Out of all the gear, you should bring with you when going on a hike, many people struggle with deciding if they should use a tent or a backpacking hammock. If you’re anything like Seth Haber, the founder, and CEO of Trek Light Gear, you probably grew up using a tent.
However, your opinion could change just as Seth’s did when he tried using a backpacking hammock—he even said the switch has changed his life! Talk about an amazing claim, right?
Well, maybe he’s on to something there.
Alan Dixon posted a guest article on AndrewSkurka.com where he talks about his experience making the switch from being a tent user to using an ultralight backpacking hammock. In the article, he talks about the advantages of backpacking with a hammock:
If you’re curious about going camping or hiking overnight and want to use a backpacking hammock instead of a tent, we’re here to help you discover how to choose the best hammocks for backpacking. Here are the things you will want to consider when looking for your very own hammock, as detailed by REI.
Hammocks vary in width, so it is a smart choice to choose hammock that can accommodate you comfortably. Backpacking hammocks tend to range between 4 feet wide to 8.5 (102 inches) wide.
If you are sleeping with a partner, you may want to opt for a wide width hammock; however, if you are sleeping alone, you’ll want to choose a narrow one because if it is too wide, all that extra fabric will cocoon you and could cause you to feel claustrophobic.
The length of the hammock isn’t nearly as diverse as the width. It is recommended that if you are tall, opt for the 8-foot long hammock, but it is all a matter of what you feel comfortable with.
The setup of your hammock will require a suspension system, as well as a set of carabiners. Most of the times these are sold with the hammock, but some manufacturers will sell them separately and call them an accessory.
When choosing the best backpacking hammock to suit your needs, you’ll want to take that into consideration. Do you want to pay extra for necessary products, or are you okay with the extra fee?
Hammocks can be found to accommodate as little as 150 pounds to as much as 500 pounds. When choosing your hammock, you’ll want to consider how much the person or people weigh that will be using it.
While you may be relatively light, maybe your golden lab will want to sleep with you—that’s an extra 50 to 60 pounds that you may not have considered. Make sure you check the specs for static weight.
When you’re going hiking, the weight of the hammock is going to come into play. While it is true that backpacking hammocks are lighter than tents, you may want to choose an ultralight backpacking hammock if you already have a lot of gear to carry.
Keep in mind that the lighter the hammock, the narrower, and shorter it may be. Also, you will want to consider the suspension system in with the total weight. So typically you can expect to have an overall hammock weight between a 1 pound to several pounds.
Depending on the time of year you that you plan on going hiking, you’ll want to choose a hammock that provides you with enough insulation or air flow. Most hammocks are constructed out of a lightweight nylon that is breathable and allows air to circulate.
If you are choosing to go hiking during the colder months, you’ll want to choose a hammock that works with under quilts, top quilts or sleeping pads.
By choosing to sleep in a backpacking hammock on your next hiking trip can be a great way to minimize the amount of weight you have to carry. Not only that, you have the ability to set up your hammock quickly.
That may not seem like a huge deal, but after backpacking for hours, you’ll be more than eager to get off your feet and be comfortable.
A hammock is a perfect tool because it lets you lay back, kick your feet up and relax—without sticks and stones poking you in the back!