Hammock Camping À La Carte – Hammock Comparison Chart

hammock camping a la carte

Where hammocks really shine (outside of their comfort, of course) is their modularity. Nearly every component is upgradeable or can be exchanged for other options. You can pick-and-choose and mix-and-match pieces to create your own “perfect” system. Want a roomier bug net? Lighter suspension system? How about a bigger (or smaller) rain fly? Hammocks make it happen. In some ways, hammocks are a gear junkies dream (and a wallet’s curse): there is literally no end to hammock accessories. Compare that to a tent—ever try to modify a tent fly, upgrade the poles with a lighter set, swap the sidewalls for more or less bug netting, enlarging the tent space from one person to three person, or increase the footprint? You might as well buy a different tent[1. I’m really showing my bias here, aren’t I? To be fair, hammock camping is not much different than tarp camping in terms of mix-and-match options. But that’s tarps, not tents. Very few tents are modular.].

The vast majority of hammocks sold and used for outdoor recreation are the ubiquitous “parachute nylon” style with colorful fabric and gathered-ends. All it takes is some bug netting and a tarp to make these hammocks viable 3-season camping shelters. However, putting together a hammock shelter à la carte can be a daunting prospect because there are are simply WAY TOO MANY OPTIONS and twice as many opinions on which is the “best” choice. The truth is, there is no single “perfect” hammock camping kit that I could prescribe for everyone—it all depends on what you want and need.

The Tips

Tip #1: When going to the hammock à la carte menu, know what you’re looking for.

But what if you don’t know what you’re looking for?  Start with an inventory on how you intend to use the hammock. Are you primarily a car camper? Backpacker? Are you on a budget? Are you looking for the lightest, most packable options? Do you expect to hammock camp year round, or only in three seasons (spring, summer, and fall)?

In helping you narrow your choices, this maxim holds true 98%[2. I totally made the percentage up, but I’m sure it’s up there.] of the time:

Inexpensive • High-Quality • Lightweight: Pick two.

  • Can’t spend a lot but want light gear? It’s probably not durable.
  • If you want something durable but lightweight, it’s probably space-age, and therefore expensive.
  • What about a durable yet inexpensive? It’s probably heavy. And bulky.

If you shop around, you are likely to find great deals that maximize on all three, but for some people, one or two of these considerations is most important. For example, if you mainly car camp then lightweight gear probably doesn’t matter. A thru-hiker, in contrast, is probably looking for the lightest gear that won’t break the bank (and will last the whole trip—can’t we wish for all three?)

Tip #2: Try before you buy. One benefit of brick-and-mortar gear retailers is the ability to walk in and try something out. A few hammock camping accessories like bug nets and tarps can be found in these stores. Hammocks, on the other hand, are not as common nor are they regularly “set-up” to try out. If you are looking at upgrading or supplementing your kit, a great option is to attend a Group Hang with fellow hangers. HammockForums.net regularly displays posts for upcoming Group Hangs where you’ll find a wide-variety of hammocks (and other gear) on display and opportunities to try them out.

Tip #3: Rummage sales. If funds are low but you still want to upgrade or expand your hammock repertoire, there are a lot of  à la carte options available either on eBay or on the HammockForums.net marketplace. This is a great way to find gently used and new gear for sale, or to post hammock gear you no longer need[3. Make sure to check the forum rules on posting items for sale].

Tip #4: Do-it-Yourself. A lot of hammock gear can be made if you have some basic sewing skills.  A gathered-end hammock is a wonderful beginner project. xollox on HammockForums.net has collected a pretty comprehensive list of hammock-related DIY projects. Making gear is a great way to minimize costs, learn a new skill, or just tinker around.

Tip #5: Be prepared to pay for quality. I suppose this is more of a reminder than a tip. High-quality gear is often expensive. A lot of people complain about the high cost of a down-filled under quilt, for example, without realizing the cost breakdown of materials or the labor-intensive processes. In my own experience, paying for well-made gear is worth it in the long run since it often performs better and lasts longer, among other qualities.

The Lists

As I indicated earlier, there are literally thousands of ways to assemble a gear list so it helps to lay some ground rules. First off, for my lists, all the gear is commercially available. Second, I’ve limited myself to explore three examples that suit a variety of interests or skill levels: an entry-level list, a low-cost list, and a lightweight list. Finally, these lists reflect a snapshot in time when I made these lists. In other words, the gear featured represent my personal recommendations based on my own experiences, not paid listings or to promote one brand over another. I expect to expand or extend this list in the future as things change or my testing dictates.

