Alan, the only thing I think is missing here is a short nod to taking a hammock to the ground. Those that dismiss hammocks because of lack of anchor points (e.g., “above the treeline”) may benefit from knowing that a hammock kit can be pitched on the ground similar to any tarp set-up. A lot of UL hikers use minimal tarp systems like the Gossamer Gear Twinn, using trekking poles or sticks to erect their shelter. A hammock with an integrated bug net easily doubles as a ground bivvy in such cases.
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!
John Lepak is an art director, graphic designer, and weekend mountaineer. He hasn’t met a rock scramble he didn’t like, and spends his free time either in the mountains or obsessively cooking Mexican food. When John isn’t pushing pixels, crushing miles, or making the best carnitas caseras you’ve ever tasted, you can find him living the dream in the Connecticut woods with his wife Kat and a muscly little pitbull named Fiona.
Hi Derek – I really appreciate you putting out all this info about camping hammocks. I have not camped much before for all the reasons you point out about the problems of sleeping on the ground. I just this Spring learned that camping hammocks exist. I am already a hammocks enthusiast since I make them for a living where I live at Twin Oaks Community (though they are back yard hamx, not good for camping), and so I am enthused to buy a camping hammock and bug net and tarp and try it. I bought your Ultimate Hang book and read it, and have thought about what you wrote about deciding about what I need and want. That gave me some qualifications, but I am still bewildered at all the variety of options and quality available. So I seek more specific advise based on my needs/wants and budget. If you are willing to offer that, would I ask that here on line, or to you directly off line? (Also, I do not know what I should put for the website line below since I do not have a personal website, so I left it blank)
Some hammocks come with pockets and often this is a clever design that enables the carry bag itself to hang off the side for easy storage of small items. However, you can also buy separate pockets as individual hammock accessories and use these to store all manner of things like torches or even snacks! Remember to keep sweet smelling foods covered up though (check our guide to camping safety tips for more).
While a hammock puts your closer to nature, it also leaves you more exposed to the elements. Unless you’re 100 percent certain that there will be no precipitation in the forecast, you should think about buying a rain fly. Usually made of nylon or polyester that’s coated with polyurethane, the fly will shield you from rain and snow, and also block chilly winds and trap heat. On the market you’ll find a wide variety of rainfly options, from streamlined models that weigh around eight ounces, to larger ones that weigh 25 ounces and almost cover you like a tent. While some are rectangular, others have a diamond shape, which allows you to secure the fly closer to the ground for more coverage.

Andrew, I’m a huge fan of your book which got me into the modern way of thinking about camping and hiking. (Being a bit of an old timer) – thanks. One comment which you make in the book and in the blog which I think is a huge insight is that you have to ‘learn’ how to use the new techology like hammocks. Tents are pretty straight forward, with hammocks, it takes a fair bit of time to ‘shake down’ the techniques and be comfortable. I have been doing simple one nighters with a friend and our hammocks getting the ‘hang’ of it and have found that each time we go, we are getting better nights sleep. It does take time. Sufice it to say that I am ironing out the bugs before I introduce my wife to the experience. Have learnt over the years that the first night of camping will be a decider as to whether they will participate in future adventures.


If you get a hammock, it should only take one or two nights for you to get comfortable to sleeping in it. That first night however can be a little disconcerting and you might want to take a Benedryl to help you get drowsy and settle down. I made the mistake of sleeping in a hammock for the first time in very hot weather in Maine near the Kennebec River. However, with a little practice and experience, you will learn how to orient your hammock to take advantage of cooling breezes and avoid being hot at night.
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.
Sleeping is also very comfortable, but in a fairly narrow temperature range between 50 and 75 degrees. Below that you need to bring along more under-insulation like a Jacks R Better down under-quilt or foam padding. Extending the use of your hammock in colder temperatures takes a lot of practice and experimentation, so be prepared for a few cold nights if you try to push the envelope.
Weight always plays a role, but if I can get a full nights sleep and wake up TOTALLY refreshed, pain free and ready to hit the trail, I would gladly carry more weight. Luckily, I don’t have to! As SGT Rock said, sub one pound is as easy as watching his video! I love the hammock system and, if all else fails, the components can still be used to…gasp…go to ground if needed! The hammock system can cover it all. Great article!
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).
The humble hammock has been around for thousands of years, and it is still used today in parts of the world as a primary sleeping accommodation. Yet many people I speak with think hammocks are “uncomfortable,” or it will hurt their back,” or  “they’re great for summer lounging only,” or “it’s too easy to fall out.” A lot of these misconceptions come from the modern rope hammocks with their spreader bars and large woven nets. These hammocks are notoriously tippy, due to their high center of gravity and tight pitch. Unfortunately, they’ve given authentic hammocks a bad wrap.
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
Most hammock campers will need to have effective insulation underneath their hammock, in addition to the conventional topside insulation (i.e. sleeping bag). This can be a properly installed sleeping pad, but this ground-inspired product does not translate well to hammocks, and under-quilts are widely preferred. In extreme cold temperatures, a full-sided tarp to block the wind is also very helpful.
Seek natural shelter As you set up your hammock, a main goal is to deal with potential wind. Rather than setting up your hammock in exposed areas, move farther into the forest to enjoy the natural sheltering effect of the surrounding trees. Also, seek out natural wind breakers like rock formations, and think about hanging a tarp between two trees as an extra layer of protection.
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.
The Hennessy Hammock Expedition and Explorer hammocks offer a couple of options with the classic and zip models. You mention the velcro model which is the classic and gives the ability to enter through the bottom. They also have a zip type that can be entered through the side which gives another way to get in and out of the hammock. Good brand that makes a quality hammock. Nice article, good descriptions.
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

