Alan Berry is a former elementary school teacher who now works as a computer network specialist and police officer for his local school district in Texas. Most evenings he can be found hanging between two trees counting sheep in his Trek Light Double hammock. He also enjoys fishing, camping, kayaking, mountain biking, and spending time with his "hanging" friends at state parks.
And of course another important hammock accessory is your hammock stand. You can use a hammock stand to set up a permanent hammock in the garden or in a spare room, or you can use a portable hammock stand in order to fold it down and store easily when not in use. These can even be taken with you on a holiday or camping trip so that you don’t need to rely on having two nearby anchor points.
Recommended Hammock: We think Serac Hammocks makes a great ultra light hammock. The included tree straps and carabiners make setup a snap and it has held up to some serious abuse on our backpacking and hiking adventures. Best of all the price won't use your gear budget for the year like some hammocks of similar quality. Serac Hammocks can be found on Amazon!
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.
One day while surfing the internet I found a review on The Lightweight Backpacker for a Clark Jungle Hammock Ultralight and seriously considered getting one. I did some research and found the Hennessy Hammock and after some comparisons went with the Hennessy. Mainly because of price and weight. Since then I have acquired three Hennessy Hammocks and continue to test and try hammocks from any manufacturer I can get my hands on.
A hammock system can crossover and be a tarp/bivy system without much effort allowing an even wider geographic range of use. Most hammock tarp systems can go to ground pretty effectively (warbonnet superfly for 4 season) and the hammock (or bugnet portion of it) can be used on the ground as bug protection. Poncho for ground cloth or bring Polycryo. One of the main issues weight wise is that if you brought a dedicated hammock underquilt then you wouldn’t have a ground pad in a go-to-ground scenario. Putting your underquilt in your pack liner (maybe along with your reflectix sit pad) can create enough of an air/feather/material combination to serve as an effective ground pad. Some discussion here – https://www.hammockforums.net/forum/showthread.php/122939-Turning-an-Underquilt-into-a-Pad-(going-to-ground-ewww!) I have not seen in my experience that you can trap enough air to support your weight all night but I’m not convinced you need to since it is combined with other items. This liner ( http://www.zpacks.com/accessories/airplane_case.shtml ) works for me because of the pad size it creates. 20.5″ wide x 37.5″ tall. Stick the pack under your feet.
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.
I would start with an adjustable ridgeline and get it to the length when you lay in your hammock and you’re in your “sweet spot.” Also, please note that the 30° hang angle and 83% ridgeline length are just recommended starting points. In my new book, I have more detail about some advanced techniques that look at hammock size, hang angle, and lay angle, and how they are interconnected. Smaller hammocks, for example, work better with a shallower hang angle (15–20°) where larger hammocks can go up to 45° and allow for a perpendicular lay.
Absolutely! What you are probably seeing are promo shots that show an under quilt wrapped around a hammock with no one inside. When you sleep in a hammock correctly, diagonally, you sleep in that nice, ergonomically flat position. The under quilt moves to wrap around you in that same diagonal position. Your head and feet still stay inside the hammock. An under quilt will cover all or most of you, depending on the length of the quilt. I prefer 3/4 quilts, which covers from my shoulders to my lower legs, depending on the brand.
So, because a hennessy hammock has an internal ridgeline for the bug net, and then the hammock curves beneath that, should you still tie it up at the 30* ? I’ve always pulled the sucker tight but seeing this info I might have it wrong. Still, Tom Hennessy has a video where he pretty much pulls it tight (though maybe not as tight as me). In your experience, should you still sag a hennessy?
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.
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!
Been reading up on hammock camping for weeks now. I haven’t been real camping in 10yrs due to back problems and cant sleep on the ground. But from reading your stories and stuff I feel that a hammock might be the way to go. So thanks in part to you guys im going for a quick two nighter this weekend. Im so excited to be getting back out there. Thanks.
I like to keep my options open and I have just WAY too much hammock gear. Not only do I use underquilts but I also use inflatable mats. I have a goose down-filled inflatable mat which I love. It's easy to inflate and deflate, is a deluxe model (i.e. very long and wide), and provides a great deal of warmth and wind protection. These aren't cheap X-Mart inflatable toys. Inflatable pads by any of the major hiking/camping gear manufacturers use top-notch materials and craftsmanship. Some have insulation, some just use the air in them as the barrier between the user and the cold ground or cold air, and some use a combination of air and insulation.
A backpacker doesn’t need an excuse to go backpacking. But this trip felt more urgent than others. I had been working at a crowded biological research station in the Appalachians of North Carolina, eating, sleeping, and snoring with a dozen others in close quarters. Spilling 12 servings of boiling spaghetti in my lap was the last straw. I needed to excuse myself from communal living for a while.