[embedit snippet=”a-la-carte”]

Entry Level (or KISS)

Just getting started? This list is all about ease-of-use, which is great for the beginner, or someone who doesn’t want to hassle about knots, slings, or straps. This list favors simplicity over other factors for 3-season camping.

[table “3” not found /]

Winter Camping for the Entry Level Hanger?  Get a bigger tarp or learn to pitch your current tarp in new and amazing ways to cut off the wind or weather. You could get rid of the bug net, although it does help add some protection from wind and heat loss. Try a pad extender, like the ENO Hot Spot, and add multiple pads, or invest in a quality under quilt.

Low Cost

In this list, I’ve put together a kit that focuses on cost savings above other considerations. Shopping around the internet is a great way to find deals. Low cost doesn’t necessarily mean low quality, but it can mean higher weight or bulk.

ManufacturerHammocksTarpsBug
Netting
Suspension
Systems
InsulationDIY GearRelated
Gear
Made InLocation
2Q & ZQ Hammock SpecialtiesXXUSA
Alpine HammockXXXXUSASanford, NC, USA
Amok EquipmentXXXXNorwayNorway
Anna's HammocksXUSAGrand Rapids, MI, USA
Appalachian HammockXXUSASC, USA
Arrowhead EquipmentXXXXXXXUSAIdaho, USA
Bakpocket HammocksXXIndonesiaCA, USA
The Bearded HangerXXUSATampa, FL, USA
Bear GryllsXXXXChinaN/A
Black Rock GearXUSASeattle, WA, USA
Blue Sky OutfittersXXXIndonesiaIllinois, USA
Butts In A Sling Hammock GearXXUSACovington, TN, USA
Byer of Main HammocksXXXXVariousOrono, MN, USA
Pak-it-Lite HammocksXXXXUSA
Crazy CreekXXXRed Lodge, MT, USA
DD HammocksXXXXXXUKUK
DIY Gear SupplyXXUSA
Dream HammockXXXXXXXUSAFredericksburg, OH, USA
Dutch Ware GearXXXXXXUSAReinholds, PA, USA
Haiku Hammock SwingsXXXVariousEureka Springs, AR, USA
Eagles Nest Outfitters (ENO)XXXXXXIndonesia
Enlightened EquipmentXUSAWinona, MN, USA
Michigan Gear HammocksXXUSAMichigan
Exped (Expedition Equipment)XXXXXChinaTukwila, WA, USA
Serac HammocksXXIndonesia
ExtremtextilXXGermanyGermany
Foxtail HammocksXIndonesiaBaxter, TN, USA
Outdoor Trail GearXXXXXXX
GossamergearXXXVariousAustin, TX, USA
Grand TrunkXXXChinaChicago, IL, USA
Green Armadillo GearXXXXIndonesiaSalt Lake City, UT
Hamacas TainoXX
NOVICAXVariousCalifornia
Hammock BlissXXXXXIndonesia
Hammock Gear.comXXXXXUSA
Handy HammockXUK
Harmony HammocksXXCanadaVancouver, Canada
Helsdon Outdoors (Eureka!)XXXXCanadaCanada
Hennessy HammocksXXXXXXChina
Hippie HammocksXXXUSAColorado
Hummingbird HammockXXUSAColorado
Hyperlite Mountain GearXUSA
Infinity OutdoorsXXXUSASioux Falls, SD
Jacks 'R' BetterXXXXXXXUSA
Clark Jungle HammocksXXXXXUSA
KAMMOKXXChina
KampaXXXXBrazilBrazil
Lawson HammockXXXXChina
Leigh Lo Under QuiltsXUSAOut of business
Little River, Co.XXChinaNew York
MadTree HammocksXXFinlandFinland
Mexicali BluesXXIndonesiaMaine
Minorswing HammocksXXRomaniaBucharest, Romania
Molly Mac Pack GearXXXUSA
Claytor Mosquito HammocksXXXUSA
MountainGoat GearX
Mountain Laurel DesignsXXXXUSA
Navy HammockXXUSADawsonville, GA
New Tribe—Tree Boat HammocksXXXXXX
Northwoods Hammock CompanyXXXUSAUnknown
Outdoor Equipment SupplierXXUSANew York
Oware Outdoor GearXXXXX
Outdoor Wilderness Fabrics, IncXX
Planet HammockXXXIndonesiaNetherlands
Quest OutfittersXX
RALLTXXChinaSan Francisco, CA
Redden Marine SupplyXXX
Ripstop by the RollXXUSARaleigh, NC
Seaside HammocksXUSA
SheltoweeXXXUSAColorado
Sierra Madre ResearchXXNicaraguaManagua, Nicaragua
Simply Light DesignXXXXUSA
Smart OutdoorsXX
SoCo HammocksXXIndonesiaColorado, USA
Southern Hammock CampingX
Split Leaf DesignsXXUSAColorado, USA
Style Mexican HammocksXXXXMexicoMexico
TentsileXXXXUKLondon, UK
Terra Rosa GearXAustralia
Te-Wa Under QuiltsXUSAArizona
Elevated MovementXXUSANorth Carolina
Therm-a-RestXXXXXUSASeattle, WA
Ship in a BottleXXUSA
Thru-hikerXX
Ticket-to-the-Moon HammocksXXXXIndonesia
Tier GearXAustraliaTasmania, AU
Titanium GoatXX
Trek Light GearXXXXXXIndonesia
Tree to Tree Trail GearXXXXXXUSA
Tenth Wonder (TW) HammocksXXXXXUK
UK HammocksXXXXXUK
Underground Quilts & Outdoor GearXXXXUSAMichigan
UnderQuilts.comXUSA
Warbonnet OutdoorsXXXXXUSA
WhoopieSlings.comXXXXXXUSA
Wilderness LogicsXXXXXXXUSAThomasville, NC
Yucatan HammocksXMexicoAlberta, CAN
Yukon OutfittersXXXXXTennessee, ChinaTennessee, China
ZPacksXXUSA
Behold Bungee HammocksXUSAPhiladelphia, PA
Mission HammocksXMexicoWilliamsport, PA
Yellow Leaf HammocksXXThailand and USA

