While a hammock puts your closer to nature, it also leaves you more exposed to the elements. Unless you’re 100 percent certain that there will be no precipitation in the forecast, you should think about buying a rain fly. Usually made of nylon or polyester that’s coated with polyurethane, the fly will shield you from rain and snow, and also block chilly winds and trap heat. On the market you’ll find a wide variety of rainfly options, from streamlined models that weigh around eight ounces, to larger ones that weigh 25 ounces and almost cover you like a tent. While some are rectangular, others have a diamond shape, which allows you to secure the fly closer to the ground for more coverage.
Alan, the only thing I think is missing here is a short nod to taking a hammock to the ground. Those that dismiss hammocks because of lack of anchor points (e.g., “above the treeline”) may benefit from knowing that a hammock kit can be pitched on the ground similar to any tarp set-up. A lot of UL hikers use minimal tarp systems like the Gossamer Gear Twinn, using trekking poles or sticks to erect their shelter. A hammock with an integrated bug net easily doubles as a ground bivvy in such cases.

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.


Two things can add extra-comfort: a cap on your sleeping bag, with which you can surround your head and use it as another protection from the cold, and the size/weight of your sleeping bag. The best option would be an extra-light one, which you can squeeze in a very small case and that will allow you to save space and weight during your backpacking experiences. Indeed, hammock camping is particularly suitable for those who want to keep their backpack light and it wouldn’t make any sense to take up all the space (and the weight) with a sleeping bag, as much warm as it may be.

One way to guarantee a cold night is by setting up tarp ends parallel to the wind (above).  The issue was compounded by pulling the side tie outs to give the wind more area to blow through. This issue is very easy to spot because the wind will blow up the tarp like a bouncy castle. The usual triangle shape of your tarp can approach half-circle status if the wind picks up enough.  If it’s windy, grab some leaves and drop them to get an idea of which way the wind is blowing. Then set the long side of the tarp into the wind with the sides fairly low to keep wind out.
Hammock camping is a form of camping in which a camper sleeps in a suspended hammock rather than a conventional tent on the ground. Due to the absence of poles and the reduced amount of material used, they tend to be significantly lighter than a tent. Their reduced weight often results in less space inside than a similar occupancy tent. In foul weather, a tarp is suspended above the hammock to keep the rain off of the camper. Mosquito netting, sometimes integrated into the camping hammock itself, is also used as climatic conditions warrant. Camping hammocks are used by campers who are looking for lighter weight, protection from ground-dwelling insects, or other ground complications such as sloped ground, rocky terrain and flooded terrain.[1]
Hammock camping in the winter can be exhilarating and unique. Imagine a white snow-covered mountain, a red burning campfire, and a warm cup of coffee. That being said, there are special preparations that need to be made to have a positive experience while winter camping. One of those preparations that we encourage here at Khione Outdoor Gear is the SHEL hammock tent. Hammocking is the simplest way to camp, and should be able to happen year round. Normal hammock covers or hammock tarps won’t be much protection from the cold, but a SHEL hammock tent is able to provide a waterproof barrier from the snow as well as an insulated shelter from the cold.
But my favorite option is hammock underquilt – especially from the guys at Hammock Gear. From a weight to warmth ratio perspective, there’s no beating a down underquilt. I find that the incubator 20 isn’t too warm for autumn nights and is actually rated conservatively. I’ve taken it down into the teens before. But that will also depend from person to person. The one downside to an underquilt is if you get stuck without trees, you can’t use it for bottom insulation. By laying directly on the underquilt on the ground, you compress the down and that takes away any insulation.

Tom, his wife Ann, his son James and friends are a small family run company whose only mission is to continually improve the evolution of hammock design. They have been granted up to five patents nationally and internationally. When serious adventurers are planning expeditions into unexplored areas of the world, when months-long medical expeditions trek into the deep jungles of Burma on missions of mercy, when adventure racers traverse mountains, rivers and jungles surrounded by all kinds of poisonous insects and reptiles, when families send a hammock to their soldier sons or daughters in areas of conflict, they all know that they are getting the hammock with a proven reputation for quality and comfort.
Planning to do the High Sierra Trail this coming August, and was curious if anyone has experience taking a hammock rather than a ground setup on the HST? I know there will be at least one camp at Guitar Lake where I’d have to use my hammock as a bivy, but are there any other sites where this would be an issue, or other reasons hammock camping the HST would be a bad choice?
I poked around my first stop, Cold Spring Shelter, by headlamp. The area by the shelter seemed more hospitable than the wind-fanned ridge designated for overflow camping. Nearby, I found two torso-size poplar trees about a body length apart. The spacing wasn’t ideal, but compared with their neighbors—trees that were dead, spindly, or too far apart—they seemed like the best choice. I tightened a loop of accessory cord around each trunk and clipped the hammock ends to each loop. I laid my sleeping bag out and swung into bed and closed my eyes.

