October 1, 2015
Well, to have a good hammock camping experience, you need to give some thought to the hammock you want to spend all night in, which means thinking about the conditions. Is it likely to rain? Are there biting bugs? What do you need to be ready for? Here are few things to consider when purchasing a camping hammock:
Do you intend to sleep solo, or will you be joined by someone? Most manufacturers make single and double hammocks. Doubles are superb for two people sitting and lounging around. While sleeping double is great for warmth in cold conditions, if your bunkmate tosses and turns a lot or goes to the bathroom often, it may be hard to get a good night’s sleep. Typically, most people find sleeping single in a hammock is more restful.
You’ll want a hammock with enough length and width so you can lay comfortably on the diagonal. That is, you don’t have your head and feet in line with your anchor points. In order to avoid sleeping in a “banana” position, put your head to one side of the center line and your feet to the other, slightly higher. This stretches the hammock bottom out and you can sleep flat on your back, or even on your side. In a single, this may mean your feet are propped up on the edge or slightly over it. A double allows for more room to achieve that flat bottom.
The most popular hammocks are usually made from either parachute nylon or high-denier nylon. ENO‘s SingleNest and DoubleNest hammocks are made of light parachute nylon, while the Hennessy Hammocks are made of a heavier, durable tent-like durable nylon. Some ultralight models, such as the Grand Trunk Nano, are made of very lightweight parachute nylon, making them nice compact options.
Anyone who has ever camped in hot, humid conditions knows the hum and bite of mosquitoes. Hammock campers are not at their mercy. Some hammocks come with integrated bug nets that are sewn on top of the hammock, forming a cocoon. Access to the hammock can either be through a zipper all along one side, or, in the case of the Hennessy, through a Velcro opening in the bottom that closes once you pull your feet up inside. Other hammock makers, such as ENO, sell bug nets separately. These nets can be set up to hang down from a ridgeline to engulf the entire hammock. Access is through a vertical zipper.
As much as we all want to fall asleep gazing at the stars, the threat of rain brings us to rainflies. Again, some camping hammock manufacturers include a rainfly with their kits, and others sell the fly separate, or you can set up your own tarp. The key factor here is to make sure the fly provides enough coverage in all directions.
When the weather is pleasant enough, the fly can be guyed out nearly flat to allow plenty of air circulation underneath. In a downpour with wind whipping the rain around, it’s better to bring the fly sides down at a steeper angle.
Today the makers of quality camping hammocks, taking note of Leave No Trace ethics, produce hang kits that include tree-friendly webbing straps. These straps hold fast to the tree without damaging it. Some systems involve running a webbing strap around the tree and feeding paracord or a carabiner through a loop in the end of the strap. Other systems do not require tying a knot at all, such as ENO’s Atlas Strap suspension system. These straps consist of a series of loops. Once the strap goes around the tree, one end is passed through a loop and stretched out to the hammock, where a carabiner clips on.
Bill Jackson’s sells several camping hammock systems and our staff members can answer any questions you may have.