Hammock Camping: The Ultimate Guide
Everything you need to know to get your hammock camping adventures well and truly off the ground!
If you’ve ever enjoyed drifting off to sleeping in a gently rocking hammock, then you will know just how relaxing and peaceful life among the trees can be. Take hammocking to the next level by spending the night camping in a hammock, and a whole new world of camping will be opened up to you. Our guide to hammock camping will take you through everything you need to know to make elevated camping as relaxed, comfortable and enjoyable as sleeping in a good old-fashioned tent – if not more so!
Who is this hammock camping guide for?
- If you’re thinking about jumping into the world of hammock camping but are not sure where to start, this guide is for you.
- If you already own a hammock but have only ever used it to hang out in (and not sleep in over night), this guide is for you.
- If you’ve already given hammock camping a go but want to upgrade your gear, or get a few more tips on how to be a hammock camping pro, this guide is for you.
- Or maybe you just love the outdoors and want to experience it in more ways than you already do. If so, then hammock camping is a great way to get closer to nature and further away from the rest of the world! This guide is most certainly for you.
What will you learn from reading our guide to hammock camping?
The Cool of the Wild ultimate guide to hammock camping will teach you everything you need to know to get your hammock camping adventures well and truly off the ground. You’ll learn everything about why it’s great, where to do it, how to set up a hammock, and how to sleep in one. There’s advice on the different types of hammocks available, reviews of our top choices of the best camping hammocks around with pros and cons of each, and information on all the extra things you’ll need to successfully spend a night in your hammock. You’ll even learn about the health benefits of sleeping in a hammock, along with some priceless tips from expert hammockers.
How much of this guide should you read?
If you want to really get to grips with hammock camping, and want to come away with a thorough understanding of how to be a hammocking pro, read the lot from start to finish.
Only got a couple of minutes?
The guide is also designed so that you can move around the sections with ease, skipping bits you already know about and re-visiting the parts you need to read over in more detail.
Most people start their camping capers in a good old fashioned tent and often evolve to hammock camping as and when the need/desire arises. But that’s not to say that if you’re just starting out camping that you shouldn’t jump straight into the world of hammock camping. In fact there are many advantages for camping newbies to get cosy in a hammock instead of a tent: they are inexpensive, simple to use and very comfortable.
But there are also some disadvantages to sleeping in a hammock, whether you are new to camping or not. And of course many of the points raised in the hammock vs tent argument largely depend on where, when and how you are camping. Not to mention personal preference. So let’s take a look at the advantages of both hammock camping and tent camping.
The benefits of hammock camping
If you prefer sleeping wild and getting away from the campgrounds then there are loads of benefits to sleeping in a hammock. But it doesn’t have to be all about roughing it. You can set up your hammock camping site in much the same way as you would with a tent. The presence of a tarp immediately makes things much more suited to bad weather and improves liveability. And what could be better than being rocked to sleep every night?
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Hammock camping is ideal for:
- Fast and light backpackers
- Those who seek sleeping comfort when camping
- Camping in the forest
- Star gazers
- Those who are bored with tent camping!
The benefits of tent camping
For some people, the appeal of camping in a tent comes down to little more than the cosiness that the thin shelter provides, and that reminiscent feeling of den-making as a kid. There’s just something so romantic about sleeping in a tent and listening to the pitter patter of the rain. But on a more practical level, many will argue that you just can’t beat a good old fashioned tent to go camping in.
Here’s why tent camping is great:
- It’s more comfortable to spend time in a tent after dark (but before you want to go to sleep)
- It’s easier to organise all your stuff in a tent
- You are better protected in windy and stormy conditions
- You don’t need to rely on the presence of trees or anchor points
- You can camp above the treeline or in desert and moorland areas
- Some people feel more secure and protected in a tent
- You can easily share a tent with your camping partner or dog, and snuggle up for extra warmth
- Keeping flying bugs out of the tent is relatively easy
- You can zip up the doors and get some privacy if you need it
Camping in a tent is the perfect option for:
- Those looking for sheltered liveable space
- Families or couples
- Those who don’t mind searching around for the perfect camping spot
- Backpacking above the treeline
If you’re keen to give hammock camping a go then getting the right setup is essential. There are a few different types of hammocks out there, some of which are ideal for camping and backpacking, and some of which are only really suitable for the backyard.
7 types of hammocks
The main types of hammocks that you are likely to come across are:
Lightweight backpacking hammocks
Ideal for: thru-hikers, bikepackers and adventurers who like to travel light and fast and are willing to sacrifice features and a bit of comfort in order to cut down on grams.
Desirable features: ideally weigh under 1lb (454g), pack small, and are simple to set up and take down.
Ideal for: snugglers and cuddlers who enjoy hanging out together whilst enjoying a spectacular view. Or single sleepers who prefer a little extra wiggle room.
Desirable features: at least 6ft (1.83m) wide and can hold up to 400lb (182kg) in weight.
Ideal for: those venturing to places where tented accommodation would be a terrible idea (jungles, forests, swamps, icefields etc).
Desirable features: built-in bug net and double layered bottom for extra warmth if needed.
Ideal for: those who seek versatility and like hammock camping in all conditions and scenarios.
Desirable features: built-in waterproof rainfly and the ability to use as a bivvy, regular tent, or even a poncho! (see the Flying Tent).
