Sleeping in a hammock can also be much more comfortable than sleeping on a sleeping pad. That's why a hammock is always my preferred shelter in certain places like the White Mountains or the AT in New Hampshire, where the ground is as hard as concrete. It can also be far more scenic since you can pitch it between two trees on steep slopes overlooking a fabulous sunset or beside a remote mountain lake in the Adirondacks (see above).
The Hennessy Hammock Hyperlite, Ultralight Backpacker, and Expedition are all great hammocks and have the same dimensions. The main differences between them come in materials and cost. The lighter the materials, the greater the cost. The Hyperlite is the lightest and most expensive with a total weight of 1 lb 12 oz, then comes the Ultralight Backpacker at 1 lb 15 oz, and finally the Expedition at 2 lb 12 oz. The heavier the model, the more durable it will be, but all three of these hammocks will last for thousands of trail miles if treated well. The Hyperlite and Ultralight Backpacker are rated to hold up to 200 lb and the Expedition will hold up to 250 lb. If you’re a backpacker, keeping weight down is important, which is why we prefer the Hyperlite. That said, the Expedition is still a great value buy.
I’m really glad that this blog chose to present this series. Hammocks are strong in their own niche, but I think they’re summarily dismissed by the California-heavy population of ULers. To be fair, if you plan to spend much time above treeline, a hammock is a limitation. But having grown up in Appalachia, the advantages of a hammock were immediately apparent to me.
So I just got a warbonnet blackbird XLC. Brandon mentions that you should hang the foot end of the hammock at least a foot higher than the head end. I noticed that you don’t mention anything about this. Is this recommended for other gathered end hammocks? It seems I lay the way Warbonnet recommends, my head would be closer and a little more center(still off to the side though) to the head end of the hammock while my feet would me much closer to the middle of the hammock and very much off to the side. I guess I’m just curious what you know about this.
You won’t want your car’s window shade in the winter. So, if it’s reflective (like an emergency blanket), throw that in your hammock for insulation. Though the constant crinkle noise may keep you up, the extra layer between your sleeping bag and the hammock will work wonders. Also, any closed-cell foam pad will work as a thin barrier to the elements. Consider criss-crossing the shades or pads underneath your shoulders to increase the width in the vital areas.
If you use a sleeping bag in your hammock to stay warm, your body will compress the insulation below you and reduce its ability to keep you warm. A better strategy is to use an underquilt, which you string up beneath your hammock. This creates a layer of air between the quilt and the hammock and traps heat to provide more insulation. You can pair this with a top quilt and use clothing layers to keep warm.
Most importantly, if you do try spending a night in a hammock and have any issues, don’t give up. We hear from people every day that are ‘instant converts’ – like my own experience, one night in the hammock can be all it takes to proclaim it one of the best night’s sleep you’ve ever had and decide to leave the tent behind for good. But for every one of those experiences there are plenty of people who go through a little bit more of a learning curve and adjustment period. You’ve been sleeping in a bed or on the ground your entire life, unless you’re a rock star sleeper your body and mind may just take a night or two to get used to it.