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).
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.
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).
In the mountains, two trees are often easier to find than a patch of earth flat enough to pitch a tent. This factor alone is enough reason to give hammock camping a try. It’ll take some time to feel out your preference—the perfect hang is subjective—but you’re good to go with two trees and enough line or a pair of straps (more on that below). Keep it off the trail (human or game), and give yourself about two feet of ground clearance. That’s just enough space to keep yourself from an unfortunate midnight run-in with a curious porcupine.
rg “What is the insider’s guide to legally hanging in the Smokies?” There are many threads on hammockforums.com concerning hanging in the GSMNP as well as rules on the park web site. In our case we did reserve spaces in each shelter and stayed on our schedule. During hiking seasons, and within the AT thru bubble, the shelters are most always over crowded. We used the fact that they were overcrowded as permission to hang outside of the shelter, while minding our LNT and hanging etiquette. There were also non-shelter sites to choose from in the GSMNP (my preference).
Your Trek Light Hammock isn’t meant to be stuck in the closet with your other camping gear, it’s a hammock after all. You’ll string your hammock between two cars next time you’re tailgating, you’ll hang out in the backyard for the next BBQ, you’ll take it on vacation, use it indoors during the winter, and you’ll set it up on your next summer lunch break and watch the day’s stress disappear in no time.