Ideal for: those who like the best of both worlds and like monkeying around in the trees. An excellent way to hammock camp in bad weather.
Desirable features: a waterproof rain fly and a high tension flat-ish base.
Ideal for: relaxing at the beach in the shade of a palm tree, pina colada in hand. Or for backyard lounging.
Desirable features: enough space to hold at least two people and sometimes with spreader bars at each end (as pictured).
Ideal for: providing more comfort than string hammocks (no diamond patterned skin after laying in one!).
Desirable features: gathered ends, strong, comfortable, and big enough for a small family to hang out in!
To complete your hammock camping setup, you’ll also need a few other extras like a tarp, suspension system and a bug net. Check out Chapter Nine for info on all your hammock camping essentials (and a few non-essentials too!).
Now that you have an idea which of the above types of hammocks might be best suited to you, take a look at what to do with it once you've got it!
How to hang a hammock
Just hang it up and jump in?
Pretty much! Hanging a hammock is so much easier than you may first think. But it’s also very easy to get wrong. Hang it too high and you won’t be able to get in or out of it without the assistance of a precariously balanced stack of logs. Hang it too low, or in trees that are too close together and you might as well just be sleeping on the floor. Hang it between trees that are too far apart and the whole thing will be too stretched to provide any comfort.
It’s not an exact science, and you may find that you prefer there to be more or less sag in the hammock to find that sweet spot for the most comfortable sleeping position. But knowing the basics of how to hang a hammock before you attempt to seek comfort in it will certainly help.
Let’s break it down some more.
A step by step guide on how to hang a hammock
01Choose your anchor points
- Around 12-15 feet apart – that’s roughly 6-8 steps
- At least 6in (15cm) in diameter and strong enough to hold the weight of your loaded hammock.
- Free from dead or unstable branches overhead, known as ‘widow-makers’.
Once you’ve hammock camped a couple of times you’ll start looking at all trees and woodland areas as potential hammocking spots. You’ll not see the wilderness in the same way ever again!
02Attach your suspension system to your anchor points
To ensure that you protect the tree you are anchoring to, you will need to use tree straps or a suspension system that is wide enough not to cut into the tree (i.e. not rope or cord). This is mentioned in more detail in the suspension system section in Chapter Nine.
Assuming you have found trees that are roughly the ‘right’ distance apart, you will need to wrap your tree straps around the tree at around head height. Do this on one side, and then the other.
03Attach your hammock to the suspension system
Many hammocks come with their own suspension system and a means to connect it to the hammock. However, if you don’t have a compatible system then you will need to set up your own. There are a variety of ways in which you can do this. But the easiest, and quickest way to attach your suspension system to your hammock is with carabiners – one at each end.
04Adjust your suspension straps
This is the bit that you will need to play with the more you hammock camp. Some hammockers prefer more sag, and others less. So you may want to try out different things as you go. For your first go at hammock camping, however, adjust the suspension straps so that there is roughly a 30º angle between a horizontal plain and the suspension line. See step 7.
05Check the height of the hammock
If you’ve followed all the above steps, then in theory the lowest point of your hammock should end up about 20in (50cm) above the ground. To check this, take a seat in your hammock – your feet should touch the floor comfortably as if you are sitting in a chair. Then lie back, and admire your first hammock hang!
06Try out your sleeping position
Until you’ve mastered the hammock hang, it’s a good idea to try out your sleeping position before you bed down for the night. That way you can take your time to adjust the hammock to a position that suits you before the sun goes down, and before you get too tired to be bothered to change it. It’s also a great excuse for an afternoon snooze!
07Measure the hang angle
The easiest and simplest way to measure if your hammock hanging is going to be a success or not is to do the quick finger test:
- Make an 'L' shape with your fingers
- Hold your hand out in front of you so that your pointing finger is horizontal (if you are on a slope then don't use the ground as a measure if this!)
- Your thumb should be pointing vertically up to the sky
- The suspension lines should roughly run from the top of your thumb to the end of your pointing finger. This is around a 30º angle.
Use a hammock hang calculator
If you really want to make sure your hammock will hold you securely before you get in it, then use a hammock hang calculator.
Derek Hansen, hammock camping guru and author of The Ultimate Hang (a book that EVERY hammock camper should read), has created this super simple little tool to help you figure out the best way to hang your hammock. It takes the things you know, like your weight and the distance between your chosen trees, and calculates roughly how high up the trees to attach your hammock suspension system.
Pretty blooming useful!
Where to hang a hammock
Although hanging a hammock between two trees are probably the most common anchor points to choose, there will be times when those perfect trees fail to present themselves, despite your best efforts to find them. Thankfully, the trusty hammock and its super strong suspension system can also be hung in places other than between two trees. And many of these places are great if you've only got one tree available and you just need another anchor point to hang onto.
Other possible hammock anchor points:
- Goal posts
- Gazebos and pavilions
- Telephone poles
- Between rocks
- Underneath a single horizontal tree branch
Hanging between two trees is a good place to start if you are new to hammock camping. But finding the right trees is one of the hardest parts of hammocking, until you get your eye in!
It’s all very well knowing what all the different types of hammocks there are, and how to hang a hammock, but all that counts for nothing if you don’t know how to sleep in a hammock! Lying in a hammock is one thing, but getting comfortable enough to spend several hours in a suspended cocoon takes a little bit of practice and some inside info!
