Exploring the great outdoors and enjoying Mother Nature should not be hampered by lack of sleep or rest. That is why it is important that you choose the best backpacking hammock to take on your outdoor adventure travel. There are many considerations in choosing a backpacking hammock. The following factors should be a concern when picking the best backpacking hammock for you.
One of the main considerations when backpacking is to take lightweight camping gear. However, be sure to choose a hammock with dimensions appropriate for your height and weight. Generally, a hammock that is wider and longer will offer more comfort when sleeping.
Aside from the width and the length, consider getting a hammock with a built-in suspension system. There are certain instances wherein making a DIY suspension system is impossible or difficult. To save you the energy and the time or if you are not confident about making a DIY hammock suspension system, buy a hammock with carabiners, lashing cables, ropes and tree straps for a worry-free camping.
Most hammock backpackers use underquilts to keep them warm. Sleeping in a hammock can be cold even during summer. Underquilts protect campers from the cold air outside and traps the warmth within the hammock. Some campers, on the other hand, use a sleeping pad or a blow up pad for insulation. However, it could be annoying if the pad gets displaced every time you twist and turn. One good option is to get a double layer hammock. There is a separate compartment for the sleeping pad so it would stay in place despite all the twist and turns at night. The downside though is the added weight.
Before choosing a hammock, determine the type of terrain you will be in. Your backpacking hammock need to hanged and you need to have well-spaced trees in order to set up a hammock properly. You may be backpacking in a desert type terrain, rocky or in tree-lined areas. You need to bring a hammock stand or look for sturdy improvised poles in order for you to set up your hammock.
When it comes to camping, there are two hammock designs preferred by backpackers – the bridge hammock and the asymmetrical hammock. The reason why? Both designs allow for the sleeper to lay flat while giving some space for moving without feeling too cramped.
Look at the stitching and the fabric used in making the hammock. A good quality hammock features triple stitching, is made of heavy-duty seams, and can support heavy weight. Most backpacking hammock are made of parachute-grade nylon fabric so they can withstand even two persons.
Are you going to use your backpacking hammock for daytime chilling or nighttime rest? Daytime hammocks are lighter than nighttime hammocks. They do not really need that much accessories to go with the hammock as you would only be using it for shorter periods. However, if you will be using it for sleeping at night, you need to have additional features such as tarps, bug nets, rain fly, etc.
Hammocks with added features and those made of high quality materials are more expensive than simpler models. However, if you intend to use your hammock for backpacking or camping, it is wise to invest in a costlier model. Shop for several brands, compare their features and the quality of materials and save for your dream backpack hammock.
How are Hammocks Differentiated?
Hammocks are differentiated according to material, weight, features, location of entry and design.
When it comes to materials used, hammocks can be made of nylon or cotton. For backpacking and camping, though, parachute nylon is preferred since they are more durable and is water resistant.
As to weight, some hammocks are categorized as ultralight, mainly because they have simpler suspension systems and are easier to pack and carry. Some hammocks, on the other hand, have sturdier suspension systems but are heavier because they are made of steel.
Some hammocks do not have added features such as a built in bug net, rain fly, and double layer for pad inserts. Expedition hammocks, on the other hand, are built to withstand any conditions such as rain, snow, bug infestation, heat and extreme cold. They are, however, heavier and cost more.
Location of Entry
Aside from the traditional top entry hammocks, there are also side entry hammocks and bottom entry hammocks. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages but it still depends upon the user’s preference.
Lastly, hammocks are differentiated according to design. There are two main designs commonly available in the market – the asymmetric hammock and the bridge hammock. These two types of hammock are discussed in detail below.
Two Types of Backpacking Hammocks
As mentioned earlier, there are two hammocks designs mostly used in backpacking / camping – the gathered ends asymmetrical hammock and the bridge hammock. These two designs enable for flat laying unlike backyard hammocks that promote a banana shaped form. Each type’s features will be differentiated below:
- Gathered end asymmetrical hammock
By its name, the hammock is asymmetrical in shape ad allows for flat lay, granting that the set up is correct and the sleeper lays diagonally on the hammock. The ends are gathered together in a bunch. Compared to other types of hammock, the asymmetric hammock is roomier, less constricted and lighter in weight.
- Bridge hammock
The bridge hammock, on the other hand, is wider at the ends with a spreader bar (or a trekker pole ) used to spread it apart. The disadvantage with bridge hammock is that it is heavier compared to the gathered end symmetrical hammock due to its spreader bars. Some also find the tubular shape constricting compared to the asymmetrical hammock.
In addition, a good backpacking hammock should also have gear storage to protect your other things from weather. Choose the best hammock accessories too such as the right suspension straps, rope and tree straps. If possible, choose a suspension system that will create the least damage to trees.