Gear List || Backpacking Hammock: Forest & high-use zone specialist

This is a multi-post series on backpacking shelter systems. Start with the Introduction or skip to:
My third go-to shelter is a backpacking hammock. It excels in forested & high-use areas where ground sites are limited or poor.
My third go-to shelter is a backpacking hammock. It excels in forested & high-use areas where ground sites are limited or poor.

A night of quality sleep in the backcountry depends on multiple factors. A shelter and sleep system that defend against precipitation, wind, insects, groundwater, and cold are the most obvious prerequisites.

But equally important is campsite selection, or the art of finding a comfortable location where you can hang your hat.

When using ground-based shelters like my modular tent and tarp & bivy, camping spots must be flat, level, and soft.

Unfortunately, such spots can be hard to find. In places like Rocky Mountain, Glacier, and Great Smoky Mountains National Parks, backpackers are forced to stay in designated campsites that become rock-hard due to nightly use; they are often sloping and have exposed roots and rocks.

A designated backcountry campsite in Rocky Mountain National Park. The ground is rock-hard, dusty, sloping, and lumpy; and sites are often consumed by puddles after it rains.
A designated backcountry campsite in Rocky Mountain National Park. The ground is rock-hard, dusty, sloping, and lumpy; and sites are often consumed by puddles after it rains.

Dispersed camping is permitted in other zones like the Appalachian Trail, Long Trail, Adirondack High Peaks, and Aspen Four Pass Loop. But the number of promising ground sites is naturally limited — there is too much topographic relief and vegetation. In combination with the area’s popularity, the campsites become heavily impacted, and sleep quality is not as good as it could be.

What’s the solution? When backpacking in the aforementioned areas (or similar), I use a backpacking hammock like the Hennessy Ultralite Asym Zip Hammock instead of a tent or tarp. This unconventional practice is gaining popularity and acceptance — especially in areas where they excel most — and I expect even more widespread adoption.

Gear List: Backpacking Hammock System

A backpacking hammock system will be heavier and more expensive than a comparable ground system. But the penalties are small and overshadowed by the functional differences.

  • Critical: A must-have, no exceptions
  • Suggested: A valuable addition, few reasons not to bring
  • Optional: Not critical, but worth consideration
  • Contingent: Depends on trip objectives, conditions, and/or other selections
  • Unnecessary: Unlikely to need and/or can be improvised
The Blackbird XLC is larger & heavier than the original Blackbird. Its removable top makes it more versatile, and saves weight outside the bug season.
The Blackbird XLC is larger & heavier than the original Blackbird. Its removable top makes it more versatile, and saves weight outside the bug season.

Omitted: Hammock sleep system

My preferred sleep systems are beyond the scope of this series. But I think they are worth a quick mention.

Ground sleepers typically use a mummy bag, air or foam sleeping pad, and pillow. In contrast, hammock sleepers generally prefer a(n):

  • Quilt like the Sierra Designs Backcountry Quilt 600, because mummy bags are difficult to use while laying inside of a hammock; and,
  • Underquilt like the Arrowhead Potomac, which is a down- or synthetic-insulated quilt that covers the outer underside of the hammock, because sleeping pads tend to be squirmy.

I do not use a pillow in a hammock. It is more naturally supportive of the neck than a sleeping pad or bed mattress.

Application outside of high-use areas

When I am backpacking in high-use forested areas where all of the ground sites are heavily impacted, I think that a hammock is the only acceptable setup.

In less popular areas, I find that ground shelters are a comparably valid choice. For example, I have found excellent ground sites in Michigan’s Porcupine Mountains, along New York’s Finger Lakes Trail, and around Mount Kineo, a low-use corner of New Hampshire’s White Mountains. I should point out that in addition to having lighter traffic, these areas have more level ground and more open forests.

A lovely ground site near Spruce Knob, WV. But such spots are difficult to find each night, especially in heavy forests and high-use areas.
A lovely ground site near Spruce Knob, WV. But such spots are difficult to find each night, especially in heavy forests and high-use areas.

Of course, hammocks work wonderfully in these low-use areas, too, and I continue to use one because the number of good hammock sites exceeds the number of good ground sites.

