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#128475 - 02/09/10 01:03 PM Hammocks 101
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Since any time someone proposes a hammock as a possible camping shelter in a thread inhabited by tent users, the tenters frequently make unfounded assumptions based on... don't know what, either their time in a net hammock in the yard, or just having no real information.... Here is a list of myths and facts about the modern day, specially made camping hammock.

MYTH: I can't sleep on my side.

FACT: You can in fact sleep on your back, stomach, side, or some combination of those not possible on the ground or in your bed. You do have to have the correct model of hammock if you want to sleep on your stomach, but most camping hammocks it is entirely possible and often more comfortable to sleep on your side.

MYTH: I can't use a hammock where there are no trees.

FACT: Yes, you can. You may not always be able to hang it like a hammock, however. Fully bugnetted hammocks can be used as bug bivies, and the tarp you use with the hammock should be sufficient to pitch as rain shelter. And you can hang from things other than trees.

MYTH: I'll get motion sickness.

FACT: I've known folks who loved their hammock despite chronically suffering motion sickness when riding in autos, planes, etc. Some hammocks have tie-downs to reduce motion, but often once you get in, you don't notice the slight sway and it will quickly stop. I have found sleeping in a hammock in a wind is more stable than sleeping in a tent, if pitched properly. With your weight inside and a well pitched tarp of sufficient size, the hammock doesn't blow around.

MYTH: It's too claustrophobic.

FACT: I'm claustrophobic. I hate dark tents. A two person dome just for me was too confining. A bugnetted hammock feels less claustrophobic to me - I pair it with a nice large tarp that is pitched wide open, sometimes thrown back so I can wake to a view of a mountain range or lake, and watch for falling stars as I fall asleep. If it starts to rain at night I can be up, have the tarp set out, and back in the hammock in seconds.

The hammock I have is a type that does not constrict my movement at all, allows me to spread out and move, and has no shoulder squeeze whatsoever. So claustrophobes have a good chance of finding a model that works for them.

MYTH: I have a bad back so I can't hammock.

FACT: This is what drives some backpackers into hammocks. Bad knees, bad backs, and the ability to use the hammock as a chair and a bed, so they never have to get up off the ground. I had chronically sore hips that got worse over the duration of a pack trip. Soreness went away once I started hammocking, and I would wake earlier and have more morning to enjoy before I eagerly hit the trail again.

MYTH: You get cold in a hammock.

FACT: You only get cold if you're careless. You can use the same gear you used in a tent to stay warm. You'll need bottom insulation in a hammock from about 70-60F down, but it doesn't need to be complicated - a poncho liner suspended against the hammock bottom works for warmer temps, a sleeping pad, a cheap sleeping bag bungeed like an underquilt, one of those reflective truck size windshield shades, a poncho with some trash bags full of leaves -- this is one of those endless variation-on-a-theme DIY factories that the geeky backpackers love, because there are so many ways to get your bum warm while hanging in a piece of fabric that it gets fun to see how light and warm you can go. In a pinch, if you manage to go out without your bottom insulation? You might be able to pile up a ton of leaves, suspend the hammock over them, and lower the bottom into the leaves, and if it isn't freezing out you might be comfortable.

MYTH: Hammocks and all the gear gets too heavy for me.

FACT: It can, and frequently hammockers who are comfort driven go crazy with gear, but it doesn't have to be. You can hammock as light as you want to go. As mentioned before, all you need is the pad you would use anyway, the sleeping bag you would use anyway, the hammock and the tarp - bugnets are light and easy to add to any hammock. The nice thing about hammocking - you can take anything you want, and it's easy to mix and match gear to customize your shelter.

Considerations for hammock camping:

Where and when you are going - determines insulation needed and size of tarp. Winter hammockers exist and love their pulks, they can take a folding stove and hammock hut with a chimney jack, and sit inside their shelter drinking tea while it snows. Summer hammockers can get away with just the hammock, small tarp, and a Neat Sheet underquilt with a fleece blanket for a top cover. People heading over alpine passes might take some climbing nuts for a rock face hang, and a sleeping pad for if a night on the ground is necessary. Mix and match is where it's at.

Site selection - Anywhere you have a tree or two.



No one said you had to actually have two trees! An oak of sufficient age works.

Here we have obstacles to overcome:



Poison oak covered tree on the right, dead log, brush, and the open space for the hammock is within two feet of the other tree. But with the right suspension it worked. In this particular hang I threw a DriDucks poncho over the bugnet instead of using a tarp (yep, that's my hammock). I was sleeping without the tarp and enjoyed watching the moon rise, but around 2 am it began to freeze - woke to frost on everything! The poncho (with gaps at head and foot so I could breathe) provided some warmth inside the hammock. I didn't have a top cover with me. Beautiful hang in a steep sided river canyon on the California coast.

What if you want a nap without trees? Say, in the uplands of the British Isles? Are there rocks?

What if you are forced into a skanky hotel room and don't like the bed? Got hammock?

