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Backpacker Magazine

Ultralight Hammocks

They look nice, but do hammocks really work?


Dear Kristin, I want to start going ultralight. I’ve looked at tarps and bivy sacks but what do you think about hammocks? They look nice, but do they really work?

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The thing about hammocks is that you have to find trees that will cooperate. In other words they have to be the correct distance apart (approximately 10-25 feet depending on the model) and strong enough to support you. In reality, I find this a bit tough. Tougher, that is, than finding a relatively flat piece of ground to pitch a tent on. But if you typically hike in forests that offer plenty of hammock-friendly trees, hammocks can be wicked comfortable. And they eliminate the need to carry a sleeping pad.


  1. lilricky

    I really think Backpacker magazine’s gear department really needs to hang out at alot more. A good hammock/tarp setup can be ultralight and even be used as a bivy when you cant find trees(not usually a problem). Also, I wish they would get rid of that video at, that Shannon guy in the video knew nothing about how to use a hammock suspension.

    Avatar of lilricky
  2. Swampfox

    Reduced weight is not a reason to go to a hammock. Comfort is. You can certainly find a bivy that will weigh less that a hammock, pad, tarp combo. I don’t believe you can match a hammock for comfort though. With the right equipment, you can sleep warm in temps well below freezing. Go to to get all the info you’ll ever need.

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