Your sleeping bag must resist low temperatures and assure you protection from the cold at night. Also, it should be 100% waterproof, not only to avoid getting wet because of the rain (which should not be a problem if you have your hammock tarp), but also to protect you from the moisture in the air, which can be very high at night or in bad weather conditions.

For many, a swaying hammock is synonymous with relaxation. The word alone conjures memories of breezy summer afternoons: a cold beer sweating in the heat, dappled sunlight dancing through leaves, and gentle rocking that lulls you into a midday nap. It is the physical manifestation of the word “chill.” But, its portable, lightweight design is just as convenient for camping in the backcountry as it is for lounging in the yard, the park, or on the beach.
One of the benefits of hammock camping, however, can also be a significant drawback. A suspended hammock allows for a cooling air flow to surround the camper in hot weather but that also makes it harder to stay warm when temperatures plummet either during the evening or seasonally as a sleeping bag will be compressed under a camper's weight, reducing its ability to trap air and provide insulation. When deciding to commit to hammock camping most "hangers" ditch their sleeping bags for down filled or synthetic quilts. The quilts are divided into two different types, top quilts (TQ) and under quilts (UQ). The UQ is suspended underneath the hammock so the weight of the hanger doesn't compress the baffles thus providing the air pockets for your body to heat and keep you warm. Concurrently the TQ is just a down blanket with some having the option or ability to make a small box for your feet. Essentially, it is just the top half of a sleeping bag. Because a sleeping bags underside is compressed it loses its insulating properties. A TQ cuts the unnecessary material to save weight and fabric. The TQ/UQ sleep system is not only warm but each quilt packs into the size of a grapefruit or smaller depending on temperature rating. Some hammocks have been designed with an extra layer of fabric,[3][4] or a series of large pockets, on the bottom. Insulating material, such as foam, quilting, aluminum windscreen reflectors,[5] clothes, or even dead leaves and brush from the campsite is stuffed between the bottom layers or inside the bottom pockets to create an insulating buffer between the camper and the cold outside air. While the above solutions, except for the found materials, add weight and bulk to the hammock, some approaches use an ultralight open cell foam with a mylar space blanket to mitigate this increase in weight. Another drawback is that a camping hammock requires two trees close enough to hang it and strong enough to support the sleeper's weight. This can be a limitation depending on what environment a person is camping in and at higher elevations where trees are more sparse. In these situations hammock campers may bring along a light groundsheet and "go to ground" using their hammock as a ground tent.

Can you get a flat lay with an underquilt? It seems all the pictures of underquilts are bananas, and those of a angled lay are have either feet and/or heads off the hammock. Are these hammocks too small or do you generally lay with your feet out in a top quilt foot box? Should I be able to lay in my hammock (if correctly sized) with my head and feet still inside the hammock?
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.
In addition, I’ve listed key hammock manufactures and purchasing resources below. I own and like hammocks from all these companies. I know all their owners personally. They produce excellent hammocks that have widespread use and good reputations. Most also offer all the hammock accessories you might need, top quilts, under-quilts, tarps etc. Give them a call if you have questions on how to equip or comment below and I’ll try and answer.
https://i2.wp.com/www.adventurealan.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/tinman-JMT-DSCF0979-v04-1200-1.jpg?fit=1600%2C837 837 1600 Alan Dixon http://www.adventurealan.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/adventure-alan-lightweight-backpacking-hiking.png Alan Dixon2017-07-22 15:26:592017-07-24 02:09:567 Reasons Why Hammock Camping is Fantastic - How To Get Started
Sure is nice. The general design of folding all your gear together like that has been done before, but I like the external mesh pocket. I do wonder how the entire system scales to carry 5 days of food, water, and how it handles walking in the rain. But it is an awesome concept and his execution is very nice. I wonder what the BS 1 and 2 looked like. Do you know if he's selling this yet?
More comfort. Say goodbye to sleeping on rocks, roots, mud, bugs, and sloping, uneven ground. Hammock camping allows you to rise above it all. Learning to sleep comfortably in a hammock has a learning curve, but once folks get the, er, hang of it, they report getting the best night’s sleep in the outdoors they’ve ever experienced. Some even prefer their hammock to their bed at home. So if you want to hit the trails each morning well-refreshed, and return home feeling rejuvenated instead of exhausted, go with a hammock.

The next lightest model was the Sub7, weighing in at just 6.4 ounces. We tested this one as part of the ENO SubLink Shelter System and awarded the impressive package our Top Pick for Ultralight Versatility. Granted, the entire shelter system (a package upgrade that ENO offers for all of its slings) weighed in at the high end of the pack at 44.3 ounces. But the beauty of getting the Sub7 as part of the SubLink Shelter System is that you can take what you need and leave the rest. Going out in the middle of the summer for just one night? Grab the Sub7 and the 4.1-ounce Helios Suspension System that comes with the system, and you're good to go. Heading to a buggy area? Bring the 13 ounce Guardian SL Bug Net and ditch the tarp (the heaviest component, at 16 ounces). You get the idea. The light and customizable nature of the SubLink Shelter System with the Sub7 earned it our Top Pick for Ultralight Versatility.
Get your hammock set up with plenty of slack. It’s important to lie at an angle to get comfortable. All you are doing is shifting your body from the midline of the hammock 30 degrees so that you are lying at a diagonal. What you’ll notice is that the center of the hammock is the tightest, while the sides remain loose. By adjusting the angle of your body, you’ll be cutting across the curve of the hammock. The hammock will flatten out underneath you and give you a flat lay without pressure points. Your neck and feet will maintain a slight elevation and the hammock will conform to your back.
Accessories that may be essential for your setup are unique mattresses, which provide wings to keep your arms and shoulders warm, underquilts for even colder temperatures, top quilts for extra coziness, and different styles of bug nets and rain flies. Check out each review for more suggestions on accessories and alternate versions available from each manufacturer.
In 3-season conditions and in locations where trees are readily available — which includes nearly all of the eastern United States plus a fair portion of the Mountain West — I have concluded that a hammock is the best overall sleep system. This is especially true for mileage-driven backpackers because they need not make two critical sacrifices often demanded by ground systems:
The reasons to hammock are not always clear to people that have never tried one. Often I get comments about how a person hates sleeping on their back or can only sleep on their side, or how sleeping with that curve will wreck their back, or even how they don't want to damage trees with the cords. All these are valid concerns, yet each are simply the worries of the uninformed, similar to family fears we hikers are all in danger of getting eaten by bears daily.
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.
When you have a hammock, your campsites are limited by imagination. All you need is a couple of trees the right distance apart. What is under you may not matter at all. I have personally slept on the side of a mountain, and on the Hennessy web site, there is even a photo of a guy sleeping over his boat in a swamp. There are things that make better camps than others, and some safety things to consider, but unless you are camping where there are no trees, then the hammock will increase your camp sites.
From the moment you step past the threshold, you are done for. Perfectly framed photography of incredible places and seemingly superhuman people dot the brick walls. The music, the gear, the decorations, and the store design create a hypnotizing ambiance. It's like you just wandered into your own area’s version of Everest Base Camp, plus a rock wall and coffee shop. People are talking about the thru-hikes they are planning, some guy is debating over which item to take ice climbing, a group is headed to an avalanche safety course, and then some perfectly rugged sales associate approaches to say, “Can I help you find something?”
One of the benefits of hammock camping, however, can also be a significant drawback. A suspended hammock allows for a cooling air flow to surround the camper in hot weather but that also makes it harder to stay warm when temperatures plummet either during the evening or seasonally as a sleeping bag will be compressed under a camper's weight, reducing its ability to trap air and provide insulation. When deciding to commit to hammock camping most "hangers" ditch their sleeping bags for down filled or synthetic quilts. The quilts are divided into two different types, top quilts (TQ) and under quilts (UQ). The UQ is suspended underneath the hammock so the weight of the hanger doesn't compress the baffles thus providing the air pockets for your body to heat and keep you warm. Concurrently the TQ is just a down blanket with some having the option or ability to make a small box for your feet. Essentially, it is just the top half of a sleeping bag. Because a sleeping bags underside is compressed it loses its insulating properties. A TQ cuts the unnecessary material to save weight and fabric. The TQ/UQ sleep system is not only warm but each quilt packs into the size of a grapefruit or smaller depending on temperature rating. Some hammocks have been designed with an extra layer of fabric,[3][4] or a series of large pockets, on the bottom. Insulating material, such as foam, quilting, aluminum windscreen reflectors,[5] clothes, or even dead leaves and brush from the campsite is stuffed between the bottom layers or inside the bottom pockets to create an insulating buffer between the camper and the cold outside air. While the above solutions, except for the found materials, add weight and bulk to the hammock, some approaches use an ultralight open cell foam with a mylar space blanket to mitigate this increase in weight. Another drawback is that a camping hammock requires two trees close enough to hang it and strong enough to support the sleeper's weight. This can be a limitation depending on what environment a person is camping in and at higher elevations where trees are more sparse. In these situations hammock campers may bring along a light groundsheet and "go to ground" using their hammock as a ground tent.
The reasons to hammock are not always clear to people that have never tried one. Often I get comments about how a person hates sleeping on their back or can only sleep on their side, or how sleeping with that curve will wreck their back, or even how they don't want to damage trees with the cords. All these are valid concerns, yet each are simply the worries of the uninformed, similar to family fears we hikers are all in danger of getting eaten by bears daily.
Many of the less-complicated models did not include suspension. While these models tended to be very easy to set up (merely clipping a carabiner or hooking an S hook onto your suspension system), their ease of setup depends on the suspension system you decide buy. The only exception to this was the Sea to Summit Ultralight which came with unique buckles that integrate perfectly with the manufacturers own system, but require more forethought if you're building your own or have suspension from another company. The buckles have a hole that is too narrow for a standard carabiner, so we had to get creative with climbing slings. In most cases, you can use any suspension system with any hammock without issue, but with Sea to Summit we recommend sticking to their compatible components for your whole setup.
While silnylon is superior, any kind of tarp will work to create an effective shelter from the rain. The plastic blue tarps can make a variety of effective shelters for your hammock. They are also durable and cost only a fraction of a silnylon fly. The downside of these tarps is the bulk and weight, making them less than ideal for ultralight packs.
Lightweight and space saving. Camping hammocks like the Hennessey include a rain fly and mosquito netting, and yet still weigh under 3 lbs. It’s so comfy you can forgo the pillow and sleeping pad you would have brought in order to sleep comfortably in your tent too. And the great thing about camping hammocks is that you can break them into individual components and only take the things you need. If you’re camping in a warm, bug-free area on a clear night, for example, all you’ll need to bring is something like the Grand Trunk Double Parachute, which weighs only 28 ounces, and packs down to the size of a softball.
Rainflys come in many different shapes and materials. Almost any kind of tarp can turn into a sturdy shelter to protect your hammock from the elements. But there are several rainflys out there that are specifically designed for hammocking. These have some hammock specific features to differentiate them from a standard ultralight tarp. These rainflys are made with silnylon, a strong waterproof material. Silnylon is much lighter than the standard blue plastic tarp but just as effective of a shelter.
Thanks for the post Andrew. I always use a hammock where I hike. Unfortunately poachers are an ever-present threat, even in the most remote parts of the country. The chance of having kit purloined is always a possibility. I usually pitch the tarp close to the ground to make some sort of enclosure under the hammock for kit, or alternatively buckle my pack tightly around one of the trees .
I’m really glad that this blog chose to present this series. Hammocks are strong in their own niche, but I think they’re summarily dismissed by the California-heavy population of ULers. To be fair, if you plan to spend much time above treeline, a hammock is a limitation. But having grown up in Appalachia, the advantages of a hammock were immediately apparent to me.
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.
Thanks for the post Andrew. I always use a hammock where I hike. Unfortunately poachers are an ever-present threat, even in the most remote parts of the country. The chance of having kit purloined is always a possibility. I usually pitch the tarp close to the ground to make some sort of enclosure under the hammock for kit, or alternatively buckle my pack tightly around one of the trees .
As to actual hammock size wider and or/longer is generally more comfortable. Most unfinished fabrics are limited to around 60″ wide which means that most hammocks are around 58″ wide when finished. This can be a bit short for some folks. That can be a bit narrow for some people in a 10′ length. As such, the trend these days is for an 11 foot hammock. This extra length gives you more room to lie diagonally, which keeps your body flatter which most people find more comfortable.
In locations with ample trees of sufficient strength, the primary advantage of hammock systems is the huge increase in suitable campsites. In Shenandoah National Park, for example, most of the terrain is rocky and steeply sloping; the number areas suitable for ground camping (i.e. flat; and free of rocks, roots, and vegetation) is very limited. Moreover, many of these areas have developed into crowded, heavily impacted campsites.
If you use a sleeping bag in your hammock to stay warm, your body will compress the insulation below you and reduce its ability to keep you warm. A better strategy is to use an underquilt, which you string up beneath your hammock. This creates a layer of air between the quilt and the hammock and traps heat to provide more insulation. You can pair this with a top quilt and use clothing layers to keep warm.

If you’ve gone camping before, you’ve probably spent some time in a tent. While tents are great, they do have a few drawbacks. Some people find it uncomfortable to sleep on the ground without a large inflatable mattress which isn’t very practical to bring if you are camping as you hike. Other people don’t like looking for the perfect campsite that has a flat area for the tent while also being away from potential rain runoff. Modern tents are very intuitive to set up, but many people still don’t enjoy fumbling with poles and keeping track of where to stake the tent down. Tents are also a bit heavy and bulky, unless you are willing to spend a lot of money on a premium backpacking version. Additionally, while tents provide great protection from the elements, they also confine you within its walls instead of letting you experience the full majesty of the outdoors.
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