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.
Hi Derek – I really appreciate you putting out all this info about camping hammocks. I have not camped much before for all the reasons you point out about the problems of sleeping on the ground. I just this Spring learned that camping hammocks exist. I am already a hammocks enthusiast since I make them for a living where I live at Twin Oaks Community (though they are back yard hamx, not good for camping), and so I am enthused to buy a camping hammock and bug net and tarp and try it. I bought your Ultimate Hang book and read it, and have thought about what you wrote about deciding about what I need and want. That gave me some qualifications, but I am still bewildered at all the variety of options and quality available. So I seek more specific advise based on my needs/wants and budget. If you are willing to offer that, would I ask that here on line, or to you directly off line? (Also, I do not know what I should put for the website line below since I do not have a personal website, so I left it blank)

https://i2.wp.com/www.adventurealan.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/tinman-JMT-DSCF0979-v04-1200-1.jpg?fit=1600%2C837 837 1600 Alan Dixon http://www.adventurealan.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/adventure-alan-lightweight-backpacking-hiking.png Alan Dixon2017-07-22 15:26:592017-07-24 02:09:567 Reasons Why Hammock Camping is Fantastic - How To Get Started
One of the unique concepts of hammock camping is the new diversity of suspension systems and add-ons which campers use in making their hammock set-up unique and functional. The line on which the hammock's weight is held is often swapped for a variety of lighter weight suspension made of Dyneema or other UHMWPE material. These reduce both weight and bulk. Many use similar lines formed into a constriction knot (colloquially referred to by the brand name "Whoopie Slings"[6]) for quick adjustment and setup. These may be connected to the webbing straps ("Tree Huggers") using a lightweight toggle or a carabiner, or more uniquely designed connectors such as Dutch Clips or Tri-Glides.
The reasons to hammock are not always clear to people that have never tried one. Often I get comments about how a person hates sleeping on their back or can only sleep on their side, or how sleeping with that curve will wreck their back, or even how they don't want to damage trees with the cords. All these are valid concerns, yet each are simply the worries of the uninformed, similar to family fears we hikers are all in danger of getting eaten by bears daily.

While silnylon is superior, any kind of tarp will work to create an effective shelter from the rain. The plastic blue tarps can make a variety of effective shelters for your hammock. They are also durable and cost only a fraction of a silnylon fly. The downside of these tarps is the bulk and weight, making them less than ideal for ultralight packs.
1. The practical approach. Swing both feet over the same side, plant them on the ground, sightly spread apart, and turn your torso a bit more towards that side so that you can push up with one arm. Push until you are sitting in an upright position. You then have the difficult choice to make, whether to stand up the rest of the way or let gravity win and pull you back into the hammock where life is good.
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.
Question regarding hammock fabric. I think in one of your articles or comments you mention preferring a pretty thin fabric for your chameleon due to weight considerations, I assume single sheet. For my first hammock I bought a Warbonnet with 2 ply 1.1 fabric, mainly due to worries about mosquitoes biting through the fabric. I’m interested in going lighter though. In your experience are bugs biting through an actual issue? You’ve mentioned taking your chameleon in South American jungles so I figured I’d ask.
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?
Hammocks are not for everyone, but they can provide the ultimate sleep and relaxation experience for many outdoor enthusiasts. In addition to the novelty of floating above the ground and not having to find a flat spot as you do with a tent, they are often the most compact and lightweight sleeping option and can negate the need for an expensive sleeping pad. We hope this review helped you narrow down the options and get closer to your perfect choice. For more information on making the right purchase, check out our Buying Advice article.
Hammocks are all the rage these days, and people love them from backyard hangouts to backcountry living. But you always want to consider your wallet. The systems we tested range in price from as little as $30 to as much as $250 — that's a big difference! A high price tag doesn't guarantee a better experience either — some of our favorites were among the least expensive models and systems we tried! For example, the Grand Trunk Skeeter Beeter Pro won our highest accolade - the Editor's Choice award, yet retails for only $90. If that's still too much for your budget, the Best Buy Bear Butt Double goes for only $35.
Like any activity outdoors, be aware of your own safety when hammocking. Before you set up your hammock, check your gear. Make sure there are no defects or signs of significant wear on the hammock or the suspension. Examine your carabiners and make sure there hasn’t been any warping. When you choose a hammock spot, make sure you pick sturdy trees that can bear your weight. Avoid saplings as they will bend and stay away from dead trees because they can snap under the load. The ideal tree should be at least thick enough that you aren’t able to completely wrap your hands around the trunk.
All the things you heard about how hammocks can be set up in the worst places are absolutely true… but should be avoided if possible. Ground sleepers may get grumpy when they see a hammocker over a prime spot, but its first come first serve in the woods. Flat spots help with any late night bathroom breaks. Sleepily exiting a hammock on a decline and falling into your tarp does not make hammock camping more fun.

