Why choose a hammock? What is wrong with a Tent?
Ah, the great outdoors. What’s a better way to enjoy all nature has to offer than to kick back in your very own backpacking hammock? The short answer is that there isn’t anything better than that. When shopping for gear, hammock camping is often overlooked because we’ve come to unequivocally link tents with camping. But tents need to move over because portable hammocks are taking over and changing the way people camp and spend time outdoors.
Though people in Central and South America have been using hammocks (hamaca from the Spanish) for years, the concept is relatively new in the U.S. and has emerged as an excellent alternative to the tent. Before you decide on which tent is right for you, though, look at how it will be used.
Maybe you are tired of sleeping on the ground. (A wet tent floor isn’t fun). Maybe you want versatility and an option that will perform triple duty as a bed, a chair, and a lounger so you can lounge over (yes, literally) a stream and listen to the water rush by. Maybe you want to be closer to nature and to sleep under the stars. Maybe you just don’t want to take the time to put a tent together. Maybe you want to sleep sounder.
Whatever your reason for shopping for a sleeping hammock, using this guide, you can be sure that you’ll get one that meets your needs. Also, it doesn’t hurt that we’ll help you get the best value.
To understand what type will best suit your needs, it is a good idea to go through the different variables you can choose from, gain an understanding of why they matter and get a feel for which ones are most critical to you.
What Should I Look for?
Hammocks can be anywhere between 4.5 – 8.5 feet wide. If you’re a broad-shouldered guy or are planning to sleep two, you probably won’t want a model that’s only 4.5 feet across. For length, it’s a matter of preference. If you’re 6’2 or you like to stretch and sprawl out, you might be more comfortable in a 7-foot-long model versus a shorter one.
This is important. Again, we’ll use our solidly built, 6’2 guy who has broad shoulders. He shouldn’t buy a product with a weight limit of 150 pounds. Again, consider how your hiking hammock will be used. Weight capacities go up to 500 pounds so you can sleep soundly knowing you’ll be held securely (just get a suspension system with a similar capacity).
Hammocks, are essentially a sheet unless you have something to attach to, and a means to do the attachment. Unfortunately, a lot of models do not provide straps and you will need to purchase them separately. Additionally, if they do provide straps, you will often want to replace them for stronger/lighter versions.
A model with multiple attachment points will be able to be strung in a variety of ways and a variety of places, giving you a greater choice of camping spots (and views).
Hammocks are generally made from thin parachute material which is great for being lightweight and strong but isn’t renowned for it’s insulating properties. If you are planning on using your hammock in less than temperate conditions, you may want a model with options to layer. These models are designed to allow an underquilt or camping pad to be slipped between the layering of the hammock.
There are a variety of good products available for a range of budgets, although there is a correlation between quality, extra features, and overall cost.
Understanding how much you are willing to spend, and what are your main requirements in a hammock will help you to strike the right balance between cost and practicality for your purpose. We have reviewed a wide range of models to help the one that suits you and your wallet.
No one enjoys hulking around an overloaded backpack no matter how comfortable the guy in the store told you it would be. Removing a few ounces here and a few ounces there will help to keep your pack weight down and help create a more enjoyable trip.
If you are planning on carrying all your gear on your back for several days or more, keep your kit as light as possible. On the flip side, if you’re looking to hang something up on your stoop, weight will be a lesser priority.
Often the attachment straps and slings that come with hammocks (if they come with them at all) are cheap and cumbersome. Changing them out with alternatives can help reduce your pack weight further. You can see some options here.
If you want something to last a lifetime, even if it endures some tough love along the way, then the material selection will be a significant factor in your choice. Although, here in lies the rub. While not a cast iron rule, if you want improved durability it often comes at the cost of weight – the ultralight options available are generally made from less durable materials to help keep their weight down.
Purpose, is the ultimate reasoning point you should use in your selection. Although, in reality it is not a separate deciding factor as those above, but is actually the integration of them all.
Do you wish to overnight, in all weather? Then may we suggest to you something that is durable, capable of layering and to purchase a tarp (if it doesn’t come with one). In this situation, we would argue protecting yourself from the elements is more important than weight or other considerations.
The flip to this is of course if you a thru-hiking and want to keep your weight down. Then your selection should be primarily based on the weight requirements and less so on durability, or if it comes with a bug mesh or insulation options.
They can be expensive, so take a look at what warranties the companies are offering. Additionally, prior to going out in a real world situation we would recommend setting up your new hammock at home and testing it to see if it really performs as you expected it to. If it doesn’t, you can usually return it (assuming you didn’t destroy it during testing) and find another one that is more suited to your purposes.
