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The Truth About Hammock Camping: Claim #1 – Hammocks Are Lighter Than Tents

Are hammocks really that amazing? I thought it would be interesting to do a series and play devil’s advocate by punching through some of the more popular claims about hammocks as they relate to camping. After all, I’ve had my fair share of misery in a hammock: cold butt syndrome, shoulder squeeze, mosquito bites, leg hyperextension, and more. Through it all, however, I keep going back to hammocks as my primary overnight outdoor accommodations, so while I’ll be brutally honest about the downsides of hammock camping, I’ll share some of my own solutions.

Tentsile Hammock
This prototype hammock tent from Tentsile is a beast at 40 lbs (18 kg)—not something you want to carry far.

Claim #1: Hammocks are lighter than tents.

The Truth Is: A simple, gathered-end hammock can indeed be light, but to be compared with a tent, you’ve got to add a bug net and a protective rain fly. Hammocks also require adequate suspension and tree-saving straps. The ounces really add up, especially considering that most hammocks are designed for only one occupant. All-in-one, purpose-made camping hammocks can be some of the heaviest camping kits available, rivaling three-person tents. If you routinely share a tent with a partner, there are only limited comparable hammock equivalents.

Here are some of the heaviest* kits (hammocks with bug net, tarp, and suspension):

Honorable mention: New Tribe Treeboat Hammock – 5.4125 lbs (2.45 kg), and that’s only the hammock and tarp, no bug netting.

*Yes, this list isn’t fair. Most hammocks are designed for single occupancy. The Tensile and Vertex are multi-person hammocks and should probably have their own category. I’ve deliberately picked out some of the heaviest kit hammocks to honestly acknowledge they exist. However, to compare gear on weight alone is a gross generalization and should be taken very lightly. Weight may be an important consideration to a backpacker, but it isn’t the only thing that matters. I happen to love my Tentsile hammock and Clark Vertex hammocks.

†I’ve personally reviewed these hammocks and you can find my reviews on this blog.

The Solutions

Shop around. I’ve collected a thorough list of hammock manufacturers (am I missing any? Let me know!) to help make the process easier. There are hammocks in nearly every weight range, just like tents. Hennessy, for example, also sells hammock kits that are only 1.9 lbs (860 g).

Lightweight Jungle Hammock Examples

These hammocks are just a small selection for demonstration purposes only. To make the list, these hammocks have to have an attached bug net and included tarp.

  • 25.6 oz (726 g) — Hennessy Hammock Hyperlite (hammock with integrated bug net, silnylon aysm tarp, suspension)
  • 33 oz (930 g) — DD Travel Hammock/Bivi
  • 34.2 oz (969.2 g) — AntiGravityGear Quicksilver System (hammock, bug net, silnyon hex tarp, 4 Ti stakes!, suspension)
  • 63.5 oz (1.8 kg) — DD Hammock Jungle Hammock (hammock with integrated bug net, poly tarp/under cover, suspension)

Mix and match components. If you’re looking for something lightweight, I recommend putting together your own kit. You could assemble a hammock kit for only 13 oz (367 g)! In my opinion, this is one advantage hammocks have over tents: modular components. You can shave ounces with a smaller tarp, or if you have the money, purchase a full-size, 6.5 oz tarp made of space-age Cuben Fiber (complete with doors!). Pick up a separate bug net that can be removed when bugs aren’t a problem. Lightweight yet as-strong-as-steel Dyneema can be made into ounce-cutting Whoopie Sling suspension lines, replacing heavier cordage on stock hammock kits. You get the idea.

Know what you want (and need). Most hammock users will tell you that comfort is the number one criteria for choosing a hammock (see Claim #2), and will argue that weight is less of an issue when you know you are going to get a good sleep at the end of the day. Also consider that not everyone is backpacking or thru-hiking the AT either. A lot of hammocks are used by weekend campers who “plop-and-drop” from a vehicle, so weight isn’t a problem.

