So long as you can find two trees that are 12-15 feet apart, you can setup a hammock without regard to the surface below it, even on rocky tree root riddled ground. That means that with a hammock you often get the option of camping at prettier, more protected, or less buggy campsites. Furthermore, you can avoid the obvious flat campable areas that in many parks have developed into crowded, heavily impacted and not particularly attractive places to spend the night.
A little dirt don’t hurt...BUT...if you are skeptical about getting a your clothes dirty, spread your hammock out for a dry, dirt free space to sit or lie down! Sunbathing on the beach, picnicking in a dewy meadow, playing cards at your campsite, whatever the occasion may be, your hammock will be there for you! And don’t worry about getting it filthy--these guys are lightweight and quick drying, making them a breeze to shake off and dry out! So you can forget about packing along that extra blanket, as long as you have your hammock, you’re set!
Hammocks are great but have a little bit of a learning curve. Everyone’s different so it’s a matter of finding what works and is comfortable for you. For anyone thinking about switching from ground dwelling to hanging should check out: https://hammockforums.net/forum/content.php Awesome resource for everything hammocks. Learn as much as you can before you buy, or even better, try to find someone with the gear you are thinking of purchasing and try theirs first. Hammock length, width, fabric material, etc all make a difference in how you lay and feel while resting. For me, I sleep better in my hammock than at home.
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.
First of all, a properly hung hammock will allow you to sleep on your side or back without a curve. Most hammocks I have tried (except for the Clark) allow you to sleep at an angle to centerline. Sleeping about 10-20 degrees off the center allows you to lay flat. This is the technique used by the south and central Americans who invented the hammock. The Clark uses more of e pea pod style hammock to keep you in the bottom and flat. But the main point is you can sleep on your side.
Hammocks are all the rage these days, and people love them from backyard hangouts to backcountry living. But you always want to consider your wallet. The systems we tested range in price from as little as $30 to as much as $250 — that's a big difference! A high price tag doesn't guarantee a better experience either — some of our favorites were among the least expensive models and systems we tried! For example, the Grand Trunk Skeeter Beeter Pro won our highest accolade - the Editor's Choice award, yet retails for only $90. If that's still too much for your budget, the Best Buy Bear Butt Double goes for only $35.
My other favorite is an old army surplus extreme cold weather sleeping bag. I was introduced to this bag by a friend. It weighs in around 10 lbs but that doesn't bother me. The bag is so effective, that I've found I don't need any other insulation below me to cut the wind or chill. I can just throw the darn thing inside my hammock, crawl in, and be really warm in a matter of seconds. Not sure what type of insulation is used inside the old surplus bag, but it is heavenly! It uses a zipper and snap system down the middle instead of down one side, like most bags. Makes crawling into the bag MUCH easier.Sleeping bags can also be used as top insulation to help cut the chill.
I spent two seasons hiking and backpacking in Glacier and was able to hammock in some sites. But there were other times when there just were not suitable trees at the sites, even if there were some in the area. it’s not like in dispersed camping where you can just keep hiking or set up anywhere you want. Many other sites (especially subalpine) in Glacier are very exposed. Wind and sideblown rain are a hammock’s #1 enemy. If you can’t choose your site, then you can’t find a sheltered spot. Unfortunately, these designated sites are made with tents in mind. I know some people don’t want to follow the rules, but for special places like Glacier, there are good reasons for them.
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.
Are you one of those backpackers or thru-hikers that weighs every item that goes in your pack? Are you traveling for an extended period and space in your bag is highly limited? If you answered yes to any of that, then the Sea to Summit Ultralight might be your golden ticket. This impressively tiny option weighs a mere 5.8 ounces, including its integrated compression stuff sack and a shocking 4.8 ounces without it. Even better? It packs down to about the size of a can of pop. It doesn't include suspension, but Sea to Summit offers an ultralight option for that too, weighing less than 3 ounces and small enough to also fit into the stuff sack.
Now, sleeping in a hammock is completely different from sleeping on a surface and takes some getting used to. There’s no one way to get comfy, and just like in the yard, it’s going to take some time to find the best fit. So, try out a few different ways to see what feels comfortable. Shift your bag up or down, and change the tension on the straps—do what feels good, and don’t be afraid to adjust! Hopefully, by the time you’ve tucked yourself in, you’ve also gotten your miles in and crushed a couple of mountains. If you’ve done it well, they’ve crushed you back, and you’re just about ready to sleep the sleep of the dead, anyway.
I’ve been camping on North Manitou Island every fall for years. Starting in about 2010, even with a preemptive dose of aspirin or vitamin I, I would wake up after about three hours with my hips, my shoulder or both aching, and awake every hour after that to roll over. I received a Hennessy Hammock Explorer zip for Christmas 2014. I’ve since used my hammock two trips for a week each trip, and I have to say, I’ve never had 14 better night’s of sleep while camping, than those two weeks. This includes any camping as a teenager as well. The only times I woke up was for nature calls, and the one night the first trip when we had thunderstorms and high winds and my cheap aluminum l stakes refused to hold, repeatedly. I have since corrected that problem with slightly heavier but much more reliable triangular stakes.
Hammock camping is a booming trend for adventure lovers and serial relaxers alike. The comfort, ease of use and portability makes a hammock superior to a traditional ground shelters in many situations. If you’re new to the world of hammock camping, here are a few hammock camping essentials to get you started. Even if you’re a hammock aficionado, these hammock camping tips will teach you something new.
On the downside, the suspension system is sold separately, upping the price point overall. It's also on the heavy side, making it a tough option to pick for backcountry adventures. It's also disconcertingly easy to tip over. This tipsiness makes for excellent physical comedy but cuts down on the relaxation factor. If you've been dying to try suspended camping, but can't get comfortable sleeping on your back, give the Ridgerunner a try!
That’s not to say that all spreader bars are bad. Some companies have designed camping hammocks with well positioned spreader bars. They’re known as bridge hammocks. They differ from the rope hammocks in a few important details. Your typical backyard hammock spreads the entire hammock fabric. While bridge hammocks only spread a part of the material open. The picture on the left shows a Warbonnet Ridgerunner hammock with spreader bars. Notice how it keeps a natural sag (we’ll get deeper into this later). This reduces the awkward center of gravity from a backyard spreader bar hammocks.