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.
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.
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.
When Trek Light Gear first began back in 2003 I had to explain each and every hammock benefit (and challenge) to every customer I came in contact with. Now, it’s still exciting to see how many people are new to the concept – but because of the spread of information it’s amazing to see how many people are coming into the hammock camping lifestyle with an already great understanding of what it offers.
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!
The primary appeal of hammock camping for most users is comfort and better sleep, as compared to sleeping on a pad on the ground. Hammock camping enthusiasts argue that hammocks don't harm the environment in the way that conventional tents do. Most hammocks attach to trees via removable webbing straps, or "tree-huggers," which don't damage the bark and leave little or no marks afterward. Whereas it's easy to see a frequently used campground because of the effect on the grass, scrub and topsoil, the presence of a hammock camping site is much harder to detect. This has found favour with hikers and campers who follow the principles of Leave No Trace camping. Hammock camping also opens up many more sites for campers - stony ground, slopes, and so on - as well as keeping them off the ground and away from small mammals, reptiles and insects. Sleeping off the ground also keeps the camper out of any rainwater runoff that might seep in under a tent during a downpour. Lastly, the relatively light weight of hammocks makes them ideal for reducing backpack weight, thereby making it a good option for ultralight backpacking enthusiasts.

Chasing a whipping tarp corner in the middle of the night in the wind, with rain pelting your face is an experience to avoid. Some suggest using sticks or rocks and don’t carry stakes at all, but hunting items in the dark after a fall day of hiking is not easy. For aggressive wind, put stakes all the way into the ground and place rocks on top. Even 5.5lb-base-weight-hiker Lint carries stakes (4:20).


Some campers pushing into the 175+ lb weight range are fine with lighter hammock body fabrics (e.g. 1.0-1.1 oz nylon). Other campers in the 175+ lb weight range feel that these lighter hammocks do not give enough body support even if they are technically within the hammock’s weight range, and therefore opt for 1.7-1.9 oz or heavier hammock body fabrics.
Many of the less-complicated models did not include suspension. While these models tended to be very easy to set up (merely clipping a carabiner or hooking an S hook onto your suspension system), their ease of setup depends on the suspension system you decide buy. The only exception to this was the Sea to Summit Ultralight which came with unique buckles that integrate perfectly with the manufacturers own system, but require more forethought if you're building your own or have suspension from another company. The buckles have a hole that is too narrow for a standard carabiner, so we had to get creative with climbing slings. In most cases, you can use any suspension system with any hammock without issue, but with Sea to Summit we recommend sticking to their compatible components for your whole setup.

A little dirt don’t hurt...BUT...if you are skeptical about getting a your clothes dirty, spread your hammock out for a dry, dirt free space to sit or lie down! Sunbathing on the beach, picnicking in a dewy meadow, playing cards at your campsite, whatever the occasion may be, your hammock will be there for you! And don’t worry about getting it filthy--these guys are lightweight and quick drying, making them a breeze to shake off and dry out! So you can forget about  packing along that extra blanket, as long as you have your hammock, you’re set!
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.
Can you get a flat lay with an underquilt? It seems all the pictures of underquilts are bananas, and those of a angled lay are have either feet and/or heads off the hammock. Are these hammocks too small or do you generally lay with your feet out in a top quilt foot box? Should I be able to lay in my hammock (if correctly sized) with my head and feet still inside the hammock?
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?
But even if you can sleep on your side, after a while you may decide not to. After a few days on the trail in a hammock, that natural slight curve becomes your friend. The tired knotted back muscles relax extremely well sleeping in that curve, and after getting used to it, you will prefer it. Often I find he transition into the hammock after a long break from the field is fairly easy, but getting used to a flat bed after a few weeks in a hammock is actually harder. Another point about sleeping like this. When you can elevate your feet above your body, it helps to reduce the swelling that sometimes happens overnight after a good hard day of hiking.
Recreational hammocks are fast becoming “must-haves” for Scouting campouts, and many are small and light enough that folks bring them on day hikes, as well. Some of the primary reasons people like hammocks are because they are fun, comfortable to lounge in and pretty quick to set up. Whether you’re a veteran “hanger” or just starting out, here are eight tips to make the most of your hammock.
Hammock camping is a burgeoning trend in the outdoor industry. Instead of finagling around with a tent and its footprint, rain fly, poles and stakes, many people simply string a hammock up and enjoy a night between trees. However, when winter approaches and the temperature dips under 45 degrees, suddenly the tent replaces the hammock for overnighters. That once-refreshing breeze is now a face-chapping enemy and your once-toasty buns are now cold and numb.
Honestly, the comfort is the number one reason to switch and can't be emphasized enough. It is way more comfortable than any pad out there including the self inflating pads. Besides supporting you back, relaxing your body, and reducing foot swelling, there is the gentle rocking that can lull you to sleep, as well as the lack of mystery bumps like rocks and roots that you think are not there until you lay down to sleep like there is sleeping on the ground. You don't slide to one end of your hammock like sometimes happens in your tent when you can't find the perfect level spot.

