Hammock_camping_in_broadleaf_forest

The Hiking Hammock Buying Guide: The Best Hiking Hammocks

Hammocks, much like a good pair of hiking shoes or a backpack, require you to consider several important factors before purchasing one. You might prefer a high-end hammock if you are an experienced hiker or one that costs less money and is easily set up for your first time.

Whatever you may be looking for, take a look at the guide below to determine what type of hammock you will need.

Our Top List: The Best Hiking Hammocks

Scroll down to read our detailed reviews on each of these items, but you can check out the current prices and read customer reviews on Amazon by clicking the links above.

The Hiking Hammock Buying Guide

Within this hiking hammock buying guide, you’ll learn to determine which hammock is right for you based on the following factors:

Cost

There is a very wide range of prices for hiking hammocks depending on quality, weight, and features.

Those who are buying their first hammock will likely want shy away from hammocks that are on the higher end of the price spectrum. There are several high-quality, affordable hammocks that inexperienced hikers can experiment with before purchasing a more expensive one.

It will likely take several hammock hiking trips throughout the different seasons to learn what features you really need.

If you are an experienced hiker and you’re looking for a hammock with a wide array of features and the highest quality, then an expensive hammock is likely a good investment for you.

Remember, just because a hammock may be more expensive than others doesn’t mean that it’s of superior quality.

Material

hammock in a treePublic Domain

The main types of hammock materials that you will encounter while researching are cotton/polyester and nylon.

Cotton, while comfortable, presents a problem if you find yourself dealing with rain. It’ll take a long time to dry before you will be able to pack it back up and will present a weight and space problem inside of your backpack.

Nylon, on the other hand, is water-resistant. However, it is not as comfortable as cotton is (not that it’s uncomfortable). That being said, having a nylon hammock is recommended for all hikers due to the lightness of the material as well as its water-resistant qualities.

For those who are worried about sacrificing comfort when choosing a nylon hammock over a cotton hammock, nylon isn’t necessarily uncomfortable. it’s just a little scratchy on bare skin. So wearing clothing while sleeping goes a very long way.

Weight

When you are hiking, you want to be carrying the lightest equipment possible to keep you comfortable and to enjoy your hike. To give you an idea of how light your hammock can be, the lightest hammock we’ve been able to find weighs in at about 5 ounces.

Heavier hammocks will weigh you down but generally are a good bit bigger and come with a variety of different features such as internal pockets or bug nets.

Weight Capacity

If you’re planning to hike solo then you will most likely need a single-size hammock which will usually support up to 300 pounds and won’t take up too much room in your backpack.

If you’re planning to hike with a partner and you wish to share the same hammock then you might want to look into a two-person hammock. They generally support twice the weight of a single hammock and are more durable but are heavier and will take more room in your backpack.

Keep in my mind that there’s a difference between a two-person hammock and a hammock that has the ability to support two people. The latter will most likely leave you feeling squished against your camping partner.

Hammocks that were designed for two people will generally give you separate spaces and will give you more space to lie down in the hammock.

Suspension

When you purchase your new hammock, you will be faced with a difficult choice.

Should I hang my hammock with rope or with straps?

Using rope to hang your hammock can be a tricky process as well as time-consuming. If you don’t do it right the first time, you can find yourself having to make several attempts until you finally get it right. So pre-tied ropes that are adjustable are usually a good idea.

However, rope wrapped around a tree had a tendency to damage tree bark as the area actually touching the tree is very small and therefore applies more pressure.

Straps are easy to use and make set-up quick. All you have to do is tie the straps around trees and connect the hammocks to the straps via a carabiner. The only downside is that most straps have to be purchased separately from the hammock itself.

Hammock StrapsWilsonlin45

Straps also tend to be wider. So hanging from a tree with hammock straps result in less pressure applied to the tree bark, minimizing your impact to the tree.

If you have experience using ropes, by all means, use them. If you aren’t, however, you should consider purchasing straps as they will keep the setup process easy and won’t cause space or weight issues.

Insulation

The problem with the light, nylon hammocks is their lack of insulation during the fall and the winter. They are great for hot summer nights but provide little protection from the cold without additional accessories (kind of like using a sleeping bag in a tent).

In order to protect yourself from the cold weather when you hike during fall or winter, you should consider purchasing extra parts such as top quilts or underquilts, which go around the hammock to keep you warm inside.

Remember that insulation works by maintaining the air gap between you and the outside air.  This is why sleeping bags don’t work very well in hammocks. You compress the insulation below you, removing the air gap and therefore your insulation.

While this also happens in a tent, in a hammock, there is no ground below you to help out with insulation.  Throw in a slight breeze and even a mild night can turn into a miserable night struggling to keep warm.