When I’m backpacking and counting grams, I pick a lightweight hammock like the Grand Trunk Ultralight (about 10 oz/283 g) with Whoopie Sling suspension. Bugs typically aren’t a problem in northern Arizona where I live, but when they are, I like the HUG bug net, which I can easily make for less than 3 oz (85 g). For a tarp, I like the 7 oz (198 g) GoLite Poncho Tarp, which makes a great multi-use asymmetric rain fly, similar to the popular stock Hennessy tarps. All told, my shelter hovers around 20 oz (567 g), which is pretty lightweight, even by ultralight tent standards.

98 thoughts on “The Truth About Hammock Camping: Claim #1 – Hammocks Are Lighter Than Tents”

  1. Derek, great start of a discussion or overview, speaking from my own experience from over 55 yrs camping and long wilderness backpacks, i have another observation. I’ve used tents and pads, very good ones, and some were light and shared weight when I wasn’t soloing, then several yrs back I matriculated to Hammocks, in the 60s i had used mountaineering hammocks on climbs which left a lot to desire as comfort, and when I first began to look into usable comping hammocks, I was skeptical at best, i.e. backsleeping and in a banana shape held little appeal, then on a trip I usually take each year I was in Glacier NP, and a couple, sadly didn’t even get their names, introduced me to the new hammocks, as I’ll call them, and showed how to lay flat, I’ve never looked back, But to my point of why no looking back, comfort, which provides rest and my body refreshed for the next days movement. I stopped backing for yrs because i went trail blind, just trudging the miles and forgot the reason i was out in the beauty of nature, and the fatigue, mostly caused by poor sleep, and falling asleep because your bone tired doesn’t translate to refreshed body and mind. So while weight is important, what oz price for a truly rested trail body, i know the hammock has revitalized my life of getting out and more importantly enjoying the trip. sorry so long, but the hammock and gear give added value to the adventure, my 1/2 cent, jim ps your book is better than great, as are your illustrations , we’re blessed with your talent

    1. Well, now that I’m not playing devil’s advocate, I can let you know I completely agree with you. When I do hammock presentations, I often hear claims about hammocks and I thought it would be interesting to look objectively at some key points.

      I hope the point I get across is that, yes, hammocks can be lightweight — even lighter than tents when you want it. But hammocks can be heavy too. It’s not a good or bad thing, just reality.

      The other reality is that hammocks are comfortable, which is why we prefer them, especially to the ground.

      However, more on that next week when I take the argument against and see what we find.

  2. My hammock weighs the same as my lightweight tent, although using the hammock I end up taking a lot less gear ( like mat, pillow, small hammer, pegs) so the weight and space advantages of a hammock really add up when I’m cycle touring.

    1. That is a good point. In fact, one thing I didn’t mention are all those “extras” that people bring to feel comfortable sleeping on the ground. In many ways, it tips the scales (again) in favor of hammock’s simplicity.

      I often read that, for ground dwellers, the difference between a good sleep and a bad one are two extra-strength Tylenol. While funny from a certain perspective, it also relates the unfortunate reality of lightweight backpacking and the observation that there really is a lot of pain involved. Masking the pain with drugs, in my mind, isn’t doing your body any favors.

      1. I disagree.
        These biased arguments make no sense at all, imho. It’s like saying for hammock camping you need to bring along two poles in case you don’t have trees. Or a ladder, to be able to set up the hammock…

        A small hammer? Really? I have never seen any hiker carrying one, I would definitely remember that 🙂 Just use the proper pegs, or when the ground is too hard to drive in the pegs there always is a rock nearby to act as a hammer.
        A pillow? Just put your clothes in your fleece and make a knot with the sleeves to make a pillow. According to Claim #2 hammockers need a neck and knee pillow…
        A mat? According to Claim #2 (and my personal hammocking experience) you need something similar to prevent Cold Butt Syndrome.

        I love my hammock, but when I’m embarking on a physically enduring hike, I’ll always prefer my tent to ensure a good rest. When there’s lots of rain or wind, I’ll also won’t doubt to take my tent, to have the comfort of cooking or do other stuff without having to cope with wind or rain.

  3. While weight is a valid concern for many, I personally think the outdoors industry is going a bit overboard on the subject. Admittedly, I may be biased. I’ve got a motorcycle to handle the weight. On the other hand, there seems to be little attention paid to VOLUME, except as an incidental.

