Like others have mentioned, hammocks are at no greater risk of predator attacks than tents. The main thing that attracts animals like bears is smell. Be sure not to bring food into your shelter at night, keep clean, and set your camp 200 ft away from your kitchen area. These are some of the main ways to stay safe in bear country. Most of the time, the only kind of critter you’ll encounter are what I call “small bears”: squirrels, rodents, raccoons, etc. They are attracted to the same thing as bears, but most people don’t pay them enough attention when not in bear country and they find their bags chewed through.
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.
I think your fear is unfounded. Bears will smell you, regardless of whether you are in a tent or a hammock. If you smell like food AND if it’s an aggressive bear, I think they’ll do what they want with you. Because aggressive bears tend to hang out in high-use backcountry (and frontcountry) areas, this makes a strong argument for smart campsite selection no matter what you use.
Comparing the weight of a hammock system against a ground system is difficult and complex. Both systems have several popular designs and configurations — Which systems should be compared? And how could we ensure that the systems being compared offer a comparable user experience, in terms of camp comfort, sleep quality, and environmental protections?
Instead of pitching a square or rectangular tarp from the corners, you can always pitch it as a square A-frame on the 10 ft (3 m) side. You’ll have less end-to-end coverage depending on the size of the tarp. Each person will have their preference, but anywhere from 6 in (15 cm) to 1 ft (30 cm) over each end of the hammock will provide enough coverage.
With a hammock, you can get around this in one of two ways. Insulate the bottom with an under-quilt, which hangs under the hammock itself. Or, place a sleeping pad inside the hammock. Personally, I prefer the latter, and run with a Big Agnes Deer Park 30 Sleeping Bag, a Big Agnes Gunn Creek 30º Sleeping Bag, and a Big Agnes Air Core Ultra Sleeping Pad.
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!
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.
Everyone has their reasons for purchasing and owning a hammock, and we don't pretend to know yours! However, during our testing, we found those that are better suited to specific situations as well as those that are very versatile. Many of these uses we have already discussed, such as lightweight models for folks eager to cut down on pack weight, like the Sea to Summit Ultralight, Grand Trunk Nano 7 and Grand Trunk Ultralight Starter. We found models with integrated bug nets to be less versatile than those without, as many bug nets don't come completely off, or restrict usage for anything other than laying down.
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!
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.
Chasing a whipping tarp corner in the middle of the night in the wind, with rain pelting your face is an experience to avoid. Some suggest using sticks or rocks and don’t carry stakes at all, but hunting items in the dark after a fall day of hiking is not easy. For aggressive wind, put stakes all the way into the ground and place rocks on top. Even 5.5lb-base-weight-hiker Lint carries stakes (4:20).
Looking to add a little fun, functionality to your living room? Your hammock can double as an extra lounge chair--minus the chair. Especially for those of you who reside in compact living spaces, your hammock could be the perfect space-saving addition to a small living room or studio apartment. Plus, you’ll be the cool friend who thought of hanging a hammock in your living room. You’re welcome.
From Complete Hammock Kits to ala-cart gear Arrowhead Equipment is here to help with all of the best gear for hammock camping and backpacking. No matter if you are a beginner just looking to try hammock camping for the first time or a seasoned pro we build and stock the widest range of hammock camping gear and accessories in the industry, all of it built right here in the USA. From Tarps to Hammocks to Top Quilts and UnderQuilts for every hammock to Hammock Suspension and accessories.
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.
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.
I love my current hammock (Warbonnet) so much I am sleeping in it at home most nights. I tried to use my hammock in the So. Cal portions of the PCT last spring and found myself on the ground most nights so I sent it home till I could find a good part of the trail for hanging. I was sorry to see it go! Looking forward to reading the next installment.
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!
I use the “cowboy finger gun technique” the index finger is the barrel, the thumb stuck up in the air is the hammer…… when the barrel is held level, the angle from the end of the barrel (finger) to the tip of the raised hammer (thumb) will be very close to 30 degrees…. simply look at your finger gun in relation to your hanging hammock to see if your suspension is close.
Experience a level of comfort on the trail almost as good as your bed at home and maybe even better. The patented asymmetrically shaped hammock supports your back like a quality mattress off the ground. Tall or large campers and campers with injuries, arthritis, bone spurs or back pain tell us about finding their first night of comfortable camping in many years with the larger Explorer Deluxe or Safari Deluxe models. You will wake up in the morning feeling great. Some owners of Hennessy Hammocks claim that they come home from their adventure feeling better than when they left. Some hikers have tossed out their beds when they got home from a hike and set up their hammock in the house.