I own a Hennessy Hammock Backpacker Asym (31 oz.) which is a very popular model amongst hammock hangers. To get into it, you enter it from below, standing up in a slit that runs half way down the middle on one side. Once inside, you lean back and sit on the half that does not have the slit, raise your legs and lie back. The edges of the slit are covered with velcro and close together under your legs. To get out, you press your feet on the velcro seam which will open below you, stand up and slip under the hammock to get out.
Chasing a whipping tarp corner in the middle of the night in the wind, with rain pelting your face is an experience to avoid. Some suggest using sticks or rocks and don’t carry stakes at all, but hunting items in the dark after a fall day of hiking is not easy. For aggressive wind, put stakes all the way into the ground and place rocks on top. Even 5.5lb-base-weight-hiker Lint carries stakes (4:20).
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.
4. Insulate underneath. Hammocks are a godsend in hot, muggy areas where the extra air circulation makes outdoor camping tolerable. But as temperatures drop below 70°F (21°C), you’ll start to feel the effects of convective heat loss known as Cold Butt Syndrome (CBS). A sleeping pad (closed-cell foam or self-inflating) works great, and some hangers use them year-round. Purpose-built “under quilts” are another popular option for keeping you warm underneath. For hot summer nights, you may only need a thin blanket to regulate your temperature.

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.
Even if I were counting grams, I would err on the side of a larger tarp. It will offer greater protection from wind and driving rain, and one or both sides can be “porched” for additional living space and ventilation without a critical sacrifice to storm-resistance. Finally, the weight penalty is miniscule — an extra three square yards of ultralight tarp fabric weigh as little as 1.5 ounces.

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.
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)
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Underquilts are my favorite option. They are lightweight devices which provide insulation and serve as a wind barrier when hung beneath the hammock. There are a plethora of manufacturers of underquilts in all different shapes, sizes, colors, fabrics, temperature ranges, attachment methods, and insulation choices for any kind of hammock on the market today. The two most popular means of insulation are goose down and Climashield synthetic material. Each has its own unique set of pros and cons, but that's a topic of discussion for another day.
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.
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 more and more options make it to the market, it's easier to find affordable versions. But how do you find an affordable option that doesn't sacrifice comfort, versatility, and longevity? Enter the Bear Butt Double! This straightforward parachute version is made of some of the thickest nylon of all the models we tested, has triple stitched seams, and boasts one of the highest weight capacities available. It's also among the largest in overall size, meaning finding comfort is a cinch no matter if you're 4'2" and reading a book or 6'5" and snoozing in a sleeping bag. It comes with lightweight carabiners and a quippy sticker.
I like to keep my options open and I have just WAY too much hammock gear. Not only do I use underquilts but I also use inflatable mats. I have a goose down-filled inflatable mat which I love. It's easy to inflate and deflate, is a deluxe model (i.e. very long and wide), and provides a great deal of warmth and wind protection. These aren't cheap X-Mart inflatable toys. Inflatable pads by any of the major hiking/camping gear manufacturers use top-notch materials and craftsmanship. Some have insulation, some just use the air in them as the barrier between the user and the cold ground or cold air, and some use a combination of air and insulation.

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.
The number of camp sites when you use a tent or tarp are limited to the places where you have flat ground, no pooling of water, no runoff flowing through, clear of brush, clear of rocks and roots, and many other little things to make your sleep enjoyable as well as just supporting the structure. Many times you must either crowd into a limited number of spots with others, go to designated sites, create a site (increasing impact), or take a less than perfect site. With a hammock, it's almost all good.
Insulate. In warm temps, the air circulation provided by a hammock will keep you cooler than sleeping in a tent. But in colder weather, tent camping offers an advantage in that the ground acts as insulation, returning the heat you give off. When you’re sleeping in a hammock, your body heat escapes out the bottom and is lost; this is the cause of what’s called “Cold Butt Syndrome” — the top of you is warm because it’s covered in blankets, but your bottom is chilled.
Again, with any system, there are pros and cons to using self-inflating pads or mats. I'm sure you can imagine how devastating it would be if an inflatable pad or mat was your only insulation system while out on a hiking trip and you discover while setting up your sleep system for the night that it has a hole in it. Bad news unless you also carry a repair kit!
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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.
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.
Extras are in name only. In the backcountry, you’re probably going to want at least a few of them. So, let’s start with suspension. I love the ENO Atlas Hammock Suspension System. It goes up quickly—a bonus after a long day of getting beat up in the mountains. Also cool? They’re designed to lessen the impact your hang has on the trees you’re using.

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.
If you’re the type that gets motion sickness, this may not be for you. You’re going to move around, be it from wind or your own tossing and turning. Over the period of a night’s sleep, this may lead to some problems. If you’re unsure, give it a go for an hour or two out in the yard on some sunny afternoon to see how it makes you feel. Laborious, I know, but sometimes, that’s just the way it goes.

