Again, with any system, there are pros and cons to using self-inflating pads or mats. I'm sure you can imagine how devastating it would be if an inflatable pad or mat was your only insulation system while out on a hiking trip and you discover while setting up your sleep system for the night that it has a hole in it. Bad news unless you also carry a repair kit!
The first thing I do when setting camp up is dig out my hammock. This is always followed by stares while everyone else is setting up their tents. Sleeping under the stars in a hammock might seem a little crazy for those used to sleeping in a tent. The confusion usually leads to questions. “What about the bears and bugs? Aren’t you going to be cold? Won’t that hurt your back?
But for me the comfort factor trumps all. Too many sleepless nights, even on good pads and I had all but given up on ever sleeping outdoors again (and no, I don’t count sleeping in RVs/trailers or any vehicle as sleeping outdoors). Then two years ago, I discovered the Deans of Hanging – Shug and Professor Grizz Adams – check out http://hammockforums.net. Now, I will gladly pay even a hefty weight penalty in exchange for the difference in comfort. However, as SGTROCK noted in the second article, UL weights with hammock gear rival, and may even beat, that of the UL tarp and pad crowd. I even managed to use UL rock climbing gear to anchor my hammock suspension when there were no suitable trees to be found. Short of an emergency bivouac, I will never go back “to ground.”
So, because a hennessy hammock has an internal ridgeline for the bug net, and then the hammock curves beneath that, should you still tie it up at the 30* ? I’ve always pulled the sucker tight but seeing this info I might have it wrong. Still, Tom Hennessy has a video where he pretty much pulls it tight (though maybe not as tight as me). In your experience, should you still sag a hennessy?
Unless you’re camping out in the hot tropical rainforests, you’ll need a way to stay warm. The traditional sleeping bag and sleeping pad combo works just as well suspended in the air. But why do I need a sleeping pad? Since I’m not on the ground, shouldn’t my sleeping bag be enough? That is not the case! The breathable fabric of a camping hammock that is so comfortable in the summer heat, also allows for the cold night air to pass through just as easily. A sleeping bag will cover your top insulation, but it is less effective underneath . A cheap foam pad can go a long way oftentimes. An inflatable pad can also work well in a hammock.
Just found this great series of articles. I had often wondered if one of the Deans of long distance UL hiking would ever find his way to “light side,” and now he has. I know there are strong opinions on both sides of issue because, like sailing or flying or any activity where weight is a governing factor, every consideration is really just a compromise – light weight, low cost, strong and durable – pick 2!
I like to keep my options open and I have just WAY too much hammock gear. Not only do I use underquilts but I also use inflatable mats. I have a goose down-filled inflatable mat which I love. It's easy to inflate and deflate, is a deluxe model (i.e. very long and wide), and provides a great deal of warmth and wind protection. These aren't cheap X-Mart inflatable toys. Inflatable pads by any of the major hiking/camping gear manufacturers use top-notch materials and craftsmanship. Some have insulation, some just use the air in them as the barrier between the user and the cold ground or cold air, and some use a combination of air and insulation.
Sure is nice. The general design of folding all your gear together like that has been done before, but I like the external mesh pocket. I do wonder how the entire system scales to carry 5 days of food, water, and how it handles walking in the rain. But it is an awesome concept and his execution is very nice. I wonder what the BS 1 and 2 looked like. Do you know if he's selling this yet?
Rope hammocks are just one of many styles of hammocks. But there are many options out there that provide a superior night’s sleep. Besides the bridge hammock, there are gathered end, and bed hammocks. Gathered end hammocks have each end tied together to a point. The camper lies along the horizontal plane of the hammock. Bed hammocks are designed so that you lie perpendicular to the plane of the hammock instead. We’ll be walking through the more popular gathered end hammock. Let’s first weigh the pros and cons of hammocks.
But there is a better way - wear clothing. If you put on long sleeve clothing you would dramatically reduce radiant heat loss (about 98%), and the clothing itself makes a poor source for radiant heat loss (about 5% effective as your skin). To add to this, each layer you add further cuts this effect down. So by just wrapping yourself in a hammock and a sleeping bag you negate the need for a reflector. If you were to wear a single layer of clothing, total radiant heat loss is less than 10%. Add your sleeping bag and it is less than 1%, add the hammock... well, you get the picture.
