1. Angle your hammock suspension (rope) at around 30°. Pitching a hammock too tight between anchor points puts an enormous amount of force on the suspension lines and hammock, leading to potential failure (and discomfort). A tight pitch also raises the center of gravity, making the hammock unsteady. Pitching the hammock at 30° ensures you get a deep sag (tip #2).

CHOOSING  STOCK MODELS:  All "Stock" Hennessy Hammocks are a complete shelter system including tightly woven fabrics and high quality support ropes, a matching detachable rainfly, a "no see um" mosquito mesh, a gear loft on the ridge line and a stuff sack with set up instructions on the back. Hennessy Hammock also provides complimentary "Tree Hugger" webbing straps to protect the rope and the tender bark of trees.


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. 
If you have properly hung your hammock it will have enough slack to allow you to stretchout angled horizontally (see above for tips on the proper hang). Try a 30 degree angle as a starting point and adjust as to whatever feels most comfortable, this will allow you to lay flat while relaxing or sleeping. At an angle you can even sleep on your side (one of our favorite ways to sleep in our hammock). 

With greater campsite availability, I can get away from habituated camping areas to find peace and quiet, and a better night of rest. Hammocks are a blessing to those that do not desire the crowded social scene at most Appalachian Trail (AT) shelters and other popular camping areas. And when better campsites exist — more aesthetic, more protected, less buggy, etc. — I can utilize them.
A hanger has a few options available in order to stay warm. There is no right way or wrong way. It's all a matter of personal preference. Some people like underquilts, others like self-inflating pads or down-filled inflatable mats, closed-cell foam (CCF) pads, or even sleeping bags. (While sleeping bags alone aren't the best option, it's a cheap option nonetheless...and I'll explain later why it's probably not the best choice.) There are a wide variety of styles, colors, and options available to hangers by small, cottage-industry hammock business owners who go out of their way to keep up with the latest trends. I'm certainly no expert in this field and have learned a great deal of things from my friends at HammockForums.net, but I have personal experience with each of the options listed...so let's take a quick look at each one.
A common issue with hammockers is the lack of adequate insulation under them, which leads to a cold night and the promise to never hammock again.  Ground-sleeper top insulation (sleeping bag) can be recycled.  However, when getting into a hammock in a sleeping bag, the bottom compresses rendering it useless in keeping the underside warm from the cold air.  A flat sleeping bag in conjunction with any wind  under your tarp leads to both conductive and convective heat loss. The result of all these losses is cold butt syndrome (CBS) and an chilly nights sleep.  The simplest (not comfy) way to avoid this is by using a sleeping pad in the hammock.
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.

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.

Seek natural shelter As you set up your hammock, a main goal is to deal with potential wind. Rather than setting up your hammock in exposed areas, move farther into the forest to enjoy the natural sheltering effect of the surrounding trees. Also, seek out natural wind breakers like rock formations, and think about hanging a tarp between two trees as an extra layer of protection.
The Hiker Lite with its poly taffeta bottom and in a 10′ x 56″ size sounds like it would be a very tempting minimal hammock with great support and reasonable weight. While i can sleep in a 1.0 oz nylon hammock I am not entirely enthusiastic about the sag. Both the stiffer poly fabric and 1.4 to 1.8 oz fabric should make the hammock much firmer without a huge weight penalty.
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.

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.
A water break—or drip line—is a piece of line added to all lines running under the hammock tarp to provide a path for water to the ground. They are not included on some hammocks, and instructions lack detail on the need for them. Sometimes suspension hardware, like a Dutch Biner,  provides some water break, but always add a drip line for the cheap insurance it provides.  Videos that further investigate the how and why of drip lines are linked below.  This <$1 item protects sleeping gear from getting wet. A cotton shoelace works great, but other options are below. I wrapped a small piece of line around the suspension line and tied a taut line hitch.  This seemed to stay tight on the line better than other methods.
CHOOSING CUSTOMIZED HAMMOCKS:  You can also "Customize" the "Stock" hammock by (Step 1) choosing the hammock body with the length of  webbing straps you want. (Step 2) If you want a rainfly to go with your hammock,  then choose any rainfly including the stock rainfly or buy just the hammock without the rainfly.  (Step 3) You can choose an optional insulation system, designed to fit each model.  
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.
Overall, smaller campers have more options since, larger campers will prefer roomier designs. We felt that there were no double models that slept a pair comfortably, though larger doubles fit two loungers better than a single, and slept one very comfortably. All of that considered, we still had to pick some winners and losers from the perspective of our astute testers. The hangs that we found the most comfortable were the Bear Butt Double, Grand Trunk Skeeter Beeter, Warbonnet Ridgerunner and the REI Co-op Flash Air, though all for different reasons.
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.
Choose a great sleeper hammock.  Eagle’s Nest Outfitters makes this so easy. Check out ENO’s selection of great OneLink sleep systems, which include single and double styles. Oh, and they all include a rain tarp, bug net, the choice between SlapStrapPRO or Atlas, carabiners and stakes. Rest assured, Mother Nature will not ruin your trip. Oh, and thanks to the way everything packs together, you won’t forget anything at home.
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.
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.

