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.

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.

4. Insulate underneath. Hammocks are a godsend in hot, muggy areas where the extra air circulation makes outdoor camping tolerable. But as temperatures drop below 70°F (21°C), you’ll start to feel the effects of convective heat loss known as Cold Butt Syndrome (CBS). A sleeping pad (closed-cell foam or self-inflating) works great, and some hangers use them year-round. Purpose-built “under quilts” are another popular option for keeping you warm underneath. For hot summer nights, you may only need a thin blanket to regulate your temperature.
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.
A common issue with hammockers is the lack of adequate insulation under them, which leads to a cold night and the promise to never hammock again.  Ground-sleeper top insulation (sleeping bag) can be recycled.  However, when getting into a hammock in a sleeping bag, the bottom compresses rendering it useless in keeping the underside warm from the cold air.  A flat sleeping bag in conjunction with any wind  under your tarp leads to both conductive and convective heat loss. The result of all these losses is cold butt syndrome (CBS) and an chilly nights sleep.  The simplest (not comfy) way to avoid this is by using a sleeping pad in the hammock.
I have my share of sleeping bags stuffed into forgotten corners of my garage. When I first got into hammock hanging to see if it would be something I would enjoy, I used those forgotten sleeping bags as insulation. I used them as "underquilts" and have used them in the hammock itself. The problem is that typically bags are thrown into the hammock with the hanger climbing in at night. A wrestling match ensues and, as too often is the case, the hanger winds up with tense muscles and cramps from having to contort like a circus performer!
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?
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.

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.
I have my share of sleeping bags stuffed into forgotten corners of my garage. When I first got into hammock hanging to see if it would be something I would enjoy, I used those forgotten sleeping bags as insulation. I used them as "underquilts" and have used them in the hammock itself. The problem is that typically bags are thrown into the hammock with the hanger climbing in at night. A wrestling match ensues and, as too often is the case, the hanger winds up with tense muscles and cramps from having to contort like a circus performer!
New to hammock camping and have yet to read your book – but I will! Thus far I’ve obtained everything I need except an underquilt – and I’m trying very hard to get good things at low prices as this is all a test for me now. After all, I might not like it out in the woods. Back to underquilts: they’re not cheap. I’m trying to accomplish the most comfortable summer night’s sleep with possible temps down to 60. I don’t want to try a pad as it seems too much to figit with for comfort. I’m aware blankets/comforters/etc beneath you can compress and lose their insulation benefits. . What recommendations do you have for a budget underquilt? Would a body heat reflective emergency blanket work to lay on? Would the Costco down comforter compress too much beneath me therefore offering very little insulation? Help me stay cheap!

Starting my adventures in spring, I have a few months before actually having to invest in those quilts. I wanted to start with a second setup, for 3-season camping (>+10°C). Not exactly sure what to pack here yet. I was hoping a sleeping bag (or quilt) plus sleeping pad would be enough, but many of the not-exactly-cheap underquilts you tested were only just suited for exactly that kind of temperatures, so how could a sleeping pad suffice?

If you are a side sleeper, sleeping in a hammock can take some getting use to but the Hennessy's are cut so that you can sleep on you side rather easily. If you sleep on your back you will be in heaven. There is the added benefit that your feet will be above the plain of your body, letting the blood in them drain at night, reducing swelling and fatigue.

On the downside, the sling itself is narrow, making it one of the least comfortable models we tested. The material is also very thin, giving us concerns about how durable it will be. Also, with so many pieces to put take on your adventure or leave at home, be sure you're grabbing the parts you need, and don't forget anything important! Altogether though, this system's lightweight versatility makes it a solid choice for backcountry adventures.

Stay warm. Sleeping pads help, but they tend to slip around—or out of the hammock—during the night. They can also compromise comfort by preventing your hammock from hugging your body like it’s meant to. If you expect temps below 40F, invest in an underquilt ($100 to $250, depending on the temperature rating), which hangs beneath you and provides a pocket of insulated air to keep you warm.

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.
Sleep diagonally. Most people think you sleep in a hammock with your head and feet parallel to its ends. But this gives you an enclosed, “banana” effect that feels a little claustrophobic and puts your body in an uncomfortable position for sleeping. Instead, you want to lie in the hammock at a slight angle , which will allow you to lay in a much flatter and more ergonomic position. Choosing a hammock like the Hennessey with a built-in asymmetrical design makes getting and staying in this diagonal position even easier and more comfy.
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.
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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?
Sleep diagonally. Most people think you sleep in a hammock with your head and feet parallel to its ends. But this gives you an enclosed, “banana” effect that feels a little claustrophobic and puts your body in an uncomfortable position for sleeping. Instead, you want to lie in the hammock at a slight angle , which will allow you to lay in a much flatter and more ergonomic position. Choosing a hammock like the Hennessey with a built-in asymmetrical design makes getting and staying in this diagonal position even easier and more comfy.
This past year I used such opportunities — specifically my intro-level 3-day/2-night guided trips — to finally experiment with hammock systems, which had piqued my curiosity while writing The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide because I knew little about them despite their fanatical cult following. When my colleague Alan Dixon first saw my hammock in North Carolina, he immediately saw its potential and committed himself to this experiment, too. Based on his new first-hand experience, he has submitted a three-part series on hammocks:
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).

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.
Just spent the first few nights in my new HH Explorer Ultralight (light intermittent drizzle, 50' at night, hammock chilly to touch but fine in my 20' Dick's cheapo synthetic bag without pads or other addons). Love it, I'm a convert now, and I really LOVED my REI HC T2 tent before this, so that says a lot. I agree, getting ground conditions (rocky/thorny/muddy etc) out of the equation changes everything. So far I've not been out in a real marathon downpour, but will probably spring for a larger tarp (a hex in camo). +1 on snakeskins improving setup/takedown; included free if you order direct from the HH website (limited time offer?) Looking at slap-strap-pro or another just-wrap-and-click solution. I recommend the HH Explorer Ultralight for those over 6' and wanting a little more durability while still keeping weight down (39 oz).
Conversely, most backpackers do not understand the first thing about backpacking hammocks. There is a bit of an art to setting up a hammock and sleeping in one. Thus, learning to hammock camp may initially take more time. As noted earlier, however, there is nothing terribly difficult about setting up a hammock, and in the long term it is probably faster to set up a hammock than a ground system.
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). 

Even if I were counting grams, I would err on the side of a larger tarp. It will offer greater protection from wind and driving rain, and one or both sides can be “porched” for additional living space and ventilation without a critical sacrifice to storm-resistance. Finally, the weight penalty is miniscule — an extra three square yards of ultralight tarp fabric weigh as little as 1.5 ounces.

In a tent you lose the air flow (even with the windows open), you lose the stars, you can’t stand up to do anything and you can’t easily see what’s around you.  You often fall asleep in a cold box and wake up in a hot and stuffy box and, if you’re lucky, you didn’t roll over into that puddle that’s somehow accumulated in the corner even though your tent’s supposed to be waterproof.
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