The best part about a lightweight hammock is that it’s an incredible addition to your camping gear even if you don’t sleep in it. With our lightest hammock weighing only 14oz and packing down into a pouch smaller than your Nalgene bottle, you can easily bring it in addition to your tent and enjoy all the benefits the hammock offers without needing to commit to leaving your tent behind.
What’s the distance between your anchor points? While polyester and polypropylene stretch less than nylon, they still stretch, and if you have a long hang (>=15 ft) the stretch will be more pronounced. Is your hammock also polyester? Most hammocks are nylon, so there will be some stretch there too. The fabric weight makes a difference. A lightweight 1.0 or 1.5 fabric will stretch more than a 2.0 oz fabric. Email me a photo of your hang and maybe I can see something else.
Hammockers should keep in mind these principles so that the outdoors remain unspoiled for all. Having a hammock to camp in can reduce your ecological footprint. You won’t need to clear out space on the ground and disrupt undergrowth like you may have to with a tent. But you do need to be aware of the anchors you use so as to not cause unnecessary harm to the trees.
I’ve been camping on North Manitou Island every fall for years. Starting in about 2010, even with a preemptive dose of aspirin or vitamin I, I would wake up after about three hours with my hips, my shoulder or both aching, and awake every hour after that to roll over. I received a Hennessy Hammock Explorer zip for Christmas 2014. I’ve since used my hammock two trips for a week each trip, and I have to say, I’ve never had 14 better night’s of sleep while camping, than those two weeks. This includes any camping as a teenager as well. The only times I woke up was for nature calls, and the one night the first trip when we had thunderstorms and high winds and my cheap aluminum l stakes refused to hold, repeatedly. I have since corrected that problem with slightly heavier but much more reliable triangular stakes.
I thought a reminder would help us stay focused. Applying the TOS to the holidays, it's ok to wish folks Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Solstice, Kwanzaa or whatever...but discussions about the religious aspects of the holidays will be removed. We're here to discuss hammocks, so if you have strong feelings about religion and the holidays, please find another forum to discuss them.
With a hammock, you also have more freedom to sleep where you please. If a campsite doesn’t have a proper patch of clear, flat land for your tent, no worries. You just have to find two well-spaced trees (which isn’t difficult in an Alabama forest). In your hammock, you can nod off while gazing at a starry sky, while folks in their tents are stuck staring at nylon walls.
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.
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.
The Skeeter Beeter Pro is a good budget buy for people looking to dip a toe into hammock camping without a big financial investment. It has a traditional hammock shape, so it’s not as easy to lie flat, but it’s long enough to still be comfortable. It also doesn’t come with a tarp, so you’ll have to get an aftermarket tarp to protect against rain and wind. The Skeeter Beeter Pro isn’t our favorite camping hammock, but it’ll definitely get the job done and the price is tough to beat.
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.
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.
For the tips of the poles, be careful if you have flexible plastic tips, which is typical. If you don’t do the below, the tip can bend, the spreader bar will pop out, and you will plummet. (Me, into the everglades, where a gator must have heard me splash… its only funny now!) To keep the tip stiff, I sawed two sections of the aluminum foot-end spreader pole that came with the WBRR. It fits just right over my Leki and Komperdell tips. You can just use the end pieces, so that the male insert from the spreader bar pole is in tact, but this is not necessary. Since it is a tiny bit lighter, I use a section that is open on both ends, sized to just barely allow the carbide tip of the pole to mate into the hammock hardware, while still grabbing the trekking pole over the portion where the plastic tip and the aluminum shaft overlap. Maybe 1.5 inches overlap. You may have to push it past the threads for the snowbasket. Mine are worn down, but you can also “screw” it on.
Experience a level of comfort on the trail almost as good as your bed at home and maybe even better. The patented asymmetrically shaped hammock supports your back like a quality mattress off the ground. Tall or large campers and campers with injuries, arthritis, bone spurs or back pain tell us about finding their first night of comfortable camping in many years with the larger Explorer Deluxe or Safari Deluxe models. You will wake up in the morning feeling great. Some owners of Hennessy Hammocks claim that they come home from their adventure feeling better than when they left. Some hikers have tossed out their beds when they got home from a hike and set up their hammock in the house.
