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.
The primary appeal of hammock camping for most users is comfort and better sleep, as compared to sleeping on a pad on the ground. Hammock camping enthusiasts argue that hammocks don't harm the environment in the way that conventional tents do. Most hammocks attach to trees via removable webbing straps, or "tree-huggers," which don't damage the bark and leave little or no marks afterward. Whereas it's easy to see a frequently used campground because of the effect on the grass, scrub and topsoil, the presence of a hammock camping site is much harder to detect. This has found favour with hikers and campers who follow the principles of Leave No Trace camping. Hammock camping also opens up many more sites for campers - stony ground, slopes, and so on - as well as keeping them off the ground and away from small mammals, reptiles and insects. Sleeping off the ground also keeps the camper out of any rainwater runoff that might seep in under a tent during a downpour. Lastly, the relatively light weight of hammocks makes them ideal for reducing backpack weight, thereby making it a good option for ultralight backpacking enthusiasts.
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.

It can seem difficult to strike balance between overconcern and under preparation. That line was blurry to me when I began hiking alone, often resulting in me placing myself in needlessly uncomfortable and unsafe situations. What seemed missing was a description of the necessities of safe hiking, presented with reason and practicality for the beginner hiker in mind.


Big Agnes ditched their bags’ bottom layer of insulation for a built-in pocket to fit an air pad. But, really, you can use any bag-pad combo. Once you’re in the hammock, your weight will pin the pad down, and the sides help keep it in place overnight. I dig this setup primarily because, unlike with an under-quilt, I can use it in a tent or for cowboy camping just as easily.
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.
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.
Leave the Asym tarp (napkin) at home. The majority of water is kept divorced from precious down by a trap with adequate coverage. Hex or winter tarps provide the most coverage and are easier to center over hammocks during setup. This margin in setup avoids multiple adjustments.  Also consider bringing a section of material to place under the tarp to keep gear clean and dry. One thru-hiker favorite budget option is a sheet of Tyvek.
WHOOPIE SLINGS - Whoopie slings are an adjustable, lightweight way to hang a hammock. Designs for whoopie slings have slight differences, but in general they use a simple loop and knot system that holds tension with weight, but can be easily adjusted when not under pressure. We like the products listed below, but there are a lot of options for lightweight whoopie slings.
Excellent overview Alan, I have been sleeping and camping in hammocks for almost 50 years and appreciate a nice clean introduction to it like yours. Derek H’s recommendation about “go to ground” options is critical. Please read the “sticky” articles at hammock forums BEFORE any on going crazy discussions by us engineer and research scientists who are excessively technical, passionate, and opinionated. An incremental approach to a new hobby or sport is always the best. Hammock hanging has actually been very simple and effective for thousands of years, have fun with it, your back will be more healthy.

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.
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.
Another common complaint from tent campers is the insect problem that comes with any open air camping. A tent protects you from biting buggers as long as you’re not leaving the door open. But most hammocks will leave you completely exposed to mosquitoes. Fear not! Many options exist for you to protect yourself from biting insects. Many bug nets are designed specifically for a hammock. They’ll give you complete 360 degree protection.
In the Desert Southwest, where trees only grow at the highest elevations and along perennial water sources, hammocks would be most challenged. Some hammocks have been designed to be pitched on the ground, and I have seen some creative rigging systems, but these approaches have significant trade-offs and seem forced. I’ll just bring my modular tent or tarp & bivy, thanks.
Hammock camping is a burgeoning trend in the outdoor industry. Instead of finagling around with a tent and its footprint, rain fly, poles and stakes, many people simply string a hammock up and enjoy a night between trees. However, when winter approaches and the temperature dips under 45 degrees, suddenly the tent replaces the hammock for overnighters. That once-refreshing breeze is now a face-chapping enemy and your once-toasty buns are now cold and numb.
Put your pad inside your sleeping bag. This helps keep things from moving around, and helps the bag from bunching a little. It’s not a perfect system because you do have a lot of material under you that can bunch up. Laying the bag open and sitting in the middle before you get in helps. I’ll admit that with a sleep my bag you will need to do some maneuvering to get situated at first. This is why under quilts are so much beloved. They are less fussy. But pads and bags can do the job of keeping you warm, you just have to work a little more.
We did notice a few shortcomings in the system, however. The trunk staps are only long enough for smaller trees. That's not the best when California's burly conifers surround your campsites. So you might find yourself having to upgrade the strap. The overall size also comes up a bit short at just 9.5 feet by 3.5 feet, which may feel constraining for larger folks. In general, though, we felt the REI Flash Air takes camping to the next level of comfort and ease with this total set up — and for less than the competition!
A little dirt don’t hurt...BUT...if you are skeptical about getting a your clothes dirty, spread your hammock out for a dry, dirt free space to sit or lie down! Sunbathing on the beach, picnicking in a dewy meadow, playing cards at your campsite, whatever the occasion may be, your hammock will be there for you! And don’t worry about getting it filthy--these guys are lightweight and quick drying, making them a breeze to shake off and dry out! So you can forget about  packing along that extra blanket, as long as you have your hammock, you’re set!
The humble hammock has been around for thousands of years, and it is still used today in parts of the world as a primary sleeping accommodation. Yet many people I speak with think hammocks are “uncomfortable,” or it will hurt their back,” or  “they’re great for summer lounging only,” or “it’s too easy to fall out.” A lot of these misconceptions come from the modern rope hammocks with their spreader bars and large woven nets. These hammocks are notoriously tippy, due to their high center of gravity and tight pitch. Unfortunately, they’ve given authentic hammocks a bad wrap.

