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#111019 - 02/10/09 12:54 PM Why are hammocks so great?
jpanderson80 Offline
member

Registered: 07/28/06
Posts: 292
Loc: Memphis, TN
With all the tree hangers around, I thought I'd ask... Why are hammocks so great?

Some background... I've always been a tent or tarp user, and have liked it just fine. The ground is hard, but I carry a 13.8 oz thermarest to help. I enjoy tarps because of the free space and air flow. A hiking partner of mine does have a Hennessey hammock, and although I haven't stayed in it overnight, I did check it out. It seemed cozy and had plenty of protection. So, I've read through Sgt Rock's hammock information and enjoyed learning, but I still have some questions.

Being weight conscience, the lightest hammock that I've found is the Hennessy Hyperlight (26oz.) - and I'm not even sure the tarp is big enough to live under on a long walk.

I know that different trips call for different gear, but it seems that hammock lovers stick with their systems all the time. Is the sleep so much better that the increase in weight is a non-issue? That seems to be my main question.

Please give me any other perspectives that I may be missing.
_________________________
I always forget and make it more complicated than it needs to be...it's just walking.

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#111027 - 02/10/09 04:02 PM Re: Why are hammocks so great? [Re: jpanderson80]
Ender Offline
member

Registered: 01/17/02
Posts: 779
Loc: ME
Essentially... yes, the sleep is that good, if it works for you. Some people can't get comfortable in a hammock, and it's worth knowing that before you drop the $$$ on a new setup.

For me, it is by and far the most comfortable night's sleep I've ever had in the woods, and close to the most comfortable night's sleep I've had anywhere. Especially in hot weather, when the added exposure to the air really helps to keep you cooler.

For colder weather, it does take a steep (at least compared to tenting) learning curve to stay warm. An underquilt will help with this (something I still need to drop the $$$ to get), as well as various pad/reflector combos.

So, if it's your cup of tea, it really is a comfortable night in the woods. Makes going back to ground (or even some beds) kinda hard. It is heavier, no doubt, but a good setup (and sadly, this will probably mean an expensive setup) shouldn't add too much more weight. I alternate between hanging and ground-dwelling depending on the weather/season, and where the trip is.

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#111028 - 02/10/09 04:03 PM Re: Why are hammocks so great? [Re: jpanderson80]
bigfoot2 Offline
member

Registered: 09/17/06
Posts: 1432
Loc: Eugene , Oregon
[quote=j
I know that different trips call for different gear, but it seems that hammock lovers stick with their systems all the time. Is the sleep so much better that the increase in weight is a non-issue? That seems to be my main question.
Please give me any other perspectives that I may be missing. [/quote]

You are obviously not old enough to have to take 6 Advils (and some Jack Daniels) after a 15 miler in order to sleep well at night!
Hammocks are infinitely more comfortable if hung and insulated properly. No worries about site selection or flat sleeping pads. They allow you to camp in areas you could normally not (sloping hills, over streams, A.T. shelter beams, in your garage, hell...i've even set mine up to a tree and a cliff face using a carabiner smile With a hammock, you could "stealth camp" in your local park and chances are you will not even be seen if done right. A good hammock will provide you with a comfortable, dry, warm and bug-free sleeping area. During the day, hammocks double as a chair for comfortable reclining while you read or cook. Hammock (good ones like a Warbonnet Blackbird and Super Fly tarp) are not anymore expensive than a tent. You can even get a TWO person hammock from Clark Jungle Hammocks this year, called the Vertex. If you use Snake Skins or a Black Bishop bag, they are crazy simple to put up and take down. And the main reason hammocks are so cool? They are just plain FUN !!

All that said, there is a learning curve to be had there. Hammocks are slightly heavier, sometimes fussier (more lines, tree-huggers, guy lines, etc.), cold if not insulated properly, need two supports and a big leap of faith the first time you get in one(did i tie the knot right???). You WILL fall...everyone does. Don't worry, i builds character and is a great way to learn smile There are times when a tent or tarp is more desirable. Above tree line, in a desert (although you can set up an enclosed hammock with trekking poles on the ground like a one person tent), etc. Some people say that hammockers' are stuck up, we're not...we're just above it all smile

In the end, it's really a personal choice you need to make. You need to camp how you feel appropriate. Do not listen to anyone else and make up your own mind on what's best for you. As you get older you will start thinking about how to be comfortable and make sacrifices to make it happen. With hammocks, you ditch some things (sleeping pads), but have to carry other, new things (under-quilt insulation). It ends up being a wash in the end.