    So, perhaps hammock evangelists could pay some real attention to the subject. I’m looking at hammocks as an option because of the limited packing space I have on my motorcycle.

    I’m hoping that in your “Truths About Hammock Camping”, you’ll address space. A second issue is how do hammocks do in wind and rain? I’m talking about the sort of winds that blow down some tents. It appears to me that if the wind is whipping around from point to point, it will blow right “down the tunnel” and soak me.

    1. Volume, or “bulk” as it is also referred to, is a major concern, as you clearly point out. Typically, when pack weight is reduced, so is volume. For example, a 20°F-rated sleeping bag filled with synthetic fiber will be heavier and bulkier than a similarly-rated down-filled bag. Down is not only lighter, it packs down smaller (I also contend that down is warmer).

      Weight and bulk usually correlate. The heavier an item, the bulkier it tends to be. Looking for low-bulk items will also get you low weight items.

      I think you’re right on target if you’re considering hammocks for their low-bulk. There are many options that will work for you.

      Now to your question about wind and rain. Wind and rain are both combated with your tarp, although a good bug net can also serve as a moderate wind block. Some hammock tarps, such as those that come stock with most Hennessy models, are parallelograms, or asymmetrically cut. These tarps offer minimal wind and rain protection, but are viable in many cases. If you are looking for exceptional wind and rain protection, get a larger tarp that offers full coverage. With larger side panels, you can even add side pull-outs that will add structural support against a prevailing wind.

      You can get a cuben fiber tarp with long side panels and peak doors that weighs under 7 oz (<198 g) and packs down to the size of a burrito.

      1. Derek, again as a newbie to hammocks, I am gravitating to a larger fly for the Hennessy Ultralite Backpacker I am purchasing. Hennessy sells an 18.6 oz Hex 30D silnylon tarp. I imagine I am not tied to getting a Hennessy tarp (modular — the beauty of hammocks, as you say!). Could you recommend a tarp that is equivalent (more or less) in size, but weighs less?

        1. Yes, but I may exceed your budget 🙂 Cuben Fiber hex tarps from, mountain laurel designs, zpacks and others are around 7 oz with doors! For more reasonable price on sil, check out Arrowhead Equipment. Jacks R Better has a great utility tarp. The Warbonnet SuperFly is also popular.

        2. DD Hammocks ( a British company) make the Superlight range and claims the lightest hammock ever. They are a great company and supply the British Army and Scouts. They are very reasonably priced too.

    2. Agreed. I switched to hammocks more for the space reason over weight. My hammock setup weighs about the same as my tent when you factor in everything you need (tarp, suspension, quilts, etc) but it’s the space savings that convinced me to switch. Plus not having to try and find a spot for tent poles in my bag makes packing far less stressful.

      1. Do you include your pad, bag, and ground sheet when you factor the weight of a tent? If you remove those items in common with both methods (e.g., insulation) hammocks can be very competitive in the weight category. But, just like tents, results vary by shelter type.

    3. biker dad, just curious since your reply is a few years old, what did you end up settling for? Im searching for motorcycle friendly 2up camping shelter. Thats affordable.Ya i know you get what you pay for: but thats what brought me to this page in the first place.

  4. Nice review! I personally use a Ticket To The Moon hammock: double to lie down perfectly. They are very comfortable and lightweight: 200g for a double hammock. I also use a TTTM hammock tarp (900g). I prefer sleeping in a hammock because you avoid wet and sloping grounds but also insects.Moreover, it is faster to set up and take down.
    Check on their website:

  5. “Hennessy, for example, also sells hammock kits that are only 1.9 lbs (860 kg).”

    Should that not be “860 gram” and not kg…. just saying 🙂

    a little heavy for my family….

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  7. Well it’s been almost a year since your last reply. Looking at your list of hammocks I noticed an excellent brand missing. Have you looked at
    I friend turned me on to them last fall. The total weight with fly, net, and hammock and strapings/caribiners was just at 3 pounds. No squished shoulders, plenty of feet room and even has a compartment to store stuff. I don’t feel like a banana in it either. Worth a gander. Sounds like an ad, but I’m just a recent purchaser. Only used it for naps so far but getting ready for an excursion next month.

