Good. Then either a 10.5 foot or 11 foot ~58″ wide hammock. After that, get a good top and underquilt. The Hammock Gear Econs would be a good choice (tell them I sent you). And then a hammock specific tarp, again Hammock Gear would be fine, but there are a number of good hammock tarps. Larger is better altho, I am not a fan of “doors. Silynlon is the best value but DCF (Cuben) is awesome great if you can afford it. Warmest, -alan
These straps come in handy in so many ways. I like to keep my clothes and gear off the ground when I camp. The straps can easily be used to hang wet clothes from to dry off. If you’re a camera guy like me, you want to protect your baby. Hang your DSLR from the straps instead of having it sit in the dirt. If it’s raining and you’re really worried about your clothes or camera you can use your hammock tarp ridgeline as an alternative. By hanging your damp clothes right under the tarp, you can guarantee they won’t get soaked. Just make sure they’re not dripping wet before you hang them above you!
As you can probably guess, the ultralight models offered the least protection and durability. While hanging in the Grand Trunk Nano 7 and the Sea to Summit Ultralight we could feel even the slightest breeze moving underneath us, hence the low ratings. The Grand Trunk Ultralight Starter was marginally better, but not by much. The Sub7 fits into this group as well, but we tested it as part of the SubLink Shelter System, which provided us with a tarp and bug net, so we scored it a bit higher. You would still need a sleeping pad or underquilt for cold nights, but at least we were protected from the day-to-day elements.
I switched to a hammock a couple years back and got a Hennessy Jungle hammock. *Very* comfortable, dual layer, came with a hex tarp but def. not light. The hammock is built to be pretty tough. The dual layers are nice in that it’s a little warmer in colder weather and bugs can’t bite through during the summer (sometimes an issue with single layer hammocks).
On the downside, the suspension system is sold separately, upping the price point overall. It's also on the heavy side, making it a tough option to pick for backcountry adventures. It's also disconcertingly easy to tip over. This tipsiness makes for excellent physical comedy but cuts down on the relaxation factor. If you've been dying to try suspended camping, but can't get comfortable sleeping on your back, give the Ridgerunner a try!
In less popular areas, I find that ground shelters are a comparably valid choice. For example, I have found excellent ground sites in Michigan’s Porcupine Mountains, along New York’s Finger Lakes Trail, and around Mount Kineo, a low-use corner of New Hampshire’s White Mountains. I should point out that in addition to having lighter traffic, these areas have more level ground and more open forests.
This past year I used such opportunities — specifically my intro-level 3-day/2-night guided trips — to finally experiment with hammock systems, which had piqued my curiosity while writing The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide because I knew little about them despite their fanatical cult following. When my colleague Alan Dixon first saw my hammock in North Carolina, he immediately saw its potential and committed himself to this experiment, too. Based on his new first-hand experience, he has submitted a three-part series on hammocks:
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Expedition models need to offer a good night's sleep for many nights in a row, regardless of the weather or terrain. All of the Hennessy and Warbonnet models tested as well as the REI Flash Air do this well. Conversely, some of the smaller, lightweight models, like the Grand Trunk Nano 7 or Ultralight Starter or the ENO Sub7, may not be the most preferable to camp in for more than a night or two. However, if you're taking on an adventure where weight matters, like thru-hiking the Appalachian or Pacific Crest Trail, this might be a worthwhile tradeoff.
I think the bear issue is a big one for me. Ground tents are bigger and offer cover from the bear’s sight. The hammock tent is smaller and movement in them is constricted. I imagine waking up to a bear very close to my hammock tent and not being able to move much to appear threatening to the bear. Thus he gets closer and with a swipe I’m in trouble. This is a frightening scenario. Am I seeing this wrong?
While silnylon is superior, any kind of tarp will work to create an effective shelter from the rain. The plastic blue tarps can make a variety of effective shelters for your hammock. They are also durable and cost only a fraction of a silnylon fly. The downside of these tarps is the bulk and weight, making them less than ideal for ultralight packs.
Hammocks are fantastic for back sleepers and can be decent for side sleepers, but, for the most part, you can forget about sleeping on your stomach. Until now anyway! Enter the Warbonnet Ridgerunner, our Top Pick for Side Sleeping. It has spreader bars that help create the flattest lay possible, so flat we were able to get comfortable on both sides and even on our stomachs. It's like laying in a floating cot made out of top-of-the-line materials. The Ridgerunner also has an integrated bug net with its own cord attachment system, so it's good to go right out of the bag.
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!
Hammocks have been used as traditional bedding for thousands of years. But just now, they’re starting to gain ground in modern sleep science. The indigenous people of Latin America have long embraced the use of hammocks. Even to this day, some people grow up sleeping in a hammock every night. The Navy also replaced their cots with hammocks shortly after Europeans discovered them in South America. Sailors spent months at a time aboard sea vessels where each man was assigned a hammock.