Check out the Warbonnet Blackbird (the BEST hammock, EVER!), here:
http://www.warbonnetoutdoors.net/blackbird_h.htm


Now you're on your way and "it's the start of something" :
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pFbioyUsOs

Good luck!

BF


Edited by bigfoot2 (02/10/09 04:08 PM)
_________________________
Hammockers aren't stuck up, they're just above it all.

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#111030 - 02/10/09 04:11 PM Re: Why are hammocks so great? [Re: jpanderson80]
Dryer Offline
Moderator

Registered: 12/05/02
Posts: 3569
Loc: Texas
If I'm trying to cut weight to a minimum, I use a poncho shelter and sleep on the ground, no pad.
However, if I want the best nights sleep possible, have trees, don't want to care about how level, dry, or rocky the ground is, I'll use a hammock. Mine's a second generation Hennessey I've had for maybe 10 years and still going strong. I made my first hammock, which I still use. I don't use "tree huggers" or "snake skins" (dead weight and there are other ways to not hurt trees).
Yup, they are heavier but the comfort provided is worth leaving something else at home.
_________________________
paul, texas KD5IVP

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#111035 - 02/10/09 05:33 PM Re: Why are hammocks so great? [Re: Dryer]
jpanderson80 Offline
member

Registered: 07/28/06
Posts: 292
Loc: Memphis, TN
Originally Posted By Dryer
If I'm trying to cut weight to a minimum, I use a poncho shelter and sleep on the ground, no pad.

Yikes! eek That would be minimal!

I'll check out the Warbonnet Blackbird. What makes it the "best" when compared to another brand/model?

So from what I can gather... comfort is the main benefit to a hammock. And because it is so comfortable the minimal weight gain is accepted as a trade off.

Any other perspectives? Has anyone used a hammock and NOT liked it? Why not?
_________________________
I always forget and make it more complicated than it needs to be...it's just walking.

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#111037 - 02/10/09 05:44 PM Re: Why are hammocks so great? [Re: jpanderson80]
DTape Offline
member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 654
Loc: Upstate NY
Comfort is number 1 as others have mentioned, it just can't be beat. There are some who cannot get comfortable in a hammock but that is rare.

As far as weight, in general a hammock setup will be lighter than a tent setup, but heavier than a tarp setup. For me, the comfort level of the hammock easily makes up the slight weight penalty.

Other benefits include:
-setup over rocky or rooted ground which is inhospitable to ground dwellers
-staying dry is easier as one doesn't need to worry about ground water

Some might ask about difficulty in finding places to hang, I have never been at a loss for trees in the woods and they do not have to be a perfect distance apart. Sometimes I may have to camp a little farther away from the ground people, but that can be a good thing. Or one could look at it as the ground people had limited choices to camp.

visit hammockforums.net for all things hammocks
_________________________
http://ducttapeadk.blogspot.com

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#111038 - 02/10/09 05:45 PM Re: Why are hammocks so great? [Re: jpanderson80]
ringtail Offline
member

Registered: 08/22/02
Posts: 2296
Loc: Colorado Rockies
Hammock Forums is a great site:

http://www.hammockforums.net/

It took me three nights to get comfortable with a hammock.

I do fewer miles now than before. I stop earlier in the day and read in the hammock. Before hammock I stopped and ate then walked some more. I was never able to figure out a comfortable way to read. That has changed.

My hammock kit is usually about a pound heavier.

I actually can stay drier in a hammock than in a tent.
_________________________
"In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are not."
Yogi Berra

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#111039 - 02/10/09 06:21 PM Re: Why are hammocks so great? [Re: jpanderson80]
Paddy_Crow Offline
member

Registered: 11/08/04
Posts: 2285
Loc: Michigan
I'll be the naysayer here. I have never been able to get comfortable in a hammock. I generally sleep on my stomach or my side and neither works well in a hammock.

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#111050 - 02/10/09 08:40 PM Re: Why are hammocks so great? [Re: jpanderson80]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada

You've got it. I'm a diehard hammock user but I am *very* comfortable in one because I can sleep on my side in one (diagonally in the hammock). However, my hammock and big silnylon tarp together are *heavier* than just a superlight
solo shelter or tarp - heck I could take just the tarp and
save the weight of my hammock, since in moderate weather
I carry tarp, hammock, and blue pad that goes in hammock.
I could sleep on blue pad on ground - there - no weight of
hammock.

