The next lightest model was the Sub7, weighing in at just 6.4 ounces. We tested this one as part of the ENO SubLink Shelter System and awarded the impressive package our Top Pick for Ultralight Versatility. Granted, the entire shelter system (a package upgrade that ENO offers for all of its slings) weighed in at the high end of the pack at 44.3 ounces. But the beauty of getting the Sub7 as part of the SubLink Shelter System is that you can take what you need and leave the rest. Going out in the middle of the summer for just one night? Grab the Sub7 and the 4.1-ounce Helios Suspension System that comes with the system, and you're good to go. Heading to a buggy area? Bring the 13 ounce Guardian SL Bug Net and ditch the tarp (the heaviest component, at 16 ounces). You get the idea. The light and customizable nature of the SubLink Shelter System with the Sub7 earned it our Top Pick for Ultralight Versatility.
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.
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.
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.
Dispersed camping is permitted in other zones like the Appalachian Trail, Long Trail, Adirondack High Peaks, and Aspen Four Pass Loop. But the number of promising ground sites is naturally limited — there is too much topographic relief and vegetation. In combination with the area’s popularity, the campsites become heavily impacted, and sleep quality is not as good as it could be.
Alex, I highly recommend using an underquilt. It is warmer* and more comfortable. I am a side-sleeper and am just fine in a normal width 10.5 to 11′ hammock with no tricks or special modifications. If $ is an issue, I would suggest one of the lower cost underquilts like the The $99 Hammock Gear Econ. * On the east coast in the summer when the nighttime temps don’t drop below 70 F you can skip the UQ or pad as you won’t need the insulation under you.
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 problem that may arise from using a sleeping pad in a hammock is that the pad may be too narrow for your shoulders. Depending on the slack of your setup, the sides of the hammock may give your shoulders a slight squeeze. Even if it’s slight, it can compress your sleeping bag in that area. This will reduce the amount of insulation around your shoulders. Luckily there are a couple easy solutions for this. You can stuff your extra clothes along your sides to give you some extra protection. You can also buy specially designed sleeping pads for hammocks that feature “wings” on both sides. The “wings’ add insulation for your shoulders and arms when in a hammock. You can also modify your foam pad to make your own “wings”. Just cut two pieces off a cheap foam pad and attach it to your main pad with some duct tape.
REI has made hammock sleeping protected and straightforward with this complete set-up for an incredible price. It's hard to go wrong with the bug net, rain fly, suspension system, and stakes all included in one bag that only weighs 44.8 oz! We found this system simple to set up, following the instructions printed helpfully inside the bag, and easy to keep organized in its stuff sack. While many manufacturers like ENO, Hennessey and Grand Trunk offer systems and accessories you can piece together to make a complete system, this one from REI comes with everything you need all in one bag. No more reading through specs and opening your new package to find that carabiners, trunk straps, or stakes aren't included and will cost you extra.
This seems to be a very old thread but I’ll bump it anyway. I’ve got a Blackbird but I haven’t geared it up for cold weather. Earlier in these posting I see that someone mentioned using and emergency blanket as a sub for an under quilt. I wonder how well that works and has there been a clever way thought of to attach it? Hope some of you guys are still reading this.
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).
I spent two seasons hiking and backpacking in Glacier and was able to hammock in some sites. But there were other times when there just were not suitable trees at the sites, even if there were some in the area. it’s not like in dispersed camping where you can just keep hiking or set up anywhere you want. Many other sites (especially subalpine) in Glacier are very exposed. Wind and sideblown rain are a hammock’s #1 enemy. If you can’t choose your site, then you can’t find a sheltered spot. Unfortunately, these designated sites are made with tents in mind. I know some people don’t want to follow the rules, but for special places like Glacier, there are good reasons for them.
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.
First and foremost, hanging requires a suspension system, and many models don't come with this essential component. While many manufacturers sell compatible suspension systems, quite a number of options either don't have suspension systems factored into the cost or have poorly designed systems included, such as the rope slings that come with the Grand Trunk Skeeter Beeter or Bear Butt Double. Many of the expedition models come with suspension systems, such as the Hennessy Ultralite Backpacker and Expedition, REI Co-op Flash Air and the ENO SubLink Shelter System (though the Sub7 does not if you buy it on its own). Both Warbonnet models had two optional suspension systems available for an additional cost, or you could choose to purchase just the hammock and attach it to another suspension system.