The tables turn somewhere west of the 100th Meridian, and hammocks become more limiting than ground systems. I’m sure that a hammock could be used to thru-hike the Colorado Trail or John Muir Trail, for example, but a ground system provides more options in low-elevation parks, stunted subalpine forests, and the alpine.

In the Desert Southwest, where trees only grow at the highest elevations and along perennial water sources, hammocks would be most challenged. Some hammocks have been designed to be pitched on the ground, and I have seen some creative rigging systems, but these approaches have significant trade-offs and seem forced. I’ll just bring my modular tent or tarp & bivy, thanks.

Other limitations

In addition to geographic suitability, hammocks have a few other limitations:

1. They are primarily solo shelters. The only legitimate multi-person hammock I know of is the Clark Jungle Vertex, which sleeps two. Hammock users can sleep near each other and sometimes even share a tarp, but that’s a different experience than sharing a tent.

2. They are not as intuitive as ground systems, which closely resemble how we sleep at home. Before going out for the first time, watch instructional videos, read tutorials, and practice-pitch it in your backyard. If possible, join a group of hammock veterans so that you can learn their tips and tricks.

3. In cold and windy conditions, hammocks are more vulnerable than ground systems. It’s not impossible — I once had a client use a hammock on a winter backpacking trip, with nighttime temperatures of -10 F — but it takes more gear and skill to stay comfortable.

Hammock selection

There are two styles of backpacking-worthy hammocks:

Gathered end hammocks are simpler, lighter, and less expensive. They have a smaller footprint, and need less space and a smaller tarp.

Bridge hammocks offer a flatter lie and are generally considered more comfortable. They are about a pound heavier: more hammock build, a larger tarp, and two metal spreader bars.

More reading: Types of backpacking hammocks

My Blackbird Ridgerunner bridge hammock in a car campground in Yellowstone. When given the option of sleeping on a cot in my brother-in-law's wall tent or sleeping in my hammock, I chose the latter. It's exceedingly comfortable.
My Blackbird Ridgerunner bridge hammock in a car campground in Yellowstone. When given the option of sleeping on a cot in my brother-in-law’s wall tent or sleeping in my hammock, I chose the latter. It’s exceedingly comfortable.

To date, every trip on which I have used a hammock has been casual. And I happily carry the extra weight of the Warbonnet Ridgerunner bridge hammock in exchange for greater comfort. But if I were to undertake an intense hammock trip (e.g. AT thru-hike), I would learn to master the gathered end.

(I featured the Warbonnet Blackbird XLC in this series because it is a more middle-of-the-road pick, similar in nature to my modular tent and tarp & bivy systems. In all three cases, opportunities exist to save or add weight, with some ripple effect on your budget or on the shelter’s size, durability, and performance, or a combination thereof.)

Once you settle on the basic type of hammock, you can then start comparing the specs on specific models, like size, weight capacity, bug net integration, storage shelves, etc.

Tarp selection

Most hammock tarps are variations of the classic A-frame. Most importantly, the tarp must be made of waterproof material and cover completely the hammock when occupied. Good tarps are available from many cottage companies, including but definitely not limited to:

Even if I were counting grams, I would err on the side of a larger tarp. It will offer greater protection from wind and driving rain, and one or both sides can be “porched” for additional living space and ventilation without a critical sacrifice to storm-resistance. Finally, the weight penalty is miniscule — an extra three square yards of ultralight tarp fabric weigh as little as 1.5 ounces.

If you occasionally ground camp and if you want to minimize your gear expenditures, my other recommendation is to select a tarp that will serve double-duty in a ground system or as a group tarp. For example, the ENO ProFly Tarp is a conventional A-frame, whereas the ENO DryFly Tarp has side extensions that make it a hammock specialist.

Alan Dixon's ultralight setup, with a 5.5-oz tarp made of Dyneema Composite Fabric. Hex-shaped tarps are popular among hammock users, but more rectangular-shaped tarps double better as a ground or group tarp.
Alan Dixon’s ultralight setup, with a 5.5-oz tarp made of Dyneema Composite Fabric. Hex-shaped tarps are popular among hammock users, but more rectangular-shaped tarps double better as a ground or group tarp.

Suspension selection

Most hammocks include a suspension system. For example, Hennessy uses a cord lashing system, Warbonnet defaults with adjustable straps, and ENO models have a daisy chain and carabiner.