Brandon at Two Tree Hammock Co insists that:
Hammocking is all about angles, from the initial hanging setup, right down to the position of how you lay inside
He says that "to get the most out of your hang, lay at a slight 30-degree angle across the hammock vs lying directly down the middle. This allows you to create a much flatter surface area and the perfect 'zero pressure' cradle position for you to sleep."
Wise words indeed.
How to sleep in a hammock
Here are a few more tips on how to sleep in a hammock as cosily and comfortably as if it were your bed at home. Well-angled snoozing here we come!:
01Hang your hammock correctlyAs mentioned above in Chapter Three, this isn’t the exact science that it’s made out to be, and can take a lot of playing around with to get the right position for you. However, it’s a pretty good place to start. And the simplest way to make sure you’re on the right track is to check the hang angle which should be roughly 30º between the hammock line and horizontal.
02Get everything within easy reachBefore you get into your hammock, make sure you have everything you may need close to you. Set your shoes down close by so you don’t have to go searching around for them in the night if nature calls. Some hammocks, like the Warbonnet Blackbird featured in Chapter 7, have gear shelves built-in to the hammock, or you can set up a gear loft to store a book or a headlamp. The ridgeline of your tarp is also really useful to clip things to.
03Sleep on the diagonal
Once you’re set up, it’s time to get to grips with how to lay in a hammock. Most people will get into a hammock and lay with their head at one end, their feet at the other, and their body right down the middle. This position is fine for just relaxing in, but sleeping in a hammock requires a much more specific position.
It’s angle time!Change your position so that your body lays across the midline of the hammock on the diagonal. This is one of the most important things to know to ensure you get the best sleep possible in your suspended cocoon. Spreading your weight across the width of the hammock not only creates a flatter area that is more comfortable for your body to relax on, but also spreads your weight and helps minimise the risk of CBS (Cold Butt Syndrone!).
04Put your feet upLying with your feet slightly higher than your head is said to be a more comfortable way of sleeping in a hammock as it prevents you from slipping back into the middle. And whilst some hammock brands even recommend that you set up their hammocks with the foot end a little higher than the head end, it ultimately comes down to personal preference. A little experimentation will help you figure out what suits you best in no time.
05Bend a kneeIf you are a back sleeper then you may find that your knees can become a little uncomfortable due to them hyperextending with the lack of support behind the backs of the knees. If this is the case then you’ll probably adopt another position naturally, but one to try straight away is to bend one of your legs and pop the foot of that leg underneath the knee of the straight leg. Alternatively you can roll up some clothing or a towel and put it under both your knees.
06Stay warm in a hammock
In warm conditions, a sleeping bag or quilt will do just fine since you won’t be fighting against the cold ground or air beneath you. But to stay warm in a hammock in cooler conditions, you will need insulation beneath you as well as on top. Using a hammock sleeping pad or underquilt will keep your underside nice and cosy. Read more about these in Chapter Nine
Believe it or not, sleeping in a hammock isn’t just for those who have become bored with regular camping. It’s not just reserved for the wanderers out there who prefer to get away from it all. Oh no. There are also some excellent health benefits to sleeping in a hammock that have encouraged some wilderness sleepers to make the move into hanging out in comfort over battling through the night on the hard, cold ground.
The health benefits of sleeping in a hammock
So if you’re tempted to give hammock camping a go but are yet to be convinced, then maybe the health benefits of sleeping in a hammock might just sway you.
More sleepThere’s a reason why babies fall asleep more easily when they are gently rocked. Yes, it’s lovely and relaxing, but studies also show that gentle rocking synchronises brain waves and facilitates the transition from being awake to being asleep. Get cosy in a hammock and you’ll be off to snooze-land faster than usual with more hours of rest ahead of you.
Better quality sleepNot only do swaying hammocks send us off quicker than normal, but once we’re off, the swaying motion also lulls the brain into a deeper than usual sleep. Deep sleep is associated with recovery, so even if our overall sleep time is no longer than normal, the longer we spend in deep sleep (N2 sleep), the more time our bodies are in a nighttime recovery phase of sleep.
Reduces stressThe nature of hammocks promotes a sense of escape and calm, and even if you don’t plan on sleeping in one, spending a hour or so gently rocking in comfort is an excellent way to fully relax and unwind. The more relaxed we are, the better we are able to deal with stress when it does come along. So if you’re feeling the tension building, then hang it up and chill out.
Good for your backSleeping in a hammock is an excellent way to help alleviate pressure points across the body and to realign the vertebrae from your neck right down to the base of your spine. And although there is little solid evidence to back up this claim, there is an abundance of personal accounts stating the improvements they have seen from extended hammock use.
Improves brain activity
There are also links between hammock sleeping and improved brain function. The type of brain waves that are stimulated and reinforced through the gentle rocking of a hammock during sleep are also associated with increased concentration and memory. Hanging out really is the smart way to relax!