    1. Cory, thanks for your post! Yes, I am familiar with Warbonnet. In fact, I know the owner, Brandon, and have even done some reviews on his excellent gear. The short list of hammocks I mentioned on this post was to highlight some of the heaviest kits available. Warbonnet didn’t make the list because they are fairly light in comparison, and good examples of well-balanced hammocks with all the features Brandon sneaks in there. I agree: the Warbonnet Blackbird is a fantastic hammock! I keep an up-to-date list of hammock manufactures on my website if you want to see more vendors that are available.

      1. I am looking for a hammock for my son .. the one who has everything when it comes to camping.. but I figured if I got him a hammock he either would want a second one or love the one I got him and use that instead.. 🙂 Have you checked out ROO hammocks.. as in kangaroo. well .they claim to be only 24 oz.. I know…. sounds hard to believe.. but I am getting my son one for Christmas.. it is a double one.. hope he likes it.

  8. Thanks Derrick! I found your list about 10 minutes after I posted. I stumbled across your blog while testing my hammock in the back yard and debating on which fly I really need. This next trip I take will be my first hammock hike. I’m very excited to think the one part of the trip I dread most (sleeping) might actually be pleasant. Brandon really has done great work with the hammock. I’ll be reading over your blog for tips! Thanks again.

    1. Thanks! My best wishes with your hike. I’m with you: sleeping on the ground can be miserable. Hammocks make it fun, relaxing, and comfortable. You might also be interested in my book on hammock camping.

    1. Well, tents offer no more protection from widow makers than hammocks unless you camp in an open field, and then you become a lightning rod 🙂 you just have to be wise about your camp spot no matter what shelter you choose.

  9. How do you stay warm in the cold AZ nights?? I’m needing this info immediately 🙂 I’ve been looking and searching the web for ideas and have a few, just picking your brain!

    1. The desert is deceptively cold! Arizona can see diurnal temperature shifts of 40+ degrees, dropping from 120°F down to 70°F, which will feel extremely cool. I used regular camping pads for years, and many folks still swear by them. In fact, I still use them on occasion for lightweight backpacking. Under quilts are really nice because they don’t impact the lay of the hammock and insulate around the shoulders as well. You can make under quilts with a surplus military poncho liner for cheap. Send me a PM if you have further questions about staying warm.

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  11. Hi Derek, really great review. I am trying to buy a hammock for my boyfriend who loves camping! I just wanted to know if you still recommend the Grand Trunk Ultra lightweight hammock with the whoopie sling suspension. I know you wrote this article in 2012 and I just wanted to make sure it is still your top pick of hammock. It is really reasonably priced and I would like to buy it if you still believe its the best 🙂 . My boyfriend is 5″11 and has a slender build. We live in Trinidad (Caribbean) so it pretty hot. Thanks so much in advance for all your great help. This is a big help for people who know nothing of camping hammocks. Best Regards, Ranjana

      1. Thanks for your quick response Derek! Will definitely buy one of those straps to go with the hammock. Trinidad has some lovely hikes to go on. If you are ever in Trinidad and Tobago, my fellow scout boyfriend would gladly take you everywhere and anywhere you want to go hiking wise. Thanks again for all your help 🙂 You are a life saver.

  12. I am probably asking this in the wrong place but at 317 pounds I wonder how safe a 300lb rated Hennessey hammock tent would be? I have it available and would like to try it but that line through the tent looks so tiny. I know I’m overweight for it so that’s why I’m asking. I don’t have the funds or another option I could use some advice before I’m forced out of the house I’m in.

    1. Mike,

      The weight rating is for the safe working load, taking into account dynamic strain, etc. The fabric and suspension lines are rated at much higher breaking strength. That said, you can easily replace the Hennessy suspension if you want to upgrade to something more robust, say a 1/8″ Amsteel line with Whoopie Slings.

      As for the hammock, Hennessy does sell hammocks that are rated for more weight, such as the Safari.