These stock systems are functional and usually intuitive. But they may not necessarily be the lightest, most adjustable, or best for your specific needs. To explore alternative suspension systems, check out Dutchware Gear, and read posts on the topic by Derek Hansen at The Ultimate Hang, which is an excellent resource (and book), and the single best place to continue your hammock education.

Use a hammock? What are your thoughts on your setup? And what advice do you have for prospective hammock users?

Considering a hammock? What are your top prospects, and what are your reservations?

Disclosure. I strive to offer field-tested and trustworthy information, insights, and advice. I have no financial affiliations with or interests in any brands or products, and I do not publish sponsored content

This website is supported by affiliate marketing, whereby for referral traffic I receive a small commission from select vendors like Amazon or REI, at no cost to the reader. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Posted in , on November 21, 2016


  1. Andrew on November 21, 2016 at 11:45 am

    I am using the warbonnet BB XLC and a mamajamba with a yeti UQ for my AT thru hike this year. I agree on the middle of the road comment it suits my needs, I’m still a beginner hammocker with no significant cold weather experience. A cuben fiber tarp is about 6 ounces lighter but was a budget decision to stick with the mamajamba as it was a gift. My only issue im struggling with as I get into hammocking more is keeping a go to ground option for AT shelters. I was thinking of using the GG night light sleeping pad and maybe the thinlight 1/8th foam pad. It could also serve as extra insulation in spring in the Smokies. Any thoughts? Really struggling from a weight perspective on a solid go to ground/insulation option if I should even bring one.

    • Hodad on November 22, 2016 at 1:37 pm

      Andrew, Some AT thru hikers with hammocks carry a z-lite for ground dwelling/sitting/extra insulation/… they usually evolve to cutting off what they don’t need. When you arrive in the GSMNP there are strict regs rg hanging. That being said, I was able to hang all nights in the park. The GG 1/8 pad is very fragile and may likely not last.

      • Andrew Skurka on November 22, 2016 at 3:03 pm

        Sits pads are awesome. For about 2 oz you always have a dry and warm spot to sit.

        What is the insider’s guide to legally hanging in the Smokies?

        • Hodad on November 23, 2016 at 8:46 am

          rg “What is the insider’s guide to legally hanging in the Smokies?” There are many threads on concerning hanging in the GSMNP as well as rules on the park web site. In our case we did reserve spaces in each shelter and stayed on our schedule. During hiking seasons, and within the AT thru bubble, the shelters are most always over crowded. We used the fact that they were overcrowded as permission to hang outside of the shelter, while minding our LNT and hanging etiquette. There were also non-shelter sites to choose from in the GSMNP (my preference).

    • Alec on November 23, 2016 at 6:46 am

      My friend uses a sleeping pad in his hammock for just this reason. When he does go to ground in a shelter, he’ll usually use his hammock (with built in bugnet) as a bivvy of sorts to prevent bugs and drafts.

    • Gordon on November 30, 2016 at 2:26 pm

      If you are going with a pad, be sure to get a wide one. In my humble opinion, a 20″ width will NOT work, at least not in a gathered-end hammock. You need something that will come up around your shoulders, unless you are able to boil water by putting your hand in it.

      Also, 3/4 length can be a problem if you sleep cold. Many hangers use a 3/4 under quilt, but put a sit pad in the foot box of their top quilt to keep their feet warm. Having a sit pad is a good idea anyway, according to an expert posting here. 😉

      When I am uncertain about having to go to ground, I take a small neoair at 8 oz., but I already have under quilts for hanging. Pads, though, can work just fine, if they are wide enough, and especially if you have a two-layer hammock.

      Some have already mentioned Hammock Forums – it is *the* place to go. In one afternoon you can read through years of hard fought trial-and-error experience. And, don’t forget Shug’s videos.

      Thanks for mentioning hammocks, Andrew!

  2. Katherine on November 21, 2016 at 12:49 pm

    I’d love to find a master list answering the question: “Is it hammock hang-able?” for specific trails and locations. Any resources?

    • Hodad on November 21, 2016 at 6:23 pm

      rg “I’d love to find a master list answering the question: “Is it hammock hang-able?” for specific trails and locations. Any resources?” go to and do a quick search for your specific trail and you’ll likely have your answer.

    • Joan on November 22, 2016 at 8:04 am

      If your location isn’t on hammock forums, you can also try using Google Earth to look for trees. It takes some practice, but you can get pretty good at finding things like treeline.