Expert hammock camping tips
TIP #1: Add a stick if the trees are too far apart
"If trees are too far apart, use Clark's Staff Trick. First tie your hammock to a tree and pull it out towards another support (such as a tree, boulder or stump) that is too far away. Then, find a sturdy branch that is 5.5-7 feet tall and place it where the second tree ought to have been. Wrap your rope around the top of the branch a couple of times and then tie the end down to the base of the second support (you may need to tie on a second length of rope so your rope can make it to the second support). As long as the branch is on solid dirt or grass, and directly in between the two supports, it will sway when you move around in your hammock, but it will not fall."Clark Outdoors
TIP #2: Beware the Widow Maker!"You’ve found a couple of trees that are a good distance apart. This looks like the place to hang, right? Not so fast! Check your chosen trees first before hanging your hammock. Don’t hang your hammock on a rotten tree or your weight can pull it down. Also, look up: are there any dead branches above you that could fall? If a good wind could knock the branch down overnight, don’t hang under it. Always hang your hammocks on good, healthy trees."
DES from Motorcycle Hammock-Camping
TIP #3: Have fun and relax
"Hammock camping is a rad and easy way to connect with the outdoors and friends. An important part of hammocking is finding the right set of trees to hang your gnar on. But the most important part of hammocking is just to have fun and relax, it's meant to be an easy way to just chill."Frank from Gnar Outdoors
TIP #4:Insulate your underside
"Don't forget to insulate your underside. Everybody forgets this their first time and ends up cold and shivering at night. Your sleeping bag alone isn't enough because it compresses under your bodyweight and you lose that fluffiness, which is what keeps you warm. In my hammock, I sleep on a blue foam pad because it's cheap and lightweight. Another option is an underquilt, which is a blanket that goes under the hammock, to avoid getting compressed."Mike Lin at Rallt
TIP #5: Choose unobstructed views
"Remove barriers between you and nature. Hammock camping creates a next-level experience, integrating you seamlessly with the outdoors. Bonus: fall asleep to the view of shooting stars, rather than the roof of your tent."Kammock
TIP #6: Do what works for you
"Hang Your Own Hang (HYOH). In other words: do what works for you. If you are comfortable and enjoying the experience, then stick with it!"Derek Hansen, author of The Ultimate Hang
TIP #7: Experiment with hammock camping
"The most important thing when you are getting into hammock camping is to try several different techniques. It's very rare that someone finds their sweet spot on their very first attempt. Versatility is one of the most overlooked benefits of hammock camping. Hang it loose, and then hang it tighter. Keep playing with this. As you change the tightness you'll find it easier to sleep in different positions. At the right tightness, you can sleep comfortably on your side. Try it with a sleeping pad, and then without. I believe that most people who don't prefer hammock camping just haven't experimented with it enough."Jake at Hobo Hammocks
TIP #8: Use a hang calculator for your tarp as well as your hammock
"It’s not only your hammock that has to hang correctly between two trees: you’ll need to put up a rain fly for anything but the best weather. There are loads of rain flies that are pretty much mix-and-match with whatever hammock you like. But even a tree-spacing that you can hang your hammock comfortably in might be too short for your fly. Too short a space will mean your fly hangs slack and uneven, and may send streams of rainwater where you don’t want it. One way you can gauge whether the spacing between trees is going to accommodate your fly is to create a “hang calculator,” a simple piece of string that you have measured to fit the length of your fly plus an extra 8” for rigging. Make sure you can recognize the string you use so you won’t mistake it for some random piece of rigging."
NMBL from Motorcycle Hammock-camping
Viewing a backpacking hammock with untrained eyes, we could be forgiven for thinking there’s not much to them…just a few bits of string with some cloth in the middle, right? Wrong! There are many surprising complex and numerous ins and outs of backpacking hammocks and so much more to them than you could ever imagine.
Below, we’re going to take you through what goes into the making of a good hammock so you know what to look for when choosing the best one for your hammock camping adventures. Once we’ve dealt with the details, then we’ll get down to a review of the best backpacking hammocks out there.
What to look for in a backpacking hammock
When backpacking, weight is one of our foremost considerations. If you’re ditching your lightweight tent in favour of an even lighter, suspended setup then your pack needs to feel noticeably less heavy. Don’t forget that you’ll probably also need a tarp and/or a bug net, depending on where and when you are camping. And the combined weight of these shouldn’t end up being heavier than your tent.
Having said that, some backpacking hammocks, like the Sea to Summit Ultralight, are so inconceivably light that you can afford to stick one in your pack as well as your tent – the best of both worlds!
Certain hammocks excel in specific circumstances and environments. Some are workhorse, trail-ready, bug-proof, hovering homes – leave your tent behind and you’ll certainly not miss it. While others, bless them, are more suited to a day at the seaside, in the garden or very light, occasional use on the trail. What’s best for you will depend on where you’re headed and what you plan to use your hammock for.
Many hammocks come with special add-ons, features or hammocking ‘bling’ that makes them stand out from the rest and may just sway your decision when buying. Among these features are rip-stop fabrics, superior maximum load, foot boxes, extra support or balancing lines, solid construction, insulation, double-zips on the bug mesh, storage pockets and extra length or width.
The raison d’etre for any hammock is the ability to increase the user’s comfort. Comfort-value is added or subtracted by a number of factors: fabric, length and width, breathability, layering, sleeping position (diagonal or straight, flat or raised-foot/curved) and the general feel of the hammock once you are in and airborne.
Because you’d ideally like your feet to be in there too, the dimensions of your hammock are a key contributor to its overall comfort. For taller users, some models just don’t measure up and other products, particularly the ultralight variety, can skimp on width in order to minimise weight.
