Whether you’re looking for an afternoon escape or a wild camping experience, the humble hammock has evolved in recent years to offer the outdoor enthusiast a greater degree of versatility and comfort than ever before. From pocket-sized travel hammocks to winter backcountry set-ups, there’s a hammock to suit every season and activity. Here’s a quick breakdown of the products and their uses.
First off, when buying a hammock, be sure to purchase a suspension system (the bit that connects hammock to tree or other supporting structure). Unless sold as a set, most hammocks are sold without suspension straps. This allows you to choose from a wide range or use existing straps if updating your kit. Suspension kits can range from the more standard, such as the Thermarest Suspender Tree Straps; to the more technical and minimalist ENO Helio which uses ultra-light, high-strength Dyneema® line for a reduced pack weight. Look for a design that uses wide webbing to ensure an even weight distribution that won't cause unnecessary damage to trees when loaded.
For those simply wanting to enjoy the sunshine, a basic hammock set-up will suffice. At 570g, the Thermarest Slacker hammock offers a great value option for backpackers and day-trippers looking to relax. The Slacker features a durable ripstop polyester construction that packs down into an integrated pocket for ease of travel and storage.
Looking for lighter? The ENO SingleNest hammock offers a lightweight and compact alternative at just over 450g while the ENO DoubleNest delivers a lightweight option for two (or one person wanting more room) at just 538g.
Want to go lighter still? At a mere 164g, the ENO Sub 6 hammock is built for those looking for minimal pack weight with a 30D ripstop nylon for reduced bulk – the perfect hammock for fast-moving treks and backpacking trips.
For wild campers and trekkers, hammock camping affords a unique outdoor experience and a fantastic way to enjoy more inaccessible locations. As with any outdoor activity, you’ll need to ensure you’re prepared for changeable conditions – from sudden showers to biting nasties.
A rainfly or tarp cover is an essential piece of kit for any hammock camper. When combined with a tarp, hammock camping offers improved ventilation and increases liveable space when compared to a tent in wet conditions. Tarps can be positioned above the hammock to offer protection from rain, wind, or sun, and give backcountry travellers a handy way to shelter from the elements when preparing food or riding out bad weather.
Check out the ENO ProFly which features a tough 70D nylon ripstop construction with double-stitched, waterproof taped seams and 6 guy points for secure set-up.
For those thinking of travelling in tropical regions or camping in midge country, insect protection is a must. The ENO Guardian envelops your hammock in fine-mesh netting to keep biting insects from ruining the fun. Add this to the ENO Sub 6 and ProFly to create a great 3-season hammock set-up for camping and backpacking.
While hammocks are a great way to soak in the sun, they can offer a year-round camping alternative and a cosy way to experience the outdoors during colder months or when camping at higher altitudes. A suitable sleeping bag will form the basis of any cold weather adventure but due to the nature of hammocks being above the ground, there is an increase in heat loss from your back.
A simple solution is to place a foam mat below your back when camping out, our recommendation is the ThermaRest RidgeRest Classic with its low weight of just 400g and simple design better suited to hammock sleeping.
Having a hammock warmer in your kit is another great way to boost insulation. These under-quilts come in a variety of weights from basic to down filled and are a great way to prevent heat loss from your underside without restricting comfort.
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