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.
So you’ve decided to stick with your hammock even through the thickest of storms. Don’t fret, there are shelters designed to encase your hammock on all sides – complete with zippable doors. These extreme shelter systems will convert your hammock into a floating fortress. You’re now protected from anything the clouds are going to throw at you (just as long you’re not hammocking on the tallest tree in a lightning storm). Essentially, your shelter becomes a suspended tent. You’ll have the comfort of sleeping in your hammock with the complete protection of a tent. But these fully enclosed shelters are restricted to a single hammock. If you are trekking with a group, each person will need their own fortress. In lighter rain, a single rainfly can provide enough coverage to protect 2 or even 3 hammocks. With a large tarp, you and your friends can hang together while waiting for the bad weather to pass.

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.
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.
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.
Hammocks are not for everyone, but they can provide the ultimate sleep and relaxation experience for many outdoor enthusiasts. In addition to the novelty of floating above the ground and not having to find a flat spot as you do with a tent, they are often the most compact and lightweight sleeping option and can negate the need for an expensive sleeping pad. We hope this review helped you narrow down the options and get closer to your perfect choice. For more information on making the right purchase, check out our Buying Advice article.
Most hammock campers will need to have effective insulation underneath their hammock, in addition to the conventional topside insulation (i.e. sleeping bag). This can be a properly installed sleeping pad, but this ground-inspired product does not translate well to hammocks, and under-quilts are widely preferred. In extreme cold temperatures, a full-sided tarp to block the wind is also very helpful.
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.
When laying in a sleeping bag in a hammock, the weight of your body compresses the insulation and minimizes its ability to keep your backside warm. An extra layer underneath you is critical. Enter your sleeping pad. Keep those buns warm by partially inflating your pad and lying on top of it inside your hammock. Don’t have a sleeping pad? Check out the next number.
Sleeping in a hammock can also be much more comfortable than sleeping on a sleeping pad. That's why a hammock is always my preferred shelter in certain places like the White Mountains or the AT in New Hampshire, where the ground is as hard as concrete. It can also be far more scenic since you can pitch it between two trees on steep slopes overlooking a fabulous sunset or beside a remote mountain lake in the Adirondacks (see above).
In other cases, your hammock equipment might be used in order to hang your hammock outdoors in your garden. In this case, it might include a nail and a hook, or perhaps carabiners for hanging on a hammock stand. We’ve reviewed two sets of carabiners, both of which are very effective at holding huge amounts of weight without taking up too much space in your bag!
The main difference 1.0 vs. 1.6 oz, is that the 1.6 oz fabric has a much stiffer, more supportive feel when lie in the hammock. Some people find the 1.0 a bit too stretchy to feel fully supported. I am also 160# and fine with the 1.0 fabric — when I am going super light for daily mileages in the 25 to 30 mile range I take a 1.0 oz hammock. But, when weight is not supercritical I’ll usually grab a 1.4 to 1.6 oz fabric hammock. The firmer 1.6 is more to my liking for full sleep comfort and it is a more durable fabric. So you choice. No bad ones.

One day while surfing the internet I found a review on The Lightweight Backpacker for a Clark Jungle Hammock Ultralight and seriously considered getting one. I did some research and found the Hennessy Hammock and after some comparisons went with the Hennessy. Mainly because of price and weight. Since then I have acquired three Hennessy Hammocks and continue to test and try hammocks from any manufacturer I can get my hands on.
Instead of pitching a square or rectangular tarp from the corners, you can always pitch it as a square A-frame on the 10 ft (3 m) side. You’ll have less end-to-end coverage depending on the size of the tarp. Each person will have their preference, but anywhere from 6 in (15 cm) to 1 ft (30 cm) over each end of the hammock will provide enough coverage.

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.