Again, it depends what you are carrying for. If your sole satisfaction in life is having the lowest weight on your back during the day, a hammock is not for you, delete the hammock
and sleep under the tarp and you are lighter. For me it's a simple comfort tradeoff - in fact if I know I'm not hammocking
I don't take the blue pad. I take a superlight shelter, and a
big old big agnes insulated aircore mat. however with that big
mat, I'm now about as heavy as I was with the hammock tarp and blue pad... but me, I know my comfort level..

some people however are *NOT* comfortable in hammocks - which is why you should try before you buy.
_________________________
Any fool can be uncomfortable...
My 3 season gear list
Winter list.
Browse my pictures


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#111057 - 02/10/09 10:22 PM Re: Why are hammocks so great? [Re: jpanderson80]
Heber Offline
member

Registered: 12/31/07
Posts: 245
Loc: St. Louis, Missouri
I have two reasons other's haven't mentioned yet.

1. Ease of site selection. Rocks don't matter. Level ground doesn't matter. That convenience is huge. When I don't have my hammock I'm always surprised at how hard it is to find a decent place to sleep on the ground.

2. It's drier. You already know that a tarp is drier than a tent because there is less condensation. Now picture being able to be up off the wet ground while still under a tarp. I've slept in torrential rain storms that left the ground a swamp. I was high and dry in my hammock.

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#111059 - 02/10/09 10:33 PM Re: Why are hammocks so great? [Re: jpanderson80]
Tango61 Offline
member

Registered: 12/27/05
Posts: 931
Loc: East Texas Piney Woods
Has anyone used a hammock and NOT liked it? Why not?

Yep, there are even a few over on hammockforums.net. Why, you ask. Because there are quite a few DIY folks there that make all kinds of gear.

I can echo pretty much what everyone has already said. The weight is about the same for me. And like using ground shelters, it all depends on the weather as to how much of my kit I bring.
If it is summer and no rain expected, I might leave the tarp at home. OTOH, if it's going to be sunny and hot it's nice to have the tarp for shade. If I'm not going solo, we may share the one tarp. Here in the summer, I definitely have to have some type of bug net. Now that I have a Claytor, it's integrated into the hammock.
I don't like the Hennesy's. Something about crawling back into the womb.

Check out Ed Speer's site and also www dot imrisk dot com.

Both very good sites.
_________________________
If you think you can, you can. If you think you can't, you can't. Either way, you're right.

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#111061 - 02/10/09 11:39 PM Re: Why are hammocks so great? [Re: Paddy_Crow]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Paddy, I have to sleep on my side, and I am an active sleeper - I have to wonder what hammocks you have tried because I have had no complaints, whereas mummy bags and tents were nothing but trouble for me.
_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

http://hikeandbackpack.com

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#111062 - 02/11/09 12:06 AM Re: Why are hammocks so great? [Re: jpanderson80]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
I'll check out the Warbonnet Blackbird. What makes it the "best" when compared to another brand/model?

So from what I can gather... comfort is the main benefit to a hammock. And because it is so comfortable the minimal weight gain is accepted as a trade off.

Any other perspectives? Has anyone used a hammock and NOT liked it? Why not? [/quote]

People have not liked hammocks for many reasons. I was a total skeptic but my misery in a tent drove me to try it. People in my hiking group think I'm nuts for hiking with one, but you know, I don't get up at night as often and I don't have trouble falling asleep. When camping with my group I often hear people whispering or getting up for one reason or another; it's the only reason I wake up anymore other than the 3 am break for the bushes.