Hammock sites are only limited by your imagination and the length of your suspension, really. You do have to take into consideration that physics demands some really sturdy anchors at each end of your hammock. Don't hang from dead trees. Be careful of dead branches in the trees as well - this goes for tenters too, a dead branch can wreck a tent easily. Don't hang across obvious animal trails - elk and deer should have the right of way. But you can hang over almost anything, rocks, brush, roots, the side of a hill (not if you sleepwalk!) - my very first hammocking backpack, I managed to hang over poison oak. But I didn't get it. smile

Leave No Trace! Hammocks are ideal for leave no trace advocates - they literally leave nothing but footprints. If you get a hammock with ropes to tie to the trees, swap them out for polypro or polyester webbing/straps an inch or more wide. (Nylon stretches every time you use it; poly will stretch a little and stop.) Use trees of 4" diameter or bigger. A large branch of a too-large oak or pine will work, too.

Where to put the gear? Well, that's easy enough. Note the pack hanging from the hammock suspension above and the pile of stuff in the bugnetting? My clothes go in the shelf of my Warbonnet Blackbird. Other gear is stashed in the pack, still, and my food is somewhere nearby in the bear can. There were a lot of ticks in the grass and I didn't feel like picking them out of my stuff. The hammock straps are doused in permethrin.

If my rambling tangent-y summary has prompted any questions... odds are they have been asked at hammockforums.net. Other handy resources for the noob-to-hammocks can be found at:

Just Jeff's Hammock page

Risk has a cheap hammock you can make

Warbonnet Hammocks has some resources as well

_________________________
"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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#128478 - 02/09/10 02:50 PM Re: Hammocks 101 [Re: lori]
Steadman Offline
member

Registered: 09/17/09
Posts: 510
Loc: Virginia
Lori

Simple question: What brand of hammock do you use, and are there other brands you'd recommend?

Steadman

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#128479 - 02/09/10 03:03 PM Re: Hammocks 101 [Re: Steadman]
ringtail Offline
member

Registered: 08/22/02
Posts: 2296
Loc: Colorado Rockies
_________________________
"In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are not."
Yogi Berra

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#128481 - 02/09/10 03:33 PM Re: Hammocks 101 [Re: Steadman]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
It's hard to recommend - personal preferences rule when it comes to gear, right?

Jacks R Better has a bridge hammock. This is sort of like a fabric bathtub, but dead easy to use and probably best if you stomach sleep. You can put spreader bars (trekking poles do well as multi use items here) in the ends and sleep like you're in bed.

Clark Hammocks are popular but expensive. So if budget is key, they might not make your list. The Clark Vertex is probably the most feasible two person hammock solution around, however, short of simply hanging two hammocks under an extra large tarp. Clark also wouldn't likely be what an ultralight backpacker would favor. But, they are pretty bomber and have storage pockets underneath.

I have a Warbonnet Blackbird. There's a simpler version called the Traveler that's just a gathered end hammock. Warbonnet is a cottage industry, which I favor, and domestic (Colorado!), which I also favor - some larger brand types send the work overseas, Brandon makes gear in his garage. The Blackbird is the current favorite at hammock forums, due to it being so very comfortable; while not appreciably larger in size than some of the heavier Hennessy models, it manages due to the footbox and shelf and two tie outs to give lots of room to sprawl and store stuff. There are two options for suspension - I had the straps which were dead easy to use even if you can't tie knots, and very easy to adjust, but I have since swapped out strapping for something called a whoopie sling, which takes off some of the weight while allowing me a broad range of adjustability. You can get the Warbonnet hammocks in single or double layer - double layer hammocks give you a pad pocket to keep your pad in place and provide fabric between you and the ccf, if you are using a top quilt. The double layer also provides a flatter lay for bigger folks. Brandon will customize somewhat on request and put the footbox on the right side or put the zipper on the other side, your preference.

Hennessy are the hammocks most folks are familiar with - I had one for a while but sold it shortly after I got the Blackbird. Most of these are bottom entry, but Tom Hennessy added a model with a side zipper recently. (I think that's kind of funny as he did so long after some folk set up a small cottage industry retrofitting Hennessys with side zips.) The bottom entry didn't thrill me, and neither did the fact that manufacture went overseas. Tom is also sort of... well. There's threads at hammockforums talking about his special approach to the hammock business. The positives of these hammocks: he can give some pretty good deals, like a free scout hammock (good for smaller stature folk or kids) with the order of an expedition, and there's the out-of-the-box package - you can get a whole hammock-tarp-insulation setup and be hanging the night you get it ... but that's also the negative. If you end up with the tiny stock tarp and hang it from the hooks on the hammock suspension as instructed, you have a sagging tarp. And the figure 8 wrap is cool once you get it, but sometimes people have trouble with that. Good to do a little research before you buy one.

Claytor has a huge following too. They're pretty straightforward hammocks, and affordable. I almost got one myself. Not one of the innovators in the field, but good quality.