Leave your pillow at home? No worries. Your hammock has you covered! If you’re notoriously forgetful, and find yourself constantly missing that one super-crucial item, then this hammock has your back. There is nothing worse than sleeping without a pillow, so if you find yourself without one on your next camping trip, try bundling up your hammock and using it as a soft place to rest your head for the night! Problem solved. See how easy that was?
I also say weight because I select hammocks that are low on weight. Even the biggest hammock I have tested (the Hennessy Explorer A-Sym) weighs less than the standard solo tents. There are some hammock models out there that weight a lot more, but that is your choice as what to carry. But the absolute lightest camping hammock with bug protection and rain fly is less than a pound, the absolute lightest tent that gives bug protection weighs twice that.
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)
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.
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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.
DESIGN - Getting a "flat lay" is the main goal for sleeping hammocks. Camping hammocks use asymmetric designs to achieve this. Sleeping diagonally in an asymmetric hammock will allow your head and feet to lie lower than they would in a traditional hammock. Most camping hammock users find asymmetric designs to be more comfortable than traditional hammocks for sleeping.
As mentioned previously, never use rope or paracord to directly tie your hammock onto a tree. The weight exerted by your body causes a rope to dig into a tree. This can severely damage the bark, especially if the tree is being constantly used to hammock from. The bark protects the soft layer underneath that brings food from the roots to the leaves. If the damage to the bark goes more than 50% of the way around the trunk of the tree, the tree will lose branches and leaves if not completely die.
Hi there new to Hammocks and have just bought a Grand Trunk Skeeter Beeter Pro and Kelty Noah 12 tarp. I am 6’1″ & 145Kg and was wondering if you think the suspension kit that comes with the hammock will support me? I was looking at buying some nylon webbing straps and use them and the carabiner that comes with the Skeeter Beeter what do you think would be the best for someone of my size
I own a BIAS Weight Weenie Micro, and it’s not fair to lump it with a GT Nano-7. BIAS believes that a comfortable lay comes from the length of the hammock, not the width, which is why they sell a 52-inch wide model, believing that the 11 ft. length of the BIAS hammocks more than compensates for a reduced width. I happen to agree with them, that 10-11 ft. hammocks provide a much better lay, which is why I bought a Weight Weenie Micro (albeit a 60-inch).
I think what gets tricky here is the difference between a catenary angle and a straight line angle. When you measure the angle you want the hammock in a straight line. I usually put a small item in my hammock to tighten up the line without weighing it down too much. It’s a little more art than science. The calculator and thumb-finger methods are starting points but don’t take into account fabric type and stretch with all the components, all of which affect the final angle, which is what we are estimating. If you find the hang angle is too slack, tighten it up. Fiddle a little until you find the right hang angle for your hammock.
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.
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These straps come in handy in so many ways. I like to keep my clothes and gear off the ground when I camp. The straps can easily be used to hang wet clothes from to dry off. If you’re a camera guy like me, you want to protect your baby. Hang your DSLR from the straps instead of having it sit in the dirt. If it’s raining and you’re really worried about your clothes or camera you can use your hammock tarp ridgeline as an alternative. By hanging your damp clothes right under the tarp, you can guarantee they won’t get soaked. Just make sure they’re not dripping wet before you hang them above you!
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
But why are spreader bars bad? It might seems like a good idea to spread open the hammock and create a flatter appearance. By spreading open the hammock, it appears to be a more inviting surface. But these spreaders created many unnecessary problems. For one, the spreader bars disrupt the natural center of gravity on the hammock. Spreaders cause the weight to distribute unevenly. You may have experienced the unbalanced shaking while getting into these hammocks. Or have even been a victim to sudden flips when you make the wrong move. Many people new to hammock camping recall experiences with these poorly designed hammocks. They end up associating all the negative experiences of rope hammocks with all hammocks.