Hammocks are not for everyone, but they can provide the ultimate sleep and relaxation experience for many outdoor enthusiasts. In addition to the novelty of floating above the ground and not having to find a flat spot as you do with a tent, they are often the most compact and lightweight sleeping option and can negate the need for an expensive sleeping pad. We hope this review helped you narrow down the options and get closer to your perfect choice. For more information on making the right purchase, check out our Buying Advice article.
Alex, I highly recommend using an underquilt. It is warmer* and more comfortable. I am a side-sleeper and am just fine in a normal width 10.5 to 11′ hammock with no tricks or special modifications. If $ is an issue, I would suggest one of the lower cost underquilts like the The $99 Hammock Gear Econ. * On the east coast in the summer when the nighttime temps don’t drop below 70 F you can skip the UQ or pad as you won’t need the insulation under you.
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?
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.

Recreational hammocks are fast becoming “must-haves” for Scouting campouts, and many are small and light enough that folks bring them on day hikes, as well. Some of the primary reasons people like hammocks are because they are fun, comfortable to lounge in and pretty quick to set up. Whether you’re a veteran “hanger” or just starting out, here are eight tips to make the most of your hammock.
Most people (with a properly setup, true backpacking hammock) find it far more comfortable than sleeping on the ground. As such, they get a better night’s sleep, every night. In contrast, ground sleeping changes (many times for the worst) nearly every night due to sloping ground, bumps, depressions, wet areas, rocks & tree roots. It can be near impossible to find a good area large enough for a tent.
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.

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.
A problem that may arise from using a sleeping pad in a hammock is that the pad may be too narrow for your shoulders. Depending on the slack of your setup, the sides of the hammock may give your shoulders a slight squeeze. Even if it’s slight, it can compress your sleeping bag in that area. This will reduce the amount of insulation around your shoulders. Luckily there are a couple easy solutions for this. You can stuff your extra clothes along your sides to give you some extra protection. You can also buy specially designed sleeping pads for hammocks that feature “wings” on both sides. The “wings’ add insulation for your shoulders and arms when in a hammock. You can also modify your foam pad to make your own “wings”. Just cut two pieces off a cheap foam pad and attach it to your main pad with some duct tape.
Hammocking isn’t for everyone, but it’s worth a try. It’s a genius solution to bad ground conditions, but you may find – in gathered-end hammocks at least – a lack of comfort at each end (lateral squeeze of shoulders/feet), as well as lower back discomfort. One need not be a back sleeper to enjoy a hammock, but it helps a great deal. Side sleeping is possible but awkward. Many are not used to having their feet elevated relative to their rear end.
Hammocking isn’t for everyone, but it’s worth a try. It’s a genius solution to bad ground conditions, but you may find – in gathered-end hammocks at least – a lack of comfort at each end (lateral squeeze of shoulders/feet), as well as lower back discomfort. One need not be a back sleeper to enjoy a hammock, but it helps a great deal. Side sleeping is possible but awkward. Many are not used to having their feet elevated relative to their rear end.

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).
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.

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
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?

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.
Not only do spreader bars cause hammocks to flip over, the poor implementation of them makes them uncomfortable. The wooden bars at both ends prevents your weight from collecting at a lowest point. Pressure points develop from the unnatural weight distribution. The uneven tension on the ropes can also make your back sag in strange ways, leading to back pain.
×