And of course another important hammock accessory is your hammock stand. You can use a hammock stand to set up a permanent hammock in the garden or in a spare room, or you can use a portable hammock stand in order to fold it down and store easily when not in use. These can even be taken with you on a holiday or camping trip so that you don’t need to rely on having two nearby anchor points.
One of the misconceptions that has sprung from hammocks with structural ridge lines is to pitch the hammock taut between the anchor points since the hammock’s sag is unaffected. This has had catastrophic effect in some cases where ridge lines have snapped under the load. In the real world, it is nearly impossible to hang the hammock perfectly taut as all suspension line will have some stretch, especially when the line is under extreme tensile forces.
One of the misconceptions that has sprung from hammocks with structural ridge lines is to pitch the hammock taut between the anchor points since the hammock’s sag is unaffected. This has had catastrophic effect in some cases where ridge lines have snapped under the load. In the real world, it is nearly impossible to hang the hammock perfectly taut as all suspension line will have some stretch, especially when the line is under extreme tensile forces.

When you sling your hammock, it’s important to use the wide straps that manufacturers produce, because they have minimal impact on trees and keep them healthy. If you rig up your hammock using rope, you could cut into the bark and do serious damage. Also, manufacturers’ straps usually include several loops, which allow you to adjust the length easily.


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.
Derek – Awesome site. My buddy and I have used our Eno OneLink systems twice now and love the entire idea. May never go back to a tent. We are trying to figure out our best option for hanging the tarp ridgeline. He’s running his using the Atlas strap webbing and I’m running a continuous ridgeline between trees. Thoughts? Recommendations? Better ideas?
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.
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.
When you are lying on your back in the hammock, there is mosquito netting above you and along the sides. Running lengthwise down the inside of the hammock is a cord called the ridgeline, which has a little pocket where you can store your glasses or an LED light for easy access during the night. All the rest of your gear is outside of the hammock. After hanging my bear bag, I usually hang my backpack on a nearby tree and cover it with my backpack cover in case it rains. If my boots are wet, I hang them from the ridgeline outside my hammock but still under the rain fly.
space/emergency blankets work well under hammocks in place of quilts for added warmth. just attach/hang under like the quilt, cut a slit so you can still climb in and out. blocks wind, reflects heat, little weight added. ive thrown a zlite pad in my hennessey asym and slept comfortably down to 30 in a 25 degree bag + baselayers. pads help smooth some of the squeeze also on the shoulders and obviously adds a bit of warmth (and weight).
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.
 Each and every order is very important to us and we will continue to work on getting your order out as fast as possible.  Please keep in mind that we are a small shop and do not warehouse any sewn products. What this means to you is flexibility in color combinations, American Made cottage goods but it also means that it will take a little longer to get to your door. 
i’ve seen hammocks pull down live trees twice in maine. once nearly hitting me (an innocent bystander) and once nearly killing the guy in it- and it was a HUGE tree. it’s still laying across the stream at cooper brook falls lean-to in maine if you want to see it. so, in my opinion, the size of the tree matters little- you have to think about the topsoil-to-rock ratio its roots are in. i would think anywhere in new england is questionable.
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.
Last but not least, the mat. A good sleeping mat will not just make your nights more comfortable, but it will also insulate your hammock from the cold. This is an ultimate hack, but you could make your hammock sleeping mat DIY by using the same insulating material people use to insulate their car windows when sleeping in. You can shape your mat so that it follows the hammock’s shape and you can even attach to it an inflatable cushion to get the ultimate sleeping asset when hammock camping.

One of the best options is the insulating kit that many companies offer for their hammocks. They act as a thick insulating buffer between the cold air and your butt. They tend to be hung under the hammock, so they don’t compromise your space or comfort and the insulation can’t get compressed, so it’s always effective. The best part is that most insulating kits don’t weigh that much. What’s more is that they can provide more comfort to the already comfortable hammock.
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.

