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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. jumpngeorge

    I’m an experienced hammock camper and I find that it is much easier to find two trees the right distance apart than it is to find flat ground. You can’t really leave your sleeping pad at home. the hammock will compress your sleeping bag under you and you will get cold. I’ve found that using a Big Agnes “system” bag with the sleeve for the pad is perfect for hammock camping. Using this system, the pad stays under you and it provides all the insulation you need.

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  2. 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.

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  3. 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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