If you enjoy lightweight backpacking, you should look into the ENO Sub6: light, just the right size for up to 5’11”, packable, and probably the most comfortable lightweight hammock I’ve ever tested. And I’ve tested them all.
I love lightweight and even ultralight backpacking, but hammock camping brings an automatic weight penalty—a penalty I’m often willing to take for the promise of a comfortable rest night after night. That’s not something I can predict when sleeping on the ground, and that reassurance is with the extra grams for me. But in some situations, I can get my pack weight darn close to ground dwellers, if conditions are right. And where I regularly trek in the American Southwest, bugs and mosquitos are often not an issue, so netting is optional. Rain is also more predictable and less problematic, so I can also get by with minimal coverage or even go tarpless on short trips. That said, the hammock itself is a “luxury” that most lightweight backpackers avoid, so finding one that is light enough and comfortable enough are on the top of my list.
Until I tested the ENO Sub6, I have spent many sleepless nights using one lightweight hammock after another. Nearly all of them suffer from the same issue: high stretch. Stretch is a byproduct of trying to use the lightest denier fabric you can while still providing enough strength for a decent capacity rating. Many lightweight hammocks use a 1.0 or 1.2 oz nylon fabric (20 to 30 denier), and some monofilament fabrics push that even lighter to 0.9 oz. Stretch in fabric isn’t horrible, and some folks really dig it, but for me, if the fabric stretches too much, it can cause me to “barrel out,” curving my shoulder blades and making me sink into the bottom of the hammock. This can force my body to lay inline, curving my back, and causing more discomfort. The ENO Sub6 doesn’t have these issues for me and I was elated. The main reason is the fabric. The Sub6 uses a 30d diamond ripstop nylon. It’s a little more stout than other brands, but it pays off in comfort. The diamond ripstop also improves the comfort because the bias of the fabric isn’t on the diagonal, so there’s not an additional stretch when you lay diagonally.
The low stretch was the main factor that won me over on the Sub6. As I said, I’ve tested all the top brands and many cottage vendor’s lightweight offerings and most all suffer from too much stretch to really make it worth the weight savings. The the Sub6, I slept comfortable night after night. There were no fabric memory problems either, like in the Grand Trunk Nano, so I didn’t slip into a rut when I laid down.
Lightweight Hammock Comparison
|108 x 48
|Kammok Roo UL
|100 x 50
|Grand Trunk Nano
|108 x 48
|102 x 48
|20d Cordura Monofiliment
|108 x 57
The Sub6 comes with its own stuff sack sewn in the middle on one side, which makes packing up easy and typical. It uses a toggle-style suspension that pairs perfectly with the ENO Helios Ultralight Hammock Straps, or any loop-style suspension (think Whoopie Sling). I’m 5’10” and found the dimensions were just perfect when hung at about 20–25° angle. Even at 30°, it’s not terrible.
Speaking of hang angle, the new accessory from ENO — their Microtune Structural Ridgeline—is a perfect match for the Sub6, making set up a breeze. The ridgeline is ENO’s take on a long-standing “tradition” amongst hammock purists. For the uninitiated, a ridgeline is simply a line attached between the two points of a hammock that prevent the hammock from being pulled too far apart. The Microtune is adjustable so it can fit hammocks up to 11 feet long.
The Whoopie Sling design will be familiar to many hammock users, but the ENO version includes an eye loop attached to the adjustable end. This makes it far easier and less prone to slip than other adjustable ridgeline’s I’ve used before. It’s a brilliant little addition and I applaud the designers. However, they also added a stopper bead to the adjustable end, which really isn’t necessary to prevent the loop from collapsing into itself, but it does make it easier to open and use the loop. The 7/64″ diameter ENO SilverLite™ Cord (aka Dyneema or HDMPE) cordage used is plenty durable for the ridgeline and certainly enough to keep anyone from breaking it. I’d like to see a lighter version using a slightly smaller cord in the future.
In conclusion, I have to admit that I was 99% confident that the Sub6 would perform just about as well as all the other “ultralight” hammocks I have in my storage—and end up staying there too. For the most part, I’ve been disappointed with how uncomfortable most of the ultralight hammocks I’ve tested. However, the Sub6 has completely surpassed my expectations and made me a believer in taking it out on “real” backpacking trips where I want the comfort but not the extra weight. It’s a winner!
- ENO Sub6™ Ultralight Hammock (MSRP $70)
- ENO Microtune™ Structural Ridgeline (MSRP $25)
- ENO Helios™ Ultralight Hammock Straps (MSRP $35)
Disclosure of material connection: The author (Derek Hansen) was provided with a free sample from the manufacturer for testing and evaluation purposes. The comments in this post (written & spoken) are of my own opinion, which I formed after personally handling the gear.