  13. Have you ever looked into Sierra Madre Research products, namely the Pares hammock and Nubé hammock shelter? What do you think of both pieces, and the bulk/weight of them together?

    1. Yes, I’m aware of them but I haven’t tested them so I can’t speak too directly about them. On appearances they look cool, but I don’t know much more about them.

      1. Received my Pares hammock recently. I’m very impressed thus far. It’s large, and relatively light, packing up pretty small. I’ll have to wait and see about the Nubé.

  14. Derek,
    I just read all the posts above, I’m thrilled to run across all this info and you. My husband and I are backpacking (2 yr plan) through central and South America. I KNOW it’s wet, hot, and totally infested with flying biting bugs. I have looked into so many hammock tents and I don’t know a single person who’s had one so it’s hard to get all the info like what you’ve given, gratefully! Can you recommend 1 or 2 that would be well fitted for our upcoming adventure? We leave this coming Oct 3rd.
    I’m so grateful to come across this page! Thanks again!

    1. Jami! Sounds like you have an exciting trip coming up. Let’s chat offline about your needs and I’ll help you the best I can.

  15. For me the best part about hammock camping, aside from the lighter weight, superior comfort, reasonable price point, and…well, everything, is the freedom of location. My gfriend and I have slept in a waterfall basin, across a creek (also next to a waterfall), 20 feet up a random hill with roadside parking…you can go ANYWHERE.
    To save weight and make for super-simple set up, I put Whoopie Slings on the four corners of my 12×12 Kelty Noah’s tarp. Slap a ‘biner on the tree straps, one titanium stake per side, cinch it tight, and I’ve never felt a drop of rain (despite the fact that it ALWAYS rains, usually a downpour, at least one night per week-long trip). Granted the Kelty isn’t the lightest tarp out there, but it’s well worth it for the protection.
    The only issue is that with two of us in one hammock (no, we will NOT sleep separately;-) even with a Dyneema structural ridge line it can get a bit cramped. Any thoughts on an asymmetrical hammock for two? Do you know of any available for sale?

    Many thanks and happy hanging!

    1. Yes, you can sleep two to a single asym hammock. What they do down in South America is get a Matrimonial Hammock. These are big and wide hammocks that allow two people to sleep in two separate pockets in the same hammock. Look up “matrimonial mayan hammock” and you’ll see several examples. These are big hammocks, though, and getting a tarp or bug net to cover them will be an issue. I applaud those who can sleep snuggled in the same hammock; I can’t do it 🙂 I recommend folks get two hammocks and pitch them close together; it’s essentially the same thing. But if you must, even psychologically, be in the same bed, you’ll have to compromise on a few things to make that happen: weight, bulk, comfort, etc.

  16. I’m 71, 5′ 9″, 160lb. Started hiking a couple of years ago, maximum of 3 nights at a time on AT in Georgia. About 35lbs is all I can carry and walk all day, so weight is important. I’ve been using REI Quarter Dome Tent with a small inflatable mattress (15 deep breaths at the end of the day is exhausting, but doable). Finding a level spot to pitch a tent is sometimes difficult, so a hammock has a lot of appeal, if I can convince myself that the much-discussed ‘banana effect will not give me a sore back. I assume my existing air mattress would work with a hammock for warmth and comfort.

    What hammock and related equipment do you recommend for an old guy?


    1. You should definitely check out my post on Hammock Camping 101 and Are Hammocks Comfortable. First off, when you hang a hammock correctly and sleep correctly (on the diagonal) you don’t sleep curved like a banana. This is a modern, western concept but isn’t how hammocks are traditionally (and appropriately) used. You might also want to check out my book — I’ve got more details there and a slew of illustrations to get you started.

  17. Hi,
    I’m new to hammocks and would like a recommendation. I would like something light and comfortable that I can use all year round with mosquito net and rain fly. I do most of my hiking, hunting and camping at my ranch in Chihuahua, Mexico and San Antonio, TX where i live. I talked to Hennessy and they recommended the Deep Jungles which add an extra pound and the Explorer Ultralites. Is hard to decide with so many brands I also saw DD Hammocks and many more. I called Hennessy because I saw it at REI.