      • Gordon on November 30, 2016 at 2:02 pm

        This is great idea. I used Google Earth to scout good hanging locations for my trip to NZ, which I had never been to before. We were able to hang every night – although one night it was between two water towers. 😉

  3. John Collins on November 21, 2016 at 9:46 pm

    Given a choice between hanging in a hammock and sleeping in a tent, I will hang every time. Did so this past weekend and enjoyed a very comfortable night despite strong winds and snow flurries at the Paw Paw Tunnel on the C&O Canal. Thanks for talking about hammock camping Andrew!

  4. Jon-boy on November 22, 2016 at 7:17 am

    I switched to a hammock a couple years back and got a Hennessy Jungle hammock. *Very* comfortable, dual layer, came with a hex tarp but def. not light. The hammock is built to be pretty tough. The dual layers are nice in that it’s a little warmer in colder weather and bugs can’t bite through during the summer (sometimes an issue with single layer hammocks).

    I use cinch buckle suspension. Not the lightest option, but it is extremely fast for setting up and tearing down (esp. in bad weather). Replaced the stock hex tarp with a cuben fiber hammock gear one. I wanted better coverage from extreme blowing rain.

    If it’s above 65 degrees, I just use a poncho liner only.
    For mid 45 – 65, I use a piece of reflectix between the layers and a light synthetic blanket. This keeps me adequately warm while wearing a thin base layer to sleep in.
    Below 45 I use an Enlightened Equipment Revolt underquilt (900 down) and a Big Agnes Summit Park bag (the bag does not have insulation on the bottom or footbox to cut down on weight). I still use the bag because it’s a carry over from tent camping, but will probably eventually get a top quilt.

    About to pull the trigger on a new single layer hammock that supports removing the bug net and using a top cover. This will allow me to further reduce my base weight.

    Hammocks are great but have a little bit of a learning curve. Everyone’s different so it’s a matter of finding what works and is comfortable for you. For anyone thinking about switching from ground dwelling to hanging should check out: Awesome resource for everything hammocks. Learn as much as you can before you buy, or even better, try to find someone with the gear you are thinking of purchasing and try theirs first. Hammock length, width, fabric material, etc all make a difference in how you lay and feel while resting. For me, I sleep better in my hammock than at home.

  5. Joan on November 22, 2016 at 7:57 am

    I’m delighted to see you doing more articles about hammocks. A hammock is my preferred sleep system— I even carried it on PCT in Southern California and the Sierra and the southern 300 miles of the Arizona Trail because I found that the benefit of a good night’s sleep outweighed challenge of finding trees.

    Yet, I disagree with you about hammocks being a good option for backcountry camping in Glacier National Park. This is because backcountry camping is restricted to designated sites and there is no way to know if there will be suitable trees that will allow you to hang over the square of bare ground at your reserved site. Glacier prohibits hanging over vegetation in order to protect the fragile vegetation in these high-use areas. (more info here:

    I spent two seasons hiking and backpacking in Glacier and was able to hammock in some sites. But there were other times when there just were not suitable trees at the sites, even if there were some in the area. it’s not like in dispersed camping where you can just keep hiking or set up anywhere you want. Many other sites (especially subalpine) in Glacier are very exposed. Wind and sideblown rain are a hammock’s #1 enemy. If you can’t choose your site, then you can’t find a sheltered spot. Unfortunately, these designated sites are made with tents in mind. I know some people don’t want to follow the rules, but for special places like Glacier, there are good reasons for them.

    In situations where you can have a choice where you camp, I totally agree that hammocks have the clear advantage.

    My advice to prospective hammock users is the same as those already mentioned- look at and try to go on a group hammock hang. There is a wealth of information on how to make your own gear and lots of hammock enthusiasts to help you with your DIY projects.

  6. Sean on November 22, 2016 at 3:04 pm

    Big believer in hammocks too lately. One of the big benefits for me is a reduced footprint generally speaking for a campsite, and the speed at which I can put up and take down a hammock. The first trip I committed to using a hammock I pitched in a rain storm and was uneasy about how well it would handle. I pitched a flying ridgeline that I tied previously, Staked out the tarp, and then slung the hammock out of a bishop bag. Done in 5 minutes or less and my hammock stayed bone dry. It was great. Since then I’ve been in wind storms and a few other scenarios and it’s been a great system. I’d just say find a tarp that has tie outs along the middle of the tarp. I have a small-ish tarp that is closer to the old A-frame style and in strong wind it snaps. First time I slept through a wind gust I was waking up every 20 minutes thinking my tarp was ripping or getting ready to fly away. Adjusting the pitch helped a lot.