You’re not going to sleep a wink if mosquitoes are feasting on your face. If you plan to camp in a buggy area, consider a hammock with an integrated mosquito net. With some models, the netting is attached to the top of the hammock. While these work pretty well, be aware that mosquitoes can penetrate the hammock fabric beneath you. In other models, a net slips over the bottom and top to encase the hammock completely. As you look at various models with mosquito nets, consider how easy it is to enter and exit the hammock. With some, you enter through a horizontal, vertical or L-shaped zipper, while others have overlapping flaps of fabric, or an opening with a Velcro-type closure.
Overall, we found the Hennessy models to be the most complicated to set up, which is why we scored them some of the lowest ratings in this category. The suspension system requires a special Hennessy tie-off that, while easy to do once you've learned it, is a bit complicated at first. It's also tricky to get the right tensioning with these models, and you have to make sure that the asymmetrical tarp and the sling itself are correctly aligned. All of the instructions are printed right on the bag, but it reads a bit like a Dr. Bronner's label — wordy. You will want to practice setting these models up before going out into the backcountry.
After spending 5 years testing gear, meeting people and exploring his home state of Colorado with his wife, Andrej realized something about the outdoor industry. Mostly, that it was complicated. Andrej set out to create no-nonsense gear that was just as easy to use as it was reliable. He recruited a team of wilderness professionals and educators and hit the drawing board. The result was simple gear that you could trust, with specs you understood. Now he’s inspiring others to get out there and explore, by giving them the confidence to trust both themselves and the gear they use.
These days it seems like there are 100s of companies making backpacking hammocks. The number of options can be overwhelming. Many of them make great hammocks, but we want to avoid cheap knock offs that use inferior materials and construction. We look for a few important markers of quality when selecting a hammock. First, we examine the seems to make sure they are triple stitched for strength, durability, and safety. Second, we look at the the weight the hammock is rated to safely support. Third, if we are going to be backpacking or hiking with the hammock we look at how much it weighs, more expensive fabrics will be light weight, durable and very strong. Fourth, we look at reviews online and from trusted blogs and outdoor publications. And lastly, we look at cost and value. For example does the hammock include the straps for hanging or do those cost extra (more on tree straps next).
Hammocks are fantastic for back sleepers and can be decent for side sleepers, but, for the most part, you can forget about sleeping on your stomach. Until now anyway! Enter the Warbonnet Ridgerunner, our Top Pick for Side Sleeping. It has spreader bars that help create the flattest lay possible, so flat we were able to get comfortable on both sides and even on our stomachs. It's like laying in a floating cot made out of top-of-the-line materials. The Ridgerunner also has an integrated bug net with its own cord attachment system, so it's good to go right out of the bag.
Excellent article and replies. I have been using a hammock since I was in scouts back in the late ’80s. The old fishnet style hammocks. Now I own four ENO double nest hammocks and routinely take my son and his friends to teach them how to use a hammock instead of a tent. I even took my hammock on my deployments with the military. We called them our hanging hooches.
Walked around Mount St. Helens last weekend on the Loowit Trail with one of my best buddies and had an amazing time. The trail is pretty tough, with quite a few wash outs and steep sections, but the rewards are well worth it. Here are a few of my favorite shots from the trip and we also posted a full backpacking guide on our website. Hope you enjoy! . Annie and I are back on the road again and feeling great. Our first stop is in Denver for Outdoor Retailer and then we’re off to explore. Glacier NP and the Wind River Range are at the top of our list right now, but we’re leaving things open. Just looking to get out and enjoy nature at its finest. 🏕🚐🌄😍 . #mountsthelens #loowittrail #washington #cleverhiker
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.
CHOOSING CUSTOMIZED HAMMOCKS: You can also "Customize" the "Stock" hammock by (Step 1) choosing the hammock body with the length of webbing straps you want. (Step 2) If you want a rainfly to go with your hammock, then choose any rainfly including the stock rainfly or buy just the hammock without the rainfly. (Step 3) You can choose an optional insulation system, designed to fit each model.
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.
One of the best options is the insulating kit that many companies offer for their hammocks. They act as a thick insulating buffer between the cold air and your butt. They tend to be hung under the hammock, so they don’t compromise your space or comfort and the insulation can’t get compressed, so it’s always effective. The best part is that most insulating kits don’t weigh that much. What’s more is that they can provide more comfort to the already comfortable hammock.
Some models though, we felt were quite adaptable to everything from backyard hangs to multinight backpacking trips. Two contenders that stood out in this category were the ENO SubLink Shelter System and the Bear Butt Double, though for different reasons. The ENO SubLink has many pieces of a whole system that can be added and removed as you desire, based on the conditions you anticipate. Awesome! The Bear Butt Double was a much more straightforward model, that we felt was useful for many different activities and easy to add additional components in the future if we so desired.
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.
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:
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.
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
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?