We won’t be talking about the netted one in your backyard that you bought in that tourist shop in Miami – the one that is just waiting to flip you onto the ground when you least expect it. No – we’re talking about covered hammocks specifically made for camping (tents no longer reign supreme). In fact, many campers find that they prefer them because they’re fun, relaxing, and offer more options than a traditional tent (and you know we’re all about choices and customizing our experience).
In fact, many people find they are better for sleeping because they provide ultimate comfort. You can sleep on a diagonal and wake up well-rested, unlike sleeping on a lumpy, bumpy tent floor. Here, we’ll explore several types (along with hammock accessories and hammock suspension system) so you can choose the hammock that is most suitable for your budget, lifestyle, and needs.
The hammock, isn’t a new concept. The first use of them on record was when the Spanish colonists noted that Native Americans in the West Indies were using “hamacas” or “nets” (a word derived from the Haitian meaning “fish net”) to sleep. Then, in the late 1500’s, they became popular to use for sleeping on naval ships. Since their use by Native Americans and sailors, they have emerged as a new trend in camping.
This popularity is because they’re affordable on any budget and you’re sure to find a great one at any price range. They are lightweight (good for when you’re hiking or backpacking) and come in options for daytime (just lounging) or sleeping. You’ll want to look for a sturdy one with quality construction, though (especially if you plan on lounging over a stream). There are also options for two so you can snuggle up to your sweetie under the stars.
These tend to be the best choice for an on-the-go lifestyle and spontaneous adventures. It’s light, easy to carry, and ideal for hiking and enjoying the outdoors. The biggest advantage of is that you get the most bang for your buck with them. They’re less expensive than tents and better for comfort and versatility.
They tend to not be a good choice for long-term camping or camping in extreme, rugged conditions (i.e. in the mountains in the snow) as they do not offer as much protection against the elements as other options.
So, maybe you opt for a hammock instead of a tent, but it’s going to get chilly. Your plans for sleeping outside don’t have to be thrown out or postponed. You’ll just need to take a few extra steps to insulate yourself so you can stay nice and cozy without compromising your plans. (Take that Mother Nature!) Here are the three best options for insulating:
- Sleep on top of a pad. This is a great option for beginners or people who may already own a sleeping pad. These can shift, though, so use a mummy-shaped pad for minimal sliding.
- Layer, layer, layer!! If you know you’ll be using it in lower temperatures (keep in mind that even summer nights can be cool), you should consider purchasing a double layer hammock. This model will have a special compartment for a sleeping pad. Alternatively, add a fleece sleeping bag liner to your sleeping bag for extra warmth.
- Under-quilt. This is the preferred method of more experienced hammock sleepers. An under-quilt will protect you from the cold by hanging beneath your hammock.
If you’re considering an insulated model, ask yourself the following questions: Will you be using it long term? Will you be using it all year around? If so, this is perfect because you can stay snug and be ready for anything. Plus, there are lots of options for insulation.
An insulated hammock is best used for nights that may be colder and works best paired with a good-quality winter sleeping bag. However, there’s a learning curve with insulated hammocks, so they may not be right for the novice hammock user. Users may also have difficulty finding strong trees to use when setting up their hammock.
Theses are perfect for lounging, snoozing and generally hanging out during any down time on your trip (or in your backyard). They can be used for overnighting, but you will often want opt for some additional kit, such as quilts, bug nets and tarps to make sleeping in them safe and comfortable.
Grand Trunk Ultralight
Best Backpacking HammockGrand Trunk Ultralight Hammock: Portable Camping, Hiking, Backpacking, and Travel Hammock: Perfect Starter Hammock, Forest Green
- Perfect alternative to a tent and sleeping pad for the light and…
- If you are traveling or backpacking in a place where nights are colder, you…
- Sturdy S-shaped hanging hooks, durable polyester, and triple-stitched seams…
- Mildew-resistant, machine-washable fabric will stay strong and clean for…
- Use For: Travel, camping, backpacking, beach & lake, home
A perfect alternative to the traditional tent, it is made of 100% polyester, it’s light and very affordable, and it comes in three different colors. Even if you choose not to use it for sleeping, you can still relax at the campsite, use it at home in the yard, bring it with you to the lake, and take it with you when you travel.
It is compatible with sleeping pads, has sturdy hanging hooks, and has triple-stitched seams to reinforce it’s strength. It is also guaranteed to stay clean for years due to its mildew-resistant, machine washable fabric.