If you’re really nervous about staying warm, you can pack extra blankets and use a sleeping pad when you lie down in the hammock. People use items such as heating pads and reflective blankets to stay warm as well.

It’s also not a bad idea to spend a test night in your backyard testing your setup so you can bail into your warm bed if things go terribly wrong.

Bug Protection

Gazing at the stars while you lie down on an open hammock can be a liberating feeling until you realize that you’re susceptible to all manners of bug attacks.

For hikers who want to enjoy a bug-free experience, you can purchase a variety of bug protection products. If you don’t mind setting up a net around the hammock, you can purchase nets that go around the entirety of the hammock to keep bugs out.

If you’re looking for openness, you can buy hammocks that are already treated with a bug repellent to keep the bugs away while allowing you to be free of restricting nets.

If you’re looking for effectiveness, the hammock net is vastly superior.

Tarps

If you expect rain during your hiking trip, or even if you don’t expect it, you can purchase tarps to drape over your hammock that will protect your stuff from the water and prevent the inside of the hammock from pooling rain.

Tarps also do well to block out wind.  Be sure to hang perpendicular to the wind so the tarp blocks as much of the breeze as possible.

Some hammocks come with a tarp that drapes over other features such as bug netting. If you’re willing to spend a little more money then this might be an option to look into when researching your hammock. However, independent tarps tend to rule in the hammock hiking world.

hammock with flyRob Beattie

Length and Width

Length and width play a major role in how comfortable your hammock will be. For example, a hammock that is too small won’t provide enough slack and will be difficult to lie down on and sleep on.

A hammock that is too large will droop down further than it should and will have excess fabric, which will wrap itself around you when you go to lay down in it. Seek out a hammock that has just enough slack without being too taut or too large.

Also, those who are taller than most individuals should pay extra attention to the length of the hammock that they are considering purchasing.

In general, it’s hard for a hammock to be too long, but it’s very easy for a hammock to be too wide.

Remember that length and width are directly related to weight. Longer and wider means heavier. As with everything in this hobby, it’s a balance between comfort and weight.

Type of Use

When you first start researching hammocks, you should think about what you’re going to be using it for most. Are you planning on constantly sleeping in it or are you planning on using it during the day to relax in?

If you are only going to be using your hammock to relax in during the day, you should look for a light, inexpensive hammock that will suit your needs. You won’t need extra features if you don’t plan on using it overnight.

If you do plan on using it overnight, however, you should look for a sturdier hammock with extra features to keep you comfortable overnight. You should also take into consideration whether you can sleep in it all night when you first purchase it.

Hammock Camping Tips

Now that you have more of an idea of what you’re going to be looking for in a hammock once you begin searching for one, you will need to get a clearer idea of what to expect when setting up a hammock in a real life situation.

Staying Warm in Your Hammock

This was briefly covered in the previous guide, but we are now going to discuss in-depth the different things that you can do to stay warm when you plan on using your hammock in cold weather.

Mummy Sleeping Bag

Mummy sleeping bags, unlike the regular sleeping bags, wrap around the entirety of your body and the majority of your face and resemble a sarcophagus.

Sleeping bags usually don’t do well in hammocks for several reasons.

First, zippers between you and your hammock are a bad mix, especially with nylon hammocks. Zippers can snag on your hammock and tear it.

Second is sleeping bags are a bad insulator in a hammock.

Insulation functions by keeping a layer of air between you and the outside. When you lay on the sleeping bag, that layer of air disappears. When you are sleeping in a tent, the ground acts as an insulator. When you’re hanging a few feet in the air, there is nothing below you to maintain the insulation. This is why underquilts are much better.

Underquilts

An underquilt is a quilt that wraps around and hangs directly below your hammock. Since underquilts are below your hammock, they don’t compress and they help maintain warmth.

If you aren’t able to afford an underquilt at the moment, don’t worry. There are several guides online that will show you how to use a cheap sleeping bag to perform the same function.

Now that you’ve got the underside of the hammock covered, let’s move on to top quilts, which as you may have guessed, goes on top.

Top quilts: A top quilt performs the same function as an underquilt, but instead wraps around you inside of your hammock. They look almost like sleeping bags but instead they aren’t joined all the way up to your head and are open at the top.

A top quilt will provide better insulation than a sleeping bag and allows more freedom to move around during the night.

Sleeping Pads

Sleeping pads essentially work as an extra layer between you and the hammock beneath you. They come in a variety of forms, including inflatable pads and flat pads which resemble the mats on the floor of a car.

Pads work very well to keep you warm during the night, but the problem that most users face is the sleeping pad sliding out from underneath them after they fall asleep.

Pads also want to remain flat.  And hammocks want to wrap around you. This can make it difficult to get comfortable and you can spend the whole night fighting with this.