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.


Sometimes you’ll find yourself sliding to one end of the hammock. This is because your hammock isn’t level. You’ll want to make sure your hammock is level to prevent you from sliding throughout the night. The first thing to do is to check your straps. Are both straps of equal length? If not, you’ll want to even them out as best as you can. With all materials, the straps may stretch a tiny bit throughout the night. This can throw off your hammock level. By making sure both straps are the same length, they’ll stretch at the same rate. The next thing to check is the strap height. Make sure the straps are level and at the same height. Once you’ve taken care of those 2 steps, your hammock should be perfectly balanced. If you find yourself still sliding to one side, move the straps up an inch or two on that side.

Hammock Forums is a family friendly site. This means that our topics, language and treatment of each other are what you'd want your kids to see. We're not a bunch of prudes...we just think that the internet has enough places where that behavior is tolerated, and this particular site shouldn't be one of them. This is a great community where the norm is to support others in their ideas and projects, and not assume offense where none is intended...and therefore not to flame, call names, or create friction in our threads. Respectful disagreement is ok; disrespectful comments are not.


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.
Underquilts hang directly below the hammock and each manufacturer provides some method of adjustment. It's usually in the form of small shock cord and cord locks. The idea is to provide insulation and wind protection to your exposed underside. Underquilts work best when hung properly and snugly against the bottom of the hammock. They work so well because the hanger doesn't compress the insulation. When a hanger enters the hammock, the underquilt gives and moves with the weight of the user due to the adjustable shock cord attachments. In contrast, if a hanger puts a sleeping bag inside the hammock with them...the hanger gets into the bag and compresses the insulation with their weight. This reduces the effectiveness of the insulation. Underquilts don't have that problem.
All of our Hennessy Hammock models are provided with complimentary "Tree hugger" webbing straps to protect the tender bark of trees. The smaller the diameter of the tree, the more times the webbing straps go around the tree to spread the load. The environmentally friendly design requires no ground levelling, trenching or staking. When you walk away from your campsite, there will be no tent footprint and almost no sign that you were ever there.
1. The practical approach. Swing both feet over the same side, plant them on the ground, sightly spread apart, and turn your torso a bit more towards that side so that you can push up with one arm. Push until you are sitting in an upright position. You then have the difficult choice to make, whether to stand up the rest of the way or let gravity win and pull you back into the hammock where life is good.
I have to say this is an amazing guide (first hammock guide I’ve read to the end haha). For the longest time, I’ve been going camping with a tent. I really did not think a hammock would work, and even for my friends who carried it, I thought they weren’t enjoying the camping experience to the fullest. But now, after reading this, I think I’m ready to try out a hammock for our next camping trip. Guess I’ll have to thank my friend for recommending this blog to me.
Alan, the only thing I think is missing here is a short nod to taking a hammock to the ground. Those that dismiss hammocks because of lack of anchor points (e.g., “above the treeline”) may benefit from knowing that a hammock kit can be pitched on the ground similar to any tarp set-up. A lot of UL hikers use minimal tarp systems like the Gossamer Gear Twinn, using trekking poles or sticks to erect their shelter. A hammock with an integrated bug net easily doubles as a ground bivvy in such cases.
Most people (with a properly setup, true backpacking hammock) find it far more comfortable than sleeping on the ground. As such, they get a better night’s sleep, every night. In contrast, ground sleeping changes (many times for the worst) nearly every night due to sloping ground, bumps, depressions, wet areas, rocks & tree roots. It can be near impossible to find a good area large enough for a tent.
Thanks Derek. Since my question I now have three nights in the hammock – two in my backyard and one at a Cub Scout one nighter with my son – and can confirm sleeping ON two of the Costco down comforters doesn’t do much for temps in the mid to low 60’s. I had cold spots waking me up several times. Yes, I’ve read all about the loss if insulation properties when these things are compressed but I had to learn it myself as part of this “process”. Thanks for the suggestion!