  18. I’m hiking the north shore of Lake Superior for 2-3 weeks starting in late September and despite all of the hoo-ha I’ve read here about hammocks, I believe a tent is the better option for coping with the potential of heavy rain and night temperatures in the 30s or lower. My ‘comfort’ level ThermaRest pad makes sleeping on the ground as pleasant as sleeping in my bed at home — more so than hyperextending my knees in my hammock and its claustrophobic vibe which feels like a coffin at times. Just saying…

    1. 3 of us are doing a simple weekender in Late September this year in hammocks. I recommend looking up Shugumery on youtube, he has some specific hammock travelogues and videos. I suppose it’s all what you’re comfortable with. as a big guy (>300#, 6’4″), I found that having the right gear was important. I was lucky to have a similarly sized friend who was into hanging and had gear I could try and buy used. The other big tip for me was to try the gear in my back yard extensively. Heck, I slept 5 of the last 7 nights out in the hammock and enjoyed it. less stuffy than inside the house. The middle of the night Raccoon fight was un needed entertainment though 😉

  19. I need some help on finding a hammock for the Louisiana swamp. Something very bug and water proof to put in my hunting bag.I sent 1 to many nights trying to build a shelter out the water just to get wet by rain .

  20. I am looking to go hiking in Vanuatu in March, it’s the wet season so I want a good hammock with mosquito nets and fly. Has anyone tried the Rock hopper light weight hammock, it seems great for the price but I am it sure of the best I can get in the range.

    1. I’ve not tested the Rock Hopper hammock, but if I were hiking or backpacking, I would pick a lighter, more compressible hammock. Any hammock can double as a ground bivvy. There are many jungle hammocks (those with included bug netting):

      • Hennessy Hammocks
      • Warbonnet Hammocks
      • ENO Jungle Hammock
      • Grand Trunk Skeeter Beeter
      • Hammeck Envy
      • Dream Hammock
      • Hammock Bliss No-See-Um No More
      • Byer of Main Moskito
      • and more…
        1. Of course! The real key for a hammock bivy is having an integrated bug net, not a double-layer bottom. For best protection, you’d want a ground sheet or pad to protect the fabric, double layer or not.

  21. I’m going on an 18 mile mountain trail run in June with my cousins and found out they want to camp the night before. Naturally the first thing I imagined was having a miserable nights sleep just before what will be the most physically challenging thing I’ve ever done (childbirth aside). I’ve been researching hammocks and crossing my fingers that it will address my concerns. Anyone have a good experience similar to this? I welcome any ideas or tips.

    1. Myself included, I think the majority of folks use hammocks because they offer superior comfort over sleeping on the ground. If you want to test out a hammock, be sure to review the basics on hammock camping on this site and perhaps get my book. Get an inexpensive hammock (e.g., Yukon Outfitters, Grand Trunk Goods Double) and practice in your backyard to get the hang of it. I think you’ll enjoy it, but don’t forget these two tips: hang with a sag and sleep diagonal. Oh, and don’t forget to use a sleeping pad!

  22. Disappointed in this article. For example out of all of Hennessy’s Hammocks, you choose the one that is way bigger in relation to the other 8-10. Also it is built for 2 people and still very light. I understand that you were showing the largest of each, but not all were made for 2 people, so to be accurate you should have shown all made for 2, or the heaviest of all made for one. But not just that, it almost feels like you pick and chose what to write about several hammocks and their companies etc, but even your advice would have easily been much more authentic and guided if you would have just done a little more research or taken some more into the field. It is almost as if you use not inaccurate information, but only small parts and often outliers of it for your own agenda or point. I mean it is your article and do with it as you see fit, but I would not recommend anyone to read it and would give a much more detailed, fair and very very different. I understand that you most likely is true you have no agenda it just feels that way. Maybe I wish you would have spent more time in each you tested so you could say how each are in relation to size, comfort, weight, mobility, etc. Just a couple things I disagree with, but it is your article and I give you props for that even if I do disagree with how you obtained or chose to show some of your statistics and information. I just think you could have done better is all. Take care, and thank you for the read even if I do have different views and opinions etc. Good luck to you in the future!