Speer has a great selection of gear, and of the stuff to DIY your own setup. I would love to have a Peapod if not for the claustrophobia thing. Speer tarps are frequently used with other brands/types of hammock, I have one very similar to his winter tarp. Speer also wrote a book on hammocking that is highly recommended to anyone contemplating taking up hammock camping.

Grand Trunk has a bunch of options - the Skeeter Beater, the travel hammock, and the Nano, which is new and an ultralighter's dream - 6.7 ounces! But you will add some weight with straps to make it LNT. It's narrower than I would like, but if you hang with sufficient sag it might work for people of average height.

ENO (Eagles Nest) is often for sale in REI. Your basic gathered end hammock. Easy to find, easy to try, not so easy to figure out how to be comfortable as you like unless you're a hammocker already. Byers of Maine is also often in REI, but not recommended by me as the end suspension becomes a knotted nightmare, and unless you want to DIY something different it's not ideal.

Were I suggesting features to someone who's never hammocked, I would recommend a gathered end with a ridgeline and removable bugnet. The ridgeline helps you hang the hammock with a consistent amount of sag so you can sleep comfortably. Suspension can be simple as you like, as long as you can get it at a 30 degree angle from tree to hammock you'll be fine. Hanging the foot end higher than the head end will allow you to lie flat in the hammock without sliding into a fetal position. All other considerations can be dealt with once you sort out your preferences.

There are brands I haven't mentioned. Subforums at hammockforums exist for most brands.

http://www.hammockforums.net/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=2

_________________________
"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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#128535 - 02/10/10 08:09 AM Re: Hammocks 101 [Re: lori]
scottyb Offline
member

Registered: 05/28/08
Posts: 278
Loc: Texas Hill Country
Very nice write-up Lori.

I am in the "Bad back" group and after 9 nights on the ground in Grand Canyon, I started looking for another option. My 1st hammock was a Warbonnet Blackbird, and I love it. Brandon is great and a pleasure to deal with. We are now a 2 hammock family and my 2nd is a Switchback by Tree to Tree Gear, another homegrown business. It is larger than the WBBB without a structural ridgeline and has zippers on both sides, therefore the name "Switchback since there is not head or foot end. I haven't had a chance to use it much but so far I really like it.

One thing I will add that is key for me. The tarp is like having a huge vestibule. You can sit in your hammock to dress and undress and your shoes sit in place under the hammock, where you step right out of/into them. No crawling or tracking mud, dirt, sand, into your sleeping area.

This is from a 1 night hang at Mt Shasta about 1/4 mile from the ski area, a couple weeks ago. Snow depth 68" at base, 120" at top.
_________________________
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#128554 - 02/10/10 02:59 PM Re: Hammocks 101 [Re: lori]
BrianLe Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1146
Loc: Washington State, King County
I don't mean to be a nay-sayer on various topics, but to offset the possible risk of someone thinking of a hammock as a panacea ...

"You can hammock as light as you want to go."

One thing that de-converts some folks from hammocks is the desire to be at least "weight neutral" in equivalent conditions. In colder climates and/or higher elevations, to be reliably warm enough it can be challenging to end up with an equivalently warm hammock setup without carrying more weight (and possibly bulk) as a result. Different people report differing degrees of "equivalency" with super-shelters (Hennesy), underquilts (JRB et al) etc, but when you count up everything --- I haven't seen a hammock setup as light as I can get an equivalent (lightweight) ground setup.

I do think that weight neutrality is possible, though unless you're handy with making your own gear it can come at quite a price.

"Site selection - Anywhere you have a tree or two."

This is what led me to buy a hammock in the first place --- the idea that I could walk as long as I wanted and then just quickly find a hang spot when the light was fading. I live, after all, in WA state where often it's hard to find a good tent site as there's so much brush everywhere.

Well, that brush can grow up between the two trees, preventing a good hang site. And I've walked through young forest where the trees are too close together with understory growing all the way to the ground. There are certainly cases where I'll see lots of great hang sites and no tent sites, but the reverse is also true where sometimes I'll find a great little ground camping spot with no decent hang site around.

"Don't hang from dead trees."

Side note: while this might sound obvious, it makes a great deal of sense to look UP at the solid-looking tree trunk you're about to use as an anchor. It was quite amusing for me after the fact when a dead tree trunk started falling over (towards me) as I put my weight into the hammock ...

I don't mean that as any basis for going with a hammock or not, just a side comment I couldn't resist ... :-)

One potential issue that can sort of "get" people about hammocks is that we sort of take for granted having a stable, flat, and unyielding space to be in when tenting, to lay our stuff out and sort through it, lean on an elbow on the ground, etc. With the more limited space inside a hammock, if you drop something it tends to roll underneath you. If you want to shift positions you typically grab some hammock fabric and pull to do that. I'm not saying this is some sort of horrible experience, but I will say that when I'm in the hammock I sort of miss some aspects of having a tent (and sometimes vice versa).

