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.
Practice your hang. Much of your comfort level in a hammock comes down to how well you hang it and achieving the perfect amount of sag, and that comes down to a combination of height, angle, and the distance between your anchor points. Once you’ve got a good hang, a hammock like the Hennessey that comes with a ridgeline (a cord that stretches above the hammock) helps lock that ideal sag in place, so you don’t have to fiddle with it each night.
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.
Good information. I learned the insulation aspect of hammock camping my first time out. It’s hard to sleep with a cold but. I know you don’t like home made items, but my budget couldn’t afford a $200 under quilt. I took a black poncho liner I found in a hunting store and had it sewn in half lengthwise. The seamstress also added a couple of 1″ channels along each side and I used shock cord and cord locks from the camping store to fashion the hanging system. Works great. I’ve tested it down to 30 degrees coupled with a 30 degree sleeping bag and sleeping in my base layer. Stayed toasty all night. I bought a compression sack and can stuff my entire sleeping system, hammock, under quilt and tarp into one smallish bag that weighs about four pounds.
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!
While silnylon is superior, any kind of tarp will work to create an effective shelter from the rain. The plastic blue tarps can make a variety of effective shelters for your hammock. They are also durable and cost only a fraction of a silnylon fly. The downside of these tarps is the bulk and weight, making them less than ideal for ultralight packs.
In locations with ample trees of sufficient strength, the primary advantage of hammock systems is the huge increase in suitable campsites. In Shenandoah National Park, for example, most of the terrain is rocky and steeply sloping; the number areas suitable for ground camping (i.e. flat; and free of rocks, roots, and vegetation) is very limited. Moreover, many of these areas have developed into crowded, heavily impacted campsites.
Underquilts are my favorite option. They are lightweight devices which provide insulation and serve as a wind barrier when hung beneath the hammock. There are a plethora of manufacturers of underquilts in all different shapes, sizes, colors, fabrics, temperature ranges, attachment methods, and insulation choices for any kind of hammock on the market today. The two most popular means of insulation are goose down and Climashield synthetic material. Each has its own unique set of pros and cons, but that's a topic of discussion for another day.
Dispersed camping is permitted in other zones like the Appalachian Trail, Long Trail, Adirondack High Peaks, and Aspen Four Pass Loop. But the number of promising ground sites is naturally limited — there is too much topographic relief and vegetation. In combination with the area’s popularity, the campsites become heavily impacted, and sleep quality is not as good as it could be.
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?
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.
We placed a decent amount of importance on this metric because many people want to purchase a lightweight option for sleeping out while backpacking or traveling. However, if your motivation for owning a hammock is based more on wanting to relax in your backyard or take a nap a short distance from your car, then this metric probably is less important to you. If you aren't overly concerned with weight, then by all means, go for more fabric and a roomier design! With what you'll gain in comfort, we don't think you'll be sorry with that decision.
Comparing the weight of a hammock system against a ground system is difficult and complex. Both systems have several popular designs and configurations — Which systems should be compared? And how could we ensure that the systems being compared offer a comparable user experience, in terms of camp comfort, sleep quality, and environmental protections?
Hammock camping in cold weather can be warm and comfortable. But it requires a good under-quilt (usually down) that is well fitted (no gaps) to the hammock body. While not a difficult skill, beginner hammock campers should test out their winter system on low-risk, short-duration outings first in order to develop their skills and know-how. Note the full-length, under-quilt (green sleeping bag looking thing below the hammock). Photo by Jack Tier of Jacks ‘R’ Better.
Looking to add a little fun, functionality to your living room? Your hammock can double as an extra lounge chair--minus the chair. Especially for those of you who reside in compact living spaces, your hammock could be the perfect space-saving addition to a small living room or studio apartment. Plus, you’ll be the cool friend who thought of hanging a hammock in your living room. You’re welcome.
These stock systems are functional and usually intuitive. But they may not necessarily be the lightest, most adjustable, or best for your specific needs. To explore alternative suspension systems, check out Dutchware Gear, and read posts on the topic by Derek Hansen at The Ultimate Hang, which is an excellent resource (and book), and the single best place to continue your hammock education.
The traverse powerlock from REI would work. REI made some deal with Komperdell, and Komperdell makes their poles. REI replaces the 3-year no-questions-asked Komperdell warranty with their (lame) 1-year warranty. Thanks, REI. (Bias disclosure: I hate REI.) I had to scour for Ridgehiker Cork Powerlock from Komperdell when I wanted to get a backup pair of poles, though my originals are still going strong after 5000 miles. I see they are now on Backcountry. Y’all give Andrew some compensation, and click on his backcountry link (or, fine, whatever, REI) and get you a pair. (I have no affiliation with anybody.)
One thing to keep in mind though is that sleep pads are vapor barriers. Vapor barriers can cause condensation on your hammock or sleeping bag throughout the night. Any moisture that passes through the sleeping bag will become trapped by the pad. The moisture condensates, reducing the loft and insulation of your sleeping bag by morning. This is why some people wake up feeling cold even though they felt toasty in the middle of the night.