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.
Just found this great series of articles. I had often wondered if one of the Deans of long distance UL hiking would ever find his way to “light side,” and now he has. I know there are strong opinions on both sides of issue because, like sailing or flying or any activity where weight is a governing factor, every consideration is really just a compromise – light weight, low cost, strong and durable – pick 2!
Experience a level of comfort on the trail almost as good as your bed at home and maybe even better. The patented asymmetrically shaped hammock supports your back like a quality mattress off the ground. Tall or large campers and campers with injuries, arthritis, bone spurs or back pain tell us about finding their first night of comfortable camping in many years with the larger Explorer Deluxe or Safari Deluxe models. You will wake up in the morning feeling great. Some owners of Hennessy Hammocks claim that they come home from their adventure feeling better than when they left. Some hikers have tossed out their beds when they got home from a hike and set up their hammock in the house.
As for damaging trees. Hammocks are actually some of the lowest impact hiking systems out there. Instead of grooming a flat spot or compacting earth, a hammock keeps you above all that. Tree bark can be protected by either flat straps similar to Hennessy Hammock Tree Huggers, or by using a rope system that uses multiple wraps to distribute the load that keeps the rope from digging into the trees.
Too many people attempt to string up a hammock as tightly as possible between anchor points. This can cause a cocooning effect that can squeeze your shoulders and bow your back uncomfortably. Instead, try hanging your hammock with a good sag, as in a smiley face. If you really want to geek out, a good starting angle is 30-degrees from horizontal. This is the most important tip to make your hammock more comfortable. A deep sag also lowers the center of gravity, making the hammock more stable and harder to fall out of.
These days it seems like there are 100s of companies making backpacking hammocks. The number of options can be overwhelming. Many of them make great hammocks, but we want to avoid cheap knock offs that use inferior materials and construction. We look for a few important markers of quality when selecting a hammock. First, we examine the seems to make sure they are triple stitched for strength, durability, and safety. Second, we look at the the weight the hammock is rated to safely support. Third, if we are going to be backpacking or hiking with the hammock we look at how much it weighs, more expensive fabrics will be light weight, durable and very strong. Fourth, we look at reviews online and from trusted blogs and outdoor publications. And lastly, we look at cost and value. For example does the hammock include the straps for hanging or do those cost extra (more on tree straps next).
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.
With the huge increase in suitable campsites, a hammock system gives a hiking-inspired backpacker the option to hike dawn-to-dusk (or some variation thereof) without the risk of getting caught in a stretch of un-camp-able terrain. In turn, this flexibility equates to a great number of hike-able time, which ultimately equates to hiking longer distances. I believe this increase in hike-able time will typically outweigh the slight weight increase of a hammock system versus a ground system, if there even is one.
Your Trek Light Hammock isn’t meant to be stuck in the closet with your other camping gear, it’s a hammock after all. You’ll string your hammock between two cars next time you’re tailgating, you’ll hang out in the backyard for the next BBQ, you’ll take it on vacation, use it indoors during the winter, and you’ll set it up on your next summer lunch break and watch the day’s stress disappear in no time.