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What about truly ultralight hammocks?
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Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
What about truly ultralight hammocks? on 07/25/2011 12:44:41 MDT Print View

After some research on hammocks, the thing that stood out is that they aren't all that light. A complete hammock system has a few more components than a Spartan ground camping system, with the hammock and suspension leading the pack. Tarps tend to be larger than solo ground versions, with many in the 10'x12' size. Bottom insulation can add up, with high loft quilts adding as much or more weight as the hammock itself. Like any gear, there are those offerings that are feature laden and use heavy "bombproof" materials. There is a safety factor to consider, and that influences design and materials I'm sure. If you get freaky light with a tarp shelter you might have a bad night, but go too far with a hammock and you may find yourself dumped on the rocks.

My off the shelf Hennessy was 44oz, including the "complimentary" 42" tree straps that are 3oz/pair. That's not terrible for a double-wall shelter, but an anchor compared to my 11oz SMD Gatewood Cape. The Gatewood has no insect screen, so we can add 8oz for a Serenity Net Tent. The Hennessy uses 2 stakes vs 6 on the Gatewood. My sinfully heavy MSR Groundhog stakes are 0.5oz each. The Gatewood does require a pole, and I normally use a trekking pole, but for apples and apples comparison, lets throw in an SMD pole at 2.4 oz. The Gatewood doubles as rain gear, but I'm going to sidestep that.

So the Hennessy is 45oz and the Gatewood is 24.4oz. I'm assuming that we can use the same quilt or sleeping bag in either. The Gatewood requires a pad of some sort and the Hennessy needs an insulation system of some sort. Hennessy offers the SuperShelter with an under cover and a open cell pad at 16oz. The SuperShelter requires a space blanket so I'll add 2.5oz. For apples and apples comparison, I think a Z-lite pad is fair to use with the Gatewood, adding 15oz. I should note that the SuperShelter is offered for 4 season use, with no temperature guidelines. To be fair, the Gatewood is a 3 season shelter, and also has no temperature rating (including the Z-Lite)

So I have 63.5oz for the Hennessy and 39.4oz for the Gatewood. Of course the Expedition is not the lightest Hennessy offering and the Gatewood should have some differential for multiple use as rain gear. A comparable silylon poncho is about 7oz. And my example with the Gatewood is not the Spartan mode, where I would use a shorter pad, a polycro ground sheet, my trekking pole for support and a head net rather than the Serenity net. Discounting the rain gear weight and going Spartan mode, the SMD is down to 4oz for the rain-gear discounted shelter, 1.5oz for ground sheet, 3oz for stakes, 11oz for a short Prolite pad, and lets say 1.3oz for a head net, for a total of 20.8oz. I could shave a bit more using Ti stakes.

The lightest Hennessy is the Hyperlight at 25oz, plus 3oz for straps, 1oz for stakes and 18.5oz for bottom insulation, for a total of 47.5oz. It does have a 200 pound weight limit. It's not bad when you consider the comfort level, with complete bug protection, bottom insulation, and a sleep surface comfort equal or better than a much heavier pad than the Z-Lite and will never got flat from a puncture.

So what would an ultralight hammock system look like? A Grand Trunk Nano 7 hammock is 7oz. It needs a suspension system, so I'll add whoopie slings at 1.4oz/pair. Long 1" polyester tree straps are 4oz/pair. We have to connect the whoopie slings to the tree straps and toggles are probably the lightest means; I'll be generous at 0.5oz for two arrow shaft sections. I like carbiners myself and two Camp Nano biners are 1.8oz. We need a tarp overhead and I'm conflicted about what size to add to this freaky light system; I'm going to go with the ZPacks Cuben hammock tarp at 5oz. We need 1oz of guy lines and 1.2oz for Ti stakes. I would add a ridge line at 1oz. Insect protection is an option; to get UL, I think you need to go DIY, but I'll throw in Warbonnet's bug net at 7.5oz; you could go with a 1.3oz headnet to be truly freaky light. We're up to 28.6oz so far with the heavier bug net.

And now for my favorite part, bottom insulation. Fact: you aren't going to sleep in a hammock without some sort of insulation when the ambient temperature is below 70F. I don't like this part of hammock marketing; it all seems patched together for the most part. Clark is the one manufacturer that stands out with a well coordinated insulation system, but Clark and ultralight don't match. Hennessy has taken their shot at it with the SuperShelter at 16oz.