    Also, if you go with the Warbonnet XLC, which I did, you have the option of taking out the bug netting and putting in a nylon “roof” for like 20 or 30 extra bucks. It’s worth it for the option, as it seriously adds 10 degrees to the warmth of your hammock.

    I call it the Bear Burrito though, since the joke is that you’re pre-wrapped for some ursine fast food.

    I still have my Solong Six tent (which pound for pound is cavernous) for ground camping but I will take hammock camping every. Single. Time.

  7. Mordecai on November 26, 2016 at 8:48 am

    Bridge hammocks need not be significantly heavier, if you can DIY some modifications to your trekking poles and leave the spreader bars at home. The extra hardware I carry to make it work is 2 ounces.

    I am surprised that none of the cottage makers have developed a bridge hammock that makes use of typical telescoping trekking poles, or made trekking poles that readily substitute into a WBRR or other bridge hammock.

    I suppose that there is greater potential for user error, but the potential benefits are obvious, analogous to using trekking poles in place of tent poles.

    • Andrew Skurka on November 26, 2016 at 8:53 am

      I know of this possibility and I’ve seen it done. But I wonder about the forces involved — I imagine they are much greater relative to using trekking poles to support a tent. Maybe a structural engineer can chime in.

      • Mordecai on November 27, 2016 at 5:52 am

        I wish they would! If not here, then somewhere…

        The available info on this is scant, so…

        Here’s what I do…

        Aluminum trekking poles swap in for aluminum spreader bars. I use my Komperdells with all-cork handles. They are 20oz for the pair, so plenty burly. To use with the bridge hammock, the bottom section of the pole is fully retracted at both the head and foot ends.

        I drilled a hole in the top of the cork handle, just smaller than the hole on the WBRR hardware that holds the pole. (Make sure to center the hole on the center of the aluminum shaft! If you roll the pole while kneeled at the handle end, you will more easily see the center. Mark your best guess with a dot, and roll it again. Adjust if your dot becomes a circle.)

        I tied some stainless steel fish-eye screws to the hammock to act as pins. These pins are inserted through the WBRR hardware into the handle holes. These “pins” only resist small lateral loads, so they need not be screwed in tight, just fit snug. You don’t want to thread the cork too much anyway, I’m guessing.

        The depth of the hole (and the pins) needs to exceed where the straps are attached to the handle, by an inch. I don’t use straps, but you would need to remove them for this to work. You can replace them each day if you want, but that might be too much PIA.

        For the tips of the poles, be careful if you have flexible plastic tips, which is typical. If you don’t do the below, the tip can bend, the spreader bar will pop out, and you will plummet. (Me, into the everglades, where a gator must have heard me splash… its only funny now!) To keep the tip stiff, I sawed two sections of the aluminum foot-end spreader pole that came with the WBRR. It fits just right over my Leki and Komperdell tips. You can just use the end pieces, so that the male insert from the spreader bar pole is in tact, but this is not necessary. Since it is a tiny bit lighter, I use a section that is open on both ends, sized to just barely allow the carbide tip of the pole to mate into the hammock hardware, while still grabbing the trekking pole over the portion where the plastic tip and the aluminum shaft overlap. Maybe 1.5 inches overlap. You may have to push it past the threads for the snowbasket. Mine are worn down, but you can also “screw” it on.

        Make sure to mark your trekking poles for the correct lengths at both head and foot ends. The dimensions on the review at Ultimate Hang are accurate.

        Make sure you can properly adjust the locking mechanisms on your trekking poles. Tight, but don’t crank it until you stress the plastic. If the pole lock slips, you will just drop a little bit but not all the way. No big deal. You will get to know the right pressure after that.

        I have about 85 nights like this. No issues.

        Unfortunately, there are few other poles that have all-cork handles, and I don’t think those skinny carbon poles from Gossamer Gear would be trustworthy. I’m not sure I would use any of the available carbon poles, but I have no experience with them.