While all hammocks come with a recommended user weight, it’s best to go for a material that you know to be durable, strong and able to withstand the elements, providing a few pounds of buffer for clothing or storage. While sleeping or lounging in a hammock is about as cool as you can get while out on the trail, all coolness would go out the window should your hammock decide to collapse while your trekking partners watch on.
The best lightweight backpacking hammocks
Now you know what to look for, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty with our pick of the best hammocks for backpacking and lightweight camping.
At only 624grams, measuring a generous 10ft x 5.25ft, and holding up to 250lbs, the Warbonnet Blackbird is a reasonably lightweight, spacious and sturdy hammock suitable for those measuring around six feet and under. Boasting a handy storage shelf, footbox, zippered bug net (hung from ridge-line), ribbon ties and a flat-lay feel, this is a solid, user-friendly, feature-rich workhorse and true contender for the most comfortable and easy-to-use backpacking hammock.
- Easy to set up and adjust
- Comes in larger and double-layered model
- Flat-lay feeling provided by spacious footbox
- Carabiners and tarp not included
If you are looking for something even more robust, and better suited to year round hammock camping, then take a look at the double layered Warbonnet Blackbird 1.7. A little heavier but able to deal with loads of up to 400lbs. The double layer also enables you to insert a sleeping pad for extra insulation.
For more information on the Warbonnet Blackbird 1.7 Hammock read our:
At only 340g and measuring 9.5 x 4.5 feet, the Grand Trunk Ultralight is a single-person hammock low on features and frills but pleasingly inexpensive. Made of durable, mildew resistant and machine washable polyester taffeta, this is very much a middle-of-the-road, entry-level option best suited to smaller users (max. user weight is 200lbs). The Ultralight doesn’t quite keep up with its other single-person competitors such at the Hennessey Expedition or Warbonnet Blackbird, but it is an excellent option for those on a tight budget.
- The price - by far the cheapest hammock on review
- The weight (340g)
- Quick-drying polyester taffeta fabric
- Carabiners included
- No tarp or bug net
- Lack of features
- The weight – while light, 340g is much heavier than other ‘ultralight’ one-person models
Weighing in at an incredibly feathery 147g and supporting up to 300lbs, the Hummingbird Ultralight Single might well be the best lightweight backpacking hammock on the market. Built to FAA parachute rigging standards and boasting rip-stop lock stitching, this hammock doesn’t scrimp on security and safety in favour of reduced weight. Not the roomiest or most comfortable hammock on the market, but ideal for those particularly keen to cut down on poundage and pack size. At a few grams lighter, an inch or so longer and a good few bucks cheaper, the Hummingbird Single just pips the Sea to Summit Ultralight to the post for the title of ‘Best Ultralight Hammock’!
- Ultra-ultralight - the lightest hammock in this review
- Packs down to tiny size
- Solid webbing and rigging
- Carabiners included
- A tad on the short and narrow side (8.6ft x 4ft)
- Not the most comfortable
- No tarp or tree straps
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Weighing in at a mere 600g, measuring 9ft x 6.2ft and supporting up to 400lbs, the ENO Doublenest could be classified as a very roomy one-person hammock or a suitable hammock for two relatively small people. Short on features but also low on weight, the Doublenest offers a decent lightweight alternative to the DD XL Frontline, Kammock Roo and Sequoia XL but ultimately falls short as a true two-person tent owing to its lack of length and low recommended user weight.
- Super-spacious for one person
- Easy to set up
- Carabiners included
- Breathable Nylon taffeta fabric
- Tiny pack size
- Suspension straps and tarp sold separately
- A tad cramped for two people
- No bug net
While the DD XL Frontline is the heaviest and bulkiest of our items under review, it makes up for its pack size and 1250g weight (1700g with poles and webbing) with several desirable features and a general roominess that potential buyers may consider worth the hassle of carrying an extra few hundred grams. Boasting a zip either side of the mosquito net for easy access, a curved pole design to keep the net well away from the user, and a super-comfy, insulating double-layered bottom, this is very much the deluxe option for solo backpackers who place comfort above carry weight.
- Feature rich
- Very comfortable
- Double-layered bottom
- Double zip on bug mesh for easy entry
- A little on the heavy side
- No tarp
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At a mere 155g (5.4oz), the Sea to Summit Ultralight is the second lightest option in our review. Holding up to 300lbs and with similar dimensions (8.5ft x 4.5 ft), this highly minimalistic option is a fraction heavier than the Hummingbird, around half the weight of the Grand Trunk Ultralight and 45g lighter than the Nano 7. Along with the Hummingbird, and given its weight, strength and pack down size, this is a superb option for fast and light backpackers, or indeed for just throwing in your pack for a cheeky rest on a big day hike.
- Very light
- Strong – can hold up to 300lbs
- Breathable, rip-stop nylon
- Tiny pack size
- Easy to adjust
- Suspension straps and bug net not included
- A tad cramped for taller users – at 4.5ft wide and 8.5ft long, this is similar in dimensions to the Hummingbird and, as such, a little bit on the short and narrow side
For more information on the Sea to Summmit Ultralight Hammock read our:
Holding up to a whopping 500lbs, measuring 10ft long by 5ft 7inches wide and weighing in at just 800g, the Kammok Roo is a spacious, tough, well-made product posing serious competition to the Serac Sequioa XL and DD XL Frontline for best two-person or ‘oversize’ backpacking hammock. Very high on comfort and second only to the ENO Doublenest (600g) in terms of weight for a two-person hammock, the Kammok Roo also bests the Sequoia and challenges the DD XL in terms of comfort, making it a great option for those looking to strike a balance between comfort and weight.