If you have an idea of using a standard 20" pad, forget it; it won't have enough side coverage and it feels bad. IMHO, pads used in the hammock completely detract from the best parts of the hammock experience. If you must, there is the Segmented Pad Extender, once made by Speer Hammocks, that was a nylon sleeve that used a 20" pad in the center and 5"x20" pads in side pockets to wrap around you and insulate your shoulders and hips. I have one and I'm not impressed. Some hammock campers use the 24" Walmart blue CCF pads, which I don't like, but YMMV.

So we get to under quilts, with much of the same construction and filler variables you see with sleeping quilts and bags and it's the old choices of synthetic vs. down and how-cold-do-you-want-to-go. Under quilts come in a variety of lengths too, so there are a lot of choices. Suspension systems are typical some sort of fore-and-aft shock cords that support the upped edge of the under quilt and allow some adjustment. I'm going to go with 16oz for a good 3-season down underquilt.

I developed an under cover or weather sheild made of silnylon that doubles as a hoodless poncho. It is 9.7oz with the shock cord and toggle suspension and the stuff sack. I am experimenting with various insulation packages to go inside, always with the knowledge that I can awlays drop $200 or so on an under quilt and be done with it. I have made a 48"x60" insulation pad using an AMK HeatSheet space blanket and 1/2" batt of very pedestrian polyester fill that is 11oz. It mates very well with the poncho under cover and cost $15 to make. Just using a space blanket with the under cover helps in cool 50F-ish weather. I am looking at the Molly Mac Gear Insultex pad, the Hennessy open cell foam pad that comes with the SuperShelter, or making my own Insultex insert for the under cover. If I get brave and dive into sewing, I'll have to try making a synthetic underquilt.

So we have 28.6oz with the "heavy" insect shield. Add the 16oz under quilt and we have 44.6oz for a complete and viable UL hammock system with a 300 pound rating.

Here's the breakdown on my dream system:

Warbonnet 1.7 Traveller hammock with suspension: 16.5oz, $60 (250 pound weight limit)
Warbonnet bug net: 7.5oz, $65
Zpacks Cuben hammock tarp: 5oz, $235
50' 1.5mm Zline, 0.88oz, $12.95
Six Ti stakes, 1.2oz, $15
Te-Wa Freeze 3-season underquilt (20F): 14oz, $189
Total weight: 45.08oz, $576.95

That's under 3 pounds for a large shelter, insect protection, and the eqivelant of a VERY comfortable sleeping pad and good to 20F. It can be lightened a bit using a head net instead of the bug net, or using a DIY bug sock. The cost can be reduced by using a silnylon tarp and/or DIY insulation, or a 24" Wally World blue foam pad if you can stand it.

Timo Anttalainen

Locale: Finland, Espoo
SUL hammock on 07/25/2011 12:53:11 MDT Print View


True SUL hammock. DIY hammock and many space blankets. I ask my friend to tell more about it (later).

All space blanket hammock photos

te - wa
(mikeinfhaz) - F

Locale: Phoenix
Re: What about truly ultralight hammocks? on 07/25/2011 14:02:08 MDT Print View

"I don't like this part of hammock marketing; it all seems patched together for the most part".

the HH (my opinion and shared by many) system is designed to be "all inclusive" yet it doesnt actually work too well for most situations. the clark is even worse at designing an answer to insulation issues. fill some pockets with "extra" stuff? so im carrying around enough spare clothing and junk to fill these pockets, it surely doesnt lend itself to a light pack!

your dream system looks great. just for mentioning my quilt on a public forum, you are entitled to a free ounce of down, on the house. remind me of this fact when you place your order.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: What about truly ultralight hammocks? on 07/25/2011 14:21:22 MDT Print View

"just for mentioning my quilt on a public forum, you are entitled to a free ounce of down, on the house. remind me of this fact when you place your order."

So how many times for a free quilt? {GRIN}

"the HH (my opinion and shared by many) system is designed to be "all inclusive" yet it doesnt actually work too well for most situations. the clark is even worse at designing an answer to insulation issues. fill some pockets with "extra" stuff? so im carrying around enough spare clothing and junk to fill these pockets, it surely doesnt lend itself to a light pack!"

I think the HH SuperShelter is an attempt to make the hammock usable at moderate temperatures. Talking about the Clark, I think it is a better integration of parts, particularly the end insulation covers that Velcro in place. Clark says that their pocket system will work to 32F with no other insulation, just the empty pockets creating dead air space-- I'm suspect. I wonder what mylar balloons would do? Or the Flex Air UL inflatable pillows? Some people have made their own pads to supplement the Clark system. It certainly isn't light, but the rest of the Clark system isn't either. It can be adapted using UL materials and principles.

