ground cloth or bring Polycryo. One of the main issues weight wise is that if you brought a dedicated hammock underquilt then you wouldn’t have a ground pad in a go-to-ground scenario. Putting your underquilt in your pack liner (maybe along with your reflectix sit pad) can create enough of an air/feather/material combination to serve as an effective ground pad. Some discussion here – https://www.hammockforums.net/forum/showthread.php/122939-Turning-an-Underquilt-into-a-Pad-(going-to-ground-ewww!) I have not seen in my experience that you can trap enough air to support your weight all night but I’m not convinced you need to since it is combined with other items. This liner ( http://www.zpacks.com/accessories/airplane_case.shtml ) works for me because of the pad size it creates. 20.5″ wide x 37.5″ tall. Stick the pack under your feet.
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.
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!
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.
I’m a special forces soldier in the Army and found hammock very useful in jungle environments (a necessity). The amount of bugs, snakes, spiders, chiggers, ticks, rodents, ants and other creepy crawlers that will give you a hard nights rest is limited if you are trying to save weight not taking a tent (the military patrols don’t take tents) but most importantly flash foods from heavy rains wont wash your gear away if you hang it from your hammock rope. I had some buddies in the Philippians that learned that hard lesson. If you don’t take a net, a ThermaCell is a must have.
Buy a tarp with adequate coverage. To sleep warm and dry in a hammock you need to keep wind and rain away from your hammock body. Smaller diamond or asymmetric tarps, e.g. the Hennessey Hyperlite Rainfly, affectionately known by some as a “napkin tarp,” may not provide adequate protection from blowing rain, or from the cooling effects of wind. While a few ounces heavier, a more pragmatic choice may be a larger hammock-specific “hex” tarp. A fairly standard hex size is a 10.5-foot ridgeline with an 8.5-foot width.
Setting up a Hennessy or taking it down can be very fast if you use Snakeskins. These are nylon tubes that you slide over your hammock when you pack it up. Rather than dismantling the rain fly and the hammock, you roll them together tightly while they are still hanging and slide the Snakeskins over them starting from each tree until they meet in the middle. This forms a long snakey nylon tube which I store in an external side pocket on my pack. When you go to set the hammock up again, all you need to do to tie it off on two trees and slide the snakeskins towards the trees, which wil unfurl the hammock and fly. All you have to do is to stake out the fly and your hammock is fully set up. Snakeskins greatly expedite setup and tear down, particularly in the rain, and can greatly help in keeping the rest of your gear dry.
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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.