It should also be noted that of all aspects of backpacking equipment, I find that switching to a hammock has the overall steepest and longest learning curve. Partly that's sorting through options to find the right set for you. Partly it's picking up some skills like judging distances between trees, evaluating how level the hammock is (or isn't), figuring out how to stay reliably dry without carrying too much weight in over-tarping, using the right knots or other attachment approach.

And there are sometimes local rules about hanging a hammock on a tree. Some agencies are concerned about damage to tree bark; conscientious hammock uses have some sort of strapping (rather than direct thin cord) around the tree to limit damage, but this can be a factor sometime.

I am NOT saying that hammocks are therefore "bad". My point with the above is that a person should go into something like this being aware ahead of time of the potential downsides as well as the upsides, partly to tune expectations, partly to be alert to ways to mitigate the downsides. For me, in the places that I tend to camp, I'm a content ground dweller most of the time now, but I think hammocks make great sense for a lot of folks in a lot of situations.
_________________________
Brian Lewis
http://postholer.com/brianle

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#128562 - 02/10/10 04:09 PM Re: Hammocks 101 [Re: BrianLe]
JimmyTH Offline
member

Registered: 03/11/09
Posts: 59
Loc: Indiana
I'd agree that you have to test them before you get critical, but I've done enough testing to know that for me, hammocks don't work. I don't have bad knees unless I try to sleep in one, the curve of the thing puts pressure on my knees in ways that I can't stand, the more I try the worse it gets. If I was swamp camping of course I might try it, and if you're hanging off a rock face and camping there's no other choice. But I sleep better on the ground. To me the ground is bothersome for a couple of nights and then I get over that and by the time I've been doing it for a week I'm fine. I haven't reached that threshold with the hammock concept.

Actually I'd probably skip the hammock even in the swamp, since I've been able to sleep well enough in a canoe overnighting on a lake, tied up to a tree. I have a sailing rig with pontoons, so I just put the pontoons out to maximum and set a lawn recliner over the seats, sleep on that. Knowing there's a solution that doesn't involve a hammock I'll probably skip the hammock if I ever go swamp camping. (Would like to try that, looks like fun. Things always look like fun.)

I'm not seeing that the camping hammock is working out all that great longterm. Too much tree damage in campsites that are used a lot, and trying to put one up often involves clearing new spaces, so you have to ask if that's really camping without leaving a trace. One person uses the tie-up trees, ok. Two people, probably that makes some damage. Not everyone will use the strap rigs that aren't supposed to leave marks. Even that isn't going to work out on trees with bark that won't hold up to this, and how many people know which trees are tender and which ones aren't and what time of the year they're vulnerable? Tie up to a hickory in midsummer and it's like an iron stob, but in the springtime when the sap is running you'll probably blister the trunk. How many permanent camps do we need out there, anyway? If hammock camping is creating new camping zones we should just chuck the idea.

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#128570 - 02/10/10 06:46 PM Re: Hammocks 101 [Re: ringtail]
phat Offline
Moderator

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


I have a speer, a hennesey, and a warbonnet. I have used the speer the most. I only recently got the warbonnet, and like it a lot.

Having said that, I would reccomend risk's test hammock (above) as the starting point for any beginner - just to see how you feel in it first.

While I am also a card carrying hammock mafia member - (and have been for oh.. about 8 years now..) and I do think everyone should try it - I will temper my enthusiasm for you just a slight bit..

1) It is *not* for everyone - some people *love* them, other's don't. Try before buying, or borrowing is the best approach until you have at least spent a night in one.

2) It may not be your lightest option. Well in fact it never is, remove tarp from hammock, sleep on ground under tarp without hammock - congrats, you just probably lightened your pack by a pound or two. You need to consider *your own* comfort level in the mix. IF you can sleep *comfortably* on the ground on a short little prolite, zrest, or blue pad, and you don't need the comfort of a hammock to enjoy yourself. honestly, you'll be carrying less weight doing that and sleeping in a little tarptent or under a tarp.

*REAL* example - my brother. I put him in my hammock, he liked it. I put him on the ground on nothing but a blue pad, he still sleeps like a baby - so we talked about it and he made the consious decision *not* to hammock. He simply does not need to. He bought himself a lunar solo tent and loves it - and he's carrying less than he would be hammocking.

Me, I'm not so lucky. I do *NOT* sleep well on the ground on nothing but a thin pad. I love my hammock and use it wherever possible.

All I'm saying is before you accept the gospel of the hammock mafia, remember, everyone *really is* different in how they sleep, and it's very individual.


_________________________
Any fool can be uncomfortable...
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Winter list.
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#128571 - 02/10/10 07:04 PM Re: Hammocks 101 [Re: BrianLe]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Originally Posted By BrianLe

"You can hammock as light as you want to go."

One thing that de-converts some folks from hammocks is the desire to be at least "weight neutral" in equivalent conditions. In colder climates and/or higher elevations, to be reliably warm enough it can be challenging to end up with an equivalently warm hammock setup without carrying more weight (and possibly bulk) as a result. Different people report differing degrees of "equivalency" with super-shelters (Hennesy), underquilts (JRB et al) etc, but when you count up everything --- I haven't seen a hammock setup as light as I can get an equivalent (lightweight) ground setup.

