Talk to me about hammocks

2:35 a.m. on May 8, 2011 (EDT)
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I have started so many threads here,  I should be an expert in no time. Everyone here is a wealth of knowledge, and I appreciate all of your advice...

That being said, while I was gathering info on shelters, there were a couple of people that mentioned hammocks. I did a bit more research into them, and checked out a few websites, and watched some youtube reviews, and now I am really interested in a hammock camping.

To give you a little background on me, I am 5'6 and 165 last I weighed myself. When I am in my bed, I am a side sleeper, but when I fall asleep on my couch, I have no problem sleeping on my back.

Some things I was wondering from all of you hammock users, what kind of hammock do you have? What do you like about it? What do you not like about it? Is there any particular brand that is better for camping in forested areas?

Thanks in advance for any info you can provide me :)

7:47 a.m. on May 8, 2011 (EDT)
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Welcome to the darkside friend! I am a fairly recent hammock convert myself. I switched over about 7 or 8 months ago. However i still use my tent when my wife comes along.

There are so many different types of hammocks, i recommend visiting hammockforums.net if you havn't already. It really is a wealth of information.

I have and absolutely love a Warbonnet Blackbird 1.7 double , also refered to as a WBBB 1.7. Now while I bought from a cottage manufacturer you don't have to, there are commercially available hammocks such as hennesy or clark's. However I must say that Brandon's craftsmanship at Warbonnet is amazing, the hammock and tarp i purchased from him are made very very well.

When you start reading up more on hammocks you will probably find two main types of hammocks, gathered end hammocks and bridge hammocks. And then entry style, such as side or bottom entry. I personally HATE bottom entry and would only buy a hammock that is side entry.

Some people are in love with bridge hammocks, they use a pole or two and provide a very flat lay. There is a little more setup time involved for bridge hammock. For a gathered end hammock such as the WBBB there is a little sag in the lay, that is very common to most hammocks. However, the WBBB has a 'footbox' area so you lay at a diagnal and therefor have a very flat lay also. Gathered end hammocks have a little more 'fiddle factor' getting the hang angle just right, but once you put your hammock up a few times you can eyeball this with ease.

My setup includes the WBBB, and the Superfly tarp also from Warbonnet. The superfly is technically a 4 season tarp, there are lots of tarp options out there, including the el cheapo blue tarps from walmart. I find the WBBB to be exceptionally comfortable, i sleep like a baby every night i use it. I wish i had begun hammocking many years ago. I like the large superfly with doors because during foul weather i can really batten down the hatches and makes a very good storm shelter. It is also very nice in milder rains , where I will have it typically setup in a porch style with one side of the tarp elevated with my trekking poles. Typically hammock tarps arn't in direct contact with the ground, they are usually several feet off the ground, only the larger tarps such as the superfly etc can be pitched directly to the ground and still have enough room to hang under.

I know i am probably rambling on her, but just want to give you a broad general overview. Using hammocks still require a sleeping pad and bag, or an alternative of a top quilt and under quilt, the underquilt replacing the sleeping pad and the top quilt replacing the sleeping bag.

In theory you will save weight going to a hammock setup from a tent setup, but not always. Hammocks can be set up anywhere there are 2 trees appropiate distances apart, which i must say is a huge advantage. You can set up literally almost anywhere, where as in a tent you have to find semi flat area where you wont have a river flowing through camp if it rains. You can also use a hammock as a chair in camp. Did i mention hammocks are the best sleep you can possibly imagine getting out in the backcountry?

That all being said. Hammocks can be VERY uncomfortable and down right painful to some. This is largely in part to user error in regards to setup. Proper set up is critical to your comfort, this comes second nature once you practice a few times. Try to always hang your hammock so your tree straps are at about a 30 degree angle. I can typically have my hammock set up in about a minute, that includes unpacking time lol. Its as easy as clipping on a biner once you have the hang of it...get it, hang? Seting up the tarp is quick also, but can take a little more time depending on the setup you want, expected weather etc but still is done within a few minutes.

Check in over at hammockforums.net, you wont be dissapointed!

12:38 p.m. on May 8, 2011 (EDT)
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A very good post by TheRambler,

I consider myself to be a longtime, but casual user of camping hammocks, I still use tents for a lot of my camping.

I am learning more and more all the time, but I simply don't possess the technical knowledge a lot of hammock campers have.

I have ordered a WWBB Double 1.0 and did so because so many people have had a lot of great things to say about them.