Don’t want to have to deal with tying blankets to your hammock in the freezing cold? Hammock companies make underquilts that are easy to use and much more reliable than a hastily strung blanket. And, unlike a sleeping bag, the insulation doesn’t get compressed underneath you—leaving your cocoon toasty warm. Underquilts are typically paired with a sleeping bag or top quilt.
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.

Accessories that may be essential for your setup are unique mattresses, which provide wings to keep your arms and shoulders warm, underquilts for even colder temperatures, top quilts for extra coziness, and different styles of bug nets and rain flies. Check out each review for more suggestions on accessories and alternate versions available from each manufacturer.


When you have a hammock, your campsites are limited by imagination. All you need is a couple of trees the right distance apart. What is under you may not matter at all. I have personally slept on the side of a mountain, and on the Hennessy web site, there is even a photo of a guy sleeping over his boat in a swamp. There are things that make better camps than others, and some safety things to consider, but unless you are camping where there are no trees, then the hammock will increase your camp sites.

Hammocks are great but have a little bit of a learning curve. Everyone’s different so it’s a matter of finding what works and is comfortable for you. For anyone thinking about switching from ground dwelling to hanging should check out: https://hammockforums.net/forum/content.php Awesome resource for everything hammocks. Learn as much as you can before you buy, or even better, try to find someone with the gear you are thinking of purchasing and try theirs first. Hammock length, width, fabric material, etc all make a difference in how you lay and feel while resting. For me, I sleep better in my hammock than at home.
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)
Hammocking isn’t for everyone, but it’s worth a try. It’s a genius solution to bad ground conditions, but you may find – in gathered-end hammocks at least – a lack of comfort at each end (lateral squeeze of shoulders/feet), as well as lower back discomfort. One need not be a back sleeper to enjoy a hammock, but it helps a great deal. Side sleeping is possible but awkward. Many are not used to having their feet elevated relative to their rear end.

I started hammock camping a couple of seasons ago, and on solo overnight trips, it’s my absolute go-to. It’s wicked easy to set up after a long day of hiking, and it’s a significantly more sustainable, lower-impact way to camp. Provided you don’t need all the add-ons for every trip—like a rainfly or bug netting—it’ll even lighten the load in your pack. It is a different game, though, and you have to consider a couple of things before grabbing your hammock and hitting the trail.

3. Lay on the diagonal. A lot of beginners try to sleep in line with the hammock, curving their bodies into a banana shape. I find that this takes a lot of effort, because with a good sag, your feet naturally slide to one side or the other, finding a “pocket” of fabric. By angling your body askew of center, you fall into a ergonomically flat position (it looks a bit like a recumbent bicyclist), where the hammock takes away all the pressure points naturally. The diagonal lay is the key to comfort in a gathered-end hammock.
Just finished up day 4 on our JMT thru-hike!! The weather has been lovely, our packs are feeling good, and we’re very excited for what lies ahead. At the moment we’re chillin at Red’s Meadow on mile 60 of the trail. Eating some good food and enjoying a cold brewski. About 160 miles left in our journey, which we’re expecting will take about 12-13 more days. Hope all is well in your world!! . #jmt2018 #johnmuirtrail
Yup! Remember that a Brazilian-style hammock is hung with a sag — never flat — so a 10 ft-long (3 m) hammock “shortens” to less than 9 ft (~2.5 m). Also, with an 8×10 ft (2.4×3 m) tarp, you would pitch it on the corners creating an asymmetric coverage. The ridge line on this asym pitch is almost 13 ft (4 m)! This is plenty of coverage for a 10 ft (3 m) Brazilian hammock. http://theultimatehang.com/2012/07/hammock-camping-101/
One of the misconceptions that has sprung from hammocks with structural ridge lines is to pitch the hammock taut between the anchor points since the hammock’s sag is unaffected. This has had catastrophic effect in some cases where ridge lines have snapped under the load. In the real world, it is nearly impossible to hang the hammock perfectly taut as all suspension line will have some stretch, especially when the line is under extreme tensile forces.

