Having a safe and fun time out in the wilderness is dependent on the quality of your gear. A backpack or pair of boots failing far from the trailhead can be a significant problem, and your shelter system is no different. If you are planning to sleep in a hammock, the protection it provides and the durability of its construction are of extreme importance. A rip in the fabric can be as bad as having no tent poles and may leave you laying on the cold ground stringing your shelter up in some haphazard fashion or putting it over you like a blanket. Not fun.
Comfort is the most important quality we scored because if you're not comfortable, what's the point? We considered fabric feel, headspace, and overall size and roominess. We sat in them, laid in them, put sleeping bags and pads in them and even tested their capacity for adding a friend. Roomier models tend to sleep a bit better, while many of the lighter designs sacrificed comfort for less durable materials and a compact size that feel great in the pack but can impact your comfort quality of sleep. No matter what you're using your 'mock for, comfort is king!
Are you new to the glorious world of hammocking? Or has it been a while since your last 'mock purchase? This market is more diverse than ever, and it's to end up in a very deep rabbit hole. We're here to help! After sifting through countless options and researching the top models, our experts spent hundreds of hours hanging, lounging, napping, and overnighting in these 'mocks in weather ranging from chilly alpine nights to hot summer days. Comfort is a priority, but we also assess how easy they are to hang and examine their durability and versatility. Single versus double no longer means what it used to, weight capacity isn't as telling, and there are specific designs for diverse uses. We recommend checking out our Buying Advice article to help you figure out what kind of hammock is right for you before diving into our individual reviews. For ultralight thru-hikers and local park loungers alike, we identify the best models for specific uses as well as all-around performers and budget options.
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Alex, I highly recommend using an underquilt. It is warmer* and more comfortable. I am a side-sleeper and am just fine in a normal width 10.5 to 11′ hammock with no tricks or special modifications. If $ is an issue, I would suggest one of the lower cost underquilts like the The $99 Hammock Gear Econ. * On the east coast in the summer when the nighttime temps don’t drop below 70 F you can skip the UQ or pad as you won’t need the insulation under you.
The comfort and flexibility provided by the hammock while in the backcountry is enough to keep me off the ground. I stress this when I do presentations on the subject and also explain the added flexibility in building a completely custom setup based on your needs and the conditions you expect to find. When you’re using a tent your options are limited. A hammock setup is limited only by your imagination.
Starting my adventures in spring, I have a few months before actually having to invest in those quilts. I wanted to start with a second setup, for 3-season camping (>+10°C). Not exactly sure what to pack here yet. I was hoping a sleeping bag (or quilt) plus sleeping pad would be enough, but many of the not-exactly-cheap underquilts you tested were only just suited for exactly that kind of temperatures, so how could a sleeping pad suffice?
The humble hammock has been around for thousands of years, and it is still used today in parts of the world as a primary sleeping accommodation. Yet many people I speak with think hammocks are “uncomfortable,” or it will hurt their back,” or  “they’re great for summer lounging only,” or “it’s too easy to fall out.” A lot of these misconceptions come from the modern rope hammocks with their spreader bars and large woven nets. These hammocks are notoriously tippy, due to their high center of gravity and tight pitch. Unfortunately, they’ve given authentic hammocks a bad wrap.
Most hammock campers will need to have effective insulation underneath their hammock, in addition to the conventional topside insulation (i.e. sleeping bag). This can be a properly installed sleeping pad, but this ground-inspired product does not translate well to hammocks, and under-quilts are widely preferred. In extreme cold temperatures, a full-sided tarp to block the wind is also very helpful.
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?”
Another common complaint from tent campers is the insect problem that comes with any open air camping. A tent protects you from biting buggers as long as you’re not leaving the door open. But most hammocks will leave you completely exposed to mosquitoes. Fear not! Many options exist for you to protect yourself from biting insects. Many bug nets are designed specifically for a hammock. They’ll give you complete 360 degree protection.
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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.
John Lepak is an art director, graphic designer, and weekend mountaineer. He hasn’t met a rock scramble he didn’t like, and spends his free time either in the mountains or obsessively cooking Mexican food. When John isn’t pushing pixels, crushing miles, or making the best carnitas caseras you’ve ever tasted, you can find him living the dream in the Connecticut woods with his wife Kat and a muscly little pitbull named Fiona.

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.


Put your pad inside your sleeping bag. This helps keep things from moving around, and helps the bag from bunching a little. It’s not a perfect system because you do have a lot of material under you that can bunch up. Laying the bag open and sitting in the middle before you get in helps. I’ll admit that with a sleep my bag you will need to do some maneuvering to get situated at first. This is why under quilts are so much beloved. They are less fussy. But pads and bags can do the job of keeping you warm, you just have to work a little more.
The traverse powerlock from REI would work. REI made some deal with Komperdell, and Komperdell makes their poles. REI replaces the 3-year no-questions-asked Komperdell warranty with their (lame) 1-year warranty. Thanks, REI. (Bias disclosure: I hate REI.) I had to scour for Ridgehiker Cork Powerlock from Komperdell when I wanted to get a backup pair of poles, though my originals are still going strong after 5000 miles. I see they are now on Backcountry. Y’all give Andrew some compensation, and click on his backcountry link (or, fine, whatever, REI) and get you a pair. (I have no affiliation with anybody.)
The Hennessy Hammock Expedition and Explorer hammocks offer a couple of options with the classic and zip models. You mention the velcro model which is the classic and gives the ability to enter through the bottom. They also have a zip type that can be entered through the side which gives another way to get in and out of the hammock. Good brand that makes a quality hammock. Nice article, good descriptions.
Having a safe and fun time out in the wilderness is dependent on the quality of your gear. A backpack or pair of boots failing far from the trailhead can be a significant problem, and your shelter system is no different. If you are planning to sleep in a hammock, the protection it provides and the durability of its construction are of extreme importance. A rip in the fabric can be as bad as having no tent poles and may leave you laying on the cold ground stringing your shelter up in some haphazard fashion or putting it over you like a blanket. Not fun.
Just spent the first few nights in my new HH Explorer Ultralight (light intermittent drizzle, 50' at night, hammock chilly to touch but fine in my 20' Dick's cheapo synthetic bag without pads or other addons). Love it, I'm a convert now, and I really LOVED my REI HC T2 tent before this, so that says a lot. I agree, getting ground conditions (rocky/thorny/muddy etc) out of the equation changes everything. So far I've not been out in a real marathon downpour, but will probably spring for a larger tarp (a hex in camo). +1 on snakeskins improving setup/takedown; included free if you order direct from the HH website (limited time offer?) Looking at slap-strap-pro or another just-wrap-and-click solution. I recommend the HH Explorer Ultralight for those over 6' and wanting a little more durability while still keeping weight down (39 oz).

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.
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