        The traverse powerlock from REI would work. REI made some deal with Komperdell, and Komperdell makes their poles. REI replaces the 3-year no-questions-asked Komperdell warranty with their (lame) 1-year warranty. Thanks, REI. (Bias disclosure: I hate REI.) I had to scour for Ridgehiker Cork Powerlock from Komperdell when I wanted to get a backup pair of poles, though my originals are still going strong after 5000 miles. I see they are now on Backcountry. Y’all give Andrew some compensation, and click on his backcountry link (or, fine, whatever, REI) and get you a pair. (I have no affiliation with anybody.)

  8. Hodad on November 27, 2016 at 9:46 am

    Warbonnet sells adapters for treking poles to be used with bridge hammocks. I met a fellow on the AT who thru hiked with this setup on his Warbonnet Bridge . For a few ounces he was probably the most comfortable guy in the bubble.

    I use carbon fiber poles for a significant weight savings over the stock aluminum poles

    • Andrew Skurka on November 27, 2016 at 9:53 am

      Unfortunately, those adapters are compatible with very few styles of trekking poles. The poles must have a camera mount. None of the poles I consider best-in-class — e.g. BD Alpine Carbon Cork, CMT Quick Lock, and REI Flash — have this feature.

  9. Chris on December 6, 2016 at 2:04 pm

    Just an FYI – If anyone is looking to get into a quality hammock at a great price you should check this out.
    I bought one of these because of the price and was pleasantly surprised at the quality for $40 bucks! Very similar diamond ripstop fabric, if not the same, used in the Kammock Roo that is $100. Replace the ropes used for the cinches with some amsteel and you have a very nice setup.
    Thought other may want to know as the offer is only good for 10 more days.

  10. Chris on December 17, 2016 at 1:32 pm

    A hammock system can crossover and be a tarp/bivy system without much effort allowing an even wider geographic range of use. Most hammock tarp systems can go to ground pretty effectively (warbonnet superfly for 4 season) and the hammock (or bugnet portion of it) can be used on the ground as bug protection. Poncho for ground cloth or bring Polycryo. One of the main issues weight wise is that if you brought a dedicated hammock underquilt then you wouldn’t have a ground pad in a go-to-ground scenario. Putting your underquilt in your pack liner (maybe along with your reflectix sit pad) can create enough of an air/feather/material combination to serve as an effective ground pad. Some discussion here –!) I have not seen in my experience that you can trap enough air to support your weight all night but I’m not convinced you need to since it is combined with other items. This liner ( ) works for me because of the pad size it creates. 20.5″ wide x 37.5″ tall. Stick the pack under your feet.

  11. Carl on January 11, 2017 at 12:10 pm

    Hammocking isn’t for everyone, but it’s worth a try. It’s a genius solution to bad ground conditions, but you may find – in gathered-end hammocks at least – a lack of comfort at each end (lateral squeeze of shoulders/feet), as well as lower back discomfort. One need not be a back sleeper to enjoy a hammock, but it helps a great deal. Side sleeping is possible but awkward. Many are not used to having their feet elevated relative to their rear end.

    Bottom insulation is generally needed when temps drop below 70F (yes, even ambient air temps in the high 60s can cool you surprisingly well).Newcomers should consider just throwing a sleeping bag pad in there (wider than 20″ is better), or borrow an underquilt. I have tried both and unlike most, I slept better with the pad.

    Complete hammock systems (tarp, cordage, hammock, bugnet, top and bottom insulation) may be slightly heavier and bulkier than a comparable tent system. However, many feel it is worth it for comfort and convenience of site selection. Unfortunately, I generally sleep worse in a hammock, but from what I can gather, that is not the case for most.

  12. Jason on March 14, 2017 at 3:32 pm

    I’m very intrigued by a Hammock system, it’s not really something I seriously considered before reading your post. One thing that the post doesn’t really address that I’m very curious about is what do you do with the rest of your gear? The photos show packs, etc. on the ground under the hammock, are there any solutions for your pack, etc. other then the ground such as attaching it to the hammock itself?

    • Andrew Skurka on March 14, 2017 at 5:02 pm

      Glad I made you think.