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.
Hammock Forums is a family friendly site. This means that our topics, language and treatment of each other are what you'd want your kids to see. We're not a bunch of prudes...we just think that the internet has enough places where that behavior is tolerated, and this particular site shouldn't be one of them. This is a great community where the norm is to support others in their ideas and projects, and not assume offense where none is intended...and therefore not to flame, call names, or create friction in our threads. Respectful disagreement is ok; disrespectful comments are not.
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)
So long as you can find two trees that are 12-15 feet apart, you can setup a hammock without regard to the surface below it, even on rocky tree root riddled ground. That means that with a hammock you often get the option of camping at prettier, more protected, or less buggy campsites. Furthermore, you can avoid the obvious flat campable areas that in many parks have developed into crowded, heavily impacted and not particularly attractive places to spend the night.
Good information. I learned the insulation aspect of hammock camping my first time out. It’s hard to sleep with a cold but. I know you don’t like home made items, but my budget couldn’t afford a $200 under quilt. I took a black poncho liner I found in a hunting store and had it sewn in half lengthwise. The seamstress also added a couple of 1″ channels along each side and I used shock cord and cord locks from the camping store to fashion the hanging system. Works great. I’ve tested it down to 30 degrees coupled with a 30 degree sleeping bag and sleeping in my base layer. Stayed toasty all night. I bought a compression sack and can stuff my entire sleeping system, hammock, under quilt and tarp into one smallish bag that weighs about four pounds.
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 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.
The comfort and flexibility provided by the hammock while in the backcountry is enough to keep me off the ground. I stress this when I do presentations on the subject and also explain the added flexibility in building a completely custom setup based on your needs and the conditions you expect to find. When you’re using a tent your options are limited. A hammock setup is limited only by your imagination.
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.
Several of the expedition models had a bit of a learning curve to their set up to be able to get comfortable. The Warbonnet Blackbird and Ridgerunner fell into this category, but after practice, we were able to set them up with relative ease and confidence. Additionally, some slings don't come with all the components you need to set them up — beyond just a lack of suspension system. Both the Warbonnet Blackbird and both Hennessey models lack the stakes necessary for a complete set-up.
Hammock camping in cold weather can be warm and comfortable. But it requires a good under-quilt (usually down) that is well fitted (no gaps) to the hammock body. While not a difficult skill, beginner hammock campers should test out their winter system on low-risk, short-duration outings first in order to develop their skills and know-how. Note the full-length, under-quilt (green sleeping bag looking thing below the hammock). Photo by Jack Tier of Jacks ‘R’ Better.
In the Desert Southwest, where trees only grow at the highest elevations and along perennial water sources, hammocks would be most challenged. Some hammocks have been designed to be pitched on the ground, and I have seen some creative rigging systems, but these approaches have significant trade-offs and seem forced. I’ll just bring my modular tent or tarp & bivy, thanks.
Sleeping bags are popular insulation solutions and can be a cheap alternative to underquilts. However, sleeping bags aren't the best solution since the insulation is compressed by the weight of the hanger thus depleting the fullness of the insulation material. It may seem that I'm knocking sleeping bags. It might surprise you to know that I frequently use sleeping bags as my insulation of choice.
Having a safe and fun time out in the wilderness is dependent on the quality of your gear. A backpack or pair of boots failing far from the trailhead can be a significant problem, and your shelter system is no different. If you are planning to sleep in a hammock, the protection it provides and the durability of its construction are of extreme importance. A rip in the fabric can be as bad as having no tent poles and may leave you laying on the cold ground stringing your shelter up in some haphazard fashion or putting it over you like a blanket. Not fun.
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)
Another common source of confusion is attaching the hammock to the trees. Many hammocks come with a set of paracord or some other type of rope as their “suspension system”. Using a bare rope on the tree will dig into the bark of the tree. This damages the bark and causes stress on the tree. To avoid this, always use some form of webbing or tree straps when setting up the hammock. The width of the tree straps spreads the weight across a larger surface area. Remember that you’re using a living tree to get that perfect hang. Do it a favor and don’t cause unnecessary damage with cords and rope! If you need to tie your hammock to the webbing, here’s the only knot you’ll need.