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.
REI has made hammock sleeping protected and straightforward with this complete set-up for an incredible price. It's hard to go wrong with the bug net, rain fly, suspension system, and stakes all included in one bag that only weighs 44.8 oz! We found this system simple to set up, following the instructions printed helpfully inside the bag, and easy to keep organized in its stuff sack. While many manufacturers like ENO, Hennessey and Grand Trunk offer systems and accessories you can piece together to make a complete system, this one from REI comes with everything you need all in one bag. No more reading through specs and opening your new package to find that carabiners, trunk straps, or stakes aren't included and will cost you extra.
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.
CHOOSING STOCK MODELS: All "Stock" Hennessy Hammocks are a complete shelter system including tightly woven fabrics and high quality support ropes, a matching detachable rainfly, a "no see um" mosquito mesh, a gear loft on the ridge line and a stuff sack with set up instructions on the back. Hennessy Hammock also provides complimentary "Tree Hugger" webbing straps to protect the rope and the tender bark of trees.
Using a length of rope, tie a line above where the hammock straps meet the trees at each end of your hammock. Drape a tarp over the line and even it out. The middle of the tarp should run along the line and cover your entire hammock. Then, with a few more pieces of rope, tie a line from each of the four corners of the tarp. Run the new lines to nearby trees, roots, pegs or rocks that are heavy enough to act as an anchor. Tie those lines to the various anchors. These anchor lines will prevent the edges of your tarp from flying up in heavy winds.
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.
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.
Are you one of those backpackers or thru-hikers that weighs every item that goes in your pack? Are you traveling for an extended period and space in your bag is highly limited? If you answered yes to any of that, then the Sea to Summit Ultralight might be your golden ticket. This impressively tiny option weighs a mere 5.8 ounces, including its integrated compression stuff sack and a shocking 4.8 ounces without it. Even better? It packs down to about the size of a can of pop. It doesn't include suspension, but Sea to Summit offers an ultralight option for that too, weighing less than 3 ounces and small enough to also fit into the stuff sack.
Some people prefer hammock camping because it allows them to ditch an armful of traditional gear and carry a more nimble sleeping system. As you compare brands, you’ll see that they all use similar nylon fabrics that are lightweight and breathable. Also, one company’s single or double hammock will weigh about the same as a competitor’s products. However, a couple of manufacturers offer super lightweight hammocks that weigh less than 7 ounces, which could be a good choice if you want are planning a backpacking trip.
But for me the comfort factor trumps all. Too many sleepless nights, even on good pads and I had all but given up on ever sleeping outdoors again (and no, I don’t count sleeping in RVs/trailers or any vehicle as sleeping outdoors). Then two years ago, I discovered the Deans of Hanging – Shug and Professor Grizz Adams – check out http://hammockforums.net. Now, I will gladly pay even a hefty weight penalty in exchange for the difference in comfort. However, as SGTROCK noted in the second article, UL weights with hammock gear rival, and may even beat, that of the UL tarp and pad crowd. I even managed to use UL rock climbing gear to anchor my hammock suspension when there were no suitable trees to be found. Short of an emergency bivouac, I will never go back “to ground.”
Stay warm. Sleeping pads help, but they tend to slip around—or out of the hammock—during the night. They can also compromise comfort by preventing your hammock from hugging your body like it’s meant to. If you expect temps below 40F, invest in an underquilt ($100 to $250, depending on the temperature rating), which hangs beneath you and provides a pocket of insulated air to keep you warm.
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.
While comfort is personal, extra space and features that lend themselves to being able to get cozy are rarely ever a bad thing. Ultralight models, like our Top Pick the ENO Sub7 and the featherweight Sea to Summit Ultralight sacrifice extra space for lighter weight and smaller packed size, which is why these models didn't score as high in this metric. At the end of a long day, a tired summer camper or thru-hiker can nap reasonably well in even the most minimalist design. However, if weight is less of an issue for you, the added comfort of some of the larger models may be worth it. From a simple design like our Editor's Choice Grand Trunk Skeeter Beeter to a more intricate system like the REI Co-op Flash Air, adding a little weight can add a lot of comfort.
Seek natural shelter As you set up your hammock, a main goal is to deal with potential wind. Rather than setting up your hammock in exposed areas, move farther into the forest to enjoy the natural sheltering effect of the surrounding trees. Also, seek out natural wind breakers like rock formations, and think about hanging a tarp between two trees as an extra layer of protection.
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.