I do think that weight neutrality is possible, though unless you're handy with making your own gear it can come at quite a price.


I will basically agree with you Brian, as I mentioned previously. I think claims of "weight neutrality" aren't really real - o=or they are trying to compare "equivalent comfort" or something like that.

To put that in context - with *my* gear, my tarp, lines and stakes weighs about 600 grams. My speer hammock weighs 710.
my blue foam pad that insulates me in my hammock weighs about 250 - were I on the ground I could use a skinnier one that weighs about 150.

soo.. my "minimum weight" on the ground with my gear.
600 + 150 == 750 grams
weight with hammock
600 + 710 + 250 == 1560 grams

Where you get into "weight neutrality" stuff is you start thinking about "equivalent" - in my tarp above without the hammock I have no bug protection, and I am not as comfortable.

To get close, realisticly here's what I actually carry above the
treeline:

- Six moon designs lunar solo tent - 780 grams
- Big Agnes wide insulated Aircore mattress - 1103 - grams
Total: 1803 grams

You could arguably tell me to go buy a neo air and then assuming I didn't freeze you're back to 780 + 410 grams == 1290 grams

So when you get into arguments of "weight neutrality" it starts to get silly because you often end up comparing two setups that for the same person may be completely different wrt their comfort. I need to carry a lot of weight of inflatable matteress to even come close to my comfort level in my hammock. Other people (such as my brother, the lucky dog who just passes out on nothing..) simply don't.






_________________________
Any fool can be uncomfortable...
My 3 season gear list
Winter list.
Browse my pictures


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#128573 - 02/10/10 07:27 PM Re: Hammocks 101 [Re: BrianLe]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
I understand what you're saying... I was trying to say much the same things, but for the sake of not rewriting the complete posting history of hammock forums I wrote a lot of it right out again.

The famed hammock learning curve comes from the fact that it's easier to slap-dash a tent than it is a hammock. I see tents all the time that are practically falling over, because they're not tightened down properly or even staked out. Tarp tents are less forgiving than freestanding in this, and I've seen some sagging Contrails, too. But as long as the tent is standing and it's not pouring rain or blowing wind, the tent will "work right" - it stays standing around you. Hammocks take finessing from the get-go -- being able to tell the difference between a properly hung hammock and one where the head end is too high takes practice. I had a few miserable nights in the Hennessy where I jumped in and out a number of times that led me to conclude the bottom entry wasn't ideal for me. Then I learned how to select trees that didn't sag, and how not to hook the HH tarp on the suspension lines....

On the other hand! I loaned the Hennessy to someone after I got the Blackbird. She knew nothing about hammocking properly and had a great time with it, hanging it like a chair swing, watching the sun set while swinging , getting it all cockeyed and hung so the ridgeline sagged like crazy -- she loved it anyway. I was a little concerned she might rip the bugnetting but it survived just fine. So maybe we all just think too much about this?

On the lightness of it all... five pounds for two quilts, hammock, tarp and assorted guy lines is not bad. It's actually not as light as it could be - I could get a 3/4 length underquilt. I could do a foam pad instead. I could use my silk hammock without the shelf and full bugnet. But either way works to 20F in 3 1/2 seasons in high elevation Sierras.... Maybe an ultra-ultralighter flinches and says no way. But he can prolly make do with the seven ounce hammock instead, and sacrifice a little ease of use to go twenty ounces lighter than me. He'd probably also use the good ol' 7 oz CCF instead of a 12 oz underquilt. And maybe he doesn't want to take it in winter - so he hauls out the Megamid instead, gaining some weight as winter packers always do, but again. It's what you are willing to do to be safe and/or comfortable. You can hammock as light as you want to go, really. If you want to go with a tiny tarp and a hammock made of cuben, you'll sweat up a storm and get a little rain in the sides, but you'll be light.... Not my compromise to make.

When I was tenting the "flat" places I kept finding turned out too often to not be. For some reason I have less difficulty getting the hammock at the right angle. And the cleanliness of hammock vs. getting everything all over the ground suits me better. When you say there's nowhere to unload gear, I don't really get that - dump it in the tent, dump it in the hammock, it all gets sorted just the same. Stuff hangs from the top of the tent or the ridgeline, just the same. Clothes go wherever - your stuff sack pillow, in the shelf of the Blackbird, under your knees...

I've been hanging all over California for a while now... have yet to find a place I can't. There have been times I've gone to ground because I was forced to out of expediency - you don't always get to hang when you car camp, for example, because you have an assigned site that may or may not have trees within its boundaries. I'd think Yosemite with all its crazy regulations would have a few words about the hammock, but I'm not the only one hanging out there.... about the only place I'd get ousted would be in the Sequoias and you just can't hang from them anyway. Of course, as always, YMMV. I'm aware of places that ban hammocks, elsewhere, because they ban pretty much anything people have done to wreck trees.
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#128574 - 02/10/10 07:29 PM Re: Hammocks 101 [Re: JimmyTH]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
And all I can say is, you used the wrong hammock.