Using a length of rope, tie a line above where the hammock straps meet the trees at each end of your hammock. Drape a tarp over the line and even it out. The middle of the tarp should run along the line and cover your entire hammock. Then, with a few more pieces of rope, tie a line from each of the four corners of the tarp. Run the new lines to nearby trees, roots, pegs or rocks that are heavy enough to act as an anchor. Tie those lines to the various anchors. These anchor lines will prevent the edges of your tarp from flying up in heavy winds.
Of course, always try to keep your hammock and your hammock straps as much balanced as possible. However, this doesn’t prevent you from hanging stuff on your straps instead of leaving it on the ground. It can be a camping light, your backpack, something you need to dry out. These parts of the gear can turn out to be very useful too, so don’t ignore them.
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.
First time hammock campers often hang their hammock with little slack thinking this will be more comfortable. However, hanging it loose with slack in the middle actually makes the hammock easier to sit and lay in (more on laying in your hammock below). You should also aim to keep the hammock lower to the ground. A low hung hammock is better because you can reach your belongings on the ground without getting up and if you accidentally fall out of the hammock you won't get hurt.
To finish off this section, I highly recommend a blanket as a sleeping system for inside the hammock. Because most highly compressible loft bags do not offer any real insulation under our body, why waste your time. A blanket is easier to get into inside a hammock and your pad can serve as a draft tube if you use the old turn and tuck maneuver to cover up. I use a Nunatak Backcountry Blanket.
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!
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.
Hammocks do well for practicing Leave No Trace (LNT): With more campsite options, hammock campers can avoid further impacting popular campsites. And since hammocks don’t touch the ground, they have minimal impact. They do not crush or smother plants below them. Note: it’s easy to avoid impacting trees, just use wide tree-straps 1″ to 1.5″. Almost all backpacking hammocks are sold with this type of strap. For more see Leave No Trace.org on Hammock Camping.
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.
Excellent article and replies. I have been using a hammock since I was in scouts back in the late ’80s. The old fishnet style hammocks. Now I own four ENO double nest hammocks and routinely take my son and his friends to teach them how to use a hammock instead of a tent. I even took my hammock on my deployments with the military. We called them our hanging hooches.
I love my camo Trek Light Double Hammock! It's been many places with me and is my go-to hammock on camping trips, hiking adventures, kayak explorations, and lazy afternoons in my backyard. The only problem I've discovered is that I can't lay in it with a good book very long before dozing off. It's just so darn relaxing! Hanging in a Trek Light hammock is an awesome way to let your cares and troubles fade away.
2. The super-duper method (not recommended if you have surpassed your personal prime). If you have a gathered-end hammock, cocoon yourself into it by pulling the material on both sides until you are in a deep sag, and then pinching the material tightly closed with your arms and legs, putting your knees into deep pockets of material. Then, invert yourself by quickly shifting your weight till the hammock and your whole body turn 180 degrees and are facing the ground. WARNING: DO NOT LET GO of the material you are pinching just yet. Peek out of the cocoon and look for any painful objects (e.g. if you are inside, a plastic toy your kids placed underneath you while you slept, and if you are outside, a hard poky root or a rock you did not remove before entering the hammock). At this point, you may release the legs first and avoid a face-plant, or go all-out and do a belly-flop. I recommend only going the belly-flop route on grass or blankets.
Three-season is sensible, but I’d add that hammocks can be awesome in deep winter as well. Once set up camp in a couple feet of snow. I set up wearing my snowshoes the whole time, didn’t need to dig or stomp down snow in any way. Use deadfall branches as snow-stakes for your tarp- easy. I have spent nights in my hammock in deep cold (down to -36f thus far), it is work but it can be done.
REI has made hammock sleeping protected and straightforward with this complete set-up for an incredible price. It's hard to go wrong with the bug net, rain fly, suspension system, and stakes all included in one bag that only weighs 44.8 oz! We found this system simple to set up, following the instructions printed helpfully inside the bag, and easy to keep organized in its stuff sack. While many manufacturers like ENO, Hennessey and Grand Trunk offer systems and accessories you can piece together to make a complete system, this one from REI comes with everything you need all in one bag. No more reading through specs and opening your new package to find that carabiners, trunk straps, or stakes aren't included and will cost you extra.
Hammocks have been used as traditional bedding for thousands of years. But just now, they’re starting to gain ground in modern sleep science. The indigenous people of Latin America have long embraced the use of hammocks. Even to this day, some people grow up sleeping in a hammock every night. The Navy also replaced their cots with hammocks shortly after Europeans discovered them in South America. Sailors spent months at a time aboard sea vessels where each man was assigned a hammock.