I have two Hennessey's an older bottom entry, and a newer side entry, I like the side entry much better.

As TheRambler suggests, going to hammockforums.net is time well spent if you really want to learn. Just don't mention the 'T' word, lol.

1:07 a.m. on May 9, 2011 (EDT)
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I am reading on hammock forums, and I have a couple questions about suspension systems, but, I am too intimidated to ask them. Ha. So how does a hammock attach to the tree? Some people talk about tying stuff. Others are talking about straps and carabiners? Very confused. HELP!

6:29 a.m. on May 9, 2011 (EDT)
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It can be as simple or as difficult as you want to make it. None of the choices are really difficult though hehe.

The easiest and probably the most commonly used method uses webbing. The webbing for the WBBB is provided, but many people also use polypro tow straps that they cut the metal pieces off of.

Basically you need about a 12 foot piece of webbing with a sewn loop on one end, the end without the loop gets attached to the hammock which can be done in a number of ways. A cinch style buckle for ease of adjustment is pretty common. And then to attach to the tree you wrap the end with the sewn loop around the tree then clip it back to itself with a carabiner.

You can also use ropes attached to a tree strap/webbing. Tree straps that will be used with rope typically are about 4-6 feet long and have a sewn loop in each end for attaching the rope to. The big difference between using webbing and rope is weight, rope being the lightest but requires more of a working knowledge of knots. Webbing is typically heavier but has less 'fiddle factor'.

Most hammocks come with a stock suspension system already on them. No matter which system you use, none are overly hard. At the worst you have to learn how to tie a couple knots, which thanks to the internet and many animated knot tying guides you can learn to tie any knot in about 30 minutes, or at least i did.

No matter what style you use webbing or rope, just make sure the part that is actually around the tree is webbing. Bare rope will dig into the tree and cause permanent damage and can possibly kill the tree.

I am off to work, hope this answers some of your questions! Feel free to fire at will, will provide any answers/clarity that i can.

1:38 a.m. on May 11, 2011 (EDT)
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Umm...That is about as unclear as before. I guess I will just have to see one to understand :P HA!

6:51 a.m. on May 11, 2011 (EDT)
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Ok I will try again hehe.

There are three main methods really. And many variations thereof.

 

Method 1: Rope, tree hugger/strap, carabiner optional

Method 2: Buckle(descender rings, cam buckle etc), rope, tree hugger, carabiner optional

Method 3: Buckle, webbing, carabiner optional

 

Now I will mention those in a bit further detail to help clarify.

Method 1: You take a length of rope, the length can vary but lets just say 20 feet. Depending on the type of hammock you have the connection to the hammock will be different. You need to use a rope that has a high breaking strength around 2500# or so. I recommend Amsteel Blue.

So you pass the rope through the channel and tie back to itself if you have a channel. If it is a gathered end hammock then you can just make a loop in the end of your rope and larkshead it onto the gathered end.

You then take the loose end of your rope in one hand and use the other to pass your tree strap/hugger around the tree. Then you pass the tree hugger through itself(through sewn loop) then pass the rope through the other sewn loop on the tree hugger and tie a truckers hitch back onto the rope to tension.

TruckersHitch012.jpg

Method 2: Method 2 is very similar to method 1 except you have a buckle/ring attached to the hammock on about two feet of rope or so.

SingleLineSuspension007.jpg

 You tie small loop with your two feet of rope and larkshead it onto your ring or buckle. Then either pass that through your hammock channel and back through itself, or larks head it onto the end of a gathered end hammock.

Then you connect the same way as in method 1, run tree hugger around tree and then use rope to tie a truckers hitch.

Method 3:

This method uses either 2 rings or a buckle system similar to the picture above, but it would have 2 rings or a buckle in plae of the single ring. You would then use 2 inch webbing with a sewn loop in one end. Run webbing through the buckle or rings so that it cinches under tension. Then take the sewn loop end in your hand and pass it around the tree, clip a carabiner onto the sewn loop and then clip the carabiner back onto the webbing running back to the hammock. This is a quick connect method, you can not use a biner and just pass the webbing through the loop and then put it through the buckle. Then you simply adjust the tension/slack by pulling on the loose end of the buckle.