The Blackbird I ordered got here, and I can tell you what I will enjoy about it. It will make a good camp chair, for one. You can't cook in a tent but my trekking poles can prop up the side of my tarp to make a porch and I can boil my water in the shade, or out of the rain. I won't have to worry if the hammock is on a slope. If I go hiking in Yosemite and I am expected to camp in a specific area, I don't worry if all the tent sites are taken; I have pitched over a boulder field and let the tent campers have all the flat spots. I got a quieter sleep, too, because I wasn't forced to have next door neighbors. I love all the dry real estate under the tarp; I have a large one that closes in on the ends if I want. The Blackbird I got has two layers; a pad can go in between, and even without the pad it (reportedly, haven't tried it yet, going out this weekend!) has a flatter lay than the Hennessy it's replacing, and I had no issues with the Hennessy. The Blackbird has a shelf to put small items in (a unique feature to hammocks) and a ridgeline; I like to hang wet socks or clip my headlamp to the ridgeline. All my gear hangs from the support line under the tarp, in a small gear hammock. The bugnet on the Blackbird can be unzipped and draped out of the way. The straps on the Blackbird can be adjusted after the hammock is hung; I don't have to undo knots like I did with the Hennessy to fine tune the angle of the hang. And I think, just from looking at the overall size and shape of it, the Blackbird has more space in the hammock and more "headroom" inside the bugnet than my Hennessy ultralight backpacker. While i have never felt claustrophobic or closed in while in the Hennessy, I have felt at times that I wasn't in the hammock so much as I was wearing it.

All that said - you will find people who prefer the Clark, a bridge hammock (you can sleep in your stomach in one, and it has a flatter lay due to the shape and design), or one of the other six or seven brands available. What makes a hammock great, IMO, depends on what you value; I value a solid night's sleep, warmth, ease of getting out of it (I H-A-T-E-D getting up and out of the tent, with a passion unparalleled - my knees and hips led me to a nasty faceplant or three in the pine needles), and a non-claustrophobic and effective way to keep bugs and rain out. I will add that since getting the hammock, none of my joints have troubled me in the slightest. I always had a hip ache in the tent, and sometimes do at home in bed.

My tent dwelling buddies want to know what I'm going to do in places where I can't hang. I have a tarp. I'll have a few trash bags for a ground liner, and my ridgerest for backup insulation (the Sierras have weather that has a mind of its own). One night on the ground versus five or six nights on the ground - no contest whatsoever. I might just tell them I'll hike another mile to treeline and they can catch up to me; I can break camp 95% faster than they can, which is the other advantage to hammocks.
_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

http://hikeandbackpack.com

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#111070 - 02/11/09 09:39 AM Re: Why are hammocks so great? [Re: lori]
Ender Offline
member

Registered: 01/17/02
Posts: 779
Loc: ME
Lori,

I'll be really interested to hear about your experiences with the Balckbird hammock. This thread is the first I've ever heard of one, and it looks really intriguing. I love my Hennessy, but it sounds like the BB may be an improvement. Keep us updated!


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#111071 - 02/11/09 09:46 AM Re: Why are hammocks so great? [Re: lori]
leadfoot Offline
member

Registered: 07/16/03
Posts: 954
Loc: Virginia
So, I always wondered how does one get dressed/undressed in a hammock? It seems to me that it can be very difficult.

My tent has side entrance and no problem getting in and out, which is one feature that I like. I don't care for the front openings.

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#111072 - 02/11/09 10:16 AM Re: Why are hammocks so great? [Re: lori]
Paddy_Crow Offline
member

Registered: 11/08/04
Posts: 2285
Loc: Michigan
I have not tried any hammocks that are intended for backpacking, but rather I have tried numerous patio type hammocks. I have not been able to get comfortable with the inevitable bow in my spine. When I try rolling onto my side, it seems to put pressure on my knees.

On the other hand, I sleep very well in a Big Agnes Horse Thief mummy bag without a hood. I use an uninsulated air mattress for most weather. If the temperature gets much below 40F, I need to add some insulation.

Because it works and because I've never been able to get comfortable in any hammock, I haven't seen a reason to try camping in one.

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#111084 - 02/11/09 01:09 PM Re: Why are hammocks so great? [Re: jpanderson80]
Eric Offline
member

Registered: 09/23/02
Posts: 294
Loc: The State of Jefferson
I have 2 issues with hammocks. Even with an under quilt a hammock is a cold bed. That's a good thing on a hot night but the nights are cold here even in the summer. Most of the places I hike are old growth conifer forest and the trees are too big and too far apart for a hammock to work even with extension ropes. That said, under the right conditions a hammock can make for an outstanding nights sleep.

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#111086 - 02/11/09 01:33 PM Re: Why are hammocks so great? [Re: jpanderson80]
Trailrunner Offline
member

Registered: 01/05/02
Posts: 1835
Loc: Los Angeles
If it's not too cold, or too windy, and if I'm going somewhere with trees, and I'm alone, and if I'm not counting ounces, a hammock works for me. I've had some great nights' sleep in them.