- Carabiners included
- Very comfortable
- Strong and durable
- Insect net, straps and weather shelter/tarp sold separately
- Expensive with the additional outlay required for the above accessories
Boasting a generously-sized rainfly, an asymmetrical side zipper, inner mesh storage pocket and a roomy feel, the Hennessy Expedition is perhaps the most complete of all hammocks under review. Although weighing in at a fairly hefty 1160g, this weight includes (unlike other models on review) straps and rainfly/tarp. Designed, as the name suggests, for expedition use, this is the ideal hammock for anyone wishing to take things up a notch and spend a lot of time ‘hanging out’. As a potential tent-replacement hammock, the extra weight compared to other one-person models could actually turn out to be a saving if you opt to leave the tent at home. Ousts the Warbonnet Blackbird as competition for the best one-person expedition hammock on account of its lower price and weight (with separate tarp included) and overall functionality.
- Straps and tarp included
- Very robust, secure feel
- Could easily substitute a tent
- Very well-made
- Not as easy to set up as other models
The Nano 7 is an (absolutely) no frills, inexpensive, bare bones hammock that is as cheap as it is light. The world of backpacking hammocks, however, is no different from that of any other outdoor gear item and, as such, you get what you pay for. The Nano is a decent, throw-it-in-the-sack option for those unlikely to be spending too much time in their hammock but not comfortable enough for naps or sustained use. Compared to the Sea to Summit Ultralight Hammock and the Hummingbird (below), this hammock lacks in comfort, features and robustness while weighing around 50% more. A decent, compromise option for those on a serious budget or just wanting to give hammocking a try.
- Only 200g
- Carabiners included
- Tarp not included
- Less comfortable than other single-person and ultralight models
- Low weight rating
- No bug mesh
- Small (9ft x 4ft)
Measuring 10ft x 5ft 7inches and weighing only 500g, the Serac Sequoia XL is lighter and roomier than most two-person hammocks currently on the market. While let down slightly by its unconvincing carabiners and lack of bug mesh, these failings are partially made up for by the 6 gear loops (that can double as anchor points for guylines or hanging accessories), its ease-of-use, and the whopping 10 anchor points which allow the user to adjust the height and slack to their own requirements. Despite the lack of bug mesh, the Sequioa is a competitor to the DD XL Frontline and Kammok Roo for best two-person hammock and is considerably lighter than both.
- Only 500g
- 5 year unlimited warranty
- Super spacious
- Easy to set up and adjust
- 10 anchor points
- Diamondweave ripstop nylon fabric
- Straps and carabiners included
- No tarp/rain fly or bug mesh
- Weak carabiners
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We’re going one step further now into the world of airborne accommodation. This time we will be venturing into the even more intricate, intriguing and downright game-changing niche of overnight options with an evaluation and review of the 8 best suspended tents and hammock tents out there in 2017.
Necessity, they say, is the mother of invention. At some point in the not-too-distant past, some unhappy camper, squished in maybe a wet tent on a rocky patch of ground with a squadron of ants or other unwelcome intruders encroaching on his or her personal space, thought it necessary to take things up a notch in terms of camping comfort and convenience. He or she took this quest very literally, with the result being the first of what have evolved to be the veritable high-fliers of the camping equipment catalogue.
What are suspended tents and hammock tents?
Answering the above question can be done in two ways: the long way and the short way.
Short: Airborne sleeping facilities which fulfil all the same functions as a traditional tent (and more), only in the air.
Long: A fairly variegated and complex array of tent-like, dome-like, cocoon-like and/or spaceship-like structures composed of various materials. Boasting various features, occasional flaws, multiple set-ups and best uses but all sharing the common denominator of providing a sleeping system that lifts the user up off of the ground into the (beginnings, granted) of the stratosphere. Whether elevated versions of traditional tents or tarp-and-mesh cocoons enclosing a more standard backpacking hammock, each of these products offers something a bit different in terms of reliability, convenience, comfort and ideal mode of usage. The tech-specs and jargon can be a touch bewildering, as can the array of choice but, as always, Cool of the Wild is here for you to help you get to know and navigate the ins and outs.
What to look for in your suspended tent or hammock tent
Comfort in a suspended or hammock tent derives from a number of variables. These include:
And, last but not least, the peace of mind begotten of knowing your tent or hammock is well-made, safe and unlikely to plop you back down to earth hastily during the night.
Ultra-lightweight or luxurious, ‘bomb-proof’ palace in the sky? How heavy you choose to go will depend, alas, on how much you’re willing to or are able to carry. For thru-hikers and other campers spending the night far from where they leave the car, the ultra-lightweight models are likely to be your best option. For those not straying too far from home and who value comfort over convenience, the heavier, more ‘deluxe’ and spacious options are more appealing and feasible.
