Sleeping in a hammock during a backpacking trip (as opposed to sleeping on the ground in a tent) has become quite popular in the past few years. However – as evidenced by some questions which the Ask Baz team has fielded recently, there is clearly some confusion around some basic aspects of hammock camping. So - we thought it was time to take a look at how to get the best from a hammock system (which we define as a hammock plus a bug net and tarp).
In putting this article together, we had some input from (as always) our staff here in the office, plus Jake Ferguson from GearJunkie, and some colleagues from the retail stores which sell our hammocks.
This article assumes that you have not yet purchased a hammock system. When you get ready to make that purchase, the first point is to be aware of the weight and packed volume of the entire system – including the suspension straps. Ask the store staff for assistance in grouping together the hammock, suspension, bug net (if separate) and tarp – then compare the weight and volume with other hammock systems (and perhaps also with a lightweight tent for perspective). A first-time hammock camper may end up with a system weighing around 5 lbs / 2300g – but by paying attention to the weight of the components, you can essentially halve this.
The second point is to determine how quickly/how easily the system can be set up. Key points here are how quickly the suspension straps can be secured around trees/car roof racks etc. and adjusted to the correct pitch angle; and how quickly the bug net (if separate) can be deployed. You may hear salespeople claiming that both these operations can be completed ‘in two minutes’ – if so, you should ask to see this done with the system you are contemplating. The Ask Baz team has seen users struggling with looped straps and carabiners, and bug nets with ridge lines and multiple stake-out points for over 20 minutes – which is a long time to be exposed to bugs or bad weather.
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