I live in Spring, Texas. Why is that important to you? Well, we have 4 seasons here: hot, really hot, crazy hot + high humidity, and a few weeks of cool weather. I'm a native Texan so I'm used to the heat and humidity. What happens when the temperature drops a bit and I still want to enjoy some time in my hammock? If you've used a hammock for any length of time then you know that you need something below you to cut the chill when the temperature drops. A new hanger might discover this a bit too late while out on a camping or hiking trip. Yikes!
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.
It seems obvious enough, but a tarp or rainfly is critical if you’re out in weather or in a place where weather can move in quickly. For this, I use the ENO DryFly Rain Tarp. It’s light, it’s quick to set up, and it has kept me dry. The trick is, rig the tarp just above the hammock, so when the hammock sags under your body weight, you’re not exposed to the rain and wind blowing in from under the sides.
There are a wide variety of hammock designs on the market, plus all sorts of accessories, such as straps to hang the hammock, rain flies, mosquito nets, and quilts for cold weather If you have a limited budget, and you are only going to camp in clear, warm weather, you can start simple and just buy a hammock and straps. But keep in mind that in the future you might need a fly, bug net, and cold-weather accessories. With most brands, you can buy the various items individually, or purchase kits that combine many of the pieces and can save you a bit of money in the long run.
Fair weather hammock campers usually opt for the tent at about 32 degrees. If you’re interested in hammock camping when it’s below freezing (some have braved -40 degrees… not recommended), ease into it, do your research, and be prepared with all the right gear. And be ready to turn back if conditions get too downright frigid — it’s not worth a case of hypothermia or worse.
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.
A lot of folks think all you need is a sleeping bag to stay warm in a hammock. After all, you’re off the ground, so you don’t need a pad for comfort. What that pad does help with, however, is warmth. You’ll compress the sleeping bag insulation under your body in a hammock just like you would on the ground, so you’ll feel cold in a hammock without some uncompressed insulation beneath you. To keep the sleeping pad from slipping out from under you, try putting it inside your sleeping bag.
That’s not to say that all spreader bars are bad. Some companies have designed camping hammocks with well positioned spreader bars. They’re known as bridge hammocks. They differ from the rope hammocks in a few important details. Your typical backyard hammock spreads the entire hammock fabric. While bridge hammocks only spread a part of the material open. The picture on the left shows a Warbonnet Ridgerunner hammock with spreader bars. Notice how it keeps a natural sag (we’ll get deeper into this later). This reduces the awkward center of gravity from a backyard spreader bar hammocks.
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?”
Big believer in hammocks too lately. One of the big benefits for me is a reduced footprint generally speaking for a campsite, and the speed at which I can put up and take down a hammock. The first trip I committed to using a hammock I pitched in a rain storm and was uneasy about how well it would handle. I pitched a flying ridgeline that I tied previously, Staked out the tarp, and then slung the hammock out of a bishop bag. Done in 5 minutes or less and my hammock stayed bone dry. It was great. Since then I’ve been in wind storms and a few other scenarios and it’s been a great system. I’d just say find a tarp that has tie outs along the middle of the tarp. I have a small-ish tarp that is closer to the old A-frame style and in strong wind it snaps. First time I slept through a wind gust I was waking up every 20 minutes thinking my tarp was ripping or getting ready to fly away. Adjusting the pitch helped a lot.
I’m very intrigued by a Hammock system, it’s not really something I seriously considered before reading your post. One thing that the post doesn’t really address that I’m very curious about is what do you do with the rest of your gear? The photos show packs, etc. on the ground under the hammock, are there any solutions for your pack, etc. other then the ground such as attaching it to the hammock itself?
A little dirt don’t hurt...BUT...if you are skeptical about getting a your clothes dirty, spread your hammock out for a dry, dirt free space to sit or lie down! Sunbathing on the beach, picnicking in a dewy meadow, playing cards at your campsite, whatever the occasion may be, your hammock will be there for you! And don’t worry about getting it filthy--these guys are lightweight and quick drying, making them a breeze to shake off and dry out! So you can forget about packing along that extra blanket, as long as you have your hammock, you’re set!