You may need to adjust your ridge line length….. with a thirty degree angle and a diagonal lay, your ridge line should be taunt …. not guitar string tight …..( when you are in your hammock ). If you will look at the hammock calculator on this site … notice the crazy changes in the stresses on the equipment with less than thirty degrees. (bottom line, keep the thirty degrees and adjust everything else to fit) Derek … If you disagree, please jump in here.


Most companies offer several hammock sizes, including singles, doubles, and even extra-large models. In general, most hammocks measure between 9 and 11 feet long and can hold up to 300 or 400 pounds. According to many manufacturers, their best sellers are double hammocks. While pairs of people use them, individuals also like to sleep alone in a double and wrap the extra fabric around them for added warmth (even in warm months, you can get chilled in the early morning hours). As you choose between a single and double, keep in mind that two people will be pretty snug if they sleep together in a double. You have to *really *like your partner.
The Scout model from Hennessy is their smallest hammock. I would only recommend that for youth. All the Hennessy hammocks are high-quality in build and materials and in all the details put into them, so I wouldn’t worry about that. One of the biggest “complaints” about the Hennessy models is size. If you are taller than 6 feet, I would get a Safari model. I’m 5’10” and feel just right in the Hennessy models, but I couldn’t imagine being much taller and stretching out. If you’re looking for more value for what you get (e.g., and all-in-one hammock), the DD Hammock line has a great assortment. It’s mid-range quality, but still good. They ship extraordinarily fast.
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.

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.


I own a Hennessy Hammock Backpacker Asym (31 oz.) which is a very popular model amongst hammock hangers. To get into it, you enter it from below, standing up in a slit that runs half way down the middle on one side. Once inside, you lean back and sit on the half that does not have the slit, raise your legs and lie back. The edges of the slit are covered with velcro and close together under your legs. To get out, you press your feet on the velcro seam which will open below you, stand up and slip under the hammock to get out.
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.
Sleeping is also very comfortable, but in a fairly narrow temperature range between 50 and 75 degrees. Below that you need to bring along more under-insulation like a Jacks R Better down under-quilt or foam padding. Extending the use of your hammock in colder temperatures takes a lot of practice and experimentation, so be prepared for a few cold nights if you try to push the envelope.

When you’re lost, you might find yourself stranded in a place where there are no trees for your hammock. In this case, your hammock can be your impromptu bivvy and provide some protection from the elements. Crawl into the hammock on the ground and wrap the sides around you. This might not be the most comfortable, but it’s better than no protection.
Like others have mentioned, hammocks are at no greater risk of predator attacks than tents. The main thing that attracts animals like bears is smell. Be sure not to bring food into your shelter at night, keep clean, and set your camp 200 ft away from your kitchen area. These are some of the main ways to stay safe in bear country. Most of the time, the only kind of critter you’ll encounter are what I call “small bears”: squirrels, rodents, raccoons, etc. They are attracted to the same thing as bears, but most people don’t pay them enough attention when not in bear country and they find their bags chewed through.
Everyone has their reasons for purchasing and owning a hammock, and we don't pretend to know yours! However, during our testing, we found those that are better suited to specific situations as well as those that are very versatile. Many of these uses we have already discussed, such as lightweight models for folks eager to cut down on pack weight, like the Sea to Summit Ultralight, Grand Trunk Nano 7 and Grand Trunk Ultralight Starter. We found models with integrated bug nets to be less versatile than those without, as many bug nets don't come completely off, or restrict usage for anything other than laying down.

