An often overlooked aspect of hanging a hammock is the angle of the hammock suspension to the ground. In the hammock community, the magic angle is 30 degrees. This may bring back geometry nightmares but Derek Hanson figured that this angle can be approximated with ones hand (mine was 28 degrees). Derek wrote one of the best hammock reference manuals on the market, The Ultimate Hang, which is the place to start with all hammock questions.
Yup! Remember that a Brazilian-style hammock is hung with a sag — never flat — so a 10 ft-long (3 m) hammock “shortens” to less than 9 ft (~2.5 m). Also, with an 8×10 ft (2.4×3 m) tarp, you would pitch it on the corners creating an asymmetric coverage. The ridge line on this asym pitch is almost 13 ft (4 m)! This is plenty of coverage for a 10 ft (3 m) Brazilian hammock. http://theultimatehang.com/2012/07/hammock-camping-101/
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.
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. 
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
I’m a special forces soldier in the Army and found hammock very useful in jungle environments (a necessity). The amount of bugs, snakes, spiders, chiggers, ticks, rodents, ants and other creepy crawlers that will give you a hard nights rest is limited if you are trying to save weight not taking a tent (the military patrols don’t take tents) but most importantly flash foods from heavy rains wont wash your gear away if you hang it from your hammock rope. I had some buddies in the Philippians that learned that hard lesson. If you don’t take a net, a ThermaCell is a must have.
Of course, always try to keep your hammock and your hammock straps as much balanced as possible. However, this doesn’t prevent you from hanging stuff on your straps instead of leaving it on the ground. It can be a camping light, your backpack, something you need to dry out. These parts of the gear can turn out to be very useful too, so don’t ignore them.

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?


I’m a special forces soldier in the Army and found hammock very useful in jungle environments (a necessity). The amount of bugs, snakes, spiders, chiggers, ticks, rodents, ants and other creepy crawlers that will give you a hard nights rest is limited if you are trying to save weight not taking a tent (the military patrols don’t take tents) but most importantly flash foods from heavy rains wont wash your gear away if you hang it from your hammock rope. I had some buddies in the Philippians that learned that hard lesson. If you don’t take a net, a ThermaCell is a must have.
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.
When lying at an angle, you’re not restricted to only sleeping on your back. You can move around into all sorts of positions. Just find one that you are most comfortable with. I prefer to sleep on my side and I can comfortably sleep in that position when I angle my body. Since it’s almost impossible to flip in a well designed hammock, feel free to toss and turn as much as you want. Check out this hammock hang calculator to figure out your perfect hang!
The Jacks ‘R’ Better Bear Mountain Bridge Hammock has a unique design that achieves a truly flat lay. This suspension bridge design keeps tension along the top edges of the hammock, which allows your feet and head to hang much lower than traditional hammocks. This flat-sleeping design also lends itself well to sleeping pad use. The downside of this design is that it adds weight. It’s also a wider design than many hammocks, so you’ll need a wider tarp for rain and wind protection, which will also add weight. The Bear Mountain Bridge doesn’t come with a tarp, so you’ll want to add one of Jack's tarps or buy an aftermarket tarp. This hammock is among the heavier backpacking hammocks we recommend, but the unique comfort it offers is worth the weight for some campers.

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!
One of the benefits of hammock camping, however, can also be a significant drawback. A suspended hammock allows for a cooling air flow to surround the camper in hot weather but that also makes it harder to stay warm when temperatures plummet either during the evening or seasonally as a sleeping bag will be compressed under a camper's weight, reducing its ability to trap air and provide insulation. When deciding to commit to hammock camping most "hangers" ditch their sleeping bags for down filled or synthetic quilts. The quilts are divided into two different types, top quilts (TQ) and under quilts (UQ). The UQ is suspended underneath the hammock so the weight of the hanger doesn't compress the baffles thus providing the air pockets for your body to heat and keep you warm. Concurrently the TQ is just a down blanket with some having the option or ability to make a small box for your feet. Essentially, it is just the top half of a sleeping bag. Because a sleeping bags underside is compressed it loses its insulating properties. A TQ cuts the unnecessary material to save weight and fabric. The TQ/UQ sleep system is not only warm but each quilt packs into the size of a grapefruit or smaller depending on temperature rating. Some hammocks have been designed with an extra layer of fabric,[3][4] or a series of large pockets, on the bottom. Insulating material, such as foam, quilting, aluminum windscreen reflectors,[5] clothes, or even dead leaves and brush from the campsite is stuffed between the bottom layers or inside the bottom pockets to create an insulating buffer between the camper and the cold outside air. While the above solutions, except for the found materials, add weight and bulk to the hammock, some approaches use an ultralight open cell foam with a mylar space blanket to mitigate this increase in weight. Another drawback is that a camping hammock requires two trees close enough to hang it and strong enough to support the sleeper's weight. This can be a limitation depending on what environment a person is camping in and at higher elevations where trees are more sparse. In these situations hammock campers may bring along a light groundsheet and "go to ground" using their hammock as a ground tent.
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.

2. Keeping it simple. Especially on HF there seems a atmosphere of tinkering and complicating the set up of a hammock. Like buying a Harley and then tricking it out. A lot of what people do over there is the flavor of the month with continuous ridge-lines, Sling-shot tie outs, multi-pocket gear organizers, pad extenders, etc. If you want to keep it light and make it work if you have to go to ground or get to stay in the trees, simple is better. And simple can be lighter too. You don’t have to have all the bells and whistles to have a great hammock.


Nic, what hammock do you have? Some smaller hammocks actually benefit from a much shallower hang. My Grand Trunk Ultralight gets perfect at about 20 degrees. What you’re attempting to do is get a diagonal lay, which improves the flat lay and the ergonomics on your back while eliminating spine and shoulder squeeze. That said, I know that some folks have no problem with a tight pitch and a “canoe” effect. The Speer hammocks were designed to do this. It’s not traditional, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t comfortable for some folks.
Definitely use some Atlas Straps. When given the option of straps, choose the Atlas. Although they’re not the lightest strap, their daisy chain design and PolyFilament Webbing construction give you the most combined adjustment points, and least amount of stretch. And when you’re dealing with bigger trees, you’ll definitely appreciate the extra usability.
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.
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.
The best part about a lightweight hammock is that it’s an incredible addition to your camping gear even if you don’t sleep in it.  With our lightest hammock weighing only 14oz and packing down into a pouch smaller than your Nalgene bottle, you can easily bring it in addition to your tent and enjoy all the benefits the hammock offers without needing to commit to leaving your tent behind.
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