The Many Uses of a Gear Hammock

Using a Gear Hammock

I love multi-use gear on the trail, and one item that’s been intriguing me recently is the gear hammock. A gear hammock is nothing more than a small(ish) hammock—sometimes a really small hammock—that can be hung in concert with your main rig and used to hold, well, stuff.

Why Use Gear Hammocks?

Gear hammocks have a lot of utility, depending on their size and material used. When I reviewed the Ultimate Backpacking Chair, I highlighted how the silnylon fabric made it a great option as an on-the-go chair, top cover, winter barrier, gear loft, pack cover, etc. One of my favorite variants is to use a large Krama scarf, traditional multi-use attire from Cambodia. A large Krama can be used as a sarong wrap, head wrap, and even converted to carry gear as a chest pack.

The Ultimate Backpacking Chair

The Ultimate Backpacking Chair

Ever since I converted to hammock camping, I’ve been vigilant in keeping not only myself but my gear off the ground. Some hammocks come with small pocket organizers, often attached to a ridgeline, but they are mostly good for small items like a smartphone, flashlight, or maybe a book or a water bottle (if you’re lucky). A gear hammock, in contrast, can hold pretty much everything, including your hiking shoes and your pack.

The ENO Underbelly Gear Sling.

The ENO Underbelly Gear Sling.

During hot and muggy seasons or climates, a gear hammock is a great place to keep a light fleece blanket that can be stowed out of the way but still within easy reach and pulled out when required in the cool early morning. If properly slung, a gear hammock can double not only as storage, but also as a bottom cover to deflect wind and moisture from reaching you from underneath. It can also hold insulation to help keep your backside warm.

The mini gear hammock, or Gear Loft, from Elemental Hammock. Photo courtesy Elemental Hammock, used by permission.

The mini gear hammock, or Gear Loft, from Elemental Hammock. Photo courtesy Elemental Hammock, used by permission.

How To Use a Gear Hammock

While you can hang a gear hammock by itself like a shelf—such as the waterproof Molly Mac Gear Box—it is often more convenient to hang it next to your sleeping quarters for easy reach-in access.  Most gear hammocks come with simple line on each end that can be used to attach to a regular hammock. In this way, it can be strung tight above a hammock to act as a ridgeline with benefits, parallel like saddlebags, or below for out-of-sight pack storage.

Smaller gear hammocks can be hung on a ridgeline, like the Gear Loft from Elemental Hammock. When pitched next to your main hammock, a gear hammock can stay enclosed in your mosquito netting and stay dry under your tarp.

Taking a quick siesta in my hammock chair.

Taking a quick siesta in my DIY Krama hammock chair.

For my DIY gear hammock made from my Krama scarf, I also packed a set of Toggle Ropes from Navy Hammock (super useful by the way). I tied a Sheet Bend on each end and created my own hammock chair. The same technique was used to convert the scarf as a gear loft at night.

Smaller gear hammocks can be attached to a ridgeline with a constriction knot such as a Prusik or Kliemheist.

Commercial Gear Hammocks

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19 Responses

  1. Kevin says:

    When I first read about gear hammocks a few months, I immediately thought back to your post on how to make a hammock in 3 minutes and decided that I just couldn’t bring myself to pay for a gear hammock when you had already shown me how easy it is to make one.

    • Derek says:

      It’s true! That’s why I really like my Krama scarf version. It extends the usability a little and is more fun to use.

  2. David Wallace II says:

    I made a Gear Hammock from half of a Walmart backpacking tarp. They sell these little 5×7 tarps for $10-$15 and if you cut that in half you have a nice little gear hammock. I sewn channels the whole way around for paracord. At opposite corners of the tarp is a cord lock. So when you draw up the cord on either end it makes a little hammock. If it’s not being used as a gear hammock it could be a pack cover, sit pad or a small changing ground cover. I tried searching the web for the idea to a link but couldn’t find it. Maybe I got the idea from Hammock Forum.

    • Derek says:

      That sounds a lot like the Jeff gear hammock that Jacks R Better now sells. It’s a great little DIY project.

  3. David Wallace II says:

    That was it. See I knew it had to be some place. So many great idea out there that my pack get heavy from wanting to try everything.

    PS. I’m still teaching hammocks to scouts in our area thanks to your presentation.

  4. Vernon says:

    When we first starting to build the tablecloth hammocks (3 min. version on your site) I ordered the wrong size tablecloth, so it sat on the shelf until the gear hammock idea popped up…..Worked like a charm,… we were able to make four Mini multi-purpose hammocks and have been using them for months now. Now since seeing the one on the ridge line I just gotta try it too. It seems so much easier than sewing up all those little pouches to hang on the ridgeline. We love your site!!! (my scouts and I)
    Vernon

  5. Elvis Mikel says:

    I got a 3 X 5 piece of 1.1 ripstop at the fabric store and made my own gear loft. Made channels on the sides with shock cord, whipped the ends, and attach the the continuous ridgeline of my tarp. It just gets stored with the tarp in the snakeskins. Love it.

  6. Robert Shirley says:

    Don’t forget my beloved SMR Nube’ with its incorporated gear hammock supporting up to 200lbs.

    • Derek says:

      It’s true! That’s a great feature of the Nubé.

    • Val says:

      I love my Nube’ and when I have wet clothing… wool socks, and it’s raining, I can lay them out on the screen netting to dry overnight! Pretty awesome feature when you need it. Something you don’t realize you want until you have a Nube’!

  7. Dennis says:

    Great write up on an interesting piece of gear. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Carter Holland says:

    don’t forget the UBC from 2toutdoors! I think you even did a review on it!

  9. Kalei says:

    Dont firget to add Simply Light Designs to the gear hammock list. Jared makes a great One with waterproof zipper!

  10. Jacob Stout says:

    Thanks for the tips on how to use these great little hammocks. I’d never really thought about gear hammocks before. Palm to forehead. Again, thanks for sharing these. Anxious to get out and try a few and compare to regular hammocks.

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