    1. Josh, thank you for your input. I don’t normally reply to trolling, but I think you missed several key points to stick to facts. First, Hennessy does not sell any 2-person hammocks. Second, I specifically researched hammocks and tents that were comparable in terms of feature set and dimensions to be as fair and balanced as possible. Third, I wrote this article to be honest about the pros and cons about hammocks and tent camping as possible, even admitting that a direct comparison is often misguided and difficult. What you may have missed is that I’m a die-hard hammock aficionado and yet I’m trying to show that I’m not above criticism or even criticizing hammocks, especially to admit (where others may ignore) that yes, hammocks have limits and flaws. However, even in these admissions, there are benefits that may outweigh the challenges. Yes, you can find really lightweight hammocks, but to compare a lightweight tent to a hammock you better make sure you’re accounting for all the pieces required to make it as comparable as possible, which is what this article achieves.

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  26. Yo sigo prefiriendo las carpas: con la hamacas solo podés acampar en bosques que cuenten con árboles que esten muy cerca entre si.

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  29. Since this thread is ongoing I’d thought I’d comment on ground sleeping in certain jungle hammocks or even regular Mayan hammocks. I’ve ground slept in my jungle hammock a few times and it’s surprisingly easy to set up. A good hammock and fly are super versatile.

    Another great thing about hammocks is I see them as a gateway into diy crafting which is a valuable skill to have. I started making simple hammocks for my daughters who love them. Then I went into making down under quilts and top quilts, tarps, stuff sacks and whoopie slings. I find myself wanting to sew more and more. There are tent campers who also pick up crafting gear but hammock geeks take this stuff to crazy levels. That’s because making a plain Mayan hammocks is incredibly simple.

  30. I found this article, and while a little aged, it is still relevant today. Honestly this whole issue is a person by person matter. There are only four absolutes when in the outdoors: shelter, fire, water, food. Beyond that how someone approaches those necessities may vary upon skill level, desire for the trip whether for fun or pushing oneself to the edge.

    For me hammocks were always a way to simply get a shelter with some comfort in a hurry. Its down and dirty simple with few frills. I do not bring tents with me outdoors. If its not a hammock, then its a natural shelter of some kind and a tarp if I brought one. Spend some time in natural shelters and you will love hammocks even if you hate them now. Use a tent after a natural shelter and you may think you have checked into the Hilton.

    People worry a lot about pack weight. I hear and see complaints when a pack pushes 30 to 40 pounds. Even though I am not in my 20’s any longer when I was in the Marines I still tend to chuckle a bit at hearing those complaints. Combat loads with ammo, weapon, helmet and armor can push upwards of 50 to 60 pounds before you put your pack on in there. My whole point on the pack weight matter is that if you really like the comfort of your tent and its only a few pounds extra, take it. Hike with it enough and I promise your body will acclimate and adjust in time.

    It really comes down to your objective. If you are sight seeing for a couple days and want to go as light as possible then take a 3 day pack and a hammock. Push the distance and see the sunsets. Spend as little time as possible fiddling with gear and stay as ultralight as possible so you can really take it all in.

    If your hiking long distance to simply trek and be in the wild to get away from civilization, it doesn’t hurt to bring a little more civil comfort with you if you desire. Add another day or so to the trek for more movement time and still enjoy yourself.

    I do not think there is a “better” between the options. That is unless you figure out how to put a Serta in your pack, and if you do, let me know LOL!

  31. While it’s a very good point that a full hammock kit can be heavier than a tent, I feel that the modular nature of the hammock lends itself to filling more roles than just a sleep system. I have a number of tents that I love, but unless it’s a winter storm, I find myself somewhat disappointed if I choose to go with a shared tent and pad on backpacking trips, when my hammock is so much more comfortable and can act as camp chair, versatile rain fly, quick nap setup, and so on. Man, just when I thought my sleep kit was complete, your darned (amazingly well-written and helpful) book just goes and gives me a totally new kit to work with. Thanks for the introduction to my pea-pod of decadent comfort, Derek.