Kids love to camp and adventure too! It’s never too early to introduce children to nature--with adult supervision of course. Camping with kids is a great way to bond and educate them about the environment. But let’s be honest, sometimes you just need a handy toy or distraction. Enter, hammock. If you’re just a kid at heart, and need a little relaxation after a hard-day’s hike or outdoor excursion, let your hammock be the wind beneath your wings! A cold beverage in hand, and that soothing swinging motion = a superb way to end your day.
About going to ground when necessary … many hikers have spent nights with a tarp system on the ground already – going to ground with a hammock set up is very similar. Especially if you use a non-integrated bugnet. I use the 9.5 oz bugnet from Wilderness Logics when hanging my simple/lightweight gathered end hammock. When I have to go to ground, this bugnet is my full enclosure with zipper, I don’t even use the hammock at all on the ground (no need to risk abrasions). Any hammock tarp should work fine tightly pitched closer to the ground than normal using 2 trekking poles or sticks instead of tree trunks. My 1.1 oz cryo ground sheet goes inside the bugnet with my cc pad under me and quilt(s) on top (you can use both top and under quilts for extra warmth in this setup if necessary). For a close comparison, zpacks.com tarp tents actually use a mesh floor by default to save weight, and Joe recommends the ground sheet on top of the mesh to keep any running water under the groundsheet.
Andrew, I’m a huge fan of your book which got me into the modern way of thinking about camping and hiking. (Being a bit of an old timer) – thanks. One comment which you make in the book and in the blog which I think is a huge insight is that you have to ‘learn’ how to use the new techology like hammocks. Tents are pretty straight forward, with hammocks, it takes a fair bit of time to ‘shake down’ the techniques and be comfortable. I have been doing simple one nighters with a friend and our hammocks getting the ‘hang’ of it and have found that each time we go, we are getting better nights sleep. It does take time. Sufice it to say that I am ironing out the bugs before I introduce my wife to the experience. Have learnt over the years that the first night of camping will be a decider as to whether they will participate in future adventures.
There are a wide variety of hammock designs on the market, plus all sorts of accessories, such as straps to hang the hammock, rain flies, mosquito nets, and quilts for cold weather If you have a limited budget, and you are only going to camp in clear, warm weather, you can start simple and just buy a hammock and straps. But keep in mind that in the future you might need a fly, bug net, and cold-weather accessories. With most brands, you can buy the various items individually, or purchase kits that combine many of the pieces and can save you a bit of money in the long run.
When you sling your hammock, it’s important to use the wide straps that manufacturers produce, because they have minimal impact on trees and keep them healthy. If you rig up your hammock using rope, you could cut into the bark and do serious damage. Also, manufacturers’ straps usually include several loops, which allow you to adjust the length easily.
I love my camo Trek Light Double Hammock! It's been many places with me and is my go-to hammock on camping trips, hiking adventures, kayak explorations, and lazy afternoons in my backyard. The only problem I've discovered is that I can't lay in it with a good book very long before dozing off. It's just so darn relaxing! Hanging in a Trek Light hammock is an awesome way to let your cares and troubles fade away.
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One thing to keep in mind though is that sleep pads are vapor barriers. Vapor barriers can cause condensation on your hammock or sleeping bag throughout the night. Any moisture that passes through the sleeping bag will become trapped by the pad. The moisture condensates, reducing the loft and insulation of your sleeping bag by morning. This is why some people wake up feeling cold even though they felt toasty in the middle of the night.
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