So long as you can find two trees that are 12-15 feet apart, you can setup a hammock without regard to the surface below it, even on rocky tree root riddled ground. That means that with a hammock you often get the option of camping at prettier, more protected, or less buggy campsites. Furthermore, you can avoid the obvious flat campable areas that in many parks have developed into crowded, heavily impacted and not particularly attractive places to spend the night.
I’m very intrigued by a Hammock system, it’s not really something I seriously considered before reading your post. One thing that the post doesn’t really address that I’m very curious about is what do you do with the rest of your gear? The photos show packs, etc. on the ground under the hammock, are there any solutions for your pack, etc. other then the ground such as attaching it to the hammock itself?
In fact, the only thing it didn't have that we wished it did was a set of trunk straps instead of harmful rope slings. But fear not, you can order your Bear Butt with trunk straps too! They do cost more though. While other inexpensive models like the Grand Trunk Ultralight Starter may leave you disappointed with their size or durability, the Bear Butt Double is an excellent all-around tree sling that won't empty your pocketbook.
Narrowly beating out the previous champion, the Warbonnet Blackbird, the Grand Trunk Skeeter Beeter Pro is our new favorite backcountry hammock! We loved how comfortable and easy it is to use. Both the sling and bug net are made of strong and soft material, making this super wide option a comfortable choice for camping in mosquito country. With a simple carabiner to clip to your suspension system, it's shockingly easy to set up and doesn't require the stakes and tie-out lines of the Blackbird. This simplicity cuts out what can be a time-consuming adjustment process, allowing you to escape the hungry attention of flying bloodsuckers quickly. Since it's so much broader than the Blackbird and more balanced than the Warbonnet Ridgerunner, we had no problems finding many comfortable positions for spending a night in the backcountry tucked away from biting insects inside the Skeeter Beeter. And if performance alone isn't enough for you, also consider that the Skeeter Beeter is about half the cost of the Warbonnet offerings!
I would also hang my hammock anywhere. I slept in it from the lift tower on top of Bromley. I hung it from the rafters in the new AMC Madison hut. I even stealth camped at the lookout just south of the Summit of North Kinsman. The trees were very short up there and I rigged up 5 to six of them to support me without any problems. The sunset / sunrise from up there was just amazing.
In addition, I’ve listed key hammock manufactures and purchasing resources below. I own and like hammocks from all these companies. I know all their owners personally. They produce excellent hammocks that have widespread use and good reputations. Most also offer all the hammock accessories you might need, top quilts, under-quilts, tarps etc. Give them a call if you have questions on how to equip or comment below and I’ll try and answer.
Yet, I disagree with you about hammocks being a good option for backcountry camping in Glacier National Park. This is because backcountry camping is restricted to designated sites and there is no way to know if there will be suitable trees that will allow you to hang over the square of bare ground at your reserved site. Glacier prohibits hanging over vegetation in order to protect the fragile vegetation in these high-use areas. (more info here: https://www.nps.gov/glac/blogs/Backcountry-Relaxing.htm)
I do a lot of car camping. I like going to local parks with friends, hanging out, telling tall-tales, eating too much, comparing our latest camping or hammock gadgets, and enjoying great fellowship. I don't worry about what things weigh or how large they are. Camping out of my car affords me the ability to bring all kinds of stuff and try different things. While some hikers would find my gear on the heavy side, that doesn't bother me. I'm not into that sort of thing. That's okay. I do my thing with like-minded friends and we have a great time. I like being able to walk over to my truck, pull out my heavy sleeping bags, plop them into my hammock, and be comfortable from the elements all night long.
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.
Some hammocks are designed with a dedicated tarpaulin. Others come without a tarpaulin with the understanding the user will want to select the size and style of tarpaulin which best fits their needs. There are many different ways in which hammock campers generally hang their tarpaulin. In some, the tarpaulin is connected to the hammock's suspension line using a system of mitten hooks and plastic connectors. In others the tarpaulin is hung separately using either the hammocks integrated ridge line, or a separate ridge line placed under or even over the tarpaulin.
There was a wide variation in weight between the heaviest and lightest setups we tested. Our score for the weight metric takes into account the hammocks themselves and anything attached to them (such as carabiners), and a stuff sack (if included). Suspension systems, such as tree straps, were not included in the measured package weight unless the manufacturer specifically included them in the same stuff sack. Many of the models we tested did not come with a suspension system, and the weight of your final setup is therefore contingent on the system you choose to implement.