3Use and ease of use
Some systems are blissfully user-friendly whereas others require PhDs – well, at least a great deal of practice and faffing around with instruction manuals, straps, cords and slings. What’s best for you will depend largely on your patience levels and where you plan on using your hammock/tent. If you’re out on the Pacific Crest Trail, the Annapurna Circuit or going from John O’Groats to Lands end on foot, we’d recommend the easy options. If you’re driving down to the local campsite and parking up a short stroll from your intended ‘hangout’ with time to kill, the PhD options might just get your vote for the added comfort and convenience they offer. Ease of use depends on a large number of factors and with each item we’ll attempt to highlight those contributing to or detracting from this desirable attribute.
*It’s also important to note that some models can be used on the ground, others not. If you are headed to any area with sparse tree coverage or want a true replacement system for the traditional tent, opt for a ‘hybrid’ model that can be used on the ground when required.
Certain tents/hammocks comprise one or more of a variety of possible special features that make them go the extra proverbial mile in terms of comfort, convenience, and/or general functionality. Among these we can include layered flooring, extra insulation, inner and outer storage pockets, multiple doors, weather-resistance and overall square-footage.
Suspended tents and hammock tents are not cheap. Before you make an investment, it’s best to know that you are going to fit in there comfortably. For smaller users size should not be a problem, but for those over 6ft a few of the one-person options might make things a bit tight (or require foetal-position sleeping) if you intend on taking any gear into your tent/hammock with you.
All hammocks/tents come with a recommended maximum user weight. Be sure to allow a few pounds of ‘buffer’ for clothes, sleeping bag, midnight munchie supplies, teddy bears and anything else you might take to bed with you.
Got that? Great! Let’s get down to our reviews...
The best suspended tents and hammock tents
Ready to take camping adventures to even greater heights? These are your options, and some of the best suspended tents and hammock tents that you could possibly choose to hang out in.
With four inner stash-pockets, 53sqft of floor space, a maximum load of 880lbs and user height of 6’6”, the Tensile Connect is a very spacious, accommodating arboreal abode which is suitable for two or more people and all of their gear. Though the extra space and weight capacity might seem overload for just two people, together they allow those two people to stretch out, bring their gear inside or even hang it under the tent to keep it dry in rainy weather. If that still leaves you a fair whack of legroom, you can always invite the dog in too. Though a tad on the heavy side for taking on the trail, even when split between two or three people, the Tensile Connect is very user-friendly and maybe the most sociable tent out there – if you know fellow-Tensile users the tents can be connected to form a small village of floating domiciles! A contender for best multi-person suspended tent.
- Easy to set up and adjust
- Reasonably priced
- Very spacious
- Can be connected to other tents to form a small community in the canopy!
- 4 doors
- Removable fly-sheet
- Comes in 5 colours
- Saggy rain fly
- Not suitable for ground use in treeless terrain
At only 1.8kg, supporting up to 275 lbs, and with ground use adaptability, the Lawson Blue Ridge could easily become any solo thru-trekker’s go-to option for backcountry accommodation. Having been rated #1 by Backpacker, Outside and American Survival Guide and Gear Of The Year Award in 2015, it has many fans and it’s easy to see why. Easy to set up and boasting a spreader bar and arch pole system which keeps the bed of the hammock much flatter than in other models, this tidy little tent scores high on user-friendliness, convenience and comfort and sets the bar high for one-person hammock tent competitors. It is a little heavier than the Clark NX-270, but when it comes to verstility the Blue Ridge offers more due to its ability to be used on the ground.
- The price – cheap (though straps must be purchased separately)
- The weight (not including straps) – 1800g
- Supports 275lbs
- Comes with detachable rain fly
- Can be used on the ground too
- Straps not included
Weighing 2450g at its heaviest and packing down to just 3.5 inches thick, the Flying Tent may not quite make it onto the best lightweight suspended tent list, but its versatility sure makes up for it. Not only does this cosy little number double as a bivvy tent that can be used on the floor, it triples (!) as a poncho. Yes, a poncho. With a built-in hammock bug net and rain-fly and supporting both tall users and those weighing up to 264lbs, this might just be the best all-in-one hammock tent solution out there. And to top it off, it can be stripped right down for use as a regular, no-frills hammock that weights just 1120g.
- Includes rain fly
- Can be used as a bivvy tent
- Max user height 6’7”
- Doesn’t actually fly…(other than that, we’re still trying to find them!)
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It’s hard to believe that anyone could make a genuine 4-season hammock tent while keeping the weight down, but with the NX-270 hammock specialists Clark have done just that. The Weathershield outer layer provides reliable protection from the elements and, in one of the niftiest features we’ve yet to see in a camping hammock, the pockets not only serve as storage space but provide extra insulation too! With a pack weight of only 1340g (1740g with the tarp), a max. user height of 6’9” and max. user weight of 300lbs, the NX-270 poses serious competition to the Flying Tent and Lawson Blue Ridge for best one-person hammock tent. Which will suit you best depends on the climate you’re camping in and how much you want those super-handy inside pockets! For winter hammock camping, this sturdy, rugged one-person option is hard to beat.