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.
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.
You will be light on your feet and ready for any scenario with the ENO SubLink Shelter System with the Sub7 hammock in your pack. The Sub7 by itself was the second lightest model we tested, weighing in at just 6.4 ounces. That is downright impressive and we had to reward it. We tested the SubLink Shelter System upgrade. It contains suspension, a bug net, and a rain fly. Altogether, it's not a featherweight system, but each component individually is the lightest ENO offers, from the 4.1-ounce Helios Suspension System to the 16-ounce ProFly Sil Rain Tarp (the most substantial component). You can pick and choose what you need and leave the rest at home with this setup. Going out for just one summer night and trying to keep your weight down? Bring only the sling and suspension. Going into inclement weather? Bring it all. This setup will allow you to customize your adventure, staying lightweight at the same time.
There are a ton of different closed-cell foam (CCF) pads on the market. Some are made by major outdoor equipment manufacturers and others can be purchased at your favorite X-Mart store. The idea here is simple: the CCF provides a thin barrier between the hanger and the cold air or wind. CCF pads are cheap, most are quite durable, and all are very light.
That said, there are other benefits for pitching a Hennessy with a sag on the suspension lines instead of drum tight. First, you reduce the strain on all the components (a nice safety feature) and lower the tensile force against the anchor points. Second, if you connect your tarp directly to the Hennessy Hammock, you can avoid the “limp tarp” effect that happens when you pitch it too tight. A third benefit, which is really tangential, is that you develop skills that work with other hammocks, such as net-less Mayan-style hammocks. A lot of folks who start with a Hennessy end up getting other hammocks for family and friends that are less feature rich, but if they are accustomed to pitching things tight, the end up having problems.
I think your fear is unfounded. Bears will smell you, regardless of whether you are in a tent or a hammock. If you smell like food AND if it’s an aggressive bear, I think they’ll do what they want with you. Because aggressive bears tend to hang out in high-use backcountry (and frontcountry) areas, this makes a strong argument for smart campsite selection no matter what you use.
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.
Though it isn't the lightest option we reviewed, we feel that the added width (and the comfort and ease it provides) along with the integrated bug net make its weight more than reasonable. As much as we appreciated the bug net to keep those mosquitos at bay, it isn't able to come off or even fold back completely out of the way, so it's always there. We also weren't stoked on Grand Trunk's heavy carabiners and damaging rope suspension system and would upgrade to lighter carabiners and trunk straps before taking this on a backpacking trip. If you're looking to tree camp without sacrificing comfort, we strongly recommend the Grand Trunk Skeeter Beeter Pro.

Leave the Asym tarp (napkin) at home. The majority of water is kept divorced from precious down by a trap with adequate coverage. Hex or winter tarps provide the most coverage and are easier to center over hammocks during setup. This margin in setup avoids multiple adjustments.  Also consider bringing a section of material to place under the tarp to keep gear clean and dry. One thru-hiker favorite budget option is a sheet of Tyvek.


The area I refer to is a stretch of quite mountainous terrain along the eastern edge of the country. The parks have some large buck and antelope,which are the animals the poachers are after primarily for subsistence purposes, rather than commercial gain (as awful as that is). There is no doubt that some are quite desperate, and an encounter is unwelcome.
A few light hammock models use smaller dimensions that may confine you. For example, the Grand Trunk Nano-7 Hammock, and the BIAS Weight Weenie Micro 52 Hammock are both only around 50-52 inches wide, versus the 65″ wide of the Warbonnet Blackbird. Shorter and/or narrower hammocks also limit your ability to sleep flatter on a diagonal to the hammock’s center-line.
Your sleeping bag must resist low temperatures and assure you protection from the cold at night. Also, it should be 100% waterproof, not only to avoid getting wet because of the rain (which should not be a problem if you have your hammock tarp), but also to protect you from the moisture in the air, which can be very high at night or in bad weather conditions.
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.

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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)
I live in Spring, Texas. Why is that important to you? Well, we have 4 seasons here: hot, really hot, crazy hot + high humidity, and a few weeks of cool weather. I'm a native Texan so I'm used to the heat and humidity. What happens when the temperature drops a bit and I still want to enjoy some time in my hammock? If you've used a hammock for any length of time then you know that you need something below you to cut the chill when the temperature drops. A new hanger might discover this a bit too late while out on a camping or hiking trip. Yikes!
That said, there are other benefits for pitching a Hennessy with a sag on the suspension lines instead of drum tight. First, you reduce the strain on all the components (a nice safety feature) and lower the tensile force against the anchor points. Second, if you connect your tarp directly to the Hennessy Hammock, you can avoid the “limp tarp” effect that happens when you pitch it too tight. A third benefit, which is really tangential, is that you develop skills that work with other hammocks, such as net-less Mayan-style hammocks. A lot of folks who start with a Hennessy end up getting other hammocks for family and friends that are less feature rich, but if they are accustomed to pitching things tight, the end up having problems.
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.
Your answer has lead to some confusion. The hammock itself will sag as weight is added to the hammock but typically the suspension lines, even with a structural ridgeline, will also drop down below the original 30 degrees from horizontal after weight is added to the hammock (person enters the hammock). So is 30 degrees the best angle “before” entering hammock even if the suspension lines drop to as much as 45 degrees after? Some people weigh a lot especially if two hammocks are side by side using Dutch’s double whoopie hooks, could be over 500 lbs of tension on the webbing straps coming from the trees.
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.
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