9:27 p.m. on June 13, 2004 (EDT)

a.k.a. sc


Does anyone have significant experience with Hammocks? Here in the East, I've just about had my fill of high-condensation mornings with my ultralight single-walled tent...Last time out, an all-night rainstorm really hit home - when the raindrops hit the outside of the shelter, the inside condensation splattered on me (and my gear). Light, yes. But practical for the AT? Not so sure....

So I'm looking at hammocks. There's some material on them out there, all pretty much positive. Any experience here?

I'd appreciate any input on this.

Thanks in advance.


6:00 a.m. on June 14, 2004 (EDT)
28 reviewer rep
1,261 forum posts
using a Zeus by chance?

I was thinking about buying one of those until my buddy got one.

It has never really been great in wet camping trips. Last time out he had to put a rainfly above him inside his tent. The rain was coming thru the material in a fine mist soaking everything.

I bought a Eureka Timberlte 2 that I am very happy with.

I carry a mini-hammock with me on every trip, but never had a desire to sleep in it. I have to have some place to store my gear out of the weather.

6:21 a.m. on June 14, 2004 (EDT)

a.k.a. sc
Re: using a Zeus by chance?

Actually, I was thinking about the Hennessy line of hammocks. I have a couple of double-walled tents - Coleman Inyo and an REI -for more severe (colder) weather, but I'm (still) looking for that Holy Grail of lightness and functionality for warm-weather trips. The siltent is great for dry weather, but I get wet inside during rain - and rain is often pretty much the standard in my area.

You're right about the Timberlite - it's a great tent and a classic - right up there with the Kelty Yukon external.

Thanks for the reply. Anyone else own a hammock setup?

7:47 a.m. on June 14, 2004 (EDT)

Re: using a Zeus by chance?

I bought a hennessy last year and I love it. They are big. (I'm 6'4" and ~240lbs. and mine is wide enough to still get into a comfortable position.) They are light. They are extrememly well ventilated. However, I came to the conclusion that my hennessy will always be a summer-only shelter. I've tried a lot of things (putting a sleeping pad inside, using an automotive sunshade with the mylar relective backing.) Even so, if you camp in the south a lot, I would recommend it.

11:14 a.m. on June 14, 2004 (EDT)
4,404 reviewer rep
6,005 forum posts
ummmmh, yeah

Actually, I have been sleeping in hammocks from time to time a good part of my life. When I was very young, we lived in Central America for a while (my father spent some time with the diplomatic corps), and hammocks were a standard sleeping arrangement during warmer weather (so you think Florida is hot and muggy, Ed?). After we moved back to the States, we brought hammocks with us and used to sleep in them during the summer months in Arizona (hot, but at least single digit humidity). One summer, when I worked as a counselor at a scout camp (after we had moved to Calif), I used a hammock most of the summer. That led to a couple of amusing incidents. I took an army surplus hammock that the camp had acquired through one of the usual myriad donations on a backpack, one of the kind that is basically a hanging tent with mosquito netting sides and waterproof roof. It was standard for one of the staff to go along with a troop doing a short backpack sometime during their week in camp. I hung the hammock between two very nicely spaced ponderosas. During the middle of the night, I was awakened by something bumping me up from underneath. I figured this was some of the scouts playing their usual pranks and peered out to see who it was. Instead of scouts, I saw a couple of bucks (one 4 pt one 6 pt) on one side of me and a harem of does and fawns on the other side. Apparently I had strung the hammock across a deer trail and the bucks had gone under me while leading the small herd - lucky they knew how to go under things without getting their antlers snagged.

I have also used a hammock a few times on climbs, before portaledges were in common use.

Anyway, several things you ought to consider. In a hammock, the air circulates all around you. This is great in warm weather, but you lose heat very rapidly in cool weather. If you are out in cool weather, you need to put a lot of non-compressible insulation under you in the hammock. Also, most hammocks hang in a curve. If you have back problems, this will aggravate them. You can partly alleviate this by hanging the two ends unevenly and sleeping with your head toward the high end in a sort of sitting position. If it rains (or worse, snows - been there, done that, had to shake the piled up snow off)), keep in mind that you need wet-shedding surface all around (wind will blow the rain up under you), and water has a tendency to collect on the suspension and run down to where you are sleeping. You can put a tarp over you as a roof (I think Ed has done this), but it doesn't solve the blowing rain/snow problem. Beware, if you do wrap a waterproof tarp around you, that waterproof also equals breathe-proof. Be sure you vent enough to breathe.

