I am a hammock camper and have around 2,500 miles and well over 120 nights spent suspended between two trees.  I will never sleep in a tent again unless I absolutely must.  In a hammock you stay warmer, drier, and cleaner than you ever could in a tent.  This article is based upon my personal thru hiker perspective but can also be tailored to meet your individual requirements.  It should be noted that a complete hammock set up is more expensive than a tent and is a bit heavier depending on the manufacturer and model.

When choosing a hammock, you can backpack with, I would stay away from the budget models you can usually find in REI.  Instead, use a cottage manufacturer that specializes in hammocks and hammock systems.  The best bet is to go with a 11-foot gathered end hammock that is cut as wide as possible.  You do not sleep like a banana, but instead lay flat on a diagonal.  This ensures you have a flat lay and there are no pressure points pushing against you.  I often hear side sleepers tell me that they could never sleep on their backs, but I am here to tell you that it will be the best night sleep you have ever gotten.  In fact, I am working on outfitting my bedroom to install a hammock to sleep in every night.  Crazy?  Nope, you gotta try it.

With a gathered end hammock, you have two basic options: 1) integrated bug net or 2) no bug net.  I have both.  When bug pressure is low (wintertime) I can get away with no integrated net, but I do have an after-market net I can slide over in a pinch.  I personally prefer an integrated bug net as it is less fuss and can be used year-round.

The next key consideration is what type of suspension you want to use.  This is where the straps connect to your hammock.  There are three main types: 1) buckles, 2) loops or 3) whoopie slings.  The first two are my favorites and the easiest to use.  I have found whoopie slings (they are like a Chinese finger trap) temperamental and challenging when it is cold outside.  For new hammock campers I recommend buckles as they are the easiest to use and can be manipulated even with gloves on.  I personally use a loop system and tie a becket hitch knot because it is less hardware to deal with.

A hammock system has a place in your preps, just as much as a tent (or instead of a tent).  With the right amount of planning and proper site selection you can easily tuck away into the forest and remain unseen.  The next two articles will be about tarps and insulation.

Here is my basic hammock set up.

Dream Hammock Darien in 1.1 fabric

Autumn Ultralight Becket Loops

Autumn Ultralight EVO Loops

Autumn Ultralight Dyneema Straps

Crusoe is retired from the Air Force after 30-years of service as a flight crew member.  He spends most of his time thinking about the apocalypse and how to mitigate its effects.  When not immersed in academic pursuits, he is often on a trail hiking in the mountains of North Georgia or reading with a glass of Irish whiskey and a German Shepherd by his side.   Global travel enthusiast, history nerd, Appalachian Trail thru hiker, and recovering ultra-endurance athlete.  He can be reached at [email protected]