Hammock camping is a form of camping in which a camper sleeps in a suspended hammock rather than a conventional tent on the ground. Due to the absence of poles and the reduced amount of material used, they tend to be significantly lighter than a tent. Their reduced weight often results in less space inside than a similar occupancy tent. In foul weather, a tarp is suspended above the hammock to keep the rain off of the camper. Mosquito netting, sometimes integrated into the camping hammock itself, is also used as climatic conditions warrant. Camping hammocks are used by campers who are looking for lighter weight, protection from ground-dwelling insects, or other ground complications such as sloped ground, rocky terrain and flooded terrain.[1]
I am a mid-50’s guy with hip and back issues. I swtched to a hammock system in 2011. I find that my back and hip have little to no pain each morning when I wake. This is in marked contrast to the hip pointer and back ache I used to get when tent camping. I know my experience is not shared by everyone, but many older guys like me have made similar reports. I agree that a hammock system is not necessarily lighter than a ground set up, but on average I think a hammock system is about the same weight as a tent system. If you use just a tarp, bag, and pad then you probably have a lighter system. My Warbonnet Blackbird, 40* UQ, 40* TQ and cuben tarp weigh just around 3.5 lbs. Not that bad considering the comfort I get from this set up.
As you can probably guess, the ultralight models offered the least protection and durability. While hanging in the Grand Trunk Nano 7 and the Sea to Summit Ultralight we could feel even the slightest breeze moving underneath us, hence the low ratings. The Grand Trunk Ultralight Starter was marginally better, but not by much. The Sub7 fits into this group as well, but we tested it as part of the SubLink Shelter System, which provided us with a tarp and bug net, so we scored it a bit higher. You would still need a sleeping pad or underquilt for cold nights, but at least we were protected from the day-to-day elements.
For the tips of the poles, be careful if you have flexible plastic tips, which is typical. If you don’t do the below, the tip can bend, the spreader bar will pop out, and you will plummet. (Me, into the everglades, where a gator must have heard me splash… its only funny now!) To keep the tip stiff, I sawed two sections of the aluminum foot-end spreader pole that came with the WBRR. It fits just right over my Leki and Komperdell tips. You can just use the end pieces, so that the male insert from the spreader bar pole is in tact, but this is not necessary. Since it is a tiny bit lighter, I use a section that is open on both ends, sized to just barely allow the carbide tip of the pole to mate into the hammock hardware, while still grabbing the trekking pole over the portion where the plastic tip and the aluminum shaft overlap. Maybe 1.5 inches overlap. You may have to push it past the threads for the snowbasket. Mine are worn down, but you can also “screw” it on.
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.
For the seasoned hammock camper, the ultimate form of insulation comes from an under quilt-top quilt combo. Under quilts provide an insulating layer beneath your hammock that you hang on the outer layer. Since the under quilt is on the outside, it can expand and provide a ton of insulating surface area. And it won’t compress when you lay in your hammock. The camper then uses the top quilt as a blanket while the under quilt keeps his bottom warm. When used together, a top quilt and under quilt function like a sleeping bag around the whole hammock. The only downside is the high price tag attached to purchasing a top quilt and an under quilt.
I switched to a hammock a couple years back and got a Hennessy Jungle hammock. *Very* comfortable, dual layer, came with a hex tarp but def. not light. The hammock is built to be pretty tough. The dual layers are nice in that it’s a little warmer in colder weather and bugs can’t bite through during the summer (sometimes an issue with single layer hammocks).
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An additional component of comfort that is often overlooked or difficult to decide on when internet shopping is fabric type. The models with the softest, most supple fabric were the Bear Butt Double, and the Grand Trunk Skeeter Beeter. The Trek Light Single and Sea to Summit Ultralight lost some love here due to the slight scratchiness of the thin nylon. If you plan to be wrapped up in a sleeping bag, this isn't a big deal, but it's something to keep in mind if you will be napping in your short shorts.

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)


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.
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.

Though it isn't the lightest option we reviewed, we feel that the added width (and the comfort and ease it provides) along with the integrated bug net make its weight more than reasonable. As much as we appreciated the bug net to keep those mosquitos at bay, it isn't able to come off or even fold back completely out of the way, so it's always there. We also weren't stoked on Grand Trunk's heavy carabiners and damaging rope suspension system and would upgrade to lighter carabiners and trunk straps before taking this on a backpacking trip. If you're looking to tree camp without sacrificing comfort, we strongly recommend the Grand Trunk Skeeter Beeter Pro.
Hammock camping is a form of camping in which a camper sleeps in a suspended hammock rather than a conventional tent on the ground. Due to the absence of poles and the reduced amount of material used, they tend to be significantly lighter than a tent. Their reduced weight often results in less space inside than a similar occupancy tent. In foul weather, a tarp is suspended above the hammock to keep the rain off of the camper. Mosquito netting, sometimes integrated into the camping hammock itself, is also used as climatic conditions warrant. Camping hammocks are used by campers who are looking for lighter weight, protection from ground-dwelling insects, or other ground complications such as sloped ground, rocky terrain and flooded terrain.[1]
As more and more options make it to the market, it's easier to find affordable versions. But how do you find an affordable option that doesn't sacrifice comfort, versatility, and longevity? Enter the Bear Butt Double! This straightforward parachute version is made of some of the thickest nylon of all the models we tested, has triple stitched seams, and boasts one of the highest weight capacities available. It's also among the largest in overall size, meaning finding comfort is a cinch no matter if you're 4'2" and reading a book or 6'5" and snoozing in a sleeping bag. It comes with lightweight carabiners and a quippy sticker.