- Very spacious
- Justifiable four season rating
- Storage – 6 pockets which can be accessed from inside
- Comfortable and convenient
- Winter shield not detachable for summer use
- Tarp a little on the narrow and short side
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The Sierra Madre Nubé hammock shelter takes the rainfly to a whole new level. Although sold separately, combined with the Sierra Madre Xplor, Solo or Pares hammock, this generously-proportioned tarp (12ft long and 9ft wide) offers a great deal of versatility in addition to its eye-catching and highly functional design. Beneath the sleeping area, the Nubé contains an integrated gear hammock sewn into the bottom of the all-enclosing bug mesh that can hold up to 200lbs. If this isn’t enough, the Ripstop, waterproof tarp itself covers a wide and long enough space below the sleeping area to host a small to medium-sized family. A one-person suspended tent high on storage, weather-resistance and versatility.
- 200lbs of storage
- Versatility – can be used with different sizes of hammock
- Double zip on bug mesh for easy entry
- Can be combined with the Nubé Winter barrier for 4-season protection or the Nube floor for tree-free camping locations
- Very well-made and weather-resistant material
- For each Nubé sold, Sierria Madre will provide clean water for one person in Honduras for a year
- The hammock is sold separately to the Nube shelter (which can be a plus if you already have a hammock!)
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Sierra Madre Research
Ideal for those who anticipate spending time in a variety of terrains, the Sunda might just be the answer to your prayers. Both a two-person tent with a generous 35sqft of floor space and a comfortable, two-door, two-window suspended tent that can be stripped down to a basic hammock for day-use. The Sunda will have all your hammocking/tenting needs covered whatever scenario you find yourself in. Where the Sunda excels over other two-person competitors such as the Tensile Connect, the Tensile Stingray and the Nubé is in storage capacity, of which it has tons, all of it easily-accessible. Boasting two 6.5sqft exterior vestibules for storing backpacks, boots and anything else you fancy, and also 6 internal mesh pockets and 9 gear-hanging loops, the Sunda is as much a sleeping quarters as it is a walk-in, sleep-in cupboard!
- Storage galore!
- Doors on both sides for ease-of-access
- Two windows in rainfly and tent body
- Incredibly well-made
- Reflects heat, enhances light
- 400lb weight limit
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Weighing in at 8620g, the Stingray is one of the heaviest suspended tents on the market and, as such, one you’re unlikely to be taking out very far into the backcountry. That said, with a whopping 75sqft of floor space, when up in this airborne giant you’re likely to feel like you’re in a world of your own in any case! With four internal pockets to store gear and a user weight limit of 880lbs, barring calls of nature, you could take everything you need for a week or so up there and not bother coming down. While it leaves multi-person tent competitors like the Nube and the Tensile Connect far, far behind in terms of floor space and storage space, the Stingray is definitely an option with which you’re unlikely to venture far from the car park without the aid of a Sherpa or two.
- Access – easy to get in and out of thanks to floor-hatch and large front door
- 880lb weight limit
- Spacious, even for three people
- Fly sheet can be pegged out to create 160sqft of sheltered porch area
- Can’t be used on the ground in tree-free environments
- Heavy (8620g)
With an all-in-one set up of tent, hammock, insulated air-mattress and sleeping bag, the Crua Hybrid is perhaps the most user-friendly option on review. Although short on features and storages pockets, this uncomplicated, comfy tent-hammock combo is a reliable, well-built, stress-free option for solo campers looking for a bit of versatility with regard to sleeping arrangements (it can be used on the ground or suspended between trees). The only downsides are the single-entrance and the 3150g weight, which place it marginally behind the competition as a one-person trail-tent and hammock solution. For simplicity, however, the Crua can’t be beaten, and the weight saved in the integrated sleeping bag must be factored into any comparisons to other one-person options such as the Flying Tent, Clark NX-270 and Lawson Blue Ridge.
- All-in-one camping/suspended tent solution – can be used on the ground or in the air
- Built-in air mattress and tailored sleeping bag
- Good ventilation
- Only one entrance door
- A bit heavy
- Short on storage pockets
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Now that you’ve chosen your hammock, and are ready to leap, feet first, into your suspended wilderness home, you’re gonna need a few extras to make hammock camping feasible. As with regular camping, there is a ton of hammock camping gear that you can comfortably live without, and other gear that you’ll definitely need.
Essential hammock camping gear
Here’s a list of the essential hammock camping gear that you can't live without:
Suspension systemsTo be able to hang your hammock safely you will need a means to attach it to the anchor points. When you buy a hammock it may or may not come with it’s own suspension system. Many companies offer suspension systems at an extra cost which can often end up being the best option due to their compatibility with the hammock. However, there are a number of hammock suspension system options available that may be more appropriate to your hammocking needs and wants. Really, your hammock suspension can be as complicated or as simple as you’d like it to be!
Hammock tarpsUnless you are almost certain that there won’t be rain, packing a hammock rain fly is a must when hammock camping. Yes, it adds extra weight to your setup, but there are some excellent options that are lighter than others:
Optional hammock camping gearNow to the not-so-essential hammock camping gear. Depending on the conditions you are camping in, your personal preferences, and how much you are prepared to carry, there are a few other bits of hammock camping gear that you may want to add to your packing list:
- closed cell foam pad will work just fine – lightweight, doesn’t add much comfort but provides the insulation needed. There are also hammock specific options on the market that are highly effective at providing insulation without adding much weight.
So there you have it. Everything you need to know to get your hammock camping escapades off the ground and in full swing. And just like regular camping, once you’ve got the basics figured out, you’ll never stop learning new tricks of the trade for the rest of your hammock camping days. All that’s left to do is to get out there and get hammocking!