My hammock(s) did not curve. And responsible hammockers do not damage trees, which is why we all recommend those heavy straps you tie off to.

ETA: This is not to imply you should have used the "right" hammock... you did what so many other people do, jump off the learning curve before it worked. And I'm not about to suggest that anyone force themselves to keep buying/trying hammocks, or beat you over the head with all the thousands of years of people lying (laying?) flat in hammocks... but I posted primarily because these are common beliefs about hammocks, and they aren't true. Hammocks don't HAVE to damage trees, just like tents don't HAVE to damage fragile alpine meadow plant life, but both frequently happen, and it is a shame that it does. But all I can do is spread the word and ask people to move their tents off the grass, or get better hammock suspension.

I could have kept trying tents and sleeping pads until I found something that worked for me - the reasons I went to hammocks probably could have been mitigated by an Exped downmat, a large light colored dome tent, and a quilt that I already have. But for me, hammocking is actually far lighter than that solution. I toss, turn, roll and thrash on the ground, and if I manage to fall asleep I wake up minutes later having rolled off the pad onto the cold ground, or some part of my body gets pushed against the tent wall. In a hammock I sleep so well that I can sleep on my back (does NOT happen in bed, even, shocked me to death when I woke up that way one morning, and this is a story common among hammockers) and do not thrash around as much. The leg problem I have now is hyperextension, where I point my toes and thrust my legs out straight until I get a charlie horse. This is solved by rolling on my side and pulled one knee up, hooking my arm under it, so it's higher than my navel but not pulled tight against my chest. Why does this work? How do I sleep like this? NO clue. It just works. And the hammock lets me do whatever I need to, sprawl and roll and does not close me into a tube, otherwise THAT would freak me out (claustrophia!).

I don't base any of this solely on my experience, tho I am talking extensively about me - who else do I have the right to talk about endlessly? I spent a lot of time reading at hammock forums, and find that I have a lot in common with others who've gotten off the ground as well. There are people who can mix and match and sleep on the ground, and those who only go where they can hang a hammock - it all depends on why you got out of the tent in the first place.

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#128611 - 02/11/10 11:07 AM Re: Hammocks 101 [Re: phat]
ringtail Offline
member

Registered: 08/22/02
Posts: 2296
Loc: Colorado Rockies
With the Big Agnes I carried an extra pound to sleep in a hammock. I just bought a NeoAir so in theory the extra weight is about a pound and a half. To be comfortable either on the ground or in a hammock the extra weight goes up to two pounds. I need more stakes and guylines with a tarp.

I am doing a five night Grand Canyon trip in May and will be able to hang three of the five nights. Two pounds is worth it.
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#128614 - 02/11/10 11:59 AM Re: Hammocks 101 [Re: phat]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Originally Posted By phat


So when you get into arguments of "weight neutrality" it starts to get silly because you often end up comparing two setups that for the same person may be completely different wrt their comfort. I need to carry a lot of weight of inflatable matteress to even come close to my comfort level in my hammock. Other people (such as my brother, the lucky dog who just passes out on nothing..) simply don't.



In the end, it all comes back around to tolerance levels and compromises. I know folks who sleep on the ground who never sleep - they climb in to get warm and rest, but roll around all night, uncomfortable, accepting that the price they pay for enjoying the outdoors is the discomfort. And one guy does it so he can be "ultralight" - he can't figure out why I hammock. I can't figure out why he likes not-sleeping on a 1/4" foam pad. But that's okay for both of us.

I am of a mind that I am safer on a long backpack if I can sleep - and since I only get an hour or so (in five minute increments) on the ground, and once slept for 10 hours without waking in the hammock, it's easy to guess where I'm going to compromise to be able to sleep in a hammock as much as I can. A few nights over a ten day outing on the ground isn't going to kill me - very little sleep might end badly with me making a fatal miscalculation on the trail. And I don't much care for the scenario where I don't sleep for days and crash and burn one night out of exhaustion.

I'm a light backpacker. Last trip I was at 20 lbs inclusive of food, and I overpacked for an overnight backpack. The three tent users I went with were at 50, 45, and 30, respectively. Comparing a tent setup and a hammock setup is just impossible - it's not really hard to be lighter than someone else regardless of what they use. I cut corners on kitchen and work on layering clothing rather than using bulky stuff so I can take the hammock and associated gear.
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#128618 - 02/11/10 01:14 PM Re: Hammocks 101 [Re: BrianLe]
ringtail Offline
member

Registered: 08/22/02
Posts: 2296
Loc: Colorado Rockies
Originally Posted By BrianLe

One potential issue that can sort of "get" people about hammocks is that we sort of take for granted having a stable, flat, and unyielding space to be in when tenting, to lay our stuff out and sort through it, lean on an elbow on the ground, etc. With the more limited space inside a hammock, if you drop something it tends to roll underneath you. If you want to shift positions you typically grab some hammock fabric and pull to do that. I'm not saying this is some sort of horrible experience, but I will say that when I'm in the hammock I sort of miss some aspects of having a tent (and sometimes vice versa).

