Lightweight and space saving. Camping hammocks like the Hennessey include a rain fly and mosquito netting, and yet still weigh under 3 lbs. It’s so comfy you can forgo the pillow and sleeping pad you would have brought in order to sleep comfortably in your tent too. And the great thing about camping hammocks is that you can break them into individual components and only take the things you need. If you’re camping in a warm, bug-free area on a clear night, for example, all you’ll need to bring is something like the Grand Trunk Double Parachute, which weighs only 28 ounces, and packs down to the size of a softball.
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.
If you get a hammock, it should only take one or two nights for you to get comfortable to sleeping in it. That first night however can be a little disconcerting and you might want to take a Benedryl to help you get drowsy and settle down. I made the mistake of sleeping in a hammock for the first time in very hot weather in Maine near the Kennebec River. However, with a little practice and experience, you will learn how to orient your hammock to take advantage of cooling breezes and avoid being hot at night.
Comparing the weight of a hammock system against a ground system is difficult and complex. Both systems have several popular designs and configurations — Which systems should be compared? And how could we ensure that the systems being compared offer a comparable user experience, in terms of camp comfort, sleep quality, and environmental protections?
More versatility. Hammocks offer more freedom of location when it comes to where you’ll lay your head at night: tie your hammock up between trees and rocks, beneath piers, over a stream, on a hill, next to a waterfall…you can even string it up between two car racks. Plus, a hammock does double duty on your trips — not only serving as a bed for sleeping, but as a chair and a lounger. Take a nap, read, and relax in your hammock during the day. And of course it can serve the same purpose when you get home; while a tent sits in your basement between trips, you can use your hammock all the time for relaxing in the backyard (or even inside).
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.
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.
When I Thru-hiked the AT in 2012 I switched to a hammock in Harpers Ferry. My tent was just to hot at this point. I went to Trail Days and picked up a Hennessy for 50% off. The hammock was amazing. I agree with all of your points. By the time I reached Maine it started to get very cold at night and I would often hang my hammock up in a shelter trying to get the heat from the other hikers.
Setting up a Hennessy or taking it down can be very fast if you use Snakeskins. These are nylon tubes that you slide over your hammock when you pack it up. Rather than dismantling the rain fly and the hammock, you roll them together tightly while they are still hanging and slide the Snakeskins over them starting from each tree until they meet in the middle. This forms a long snakey nylon tube which I store in an external side pocket on my pack. When you go to set the hammock up again, all you need to do to tie it off on two trees and slide the snakeskins towards the trees, which wil unfurl the hammock and fly. All you have to do is to stake out the fly and your hammock is fully set up. Snakeskins greatly expedite setup and tear down, particularly in the rain, and can greatly help in keeping the rest of your gear dry.
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.
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.
Rope hammocks are just one of many styles of hammocks. But there are many options out there that provide a superior night’s sleep. Besides the bridge hammock, there are gathered end, and bed hammocks. Gathered end hammocks have each end tied together to a point. The camper lies along the horizontal plane of the hammock. Bed hammocks are designed so that you lie perpendicular to the plane of the hammock instead. We’ll be walking through the more popular gathered end hammock. Let’s first weigh the pros and cons of hammocks.