- Lightweight hammock at only 12 ounces, this polyester beast holds up to 200lbs
- Sleeping pad compatible, allowing a more comfortable snoozing experience
- Easy set up and packs down to the size of a football in the attached stuff sack.
- Light-weight and convenient
- Easy to hang
- Straps have to be bought separately
- Thin material
ENO DoublenestENO – Eagles Nest Outfitters DoubleNest Lightweight Camping Hammock, 1 to 2 Person, Red/Charcoal
- HAMMOCK FOR TWO: The DoubleNest is versatile, durable, and compact, making…
- ADVENTURE READY: Weighing only 19 ounces, the DoubleNest stuffs easily into…
- TRUSTWORTHY MATERIAL: Falling is not an option, unless it’s to sleep. Made…
- MASTER THE ART OF LOUNGING: Includes Aluminum Wiregate Carabiners and…
- PLEASE NOTE: ENO attempts to reduce potential waste by using every bit of…
The Eagles Nest Outfitters DoubleNest can safely support up to 400 pounds and is a 2 person camping hammock (or alternatively has a lot of space for one). It’s made of breathable nylon taffeta and folds to be the size of a grapefruit, making it light-weight and portable.
The ENO DoubleNest takes seconds to set up and has multiple uses – it can even be secured to a wall. It gives you the option of laying back flat or on a diagonal for ultimate comfort. It’s 6’2 wide and 9’4 long and weighs just nineteen ounces. Also, it’s very durable and comes in a variety of two-tone colors.
- 112 x 74 inches and a carrying capacity of 400 lbs the ENO Doublenest was designed with two people in mind.
- Tough Carabiner attachments allow you to clip to the anchor of your choice.
- Weighs 20 ounces and packs down to the size of a softball.
- Comes with a 2 year manufacturer warranty
- The only model in our review designed for two people
- Stuff sack is attached and doubles as a pocket
- Suspension straps sold seperately
Best HammockKAMMOK Roo Double Camping Hammock – Sky Blue
- SUPPORTS UP TO 500LBS: This 2 persons double hammock unfolds to…
- LIGHTWEIGHT AND COMPACT: Weighing in at only 23oz (with carabineers…
- DURABLE, VERSATILE, BREATHABLE,
- EASY SET UP: Every Cammock comes with two climbing rated carabineers (22…
- LIFETIME :
The Kammok Roo has dubbed itself “the world’s best camping hammock” and for good reason. It’s made of nylon and a good, sturdy Made in the U.S. product. It’s also the most spacious option yet at 10 feet long and 5’7 feet wide – about the size of a queen size bed.
It boasts a weight limit of 500 pounds and weighs just twenty-three ounces. The Kammok Roo’s fabric is stronger and softer than other parachute materials and, unlike some other models, comes with two suspension slings and two climbing rated carabiners.
Also, it’s an excellent choice for the socially conscious camper – a portion of the purchase price goes toward creating sustainable resources in Kenyan communities.
- Comes with two KangaClaw carabiners and two Dyneema Racer Slings
- Extremely roomy and comfortable
- Lifetime Warranty
- LunarWave diamond ripstop fabric, triple-stitched seams and reinforced stress points.
- Weighs 28 ounces and packs down to the size of a water bottle.
- Extremely roomy and comfortable
- The lifetime warranty
- Extremely durable
- Can fit two and can (almost) sleep two
- May need to ‘channel’ your inner spiderman to get out sometimes, due to high sides
Overnight or Hammock Tents
While you can with some extra kit turn a daytime hammock into a comfortable and safe place to lay your head overnight, there are many purpose built overnight hammocks on the market. These will often have in built features such as bug nets, rain tarps and layering to allow quilts or sleeping pads to be inserted under you.
Grand Trunk Skeeter Beeter ProSaleGrand Trunk Skeeter Beeter Pro Mosquito Hammock – Portable and Packable Camping Hammock with Mosquito Net and Suspension Kit – Olive Green/Khaki
- Grey No-See-Um mosquito netting hangs overhead and away from your face so…
- Just sit in the hammock and zip yourself in with the double-sided zipper
- If the coast is clear and you donʼt need the mosquito netting, just ﬂip…
- Two interior storage pockets keep smaller items organized (like the ones in…
- Triple-stitched reinforcements on the mesh and fabric boost the hammockʼs…
Mosquito problem? Not anymore with the Grand Trunk Skeeter Beater Pro. It’s 100% nylon with triple-stitched reinforcements for ultimate strength and has gray no-see-um mosquito netting that hangs overhead and away from your face to prevent feelings of claustrophobia.