Planning to do the High Sierra Trail this coming August, and was curious if anyone has experience taking a hammock rather than a ground setup on the HST? I know there will be at least one camp at Guitar Lake where I’d have to use my hammock as a bivy, but are there any other sites where this would be an issue, or other reasons hammock camping the HST would be a bad choice?
New to hammock camping and have yet to read your book – but I will! Thus far I’ve obtained everything I need except an underquilt – and I’m trying very hard to get good things at low prices as this is all a test for me now. After all, I might not like it out in the woods. Back to underquilts: they’re not cheap. I’m trying to accomplish the most comfortable summer night’s sleep with possible temps down to 60. I don’t want to try a pad as it seems too much to figit with for comfort. I’m aware blankets/comforters/etc beneath you can compress and lose their insulation benefits. . What recommendations do you have for a budget underquilt? Would a body heat reflective emergency blanket work to lay on? Would the Costco down comforter compress too much beneath me therefore offering very little insulation? Help me stay cheap!

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.

First time hammock campers often hang their hammock with little slack thinking this will be more comfortable. However, hanging it loose with slack in the middle actually makes the hammock easier to sit and lay in (more on laying in your hammock below). You should also aim to keep the hammock lower to the ground. A low hung hammock is better because you can reach your belongings on the ground without getting up and if you accidentally fall out of the hammock you won't get hurt. 


Absolutely! What you are probably seeing are promo shots that show an under quilt wrapped around a hammock with no one inside. When you sleep in a hammock correctly, diagonally, you sleep in that nice, ergonomically flat position. The under quilt moves to wrap around you in that same diagonal position. Your head and feet still stay inside the hammock. An under quilt will cover all or most of you, depending on the length of the quilt. I prefer 3/4 quilts, which covers from my shoulders to my lower legs, depending on the brand.
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.
Walked around Mount St. Helens last weekend on the Loowit Trail with one of my best buddies and had an amazing time. The trail is pretty tough, with quite a few wash outs and steep sections, but the rewards are well worth it. Here are a few of my favorite shots from the trip and we also posted a full backpacking guide on our website. Hope you enjoy! . Annie and I are back on the road again and feeling great. Our first stop is in Denver for Outdoor Retailer and then we’re off to explore. Glacier NP and the Wind River Range are at the top of our list right now, but we’re leaving things open. Just looking to get out and enjoy nature at its finest. 🏕🚐🌄😍 . #mountsthelens #loowittrail #washington #cleverhiker

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
I love my current hammock (Warbonnet) so much I am sleeping in it at home most nights. I tried to use my hammock in the So. Cal portions of the PCT last spring and found myself on the ground most nights so I sent it home till I could find a good part of the trail for hanging. I was sorry to see it go! Looking forward to reading the next installment.
Some hammocks come with pockets and often this is a clever design that enables the carry bag itself to hang off the side for easy storage of small items. However, you can also buy separate pockets as individual hammock accessories and use these to store all manner of things like torches or even snacks! Remember to keep sweet smelling foods covered up though (check our guide to camping safety tips for more).

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Just found this great series of articles. I had often wondered if one of the Deans of long distance UL hiking would ever find his way to “light side,” and now he has. I know there are strong opinions on both sides of issue because, like sailing or flying or any activity where weight is a governing factor, every consideration is really just a compromise – light weight, low cost, strong and durable – pick 2!
We already know, from Dutch’s backpacking experience on the Appalachian Trail, that experienced hikers know what they want and need for their hammock and backpacking gear — it’s simply the challenge of finding the items in stores. Since many stores don’t offer what hikers want, many opt to create their own camping gear to meet their backpacking needs.
The hammock was developed in Pre-Columbian Latin America and continues to be produced widely throughout the region, among the Urarina of the Peruvian Amazon, for several years in Ghana,[2] and presently throughout North America, Europe, and Australia. The origin of the hammock remains unknown, though many maintain that it was created out of tradition and need. The word hammock comes from hamaca, a Taino Indian word which means 'thrown fishing net'. On long fishing trips, the Taíno would sleep in their nets, safe from snakes and other dangerous creatures.
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.
Alan Berry is a former elementary school teacher who now works as a computer network specialist and police officer for his local school district in Texas. Most evenings he can be found hanging between two trees counting sheep in his Trek Light Double hammock. He also enjoys fishing, camping, kayaking, mountain biking, and spending time with his "hanging" friends at state parks.

These rainflys can be set up by creating a ridgeline above your hammock to suspend the tarp. The tarp is draped over the ridgeline. It is then tied in place with either some cord or a hook to keep the fly taught on both ends. Guylines pull the sides of the fly down and keep them in place. Just like a tent. Depending on the weather conditions, you can adjust the tarp accordingly. Keep it more open when there’s a light drizzle or pull the sides in if you’re facing a massive squall.
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