I own a BIAS Weight Weenie Micro, and it’s not fair to lump it with a GT Nano-7. BIAS believes that a comfortable lay comes from the length of the hammock, not the width, which is why they sell a 52-inch wide model, believing that the 11 ft. length of the BIAS hammocks more than compensates for a reduced width. I happen to agree with them, that 10-11 ft. hammocks provide a much better lay, which is why I bought a Weight Weenie Micro (albeit a 60-inch).
In 2000 I was looking for a lighter shelter than a tent for backpacking. I was looking for maybe some tarp or light tent but hadn't made a choice. I was stationed at Fort Polk and had been using a net hammock with a poncho as a shelter when in the field and was very pleased with using them except for the bug problems, which can be annoying for a place like Fort Polk.
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.
We're always on the hunt for the best products available, and the ever-shifting 'mock market has us on our toes! We've added several new models to help you choose the best system for your needs. From the complete set up of the REI Co-op Flash Air (a new Best Buy awardee) to the versatility of the Bear Butt Double and a brand new Editor's Choice, the Grand Trunk Skeeter Beeter, we're determined to keep you up-to-date. Whether this is your first 'mock purchase or you're a lounge addict, read our updated review to continue your search with confidence.
Most people (with a properly setup, true backpacking hammock) find it far more comfortable than sleeping on the ground. As such, they get a better night’s sleep, every night. In contrast, ground sleeping changes (many times for the worst) nearly every night due to sloping ground, bumps, depressions, wet areas, rocks & tree roots. It can be near impossible to find a good area large enough for a tent.
It seems obvious enough, but a tarp or rainfly is critical if you’re out in weather or in a place where weather can move in quickly. For this, I use the ENO DryFly Rain Tarp. It’s light, it’s quick to set up, and it has kept me dry. The trick is, rig the tarp just above the hammock, so when the hammock sags under your body weight, you’re not exposed to the rain and wind blowing in from under the sides.
Tip #6: When you find 2 perfect hammocking trees (thick trunks, alive, little or no ground cover between them), carefully check for sensitive plant life (especially vital at higher elevations), wildlife habitat and hazards such as insect nests or poisonous plants. Avoid stepping on roots and lichen, and minimize transporting non-native species by cleaning shoes between trips.
I would start with an adjustable ridgeline and get it to the length when you lay in your hammock and you’re in your “sweet spot.” Also, please note that the 30° hang angle and 83% ridgeline length are just recommended starting points. In my new book, I have more detail about some advanced techniques that look at hammock size, hang angle, and lay angle, and how they are interconnected. Smaller hammocks, for example, work better with a shallower hang angle (15–20°) where larger hammocks can go up to 45° and allow for a perpendicular lay.
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)
One of the unique concepts of hammock camping is the new diversity of suspension systems and add-ons which campers use in making their hammock set-up unique and functional. The line on which the hammock's weight is held is often swapped for a variety of lighter weight suspension made of Dyneema or other UHMWPE material. These reduce both weight and bulk. Many use similar lines formed into a constriction knot (colloquially referred to by the brand name "Whoopie Slings") for quick adjustment and setup. These may be connected to the webbing straps ("Tree Huggers") using a lightweight toggle or a carabiner, or more uniquely designed connectors such as Dutch Clips or Tri-Glides.
Upgrade your fly. Your best bet for weather protection is a silnylon hammock-specific fly (not a tent fly). A tarp will suffice if it’s long and wide enough. To rig a tarp, hang a taut “ridgeline” rope between your two trees. Tie the ridgeline below the suspension straps so your tarp stays close even when your bodyweight sags the hammock. Stake it for security. If it gets stuffy, activate porch mode: Prop up one edge of the tarp with a pair of trekking poles.
Hammocks are all the rage these days, and people love them from backyard hangouts to backcountry living. But you always want to consider your wallet. The systems we tested range in price from as little as $30 to as much as $250 — that's a big difference! A high price tag doesn't guarantee a better experience either — some of our favorites were among the least expensive models and systems we tried! For example, the Grand Trunk Skeeter Beeter Pro won our highest accolade - the Editor's Choice award, yet retails for only $90. If that's still too much for your budget, the Best Buy Bear Butt Double goes for only $35.
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.
The lightest setup we tested was the Sea to Summit Ultralight, clocking in at a featherweight 5.8 ounces — and that included the integrated compression stuff sack! If you remove that feature, the hammock itself only weighs 4.8 ounces. This weight doesn't include suspension, but Sea to Summit offers a compatible ultralight suspension that will add less than 3 ounces to your setup.
When Trek Light Gear first began back in 2003 I had to explain each and every hammock benefit (and challenge) to every customer I came in contact with. Now, it’s still exciting to see how many people are new to the concept – but because of the spread of information it’s amazing to see how many people are coming into the hammock camping lifestyle with an already great understanding of what it offers.
Overall, we found the Hennessy models to be the most complicated to set up, which is why we scored them some of the lowest ratings in this category. The suspension system requires a special Hennessy tie-off that, while easy to do once you've learned it, is a bit complicated at first. It's also tricky to get the right tensioning with these models, and you have to make sure that the asymmetrical tarp and the sling itself are correctly aligned. All of the instructions are printed right on the bag, but it reads a bit like a Dr. Bronner's label — wordy. You will want to practice setting these models up before going out into the backcountry.
Many of the less-complicated models did not include suspension. While these models tended to be very easy to set up (merely clipping a carabiner or hooking an S hook onto your suspension system), their ease of setup depends on the suspension system you decide buy. The only exception to this was the Sea to Summit Ultralight which came with unique buckles that integrate perfectly with the manufacturers own system, but require more forethought if you're building your own or have suspension from another company. The buckles have a hole that is too narrow for a standard carabiner, so we had to get creative with climbing slings. In most cases, you can use any suspension system with any hammock without issue, but with Sea to Summit we recommend sticking to their compatible components for your whole setup.
Rainflys come in many different shapes and materials. Almost any kind of tarp can turn into a sturdy shelter to protect your hammock from the elements. But there are several rainflys out there that are specifically designed for hammocking. These have some hammock specific features to differentiate them from a standard ultralight tarp. These rainflys are made with silnylon, a strong waterproof material. Silnylon is much lighter than the standard blue plastic tarp but just as effective of a shelter.
I would not use paracord unless you weave it. One of my favorite is the Toggle Rope from Ship in a Bottle. One of the most common or popular lines used for suspension is 7/64 inch Amsteel. This stuff is strong as steel for its size and even floats on water. It’s the Holy Grail of hammock suspension. Sheathed Spectra line is also commonly used for hammock suspension.