It should also be noted that of all aspects of backpacking equipment, I find that switching to a hammock has the overall steepest and longest learning curve. Partly that's sorting through options to find the right set for you. Partly it's picking up some skills like judging distances between trees, evaluating how level the hammock is (or isn't), figuring out how to stay reliably dry without carrying too much weight in over-tarping, using the right knots or other attachment approach.


I agree about the learning curve. It took me three nights to become convinced that the hammock has potential. Yes, everything in the hammock tends to migrate to directly below you. I learned to hang most things and that has the added benefit that I no longer need to clean gear when I return home because it never touched the ground. I will paste in a long document on how I organize, but the basic idea can be seen in my avatar.

Basic kit:
Warbonnet Traveller double layer hammock with straps - 20.7 oz.
Jacks’R’Better 8'x8' tarp with hangline and stakes - 15.7 oz.
Two GossamerGear .375" closed cell pads - 11.2 oz.
Warbonnet Black Mamba quilt - ?.

Upgrades:
TripTease guylines with glow in the dark LineLocs,
Guylines are butterflied and bundled with a short cord and cordlock on the tarp,
Tarp ridgeline is .5" webbing with ring buckle adjustment,
Easton stakes, and
A hangline with Hennessy pocket and two mitten hooks and a flag clip girth hitched on the line..

Organization:
Pack is empty and between the layers on the foot end of the hammock,
Gloves and watch cap are in the tunnel pocket of my fleece hoodie,
Insulating jacket is in the ZQ2Q Peak Bag that is also the hammock stuff sack,
Clothes bag is a mesh bag used as a pillow,
Clothes bag is tethered to the end of the hammock with shockcord and flag clips,
Rain jacket is binder clipped to the head end ridgeline,
Bathroom stuff sack and hygiene stuff sack hung on headend of hangline with mitten hooks,
Hennessy pocket with glasses, headlamp, book and wet wipes,
One of Hennessy pockets is dedicated trash pocket that is cleaned out in the morning,
First aid kit hung on hangline at footend,
Spinnsheet used as cooking and packing staging is the stand pad under the hammock,
Spinnnsheet is held in place by shoes and water bottle,
Spinnsheet can also be binder clipped to the foot end in heavy weather, and
If your shoes under the hammock are getting blowing rain then tie the laces together and sling over the ridge line.

The hammock ridge line is a part of the hammock I do not use it for much storage.

The hangline is a part of the tarp and is fairly loose.

Food and repair kit are bear bagged away from the hammock.

Stove, fuel and water gear tucked away in a sheltered location away from hammock and food bag.
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#128740 - 02/13/10 01:33 AM Re: Hammocks 101 - ya need a big enough tree... [Re: ringtail]
phat Offline
Moderator

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

Oh, and one more thing...

For you hammock newbs out there - normally you want a tree that's a minimum of 10cm in diameter.. (that's 4 inches for you metricly challenged folks..)

Don't pick a tree like this:



Or your hammock will end up like this:



wink



Edited by phat (02/13/10 01:35 AM)
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#128909 - 02/15/10 04:38 PM Re: Hammocks 101 - ya need a big enough tree... [Re: phat]
finallyME Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah
Is that Bigfoot?
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#129100 - 02/18/10 01:15 PM Re: Hammocks 101 [Re: lori]
Redfacery Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 82
Loc: NY
I have to agree about the steep learning curve, but thinking, talking, and experimenting with hammock setups has so much more excitement for me than tent/tarp/bivy discussions.

I have had a lot of success with hanging all of my relevant gear on tiny s-biners on a ridgeline. Extra clothes in a small mesh in case I need the extra layer in the night, emergency pouch, stuff like that. If the ridgeline is taught enough, and you expect to be staying a few nights, this cleans up my clutter, and keeps everything in arm's reach.

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#129102 - 02/18/10 02:19 PM Re: Hammocks 101 [Re: Redfacery]
DTape Offline
member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 656
Loc: Upstate NY
I am not so sure I agree with the conventional wisdom that a hammock has a steep learning curve. I was a backpacker and canoeist for many years and used a tent exclusively. When i first tried a hammock, I tossed it up, used my tent rainfly above it and my sleeping pad and bag inside and I was fine. Of course this was the summer. As i moved into the colder months with my hammock setup, I tested it just as i would have with any other gear, like a new tent or sleeping bag. I did not find that going from summer to winter in a hammock was anything magical or spectacular. I did the same thing as i did while being in a tent. I increased the temp rating of my bag and carried additional sleeping pads for underneath me. The same season I started using a hammock I became friends with another guy who was new to backpacking. The amount of time and effort (and mistakes) he made while learning how to find a tent site, proper alignment, avoidance of runoff, prevailing wind, widow-makers etc... was much steeper. I guess my point is that depending on ones experience and the types of conditions the "steep learning curve" can vary. Once people change gear or move to more extreme conditions whether it is the environment or the weather, there will be a learning curve for the individual regardless of what gear one uses. Thus I am not convinced that the hammock has any steeper of a learning curve than say a tent user. I would say it has less of a learning curve than a minimalst tarp user whose margin for error is much smaller.
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#129107 - 02/18/10 04:08 PM Re: Hammocks 101 [Re: DTape]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
My experience was the same as yours, fwiw - I took it out and hung it. I did do a lot of reading on different kinds of hammocks before I bought one, trying to figure out what features suited me, but didn't overthink and didn't freeze or fall out or any of the other issues noobs think they will have with a hammock.