Choosing the Right Spot: Sometimes, where you decide to place your hammock can dramatically affect how cold you are going to be throughout the night. Always try to hang your hammock behind large rocks or thick trees to avoid the cold wind.

If you are forced to sleep out in an open area, your direction in relation to the wind determines a lot of the warmth you’ll feel. Aligning yourself parallel with the wind will let the breeze blow through and can cool you off. And aligning yourself perpendicular to the wind does a better job of blocking the wind.

If you can’t find a spot that will protect you from the cold wind during the night, you can  close up your tarp as much as possible to your hammock to prevent the wind from blowing on you through the night.

Where to Set Up Your Hammock

When you begin to look for a place to set up your hammock, seek out a pair of trees that are spaced about 15 feet apart. Once you find a pair that is suitable to attach your hammock to, check the stability of the trunks.

The generally accepted rule of thumb is 6” diameter as a minimum. This is obviously dependent on a lot of factors: your weight, the health of the tree, the type of tree, etc.

Attach your straps to the trunk of the tree and pull or set up your hammock and sit down in it. Do the trees sway or bend towards you? If so, the trunks are too weak and will most likely collapse under your weight. Look for thicker trees to attach to.

Pay careful attention to the ground beneath the trees. If you can’t find a pair of trees that are on even ground, make sure that the hammock is level when you tie the straps to the trees to avoid having a hammock that is lopsided.

Another thing to look out for is dead branches. Avoid these trees at all costs. If a branch should break off from the tree and fall down, you will most likely get hurt by it and it will probably damage your hammock.

Dead branches is also a sign of a weak or dying tree. If the trunk isn’t strong enough and you get into your hammock, the trunk could break, bringing the whole tree down directly towards you. Not good.

Once you’ve found a sturdy pair of trees from which to hang your hammock, attach your straps or ropes to the trunk of both trees at eye level. Then, attach the hammock ropes to the straps on the trees using a carabiner or another device.

When you’ve finished, your hammock should be hanging at around the center of the two trees and should be about chair height above the ground. If you’ve followed these directions carefully, your hammock should have been setup successfully.

Using Rope or Using Straps

As stated before, you can either choose to hang your hammock using ropes or using straps.

Ropes are more complicated to use and require knowledge of several different knots in order to hang your hammock successfully. If you can’t afford straps or if you simply prefer rope, you can find several guides online that will show you how to use rope.

Straps are much easier to use. Most straps require you to place one side of the strap with a loop on one side of the tree facing your hammock and then wrap it around until you reach the loop and place it through, tightening it.

From here, it varies. Some hammocks require you to tie the hammock rope into knots and attach it to the carabiner or simply attach the hammock to individual loops in the straps via carabiners.

Whichever strap system you have, you can find guides online which will show you what to do. However, the setup generally follows the directions described above.

If you choose to use straps, know that the straps that come along with the hammock when purchased don’t provide enough support or are too thin. Consider investing in better straps for your hammock.

Hammock StrapsWilsonlin45

Resting Comfortably

When you have finally set up your hammock, you will need to know how to rest comfortably in it. If you only plan on using your hammock to sit in for short periods of time during the day, then you can ignore this section.

If you plan on using your hammock for sleeping, however, then you should know how to lie down in a hammock to keep yourself comfortable throughout the night.

In order to stay comfortable throughout the night, you’re going to have to sleep at an angle. Lie down and make sure that you’re keeping your body flat as possible. You might have to move around until you can find the angle that will support this.

You will also have to make sure that your feet are slightly higher than where your head’s at. Most people find that this is the best position for optimal comfort.

Placing your body at an angle will allow the hammock to conform to your body’s curves and will allow for a good night’s sleep even if you sleep on your side or in another position.

Keep in mind that, in order for this position to be comfortable, you must have the space available to support your body while you sleep at an angle. Hammocks that are too small might be impossible to do this in. Larger hammocks are recommended.

woman in hammockpixbay

As always, test and see what you find works best for you.


Best Overall Hiking Hammock

The best hiking hammock that seems to make its way onto everyone’s list is the Hennessy Hammock Expedition Asym.

The Hennessy Hammock Expedition Asym seems fairly heavy, weighing in at nearly 3 pounds. But the reality is that it includes a bug net, a rain fly, and a pocket installed in the hammock, features that you won’t normally find on most hammocks without buying some add-ons.

Some of the weight of the hammock can be reduced by removing the rain fly during clear weather, which takes around a pound off of the original weight.

The hammock is made for a single user and can only support up to 250 pounds. However, it has a decent amount of room and is more comfortable than other hammock models because of its asymmetrical design.

The hammock is easier to climb into and will help support you due to the two anchor loops on the sides of the hammock, which help to stretch the hammock and make it more balanced.