Site selection can be a double edged sword. You don't have to worry too much about what's on the ground.......so long as you can find two suitable anchors to hang from. That turned out to be more difficult than I thought.

I usually carry a hammock as a luxury item in addition to my sleep system. I can justify the 15 ounces when I use it as a very comfortable camp chair/sofa, or better yet as a place for a quick power nap halfway through a long day on the trail.

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#111105 - 02/11/09 09:54 PM Re: Why are hammocks so great? [Re: Paddy_Crow]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Then you haven't tried the right hammock. Bridge hammocks, Hennessy Hammocks, Warbonnet hammocks, and a handful of others will give you a flat sleeping surface.

Not that I am trying to convince anyone to try one - it's all about what works for you. It's just another misperception that you end up being banana shaped - you don't have to be a banana in a hammock, any more than you have to be cold on the ground. It's a matter of finding the right gear.
_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

http://hikeandbackpack.com

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#111107 - 02/11/09 11:04 PM Re: Why are hammocks so great? [Re: lori]
Paddy_Crow Offline
member

Registered: 11/08/04
Posts: 2285
Loc: Michigan
I have seen many hammock designs, I have yet to see one that didn't have some bow in it when occupied. I would be interested in any photos someone could show me of one of these flat hammocks.

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#111109 - 02/11/09 11:46 PM Re: Why are hammocks so great? [Re: Paddy_Crow]
Heber Offline
member

Registered: 12/31/07
Posts: 245
Loc: St. Louis, Missouri
http://www.jacksrbetter.com/BMBH.htm

Is that flat enough for you? I've got a bridge hammock and they are amazingly flat.

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#111110 - 02/11/09 11:55 PM Re: Why are hammocks so great? [Re: lori]
jpanderson80 Offline
member

Registered: 07/28/06
Posts: 292
Loc: Memphis, TN
Lori,
Please report back to us after your experience in the Blackbird. I'm very interested.

After your description above and others here and reading the hammockforums.net site, I think that I'll at least cut some material and try to put together a test run. It appears that multiple DIY patterns are out there for use.
_________________________
I always forget and make it more complicated than it needs to be...it's just walking.

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#111111 - 02/12/09 01:00 AM Re: Why are hammocks so great? [Re: Paddy_Crow]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
Paddy
quote"
I have seen many hammock designs, I have yet to see one that didn't have some bow in it when occupied. I would be interested in any photos someone could show me of one of these flat hammocks."
_____________________________________________________________

Well sir the Golden gate bridge is over a mile long and just tied the ends and its sort of "flat". I would think that suspension cables stretched over head with half a dozen cables to the hammock should do it. crazy
thanks
Actually I think what they are talking about is your body actually being twisted a significant amount away from the "line of force" through the hammock. True the hammock is like a parabola, but there are still straight lines intersecting it at angles. You sort of sleep sideways in the middle of them, to some degree. Or thats the explaination I got...

I do not like hammocks, sick its impossible to change cloths in them. I tried tying my wrists and ankles to opposing trees to hang for the night, but when it started raining it was tough to get my rain gear on. I prefer a tent and sleeping on the ground like God intended for apes to do - um ..... eek
Jim thanks crazy

Jim
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#111112 - 02/12/09 06:57 AM Re: Why are hammocks so great? [Re: Jimshaw]
leadfoot Offline
member

Registered: 07/16/03
Posts: 954
Loc: Virginia
Thanks, Jim, regarding the changing of clothes. No one ever mentions how they do it. Seems like a big downside to me.

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#111113 - 02/12/09 08:02 AM Re: Why are hammocks so great? [Re: leadfoot]
Dryer Offline
Moderator

Registered: 12/05/02
Posts: 3569
Loc: Texas
Quote:
Thanks, Jim, regarding the changing of clothes. No one ever mentions how they do it. Seems like a big downside to me.


Changing clothes in a hammock: Easy. After you spend a few nights in a hammock (Hennessey for me) you'll learn that even though you'll bounce and wiggle around with your movements, it won't dump you out.
Changing clothes is a matter of...changing clothes. It's really no different than changing your clothes under a low tarp
on the ground, only with a category 7 earthquake going on at the same time. grin Which you learn to ignore. Really, changing clothes can be done easily in the hammock, or outside under the rainfly, which is a "tarp".
_________________________
paul, texas KD5IVP

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