Obviously, everyone's mileage varies.

Not everyone who backpacks bothers to learn about site selection, leave no trace, or how to hang a bear bag, either.

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#129109 - 02/18/10 04:55 PM Re: Hammocks 101 [Re: lori]
ringtail Offline
member

Registered: 08/22/02
Posts: 2296
Loc: Colorado Rockies
lori,

I researched when I bought various gear. I used a Hennessy for the 2003 and 2004 season with a Big Agnes Zirkle right hand zip. In 2005 life got good when I bough a set of over and under quilts.

Yes, for two years I struggled with a pad and the Big Agnes.
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Yogi Berra

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#129112 - 02/18/10 06:51 PM Re: Hammocks 101 [Re: ringtail]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Originally Posted By food
lori,

I researched when I bought various gear. I used a Hennessy for the 2003 and 2004 season with a Big Agnes Zirkle right hand zip. In 2005 life got good when I bough a set of over and under quilts.

Yes, for two years I struggled with a pad and the Big Agnes.


It was hard to research until I got something and used it. I had a Hennessy too, and a blue pad and Ray Way quilt that was huge for the hammock. then it was a down top quilt. Then another down quilt for an underquilt. Then a Blackbird.... Think it's dialed in now. Next it will be a winter underquilt....

_________________________
"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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#129117 - 02/18/10 07:52 PM Re: Hammocks 101 - ya need a big enough tree... [Re: finallyME]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Originally Posted By finallyME
Is that Bigfoot?


Why... yes.. I do believe it is... smile
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My 3 season gear list
Winter list.
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#129243 - 02/21/10 02:06 PM Re: Hammocks 101 [Re: lori]
Mroberts Offline
newbie

Registered: 02/21/10
Posts: 11
Loc: California, USA
I never thought of a hammock. I always make a tent using branches, sticks and a waterproof tarp. The hammock is something to think about.
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#129710 - 02/28/10 01:49 PM Re: Hammocks 101 [Re: lori]
LostOutrider Offline
newbie

Registered: 02/27/10
Posts: 4
Loc: Ozark Mts.
I have a Clark North American jungle hammock that is just amazing. It weighs in a 2lbs 15 oz (not counting the tree straps). This is my third hiking hammock, and only the second jungle hammock. The first was simple, feather-light, and cheap. In the right temperature, it was just beautiful sleeping. I gave it up after one night of shivering through an unexpected spring rainstorm. The next one I tried was a heavy mil. surplus-style jungle hammock. It was beastly heavy and, while it kept me dry, did a horrible job of keeping me warm or even upright. I can't imagine how anyone uses those.

I don't really consider myself an ultra-light backpacker, but I do like to keep my pack reasonably light. I loved not having to juggle tent, sleeping pad, and sleeping bag. My last ditch effort to swing in the breeze was the Clark.

Most of my gear is either self-made or modified from scavenging yard sales, pawn shops, and surplus stores. I'm hideously cheap when it comes to my gear. I only say that because this is the single-most expensive piece of gear in my pack. . . and it is worth every penny. I sleep like a baby no matter what is happening outside. I hike mostly in the Ozarks and have had it in temperatures as low as 15 degrees, in snow and rain. I've never had a cold night. During winter and early spring hikes, I'll bring a 0-degree bag with me. I've had mornings where there will be frost or snow on the outside of the hammock - but inside was almost muggy. The hammock itself is so well designed that I've only been able to find two spots where I get temperature leaks - right where the zippers join at the top. Usually it is a welcome bit of fresh air, but on the coldest night I just draped a bandanna over the spot.


Sleep and comfort are very personal, as has been said, but with my hammock I can sleep on my side and shift position many times during the night without tipping or even swinging much - my back and knees feel so much better than when I sleep on the ground, even with a pad - and in the morning I can sit on the hammock and cook breakfast & coffee while staying dry no matter what is happening around me. I love the folks I backpack with, so I try not to look too contented in the mornings as I watch them squatting on a wet log huddled under their windbreakers as they wait for their water to boil.

My oldest son is 5 now and will join me on his first overnight this spring. I'm already saving up to get a Clark for him.

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#129718 - 02/28/10 06:55 PM Re: Hammocks 101 [Re: LostOutrider]
scottyb Offline
member

Registered: 05/28/08
Posts: 278
Loc: Texas Hill Country
What type of shelter do you use with your Clark, and what do you use for insulation?
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