 

Hope that helps some? Will post a few links for you to check out also. Alot of factors depend on which hammock you get, as some already have a ridgeline built in, some don't. Some have end channels some don't. etc etc

This link is the one i borrowed some of these pics from, this shows a connection method that incorporates a ridgeline if you don't already have one. A ridgeline helps you get the correct tension while hanging as well as the correct sag angle.

http://www.hammockforums.net/forum/showthread.php?t=4719

This post shows the trucker hitch method as well as has some good illustrations as well.

http://www.hammockforums.net/forum/showthread.php?t=3762&highlight=trucker%27s+hitch

This post talks about several different method and variations

http://www.hammockforums.net/forum/showthread.php?t=3555

When I was just starting out I found this post and corresponding videos to really help clarify and understand all the parts and pieces. The first couple of videos go over initial setup for the most part, and after the 4th video start going into tarps etc.

http://www.hammockforums.net/forum/showthread.php?t=15516

 

11:52 p.m. on May 14, 2011 (EDT)
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Shug does a good job of entertaining & teaching, and it's free!

1:53 p.m. on May 18, 2011 (EDT)
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ill stick to a tent   never fell out of one

8:02 a.m. on May 20, 2011 (EDT)
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Wow, vote for most helpful post ever right there.

By all means , do stick to a tent, means more trees to hang from for us. If you fell out of a hammock, I wouldn't tell anyone..., seeing as how it's almost impossible to do if you hung it right in the first place.

10:15 a.m. on May 21, 2011 (EDT)
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The first hammock I ever took backpacking was a GI Jungle Hammock I bought for around $40 at the Brainerd Military Surplus store in TN.

That was in '87 and in all this time I have never fallen out of a hammock, the gathered end design makes it almost impossible.

True Story though:

I loaned my Jungle Hammock to a friend of mine after I got my first Hennessey.

We were camping together for the first time in a river gorge in TN, unfortunately he was not as skilled a camper or backpacker as he had led me to believe and was having a great difficulty in getting into the hammock with his sleeping bag positioned as desired.

He had the bug net zipped already and was bouncing around trying to slip the bag under him as it had slid up the bug net as he entered the hammock....somehow.

The next thing I knew he was yelling and cussing. He had somehow flipped the hammock upside down and was now suspended face down a few inches off the ground trapped by the bugnetting.

That has been a source of humor for me ever since, and I'm sure people have found things I've done humorous for them as well.

1:39 a.m. on June 3, 2011 (EDT)
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I will never sleep on the ground again.   Thermarest can take their crummy pads and slick marketing and shove 'em.  haha

My rig is a simple Hammock Bliss Double and I love it.  It's lightweight, packs-down small, and I can lay flat in it.   It's big enough that it basically envelopes me - wraps up and around me, shielding me from insects and light rain.   I throw a Noah's Tarp above it and rain becomes a non-issue.   It's a perfect set-up for quick overnighters or 2-3 day trips to my local favorite spots.    I usually travel with two dogs, so I'll leash them to my two hammock trees (one at my feet, one at my head) when we bed down for the night.   That way they're under cover as well, and they also serve as my early-warning alarm system.   If anyone or any critter approaches, they'll wake up, and just their stirring around underneath me, shaking my two trees, always wakes me up, too.

I've tried the Hennessey Hammock, and on paper it looks like a great idea, but I never fell in love with that bottom-opening slot thing - especially trying to exit the hammock when I have to take a leak in the dark of night.   Plus, being enclosed within that netting makes me slightly claustrophobic, and if I'm to be totally honest here, I've had terrifying visions of doing exactly what trouthunter's halpless pal did in the previous post.    The newer models with the side-openings sound like they've addressed a couple of the issues, but I really don't see any reason to abandon my Bliss Double at this time for something heavier and bulkier.  If anything I might try an ENO Singlenest - I hear good things about them.

KD

1:44 a.m. on June 3, 2011 (EDT)
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Almost forgot.  My brother and I were camping in New Hampshire years ago, using some cheapo nylon hammocks we'd picked-up along the way.   I'd managed to rig mine up where my head was foolishly about six inches higher than my feet.   We had set up in a hurry, after dark, so I really didn't think much about it until I kept waking up all through the night crumpled up in a ball at the "foot" of the hammock.  It was cold, so rather than get out and fix the problem, I'd do some weird "inchworm" move and kick my way back to the "top" of the hammock.   Well, after 3-4 times, I kicked right through that cheapo nylon and that was enough to make the entire thing disintegrate under me.   Hit the ground with an audible thud and I'm sure some kind of vulgar exclamation, waking my brother, who got a bigtime laugh at my expense.  I was so aggravated I just sulked, rolled over, and slept on the ground.     I can empathize with your friend, trouthunter.

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