Serac hammocks come with the attached stuff sack. A great bonus for storing your camping hammock and compacting it down. It keeps the hammock small and the drawstring even allows you to clip it onto your backpack. But aside from the obvious, the attached stuff sack makes a great easy access pocket for when you’re lounging around on your hammock. I always love to empty my pocket of my keys or phone when I lay down. It’s much more comfortable, and I can make sure I have nothing sharp that might rip my hammock. The stuff sack is perfectly situated for you to store your belongings while you relax. You can even keep a cold beer in there. Don’t swing too wildly though or you’ll risk spilling your beer 😉
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.
Your answer has lead to some confusion. The hammock itself will sag as weight is added to the hammock but typically the suspension lines, even with a structural ridgeline, will also drop down below the original 30 degrees from horizontal after weight is added to the hammock (person enters the hammock). So is 30 degrees the best angle “before” entering hammock even if the suspension lines drop to as much as 45 degrees after? Some people weigh a lot especially if two hammocks are side by side using Dutch’s double whoopie hooks, could be over 500 lbs of tension on the webbing straps coming from the trees.
Hammock camping in the winter can be exhilarating and unique. Imagine a white snow-covered mountain, a red burning campfire, and a warm cup of coffee. That being said, there are special preparations that need to be made to have a positive experience while winter camping. One of those preparations that we encourage here at Khione Outdoor Gear is the SHEL hammock tent. Hammocking is the simplest way to camp, and should be able to happen year round. Normal hammock covers or hammock tarps won’t be much protection from the cold, but a SHEL hammock tent is able to provide a waterproof barrier from the snow as well as an insulated shelter from the cold.
In the Desert Southwest, where trees only grow at the highest elevations and along perennial water sources, hammocks would be most challenged. Some hammocks have been designed to be pitched on the ground, and I have seen some creative rigging systems, but these approaches have significant trade-offs and seem forced. I’ll just bring my modular tent or tarp & bivy, thanks.
Disclaimer: Posts on this site contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on these links, a portion of the sale helps support this site at no additional cost to you. I do not receive compensation from the companies whose products I review. Unless otherwise noted, products are purchased with my own funds. I am never under an obligation to write a review about any product. Finally, reviews express my own independent opinion.
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.
But my favorite option is hammock underquilt – especially from the guys at Hammock Gear. From a weight to warmth ratio perspective, there’s no beating a down underquilt. I find that the incubator 20 isn’t too warm for autumn nights and is actually rated conservatively. I’ve taken it down into the teens before. But that will also depend from person to person. The one downside to an underquilt is if you get stuck without trees, you can’t use it for bottom insulation. By laying directly on the underquilt on the ground, you compress the down and that takes away any insulation.
Fair weather hammock campers usually opt for the tent at about 32 degrees. If you’re interested in hammock camping when it’s below freezing (some have braved -40 degrees… not recommended), ease into it, do your research, and be prepared with all the right gear. And be ready to turn back if conditions get too downright frigid — it’s not worth a case of hypothermia or worse.
I also say weight because I select hammocks that are low on weight. Even the biggest hammock I have tested (the Hennessy Explorer A-Sym) weighs less than the standard solo tents. There are some hammock models out there that weight a lot more, but that is your choice as what to carry. But the absolute lightest camping hammock with bug protection and rain fly is less than a pound, the absolute lightest tent that gives bug protection weighs twice that.
I own a BIAS Weight Weenie Micro, and it’s not fair to lump it with a GT Nano-7. BIAS believes that a comfortable lay comes from the length of the hammock, not the width, which is why they sell a 52-inch wide model, believing that the 11 ft. length of the BIAS hammocks more than compensates for a reduced width. I happen to agree with them, that 10-11 ft. hammocks provide a much better lay, which is why I bought a Weight Weenie Micro (albeit a 60-inch).
While comfort is personal, extra space and features that lend themselves to being able to get cozy are rarely ever a bad thing. Ultralight models, like our Top Pick the ENO Sub7 and the featherweight Sea to Summit Ultralight sacrifice extra space for lighter weight and smaller packed size, which is why these models didn't score as high in this metric. At the end of a long day, a tired summer camper or thru-hiker can nap reasonably well in even the most minimalist design. However, if weight is less of an issue for you, the added comfort of some of the larger models may be worth it. From a simple design like our Editor's Choice Grand Trunk Skeeter Beeter to a more intricate system like the REI Co-op Flash Air, adding a little weight can add a lot of comfort.
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?
But why are spreader bars bad? It might seems like a good idea to spread open the hammock and create a flatter appearance. By spreading open the hammock, it appears to be a more inviting surface. But these spreaders created many unnecessary problems. For one, the spreader bars disrupt the natural center of gravity on the hammock. Spreaders cause the weight to distribute unevenly. You may have experienced the unbalanced shaking while getting into these hammocks. Or have even been a victim to sudden flips when you make the wrong move. Many people new to hammock camping recall experiences with these poorly designed hammocks. They end up associating all the negative experiences of rope hammocks with all hammocks.