The biggest problem, though, is you need two attachment points spaced within a fairly small range of acceptable distances to hang the thing. It doesn't work above timberline or in a lot of desert locations. Your beach needs palm trees close to the waterline ;>D.

As for brands, the cheap, mesh, stuff in a fist-sized ball hammocks work just fine as hot-weather hammocks. The current ones of synthetic work just fine, although the ones I grew up with were woven from plant fibers. The one I used for a lot of climbing was made from rip-stop nylon and tubular sling. No need to get one of the fancy expensive ones.

5:58 a.m. on June 15, 2004 (EDT)
28 reviewer rep
1,261 forum posts
Hey Brancher.....

I just got a new Sierra Designs catalog yesterday. They have a hammock on sale you may want to check out. It's a "jungle style" with rain fly for about $60.

9:58 p.m. on June 15, 2004 (EDT)
4,404 reviewer rep
6,005 forum posts
Consumer Reports

By a remarkable coincidence, Consumer Reports magazine arrived today with a review of hammocks. I suspect, though, that the one in the picture with the cuddly couple won't work for your uses. The frame does not look like it would pack well.

They do make some comments on what to look for that might just have a tiny applicability to backpacking hammocks.

I realized after re-reading my post that you might have taken my comments as being opposed to hammocks. Quite the contrary. I love hammocks for many situations. A hammock is more comfortable than any Thermarest or foam pad. You don't have to worry about rocks and twigs in your back. They are much more compact than foam pads (no, the camping ones, not the ones pictured in CR).

Just remember they have a few limitations. They are best for warm weather. And certain activities should not be tried standing up in one.

Just be sure to hang it high enough to clear the hogs that wander through during the night.

1:43 p.m. on June 16, 2004 (EDT)

a.k.a. sc
Re: Hey Brancher.....

Thanks! I'll check it out.

Thanks again, Ed


I just got a new Sierra Designs catalog yesterday. They have a hammock on sale you may want to check out. It's a "jungle style" with rain fly for about $60.

2:02 p.m. on June 16, 2004 (EDT)

a.k.a. sc
Re: Consumer Reports

No, Actually, I like reading your posts. They are full of good advice and good antecdotal info as well.

In my case, you may recall that I embarked on a "lightening up" quest about a year ago. Dissed my Mountainsmith Frostfire for a more modular and much lighter Kelty Satori, swapped stove and cookware for a Trangia, evaluated my stuff for dual-purposes, slimmed down on all the extra junk, and made myself a silnylon tarp.

But I still liked that 'cave' feeling - attained in a tent. So I finally picked up an ultralight, silnylon single wall tent - wasn't a really smart decision in the wet, humid, subtropics of Western NC in the summer, don't you think? The pack is down under 30 lbs now, including 2 liters of H2O and food for 3-4 days, but at what cost?

Anyway, last time out - over in West Virginia (hard rain of course), I finally got fed up with the condensation. So while the tent is okay for drier environmnets, I thought I'd get some input on the hammocks for summer and late spring / early fall activities. I still have my 2 dble-walled tents for cold weather, but I think this hammock arangement may just work around here for me for warm weather.

BTW, the swapping out of gear doesn't really take that much money if you watch for good deals......

Thanks again for the words.


4:57 p.m. on June 21, 2004 (EDT)

check out the hennessey hammock. you get in from the bottom & your weight closes the velcro door shut. there's mosquito netting at both side of the top & an attachable rainfly in case the weather changes. the only problem that has come up so far is finding 2 trees at the right distance apart. i've even used it against one tree by tying the door side of the hammock to the tree & staking the other side. really good design overall. the other problem is angling the rain tarp when the wind changes direction. also, bugs tend to settle between the hammock & the tarp since they are attracted to your CO2. they can't get in the netting, but they love gathering around licking their chops at the tasty body below.


at 1 lb 15 oz it make a great alternative to tents or bivys. don't have to worry about water build up around your tent in the rain & insects are less of a bother.

i keep mine in my truck. it's great place to take a nap or just relax even if you're not camping.

3:01 p.m. on August 24, 2004 (EDT)

There are a couple of good sites to learn about hammock camping. Check these two:

www.whiteblaze.net look in forums for hammock camping


After that check out www.jacksrbetter.com to find out how to do hammocks in luxury in all three if not four seasons.

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