  32. I have decided to give the hammock a try. Thanks for all your advise and I will investigate your book. I have been researching brands and reviews all over the internet. It’s worse than trying to buy a car!!! As stated by someone above, it is a really personal thing. And so I think your BEST advise above is to just TRY one first before jumping in a spending several hundred dollars on a GOOD complete kit! First try and borrow one from someone if you can. If you can’t do that, there are numerous fairly inexpensive ones (without fly, bug net, etc, for fairly cheap prices (<$30) that I think will give you a good idea of how you can sleep in them. If it doesn't work out for you to sleep in, just use it in the back yard for summer relaxation or as a camp chair and you haven't lost your money! REI currently has an ENO closeout in their new "garage" (formerly their "outlet") for only $45 with a 20% off coupon (thus $36!). I'll let you know how it goes….

  33. Hi!

    Great page!
    I’m looking for a hammock for two that can serve as a hammock as well. Any ideas?
    I’ve sent you an e-mail.
    Thanks in advance.

    1. Any hammock that has a built-in bug net makes a great candidate for a go-to-ground bivy/tent. Some popular brands include Hennessy Hammocks and Warbonnet. A few brands have tent poles to hold out the bug netting, which makes it even easier to set up in “tent” mode. These brands include Lawson Hammocks, Clark Jungle Hammocks, and DD Hammocks.

  34. A lot of the links on this page are not working anymore, unfortunately.
    Maybe you can update them or list the exact names of the linked products.
    Thanks for your great work 🙂

  35. Unlike their mates, hammocks are immensely lightweight and easy to carry around. we don’t need to struggle with packing poles or stakes especially for long backpacking trips that may bring you little happiness.

  36. I agree hammocks are amazing and very lightweight, its the same reason i switched from traditional tent camping to tarp camping. I learned how to tarp camp by using this guide ( and i now intend to invest in a top of the line hammock to use in conjunction with the tarp, using the tarp as a shelter. Thanks for the awesome list, ill definitely have a look into buying one of these options.

  37. Planning on spending a year or so hiking around Europe soon I have an Eno doublenest and a Six Moon Designs Gatewood cape that will serve as a rainfly, shelter system and poncho but I’m still debating about bringing the hammock at all. For me the comfort is amazing but I have to consider pack space and I’d like to go as lightweight as possible, it’s a tough call because I know there will be some cold nights spent outdoors and hammocks can be chilly. I have a sleep pad and decent sleeping bag but carrying an underquilt as well is just a no go for me so I guess it’s a matter of weighing it all out and making a decision. I may just find a way to stuff the hammock in and say to hell with it but also have to consider extra pack space that it would take up for food items or unexpected items I might need along the way. It is a tough call for sure.

    1. This is a really good topic and one to do a lot of research and trip planning. Pack touring Europe is common, but you’re right that most folks stay in hostels or “couch surfing” as a way to avoid paying for expensive hotels and lodging. Camping is possible, but it’s not as easy as in the US. When you do your research, if you find that hanging a hammock isn’t possible most of the time, than I wouldn’t plan on it as my primary place to sleep. However, there are plenty of places you can day hang along your trip, including at parks. I’d still bring along a hammock but I may just opt for a simple open hammock that packs down small and is pretty light.

  38. Hammocks and tarps are all I use being in the U.S. ARMY. I had a couple one man tents but there a pain to set up at night. (Just my opinion) either I’ll sleep on the ground with a tarp if needed to make a fast hastey sleep or if I’m gonna be bedded down longer It’s generally easier to tie two lashings and string up a hammock…and a tarp if raining or to hold in heat and kill out wind and call it good. For what it’s worth I have a hennessy 4 season. And yes it is kinda bulky but I can lay relatively flat in it and stay really comfortable and sleep down to single digits temps so far. (Hasn’t got below freezing but I’m sure I’d be fine.) And you can remove the insulation to get it to pack down more. But as is, it all fits into my ruck sack which normally weighs in at 65 lbs. To each his own but I’ve made a pretty decent career outta sleeping outside in all weather and I have found it easier to do one of those two.

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