Ultralight

When you’re looking for light gear, expect to pay a premium for space-age materials that provide weight savings. Some lightweight gear isn’t as durable, but for gram-counting hikers, this is a small price to pay.

[table “4” not found /]

 

 

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13 Responses

  1. Alan Vales says:

    This page helped so much Derek! I have been trying to lighten my base weight and also convert to hammock. Using this tool and researching sites you linked for each item I selected I was able to ditch the large tarp setup I was doing and still have a lighter hammock hang setup! Thanks for this. Your work is totally appreciated!

    • Derek says:

      You’re welcome. I’m working on updating this page and will probably publish a new post that is dedicated to just displaying the table without my ramblings. I’m building a database of useful meta data on all the products so you can organize and compare by weight or cost or size, etc. If you subscribe, you’ll find out the moment it comes out (I hope within a few months).

  2. Will says:

    Derek, you have really peaked my interest for hammock camping with this site! I’m looking through the brands you recommended, but do you have any suggestions for hammocks that would work well for taller campers? I am 6’5″. It does not have to be any special brand, I just wanted to know if there were any preferable choices.

  3. Jarrod Blair says:

    Derek

    The lists are not showing up on this post anymore.

  4. Laurens Vrolijke Fluiter says:

    I would love a good hammock for Outdoor survival. Need a hammock with musquito net and tarp.
    Currently reside in the Netherlands. There are so much possibiilties where to buy hammocks.
    Could you advice me a little?

    Anyhow thanks for your article. This will cost me more money but go for something more durable!

  5. David Osburn says:

    what happened to the charts that used to be on here?

    • Derek says:

      *Sigh* Well, when my site crashed a few months ago I lost pretty much everything. I’ve been slowly trying to rebuild the site, but some items are not yet connected (or discovered to be broken). Thank you for the update. I’ll see about getting this fixed soon.

  1. September 27, 2013

    […] I love hammocks (that may or may not yet be obvious) and I try my best to be even-handed about which hammocks and related gear I promote because I’ve learned that what works best for me isn’t necessarily the best for everyone, or even a majority; I’m happy if people simply choose hammocks. However, I am often asked to recommend gear, particularly for those just starting out, and I find myself stuck in the paradox of choice: wanting to help but offering too many options to be helpful. […]

  2. December 11, 2014

    […] to hammock and quilt. Hammocks by their very nature are modular systems, which allows you to mix-and-match to you hearts content. However, too much choice can often be crippling for some people, and […]

  3. April 14, 2015

    […] 11/26/12: I have completed a thorough hammock camping comparison database chart that includes all camping hammocks, tarps, insulation options, and suspension kits […]

  4. May 6, 2016

    […] bells and whistles. Not only are they lighter, they are also simpler and quicker to pitch. With an à la carte hammock, I eliminate components if I don’t need them (e.g., a separate bug net or weather shield). If […]

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