      Basic Questions back to you: What makes you nervous about leaving your gear on the ground? Wet and dirty? Best solution for that is a dedicated trash compactor bag, 20 gal size, into which all of your stuff can go at night.

      • Jason on March 14, 2017 at 8:51 pm

        Fair point, not so much worry about dirty as wet, especially in rainy conditions and also insects/ “mini bears” etc.

        That being said the simplest solutions are always the best. Using the pack liner or an extra trash bag maybe would work well.


      • Gregory on April 29, 2017 at 7:02 am

        Thanks for the post Andrew. I always use a hammock where I hike. Unfortunately poachers are an ever-present threat, even in the most remote parts of the country. The chance of having kit purloined is always a possibility. I usually pitch the tarp close to the ground to make some sort of enclosure under the hammock for kit, or alternatively buckle my pack tightly around one of the trees .

        But it’s unsatisfactory, and a recent early morning encounter (soon after leaving camp) has had me looking at ground systems.

        If anyone has other ideas I would be happy to hear them.

        • Andrew Skurka on April 29, 2017 at 7:46 am

          Define “poacher” — I assume they are not hunting elephants. And can you be more specific about where this is a problem? I have heard of issues in the foothills of the Sierra, where there are off-the-grid folks and marijuana farms. But I haven’t heard about this issue in popular backcountry areas.

          • Gregory on May 6, 2017 at 8:12 am

            Hi Andrew

            I am not sure my reply posted last week, obviously ignore this if it did.

            I should have been more specific in my comment. I have yet to have the pleasure of experiencing the Sierra. I am in Zimbabwe, Southern Africa, where poaching of all game is prevalent. Obviously, I am not walking in parks with dangerous animals, which you can only do with a licensed guide.

            The area I refer to is a stretch of quite mountainous terrain along the eastern edge of the country. The parks have some large buck and antelope,which are the animals the poachers are after primarily for subsistence purposes, rather than commercial gain (as awful as that is). There is no doubt that some are quite desperate, and an encounter is unwelcome.

    • hodad on March 14, 2017 at 8:25 pm

      Jason, Also check out Shug’s “Hammock Camping…..What To Do With Your Backpack and Boots” enough said 🙂

      • Jason on March 15, 2017 at 7:23 am

        Thanks hodad!

        Clearly I haven’t thought about a Hammock system much at all until now, but I’m definitely intrigued by its possibilities.

  13. Peter Hartman on March 27, 2017 at 3:11 pm

    Hammocking got me back in the woods. I have a bulged disk and sleeping on the ground would leave me almost crippled by morning.

    My advice/ Opinions

    You can get into a great hammock from dutchware for about 45 bucks. You can also make a DIY hammock. They are super easy and you will have super high end gathered end hammock for about 30 bucks.

    Length is key to a comfortable hammock. 10.5ft is minimum. If your hammock is shorter than that you have not slept in a comfortable hammock. 11 is going to fit most people the best.

    Whoopie slings made with 7/46th “Amsteel Blue” is the go to suspension for a hammock. You can make them yourself very easily or you can buy them premade.

    Pads in the hammock work, but they are kind of a pain. It is a good way to see if you like it though. If you want to try a cheap under quilt look up gemini underquilt. If you are into making your own gear look up clew underquilt. I am sure the cottage venders will be picking this suspension up soon. It is lighter and easier to setup than traditional underquilt suspensions.

    Do use a structural ridge line. This will give you much faster setup and it will allow you to use trees that are further apart, giving you more options to hang from. The rule of thumb for ridge line length is 83% of your hammock length. This allows you to have a nice diagonal flat lay.

    For those that are worried about your weight take a look at some of these lighterpack listings:

  14. Corey on April 26, 2018 at 9:58 pm

    Planning to do the High Sierra Trail this coming August, and was curious if anyone has experience taking a hammock rather than a ground setup on the HST? I know there will be at least one camp at Guitar Lake where I’d have to use my hammock as a bivy, but are there any other sites where this would be an issue, or other reasons hammock camping the HST would be a bad choice?

    • Andrew Skurka on April 30, 2018 at 6:05 pm

      There’s is another tough stretch for hammocks, from about Hamilton Lakes to about 9800 feet in Big Arroyo.

  15. Cathy on July 7, 2021 at 6:51 pm

    The listing of hammock components on this page appears to still be broken, probably from the change that broke other Google sheets on your site.

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