The Warbonnet Blackbird is one of the most comfortable camping hammocks on the market. It has an asymmetrical design for flat sleeping and a convenient shelf panel for gear storage. It comes in a single-layer or double-layer design and two different fabric thicknesses. The double-layer design increases the max weight rating and provides a compartment to hold a sleeping pad in place. Choosing the thicker fabric will increase durability and max weight rating as well. Both of those options will add weight to the hammock, but it’s a light design any way you slice it. The Blackbird doesn’t come with a tarp, so you’ll want to add one of Warbonnet’s tarps or buy an aftermarket tarp. It also doesn’t come with carabiners, which need to be purchased separately.

2. Keeping it simple. Especially on HF there seems a atmosphere of tinkering and complicating the set up of a hammock. Like buying a Harley and then tricking it out. A lot of what people do over there is the flavor of the month with continuous ridge-lines, Sling-shot tie outs, multi-pocket gear organizers, pad extenders, etc. If you want to keep it light and make it work if you have to go to ground or get to stay in the trees, simple is better. And simple can be lighter too. You don’t have to have all the bells and whistles to have a great hammock.
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?
Even if I were counting grams, I would err on the side of a larger tarp. It will offer greater protection from wind and driving rain, and one or both sides can be “porched” for additional living space and ventilation without a critical sacrifice to storm-resistance. Finally, the weight penalty is miniscule — an extra three square yards of ultralight tarp fabric weigh as little as 1.5 ounces.
The primary appeal of hammock camping for most users is comfort and better sleep, as compared to sleeping on a pad on the ground. Hammock camping enthusiasts argue that hammocks don't harm the environment in the way that conventional tents do. Most hammocks attach to trees via removable webbing straps, or "tree-huggers," which don't damage the bark and leave little or no marks afterward. Whereas it's easy to see a frequently used campground because of the effect on the grass, scrub and topsoil, the presence of a hammock camping site is much harder to detect. This has found favour with hikers and campers who follow the principles of Leave No Trace camping. Hammock camping also opens up many more sites for campers - stony ground, slopes, and so on - as well as keeping them off the ground and away from small mammals, reptiles and insects. Sleeping off the ground also keeps the camper out of any rainwater runoff that might seep in under a tent during a downpour. Lastly, the relatively light weight of hammocks makes them ideal for reducing backpack weight, thereby making it a good option for ultralight backpacking enthusiasts.
Sleep diagonally. Most people think you sleep in a hammock with your head and feet parallel to its ends. But this gives you an enclosed, “banana” effect that feels a little claustrophobic and puts your body in an uncomfortable position for sleeping. Instead, you want to lie in the hammock at a slight angle , which will allow you to lay in a much flatter and more ergonomic position. Choosing a hammock like the Hennessey with a built-in asymmetrical design makes getting and staying in this diagonal position even easier and more comfy.
Alison hammock camping cold weather. And with a solid top cover hammock like this Dutchware Chameleon you can skip the weight and complexity of a tarp. I’ve comfortably slept down to around 10° F in a 3 lb (1.3 kg) hammock setup (hammock, top quilt, under quilt, tarp and suspension). That’s way lighter than most tent, sleeping bag, ground pad setups! [Note: a +20 under-quilt is not in the picture to better show the hammock body details.]

An often overlooked aspect of hanging a hammock is the angle of the hammock suspension to the ground. In the hammock community, the magic angle is 30 degrees. This may bring back geometry nightmares but Derek Hanson figured that this angle can be approximated with ones hand (mine was 28 degrees). Derek wrote one of the best hammock reference manuals on the market, The Ultimate Hang, which is the place to start with all hammock questions.
The best kind are styles that are designed to fit inside the sleeping bag such as the Kylmit Inertia X Frame. One of the biggest annoyances when trying to use a sleeping pad with a hammock is staying on top of the pad. It’s easy to shift your weight and move the sleeping pad from out underneath you. Some hammocks feature two layers to hold sleeping pads in place. Other hammockers like to stuff their pad inside their sleeping bag as long as it fits.
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