INSULATION DESIGNED FOR EVERY HENNESSY HAMMOCK: Most places in the world, even jungles, require some insulation at night especially at altitude. We offer two choices with different temperature ranges. Both of these systems have insulation pads that are a wider mummy shape that will protect your arms and shoulders much better than the standard tent pad.
When you sling your hammock, it’s important to use the wide straps that manufacturers produce, because they have minimal impact on trees and keep them healthy. If you rig up your hammock using rope, you could cut into the bark and do serious damage. Also, manufacturers’ straps usually include several loops, which allow you to adjust the length easily.
There are different options for bug nets when hammocking. Nets designed for hammocks are set up by stringing the hammock through the two open ends. The open ends are tightened once the hammock is inside. The net is then attached to a ridgeline with loops located at the top of the net. These mosquito nets have a zipper or velcro opening to allow you to get in and out. You can also use an all purpose mosquito net and drape it over a ridgeline above your hammock. Then just let the sides fall to the ground or tie them together once you’re in your hammock.
Big Agnes ditched their bags’ bottom layer of insulation for a built-in pocket to fit an air pad. But, really, you can use any bag-pad combo. Once you’re in the hammock, your weight will pin the pad down, and the sides help keep it in place overnight. I dig this setup primarily because, unlike with an under-quilt, I can use it in a tent or for cowboy camping just as easily.
I would not use paracord unless you weave it. One of my favorite is the Toggle Rope from Ship in a Bottle. One of the most common or popular lines used for suspension is 7/64 inch Amsteel. This stuff is strong as steel for its size and even floats on water. It’s the Holy Grail of hammock suspension. Sheathed Spectra line is also commonly used for hammock suspension.
Hammock camping in the winter can be exhilarating and unique. Imagine a white snow-covered mountain, a red burning campfire, and a warm cup of coffee. That being said, there are special preparations that need to be made to have a positive experience while winter camping. One of those preparations that we encourage here at Khione Outdoor Gear is the SHEL hammock tent. Hammocking is the simplest way to camp, and should be able to happen year round. Normal hammock covers or hammock tarps won’t be much protection from the cold, but a SHEL hammock tent is able to provide a waterproof barrier from the snow as well as an insulated shelter from the cold.
Yet, I disagree with you about hammocks being a good option for backcountry camping in Glacier National Park. This is because backcountry camping is restricted to designated sites and there is no way to know if there will be suitable trees that will allow you to hang over the square of bare ground at your reserved site. Glacier prohibits hanging over vegetation in order to protect the fragile vegetation in these high-use areas. (more info here: https://www.nps.gov/glac/blogs/Backcountry-Relaxing.htm)
We placed a decent amount of importance on this metric because many people want to purchase a lightweight option for sleeping out while backpacking or traveling. However, if your motivation for owning a hammock is based more on wanting to relax in your backyard or take a nap a short distance from your car, then this metric probably is less important to you. If you aren't overly concerned with weight, then by all means, go for more fabric and a roomier design! With what you'll gain in comfort, we don't think you'll be sorry with that decision.
Everyone has their reasons for purchasing and owning a hammock, and we don't pretend to know yours! However, during our testing, we found those that are better suited to specific situations as well as those that are very versatile. Many of these uses we have already discussed, such as lightweight models for folks eager to cut down on pack weight, like the Sea to Summit Ultralight, Grand Trunk Nano 7 and Grand Trunk Ultralight Starter. We found models with integrated bug nets to be less versatile than those without, as many bug nets don't come completely off, or restrict usage for anything other than laying down.
Educate yourself on the local area you plan to be camping in before you head out. If there are protected species of trees, refrain from using those as anchors. For example, Joshua Tree National Park is dotted with thousands upon thousands of Joshua Trees. However, Joshua Trees are not actually trees and are protected with their population numbers are decreasing from climate change. They have shallow root systems that cannot easily support the horizontal force exerted by a hammock in addition to a trunk that isn’t as solid as a true tree. Due to their hollow structure and the dry ecosystems they live in, they are also brittle and can break off from the strain.
Choose a great sleeper hammock. Eagle’s Nest Outfitters makes this so easy. Check out ENO’s selection of great OneLink sleep systems, which include single and double styles. Oh, and they all include a rain tarp, bug net, the choice between SlapStrapPRO or Atlas, carabiners and stakes. Rest assured, Mother Nature will not ruin your trip. Oh, and thanks to the way everything packs together, you won’t forget anything at home.
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.