Tip #6: When you find 2 perfect hammocking trees (thick trunks, alive, little or no ground cover between them), carefully check for sensitive plant life (especially vital at higher elevations), wildlife habitat and hazards such as insect nests or poisonous plants. Avoid stepping on roots and lichen, and minimize transporting non-native species by cleaning shoes between trips.
It has been attempted, if that is your question. Shaped ends, both concave and convex, even different whipping or gathering styles. I tested one commercial version of a cat-cut hammock and it was very interesting. The overall hammock length, your height, and the hang angle are more significant factors to eliminating the center ridge on a rectangular hammock. http://theultimatehang.com/2013/09/simply-light-designs-streamliner-sl-hammock-review/
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.
I own a Hennessy Hammock Backpacker Asym (31 oz.) which is a very popular model amongst hammock hangers. To get into it, you enter it from below, standing up in a slit that runs half way down the middle on one side. Once inside, you lean back and sit on the half that does not have the slit, raise your legs and lie back. The edges of the slit are covered with velcro and close together under your legs. To get out, you press your feet on the velcro seam which will open below you, stand up and slip under the hammock to get out.
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.
About going to ground when necessary … many hikers have spent nights with a tarp system on the ground already – going to ground with a hammock set up is very similar. Especially if you use a non-integrated bugnet. I use the 9.5 oz bugnet from Wilderness Logics when hanging my simple/lightweight gathered end hammock. When I have to go to ground, this bugnet is my full enclosure with zipper, I don’t even use the hammock at all on the ground (no need to risk abrasions). Any hammock tarp should work fine tightly pitched closer to the ground than normal using 2 trekking poles or sticks instead of tree trunks. My 1.1 oz cryo ground sheet goes inside the bugnet with my cc pad under me and quilt(s) on top (you can use both top and under quilts for extra warmth in this setup if necessary). For a close comparison, zpacks.com tarp tents actually use a mesh floor by default to save weight, and Joe recommends the ground sheet on top of the mesh to keep any running water under the groundsheet.
Also note that an empty hammock tends to sag with a catenary curve that if measured, will be different (more obtuse) than if the hammock is pulled taut and is measured with straight line angles. For more accurate results, measure your hang angle with the hammock pulled down in the center to create straight lines. This is easily achieved by placing a small weight in the hammock, such as a sleeping bag or water bottle.
You should pay extra attention during winter hammock camping trips because the risk of getting hypothermia from the cold and snow. For ordinary hammocks, you have to prepare many things such as an underquilt, hammock sock, and top quilt for a warm and strong hammock tent. However, the SHEL covers everything just by itself. The SHEL is a hammock tent especially designed to keep you warm in any weather. Insulated with high loft goose down and lined with a heat reflective interior, the SHEL hammock tent keeps you warm, no sleeping bag needed. Designed with comfort in mind, it is breathable yet secure. It is the most comfortable hammock camping experience available. That being said, it never hurts to be over prepared. You may want to bring an extra blanket or sleeping bag to assure that you are ready for the harshest of conditions.
Definitely use some Atlas Straps. When given the option of straps, choose the Atlas. Although they’re not the lightest strap, their daisy chain design and PolyFilament Webbing construction give you the most combined adjustment points, and least amount of stretch. And when you’re dealing with bigger trees, you’ll definitely appreciate the extra usability.
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.
Hey Derek I’ve been researching a lot and want your opinion. I narrowed my hammock search down to a eno double, treklight, or the kammok roo. I plan on mostly using it for music festivals and camping, so comfort and durablitly are my main concerns. I am about 6ft tall and about 205 lbs. So when taking that into consideration which hammock would you recommend (leaning towards kammok as of now).
In a tent you lose the air flow (even with the windows open), you lose the stars, you can’t stand up to do anything and you can’t easily see what’s around you. You often fall asleep in a cold box and wake up in a hot and stuffy box and, if you’re lucky, you didn’t roll over into that puddle that’s somehow accumulated in the corner even though your tent’s supposed to be waterproof.