Hammocks for Hiking

Hiking with a hammock
Hammock on the Appalachian Trail
Union Web Hammock (c. 1881)
Union Web Hammock (c. 1881) (Photo credit: f2point8)

I’ve never overnighted in a hammock, but some of my hiking friends swear by them. Once you try it, they say you will become a convert. Most often used in fair weather, hammocks are becoming more popular. Hikers using them bring up some good points:

1) You sleep or rest off the ground, which may be soaked, damp, and cold.

2) You are away from creepers and crawlies.

3) Animals will get into tents, not hammocks.

4) A more comfortable and better way to sleep  I emphasize this last point because it’s what I hear most often from hammock lovers. They claim it is a better way to experience deep sleep on any hike.

What about if it rains? Got ya covered. Take a look at this hammock, which sports a tarp and mosquito netting. I like the idea of keeping gnats and mosquitos out, but letting air in, all under a protective rain-fly. Here’s another model designed for tall people. Seems like you will find a hammock for even the fussy among us.

This website, Hammock Forums, surprised me. It is the first and last word on hammocks. One article details how hammocks are used in winter conditions! I won’t be testing one anytime soon, but I’d be interested in hearing from anyone who uses a hammock regularly on an extended hike.

Hiking the A.T.
Hammock in Sunrise on the Appalachian Trail

Published by Ray Anderson

Hiker and writer. Have hiked the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, The Long Trail (Vermont), and some of the Continental Divide Trail. My trail name is "HAMLET." Have written three hiking novels (thrillers). The first one, "THE TRAIL," was traditionally published in 2015. My second hiking thriller, "SIERRA," released Oct 2016. Book three in my AWOL hiking-thriller series, "THE DIVIDE" releases from Turner Publishing 8/18/2020. www.RayKAnderson.com

4 thoughts on “Hammocks for Hiking

  1. I’d be very interested in hearing more about hammocks. I’ve noticed a lot of recent converts who swear that once you go hammock you never go back. My concerns about switching to a hammock are:

    (1) how it feels on the back & the sleeps positions you can do in one. I’m a tosser at night & my back is over 1/2 a century old- it deserves to be treated with care & respect! I recently got a thermarest neoair- I sleep like fine in any position.

    (2) weight- always an issue. My lightest tent is about 3.5 lbs; hammocks- with all the required tarps, netting & insulation aren’t any lighter. Why switch? At this point in my hiking, I’m not looking to increase the weight.

    1. My hammock and rain fly setup is right around two lbs with ropes stakes etc.
      I became a convert half way thru my AT hike last year and was one reason i stayed on the Trail! Never underestimate a good night sleep. I tossed and woke repeatedly in the tent but was able to sleep more soundly off the ground. I was totally able to side sleep and change position without much effort.

      There are other benefits of hammocking too: more campsite options, less chance of getting wet, cooler on hot summer days, more room than a tent. With my two pounds setup i was able to hammock and my brother and his dog were able to sleep under the tarp as well.
      I put together my own setup cause i thought hennesy was over priced, I got the Byers mosquito net hammock and a tarp for right around $100 from Rei.
      I’ve converted two of my good friends to the hammock side and suggest everyone to at least try it! Might not be for everyone but there are so many advantages over tenting it’s worth a go.

      1. Thanx for all that- I also hike with a dog & don’t really want him in the tent. Under the hammock did sound like a better option.

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