Good. Then either a 10.5 foot or 11 foot ~58″ wide hammock. After that, get a good top and underquilt. The Hammock Gear Econs would be a good choice (tell them I sent you). And then a hammock specific tarp, again Hammock Gear would be fine, but there are a number of good hammock tarps. Larger is better altho, I am not a fan of “doors. Silynlon is the best value but DCF (Cuben) is awesome great if you can afford it. Warmest, -alan
I’m a special forces soldier in the Army and found hammock very useful in jungle environments (a necessity). The amount of bugs, snakes, spiders, chiggers, ticks, rodents, ants and other creepy crawlers that will give you a hard nights rest is limited if you are trying to save weight not taking a tent (the military patrols don’t take tents) but most importantly flash foods from heavy rains wont wash your gear away if you hang it from your hammock rope. I had some buddies in the Philippians that learned that hard lesson. If you don’t take a net, a ThermaCell is a must have.
Three-season is sensible, but I’d add that hammocks can be awesome in deep winter as well. Once set up camp in a couple feet of snow. I set up wearing my snowshoes the whole time, didn’t need to dig or stomp down snow in any way. Use deadfall branches as snow-stakes for your tarp- easy. I have spent nights in my hammock in deep cold (down to -36f thus far), it is work but it can be done.
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.
Great value. Many camping hammocks offer super sturdy construction and materials and are as rugged as many high quality tents on the market. The Roo, for example, is made with their proprietary diamond ripstop fabric, high tensile strength thread, triple stitched seams, and reinforced stress points, which is why they feel confident offering a lifetime warranty on it.
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’s a myth that hammocks are cold. Properly setup, a true backpacking hammock (with a good under-quilt) is quite warm. I’ve slept warm and comfortable in a hammock many a cold winter night in the Mid-Atlantic. The main reason for the “sleeping cold” myth is that people unaccustomed to sleeping in a hammock do not use an under-quilt or don’t adjust it properly leaving huge gaps. [Not using an under-quilt with a hammock is equivalent of someone using their sleeping bag directly on the snow without an insulating ground pad and saying that all sleeping bags are cold.]
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.
1. There are “camps” in the hammock world (just like in most endeavors) that have become fans of a manufacturer or style of hammocks. Not everyone likes a bridge, not everyone likes a gathered end hammock. Not everyone that uses a gathered end will agree about how to whip the ends, how long to make it, or how wide it should be. Sometimes people that are fans cannot see past what they are fans of enough to understand there may be a better way, or a way people like better.
Think of tarps like accessories: mix and match to your liking. The main consideration is ridge line length, to ensure the hammock is covered end to end. I often use a poncho tarp from GoLite, pitched on the diagonal. After the ridge line length is covered, anywhere from a few inches or a foot in either side (depending in your preference) the next consideration is side coverage. There is a lot of variety there.
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.
I have my share of sleeping bags stuffed into forgotten corners of my garage. When I first got into hammock hanging to see if it would be something I would enjoy, I used those forgotten sleeping bags as insulation. I used them as "underquilts" and have used them in the hammock itself. The problem is that typically bags are thrown into the hammock with the hanger climbing in at night. A wrestling match ensues and, as too often is the case, the hanger winds up with tense muscles and cramps from having to contort like a circus performer!
More openness. Adventurers like Alastair Humphreys aren’t fans of tent camping, as you’re essentially trading a sturdy roof at home for a thinner roof in the woods. If your goal with camping is to get as much nature and fresh air as you can, sleeping in a hammock is the way to go. You’ll rock to gentle breezes, fall asleep while watching the stars, and open your eyes to the sky. If the forecast calls for rain, or you’d like to sleep past sunrise, just put a rain tarp over your hammock.
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).
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.
Conversely, most backpackers do not understand the first thing about backpacking hammocks. There is a bit of an art to setting up a hammock and sleeping in one. Thus, learning to hammock camp may initially take more time. As noted earlier, however, there is nothing terribly difficult about setting up a hammock, and in the long term it is probably faster to set up a hammock than a ground system.
Most folks that go the homemade route when they are new don’t have a grasp of what exactly they need and it usually leads to a cold and or wet nights sleep and them not wanting to hammock again which is absolutely what I want to avoid when giving advice. If the homemade gear works well then by all means use it often. I am happy to hear you were able to use what you could find to make a bottom wind break for your hammock and that it kept you toasty warm.
In fact, the only thing it didn't have that we wished it did was a set of trunk straps instead of harmful rope slings. But fear not, you can order your Bear Butt with trunk straps too! They do cost more though. While other inexpensive models like the Grand Trunk Ultralight Starter may leave you disappointed with their size or durability, the Bear Butt Double is an excellent all-around tree sling that won't empty your pocketbook.
There was a wide variation in weight between the heaviest and lightest setups we tested. Our score for the weight metric takes into account the hammocks themselves and anything attached to them (such as carabiners), and a stuff sack (if included). Suspension systems, such as tree straps, were not included in the measured package weight unless the manufacturer specifically included them in the same stuff sack. Many of the models we tested did not come with a suspension system, and the weight of your final setup is therefore contingent on the system you choose to implement.
Get your hammock set up with plenty of slack. It’s important to lie at an angle to get comfortable. All you are doing is shifting your body from the midline of the hammock 30 degrees so that you are lying at a diagonal. What you’ll notice is that the center of the hammock is the tightest, while the sides remain loose. By adjusting the angle of your body, you’ll be cutting across the curve of the hammock. The hammock will flatten out underneath you and give you a flat lay without pressure points. Your neck and feet will maintain a slight elevation and the hammock will conform to your back.