So I just got a warbonnet blackbird XLC. Brandon mentions that you should hang the foot end of the hammock at least a foot higher than the head end. I noticed that you don’t mention anything about this. Is this recommended for other gathered end hammocks? It seems I lay the way Warbonnet recommends, my head would be closer and a little more center(still off to the side though) to the head end of the hammock while my feet would me much closer to the middle of the hammock and very much off to the side. I guess I’m just curious what you know about this.


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.
I thought a reminder would help us stay focused. Applying the TOS to the holidays, it's ok to wish folks Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Solstice, Kwanzaa or whatever...but discussions about the religious aspects of the holidays will be removed. We're here to discuss hammocks, so if you have strong feelings about religion and the holidays, please find another forum to discuss them.
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]
However, rain is not the only reason why you should set up a tarp. First of all, it will protect you from anything falling from above. This means that you will be able to set up your hammock even more easily, as insects, leaves and birds’ “precious gifts” won’t be a threat anymore. Also, it keeps humidity away and it helps to keep the hammock area dry and aired. Anything else?
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.
Pads in the hammock work, but they are kind of a pain. It is a good way to see if you like it though. If you want to try a cheap under quilt look up gemini underquilt. If you are into making your own gear look up clew underquilt. I am sure the cottage venders will be picking this suspension up soon. It is lighter and easier to setup than traditional underquilt suspensions.
Your sleeping bag must resist low temperatures and assure you protection from the cold at night. Also, it should be 100% waterproof, not only to avoid getting wet because of the rain (which should not be a problem if you have your hammock tarp), but also to protect you from the moisture in the air, which can be very high at night or in bad weather conditions.
For many, a swaying hammock is synonymous with relaxation. The word alone conjures memories of breezy summer afternoons: a cold beer sweating in the heat, dappled sunlight dancing through leaves, and gentle rocking that lulls you into a midday nap. It is the physical manifestation of the word “chill.” But, its portable, lightweight design is just as convenient for camping in the backcountry as it is for lounging in the yard, the park, or on the beach.
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"[6]) 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.
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.
DESIGN - Getting a "flat lay" is the main goal for sleeping hammocks. Camping hammocks use asymmetric designs to achieve this. Sleeping diagonally in an asymmetric hammock will allow your head and feet to lie lower than they would in a traditional hammock. Most camping hammock users find asymmetric designs to be more comfortable than traditional hammocks for sleeping. 
Question regarding hammock fabric. I think in one of your articles or comments you mention preferring a pretty thin fabric for your chameleon due to weight considerations, I assume single sheet. For my first hammock I bought a Warbonnet with 2 ply 1.1 fabric, mainly due to worries about mosquitoes biting through the fabric. I’m interested in going lighter though. In your experience are bugs biting through an actual issue? You’ve mentioned taking your chameleon in South American jungles so I figured I’d ask.
And of course another important hammock accessory is your hammock stand. You can use a hammock stand to set up a permanent hammock in the garden or in a spare room, or you can use a portable hammock stand in order to fold it down and store easily when not in use. These can even be taken with you on a holiday or camping trip so that you don’t need to rely on having two nearby anchor points.
Since I’m a big fan of outdoor activities, I agree that hammocks are best for outdoor adventures, not only because of their lightweight features, but because other hammocks are also fitted for a king’s comfort. Have you tried the Serac Hammock? I’ve been using it for some time now, and it’s one of those good quality hammocks that can surely be compared to the Hobo hammock.

A backpacker doesn’t need an excuse to go backpacking. But this trip felt more urgent than others. I had been working at a crowded biological research station in the Appalachians of North Carolina, eating, sleeping, and snoring with a dozen others in close quarters. Spilling 12 servings of boiling spaghetti in my lap was the last straw. I needed to excuse myself from communal living for a while.
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