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.
Tom, his wife Ann, his son James and friends are a small family run company whose only mission is to continually improve the evolution of hammock design. They have been granted up to five patents nationally and internationally. When serious adventurers are planning expeditions into unexplored areas of the world, when months-long medical expeditions trek into the deep jungles of Burma on missions of mercy, when adventure racers traverse mountains, rivers and jungles surrounded by all kinds of poisonous insects and reptiles, when families send a hammock to their soldier sons or daughters in areas of conflict, they all know that they are getting the hammock with a proven reputation for quality and comfort.
I guess it depends on where and how you use paracord. Some folks have tried to use a single line of paracord for hammock suspension as a way to reduce weight, but the cord often fails. The 550 lbs load limit does not afford much latitude for dynamic strain or if the hammock is pitched too tight. The forces on each side of a hammock can exceed the load weight due to sheer forces. These forces can exceed 550 lbs pretty easily. Check out my hammock calculator to play with the numbers.
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.[1]

Several of the expedition models had a bit of a learning curve to their set up to be able to get comfortable. The Warbonnet Blackbird and Ridgerunner fell into this category, but after practice, we were able to set them up with relative ease and confidence. Additionally, some slings don't come with all the components you need to set them up — beyond just a lack of suspension system. Both the Warbonnet Blackbird and both Hennessey models lack the stakes necessary for a complete set-up.

BUYING ONLINE - Check the seller's return policy before you buy, but you can almost always return an unused hammock within a certain time frame after purchasing. We recommend buying your top choice, testing it at home, and returning or exchanging if it doesn’t feel quite right. We've been buying lightweight hammocks online for years and we've yet to have any problems.
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.
Sometimes you’ll find yourself sliding to one end of the hammock. This is because your hammock isn’t level. You’ll want to make sure your hammock is level to prevent you from sliding throughout the night. The first thing to do is to check your straps. Are both straps of equal length? If not, you’ll want to even them out as best as you can. With all materials, the straps may stretch a tiny bit throughout the night. This can throw off your hammock level. By making sure both straps are the same length, they’ll stretch at the same rate. The next thing to check is the strap height. Make sure the straps are level and at the same height. Once you’ve taken care of those 2 steps, your hammock should be perfectly balanced. If you find yourself still sliding to one side, move the straps up an inch or two on that side.
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.
The Jacks ‘R’ Better Bear Mountain Bridge Hammock has a unique design that achieves a truly flat lay. This suspension bridge design keeps tension along the top edges of the hammock, which allows your feet and head to hang much lower than traditional hammocks. This flat-sleeping design also lends itself well to sleeping pad use. The downside of this design is that it adds weight. It’s also a wider design than many hammocks, so you’ll need a wider tarp for rain and wind protection, which will also add weight. The Bear Mountain Bridge doesn’t come with a tarp, so you’ll want to add one of Jack's tarps or buy an aftermarket tarp. This hammock is among the heavier backpacking hammocks we recommend, but the unique comfort it offers is worth the weight for some campers.
I think your fear is unfounded. Bears will smell you, regardless of whether you are in a tent or a hammock. If you smell like food AND if it’s an aggressive bear, I think they’ll do what they want with you. Because aggressive bears tend to hang out in high-use backcountry (and frontcountry) areas, this makes a strong argument for smart campsite selection no matter what you use.
Pads in the hammock work, but they are kind of a pain. It is a good way to see if you like it though. If you want to try a cheap under quilt look up gemini underquilt. If you are into making your own gear look up clew underquilt. I am sure the cottage venders will be picking this suspension up soon. It is lighter and easier to setup than traditional underquilt suspensions.
If you believe in giving back with your purchases, this company plants 2 trees for every hammock sold. They also offer great discounts and the more you buy, the more trees are planted. They provide fruit and nut trees, as well as teach community members in less fortunate parts of Africa, how to utilize every benefit trees can give. This idea can bridge the gap in economical inequality one tree at a time. Check out the movement here: https://bit.ly/2H8ySN4
When you think you’ve found a good spot, keep an eye out for any hazards that may be on the ground in case of a fall. While falls are unlikely, it’s not always a great idea to make a habit out of hanging above sharp rocks. It might look cool to hang your hammock high off the ground, but it doesn’t make a lot of practical sense. Hanging a foot off the ground is just as comfortable as hanging five feet off the ground. A good rule to follow is to always hang as high as you’re willing to fall.
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