While comfort is personal, extra space and features that lend themselves to being able to get cozy are rarely ever a bad thing. Ultralight models, like our Top Pick the ENO Sub7 and the featherweight Sea to Summit Ultralight sacrifice extra space for lighter weight and smaller packed size, which is why these models didn't score as high in this metric. At the end of a long day, a tired summer camper or thru-hiker can nap reasonably well in even the most minimalist design. However, if weight is less of an issue for you, the added comfort of some of the larger models may be worth it. From a simple design like our Editor's Choice Grand Trunk Skeeter Beeter to a more intricate system like the REI Co-op Flash Air, adding a little weight can add a lot of comfort.
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.
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.
Some hammocks have a double layer of fabric on the bottom and a popular method used by hangers is to slide the pad in between the 2 bottom layers of the hammock. It can help keep the inflatable pad or mat from sliding around but I've found no issue with just plopping the thing inside the hammock and laying on it directly. I've used my inflatable mat both ways and have been warm and comfortable all night long.

When I Thru-hiked the AT in 2012 I switched to a hammock in Harpers Ferry. My tent was just to hot at this point. I went to Trail Days and picked up a Hennessy for 50% off. The hammock was amazing. I agree with all of your points. By the time I reached Maine it started to get very cold at night and I would often hang my hammock up in a shelter trying to get the heat from the other hikers.

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.
Recommended Hammock: We think Serac Hammocks makes a great ultra light hammock. The included tree straps and carabiners make setup a snap and it has held up to some serious abuse on our backpacking and hiking adventures. Best of all the price won't use your gear budget for the year like some hammocks of similar quality. Serac Hammocks can be found on Amazon!

QQ: I’ve got a Dream Hammock with a Hammock Gear hex tarp. Last time I was out, there were some pretty big storms and I pitched the tarp low over the hammock, so the lines tied around the tree below the straps, etc. It ended up keeping me dry, but there was one problem: The tight pitch meant that the tree straps rubbed against the edge of the tarp, if that makes sense. And cuben, while strong, does not handle abrasion well.
I also say weight because I select hammocks that are low on weight. Even the biggest hammock I have tested (the Hennessy Explorer A-Sym) weighs less than the standard solo tents. There are some hammock models out there that weight a lot more, but that is your choice as what to carry. But the absolute lightest camping hammock with bug protection and rain fly is less than a pound, the absolute lightest tent that gives bug protection weighs twice that.
With a hammock, you can get around this in one of two ways. Insulate the bottom with an under-quilt, which hangs under the hammock itself. Or, place a sleeping pad inside the hammock. Personally, I prefer the latter, and run with a Big Agnes Deer Park 30 Sleeping Bag, a Big Agnes Gunn Creek 30º Sleeping Bag, and a Big Agnes Air Core Ultra Sleeping Pad.

Again, with any system, there are pros and cons to using self-inflating pads or mats. I'm sure you can imagine how devastating it would be if an inflatable pad or mat was your only insulation system while out on a hiking trip and you discover while setting up your sleep system for the night that it has a hole in it. Bad news unless you also carry a repair kit!
I use the “cowboy finger gun technique” the index finger is the barrel, the thumb stuck up in the air is the hammer…… when the barrel is held level, the angle from the end of the barrel (finger) to the tip of the raised hammer (thumb) will be very close to 30 degrees…. simply look at your finger gun in relation to your hanging hammock to see if your suspension is close.
I have used my Clark Jungle Hammock while exploring rivers in the Guyana jungle, suspended overnight above a half metre of swamp water in Borneo, and used it in West Africa too (where I suspect a leopard would view it as a large green hanging burrito), and it works great. Nice to be above the ants, centipedes, scorpions and snakes, easy to set up, and I make it a bit more comfortable by the addition of the short, wide version of the Neo Trekker mat inside, which lessens that “squeezed shoulder” effect. In BC Canada I prefer a tent. Using a hammock in colder weather isn’t something that I’ve tried, mainly because all the extra quilting required to block the cold and wind would seem to negate this hammock’s advantage – its compactness and simplicity. In the tent I’m typically a stomach sleeper, so was worried how I would adjust to hammock sleeping, but it’s actually quite comfy, and makes a great seat during the day too. In 2013 I’ll use the hammock in Belize, my WE Bug Dome tent (awesome ventilation) in the heat of northwest Australia, and possibly a slighly heavier grade tent along the BC coast later in the year. The Clark Jungle Hammock is the best expedition hammock made, and has looked after me well on many epic journeys.
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!
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