It has a double-sided zipper and plenty of space with it being 4.3 feet wide and 8.6 in length. It’s best for one occupant but can hold up to 400 pounds.
- Camping hammock with mosquito net allowing you to sleep bug-free.
- Features two internal storage pockets for stowing away your valuables while you sleep
- Triple stiched parachute nylon and nautical grade carabiners for extra durability
- Best protection against mosquitoes
- Comes with starter rope, net suspension kit, and nautical-grade carabiners.
- Can be flipped to use without netting
- Storage pockets all but useless
The Warbonnet Blackbird is a hammock with bug net that is 5.25 feet wide and 10 feet long and is perfect for users up to six feet tall. The best part of this model is how much you can customize it to make it your own. You can choose between several types of fabric and with a single or double layer body.
It includes a full-length zipper; its netting can be rolled back, and it has two foot a storage shelf and foot box, perfect for storing shoes, glasses, etc. The Blackbird comes with two suspension or two elastic lines, built-in bug netting, shelf, foot box, and stuff sac. Carabiners are sold separately.
- Integrated footbox that allows you to more easily find a comfortable diagonal sleeping position.
- Dual sided zippered bug net so you can easily get in whilst keeping the bugs out
- Storage shelf for holding your shoes, or other items.
- Strong and durable construction from breathable 30/70D Nylon with DWR finish.
- Integrated mosquito net to help you get a good nights sleep
- Available in XL version for the taller among us (over 6 feet)
- Incredibly comfortable
- Bottom prone to water and abrasion
- One of the more expensive options
Lawson Blue Ridge Camping HammockLawson Hammock Blue Ridge Strap Bundle Tent Hammock Camping, Forest Green Hammock & Strap
- Hybrid ground tent or hammock: can be used as a single or double ground…
- Ideal use: Perfect for all types of camping including car camping,…
- Portable: with a compact pack size of 22 x 6” and pack weight of 4. 25…
- Comfort: Lawson’s patented design uses arch poles and spreader bars to keep…
- Included: Lawson blue Ridge hammock/ ground tent Hybrid, detachable…
This is as luxurious as camping gets! Half hammock and half tent, the Lawson Blue Ridge can be suspended or be slept in like a tent. Though pricey, it’s versatile enough to create a custom sleeping experience by lying flat, so you’re not cocooned. Also, it boasts no-see-um netting and a rain fly to keep you dry and protected from the elements. It’s lightweight and easy to set up so you can enjoy the outdoors with no fuss.
- Made of ripstop nylon and poly pack cloth with a No-See-um bug canopy
- Comes with a waterproof ripstop-nylon rainfly
- O-ring in ceiling for hanging light
- Two interior storage pockets
- Comes with included rainfly tarp and bug net.
- Ring for hanging a camping lantern/headlamp and interal storage pockets
- Significantly heavier than it’s competitors and with a weight limit of only 275 lbs.
- Tree straps not included.
Here are some options for accessories, allowing you to have a more enjoyable camping experience (in any weather).
Don’t get caught in the rain – enjoy the sound of it as it falls on your rain tarp while you stay dry. Look for one that has a rectangular shape to give you ample coverage, has excellent water-shedding capabilities, and can be easily packed away. Rain tarps can also be used to provide shade.
Pesky mosquitoes won’t be an issue anymore. Look for a bug net that is lightweight, compact, and blocks out all bugs. An added bonus? Some mosquito nets can be used for privacy because of their “no-see-um” netting (you can see out, but no one can see in).
Sleeping Bags, Insulators & Underquilts
We’ve already talked about how to keep warm with sleeping pads and under-quilts, but we can’t forget about sleeping bags – the foundation of your camping gear. Be sure to choose a rugged sleeping bag that can stand up to sub-zero temps and keep you warm. If you’re not claustrophobic, a mummy style bag is the best.
Tree straps will secure your hammock and allow you to enjoy your hammock worry-free. Typically made of nylon, most suspension systems have a hook and loop design that’s easy to use and provides strength to hold you. Just be sure to check weight limits before purchase.
Camp Bedding Reviews
If none of the hammocks below don’t fit your particular needs then check out our other reviews on:
- The best camping pillow
- The best foldable cot for camping
- The best lightweight sleeping bag
- The best tent for camping
…or alternatively check our full length reviews on: