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?”
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.
The first thing I do when setting camp up is dig out my hammock. This is always followed by stares while everyone else is setting up their tents. Sleeping under the stars in a hammock might seem a little crazy for those used to sleeping in a tent. The confusion usually leads to questions. “What about the bears and bugs? Aren’t you going to be cold? Won’t that hurt your back?

Tom knew that the people of Central America sleep diagonally in their hammocks. So, with that knowledge, he changed the shape of his hammock into his patented asymmetrical design which lets you lie level on the diagonal with excellent support under your lower back and knees. The asymmetrical shape also provides more usable space inside the hammock for storage in a gear loft and accessory oversize storage pockets on the ridge line.


Now, sleeping in a hammock is completely different from sleeping on a surface and takes some getting used to. There’s no one way to get comfy, and just like in the yard, it’s going to take some time to find the best fit. So, try out a few different ways to see what feels comfortable. Shift your bag up or down, and change the tension on the straps—do what feels good, and don’t be afraid to adjust! Hopefully, by the time you’ve tucked yourself in, you’ve also gotten your miles in and crushed a couple of mountains. If you’ve done it well, they’ve crushed you back, and you’re just about ready to sleep the sleep of the dead, anyway.
With the huge increase in suitable campsites, a hammock system gives a hiking-inspired backpacker the option to hike dawn-to-dusk (or some variation thereof) without the risk of getting caught in a stretch of un-camp-able terrain. In turn, this flexibility equates to a great number of hike-able time, which ultimately equates to hiking longer distances. I believe this increase in hike-able time will typically outweigh the slight weight increase of a hammock system versus a ground system, if there even is one.
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.

More versatility. Hammocks offer more freedom of location when it comes to where you’ll lay your head at night: tie your hammock up between trees and rocks, beneath piers, over a stream, on a hill, next to a waterfall…you can even string it up between two car racks. Plus, a hammock does double duty on your trips — not only serving as a bed for sleeping, but as a chair and a lounger. Take a nap, read, and relax in your hammock during the day. And of course it can serve the same purpose when you get home; while a tent sits in your basement between trips, you can use your hammock all the time for relaxing in the backyard (or even inside).
Hammockers should keep in mind these principles so that the outdoors remain unspoiled for all. Having a hammock to camp in can reduce your ecological footprint. You won’t need to clear out space on the ground and disrupt undergrowth like you may have to with a tent. But you do need to be aware of the anchors you use so as to not cause unnecessary harm to the trees.
I have my share of sleeping bags stuffed into forgotten corners of my garage. When I first got into hammock hanging to see if it would be something I would enjoy, I used those forgotten sleeping bags as insulation. I used them as "underquilts" and have used them in the hammock itself. The problem is that typically bags are thrown into the hammock with the hanger climbing in at night. A wrestling match ensues and, as too often is the case, the hanger winds up with tense muscles and cramps from having to contort like a circus performer!
I think the bear issue is a big one for me. Ground tents are bigger and offer cover from the bear’s sight. The hammock tent is smaller and movement in them is constricted. I imagine waking up to a bear very close to my hammock tent and not being able to move much to appear threatening to the bear. Thus he gets closer and with a swipe I’m in trouble. This is a frightening scenario. Am I seeing this wrong?
When you are lying on your back in the hammock, there is mosquito netting above you and along the sides. Running lengthwise down the inside of the hammock is a cord called the ridgeline, which has a little pocket where you can store your glasses or an LED light for easy access during the night. All the rest of your gear is outside of the hammock. After hanging my bear bag, I usually hang my backpack on a nearby tree and cover it with my backpack cover in case it rains. If my boots are wet, I hang them from the ridgeline outside my hammock but still under the rain fly.

The first thing I do when setting camp up is dig out my hammock. This is always followed by stares while everyone else is setting up their tents. Sleeping under the stars in a hammock might seem a little crazy for those used to sleeping in a tent. The confusion usually leads to questions. “What about the bears and bugs? Aren’t you going to be cold? Won’t that hurt your back?
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