The Hennessy Hammock Expedition Asym is perfect for almost all weather conditions, although you’ll have to carry an underquilt, tarp, and extra equipment in your backpack during colder and wetter weather.

The hammock does not come with stakes in order to use the anchoring feature. You will have to purchase your own stakes separately or reuse some of your tent stakes.

Overall, the Hennessy Hammock Expedition Asym is an excellent hammock. The extra features, the durability, and the ability to withstand most weather makes it one of the best hammocks to own.


Best Two-Person Hammock

The best two-person hammock out on the market is the Bear Butt Double Parachute Camping Hammock.

The best thing about the Bear Butt Double Parachute Camping Hammock is that it is extremely affordable, running about half the cost of two-person hammocks sold by Bear Butt’s competitors.

The hammock has a length of 10 feet and a width of 6 feet. It can support up to 500 pounds and only weighs 1 pound in its bag, which makes it easier on your back when you decide to go hiking with it.

The hammock also has a pocket on its side, which is the bag that the hammock comes out of and the same bag that you will fold the hammock back into when you are finished using it, making it easy to transport and clean up.

The worst thing about the Bear Butt Double Parachute Camping Hammock is its lack of accessories. Although it’s affordable and lightweight, the amount of gear that you will have to purchase and carry in the event of bad weather will be heavy and costly.

The hammock does not have dividers either, making it slightly harder to separate yourself from your hiking partner.

Overall, however, we’re seem to be quite pleased with the product. It functions as advertised and holds up just as well as two-person hammocks that perform the same and cost more money.

Beyond that, the company seems quite involved in making sure that the customer is satisfied with the products. If you run into a problem or if there is a defect with your hammock, you should hear from the company who will try their best to help you.


Best Ultralight Hammock

The lightest hammock around is by far the Hummingbird Single Hammock.

The Hummingbird Single Hammock weighs in at an unbelievable 1/3 of a pound. Not only is the hammock itself light, but the bag that it comes in is as well, which is about the size of an apple. This makes it highly portable and easy to carry.

The hammock is capable of supporting up to 300 pounds and is 8 feet in length and 3 feet and width. The material is light and durable and will supposedly last for a while if treated with care. On top of that, it is easy to set up.

This hammock, however, is not for those who are planning on sleeping in it overnight as it’s way too small to be comfortable for anything longer than a quick nap. Hummingbird has other hammocks available for purchase that can be slept in but will weigh more.

The Hummingbird Single Hammock lacks many features that are needed if you should face bad weather or be attacked by bugs. It’s only lightweight if you intend to use it for short periods of time during the day.

The tree straps, which are sold separately from the hammock, are said to be slightly more difficult to use than normal tree straps, which shouldn’t make too much of a difference when it comes to setting up the hammock.

The tree straps will also not fit inside the bag that the hammock comes in, which can be a problem if you should accidentally lose the straps or if you should lose the bag with the hammock in it.

While there are some downsides to the Hummingbird Single Hammock, it is by far the best and the lightest ultralight hammock available on the market.


Best Hammock System

If you’re searching for a hammock that has every feature you could possibly need, then consider purchasing the Clark NX-270 Four-Season Camping Hammock.

The Clark NX-270 Four-Season Camping Hammock comes with bug netting that can be stored in a pocket when you don’t need it, a weather shield that goes over the net and can be stored, and six pockets that store your belongings under the hammock.

The hammock can support up to 300 pounds and will weigh about 3 pounds in your backpack, the same weight as the Hennessy Hammock Expedition Asym mentioned earlier but with more features and the ability to use it anytime, anywhere.

The weather shield works to keep you safe from the wind and rain, much like a tent, and the insulating pockets keep you warm, removing the need to purchase sleeping pads that you would need for other hammocks. Another 2 regular pockets are also attached.

Another feature that sets the Clark NX-270 apart from other hammocks are the poles that are attached to the top of the hammock, which stretch out the top outer part of the hammock to make the interior wider and taller when the weather shield is zipped over the bug net.

When the weather shield and the net aren’t in use, the poles help to keep the ends of the hammock open.

While the hammock is generally well-received and doesn’t appear to have any undesirable features or limits, the price is quite possibly the hammock’s only downside.

The Clark NX-270 Four-Season Camping Hammock is priced at $480, which is quite a bit more expensive than almost all of the other hammocks available on the market.

However, this hammock has almost all the features that a hiker could find the need for, can be used during all four seasons, and is spacious enough and protected enough to almost call it a tent.


Now that we’ve covered which accessories you should buy for your hammock, how to set up your hammock wherever you decide to be, and which hammocks are the best in their categories, you can make an educated decision on what type of hammock you will need and be prepared when the time comes to use it.

 

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