I could see a light under cover a la Clark, with pillow pockets. It wouldn't need much strength, just some wind resistance and DWR, so it could be very light stuff. In the best UL tradition the pockets could be stuffed with spare clothing and gear, or down or polyfil. I am finding very good results using space blankets between the hammock and an under cover for moderate temperatures.

I made a space blanket and polyfill pad that worked too. Light nylon and polyfill sandwiches have their merit when used with an under cover and would be much more durable and compressible than the space blanket approach. They can certainly be used along with a space blanket as reflector and vapor battier and very simple to construct. I see that Seattle Fabrics offers pre-quilted polyester bats with taffeta sewn to one side (see It would be so quick to put two layers together for an insulated pad, or with a little more design, a more usual under quilt. I am very interested in seeing how Insultex performs.

You can make an under cover by just end gathering and whipping the ends of a long piece of cloth and tying that under your hammock. I tried it with spinnaker cloth and it worked just fine. A cheap lightweight hammock can be re-purposed the same way, placing the suspension with shock cord and toggles.

Edited by dwambaugh on 07/25/2011 15:18:40 MDT.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Finnish SUL hammock on 07/25/2011 14:38:15 MDT Print View

Interesting! A little Insultex in that mix would help, wrapped with a breathable nylon sheet or a cocoon. I could see using the space blankets like that in an emergency, but it seems it would get wet and cold. I guess the first layer is more vapor barrier and the multiple layers act as insulation? I've played around with multiple layers of space blanket for under quilts. I think it has some merit at moderate temperatures.

I thought about using an AMK SOL Emergency Bivy as a vapor barrier for a hammock (see

BER ---
(BER) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
UL hammock on 07/25/2011 15:48:42 MDT Print View

Here's a good jumping off point for contemplating the ultralight hammock set:

spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
Lighter Henesseys on 07/25/2011 16:25:22 MDT Print View

The adventure racer models and possibly the Scout are lighter than the Hyperlite. I got an Extreme Racer Lite (I think that's the model--it's the middle weight of three adventure racing models that I know of) from the BPL take-as-is sale. I believe it weighs 18 or 19 oz? And that's with bugnet, not sure about fly. It's stuffed into snakeskins right now (would like to make a cuben version of those) or I'd toss it on the scale.

John Harper
(johnnyh88) - MLife

Locale: The SouthWest
UL Hammock on 07/25/2011 17:15:33 MDT Print View

I'm pretty new to hammocking, but here's my current setup (now less bulky and a couple ounces lighter thanks to a post by Te-Wa on HammockForums recently):

Warbonnet Traveler Single 1.1
Dynaglide whoopies (trimmed a little)
Pair of 5 1/2 ft amsteel tree straps (put sticks in between amsteel and tree to protect bark)
Wood toggles (tiny - 1.5 grams for the pair)
Total: about 8 oz exactly in a mesh stuff sack

I use a headnet for bug protection (1.1 oz). If I'm not taking my dog along or good weather is expected, I'll use a GoLite poncho tarp in an asym-pitch (about 11 oz with 6 guylines, 4 stakes, and 2 mini biners).

For under insulation, I've been comfortable down to 60 F just sleeping on my Nanopuff jacket. That's the lowest I've gone so far, but I just purchased a 3/4 Baby Orca IX UQ from I haven't received it yet, but it supposedly weighs 8.5 oz and is good down to 40 for most users, 30 for some. We'll see how it works out but I have high hopes.

Anyway, my setup is good for users 200 lbs and under and for temps about 35 or higher. So hammock + suspension + bug net + weather protection + bottom insulation = 28.6 oz. I could drop 1.5 oz by going with the Grand Trunk Nano 7.

I think the spartan 20.8 oz for the Gatewood Cape is a little low (it assumes the Gatewood Cape weighs 4 oz instead of 11 oz). Your total should be 27.8 oz. You could go more spartan though - GG pads at 6 oz and skip ground sheet, bringing you down to 21.3 oz.

It's certainly possible to go UL or even SUL with a hammock. I've read of people doing it before. I think the main difference is I would never voluntarily spend a night on my GG foam pads at home, but I've spent the last few nights in my hammock!

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: UL Hammock on 07/25/2011 20:45:22 MDT Print View

Good for you on the asym pitch with the poncho-- that didn't occur to me. Is it enough with wind and rain? Why 6 guylines and 4 stakes?

BTW, I reduced the effective weight of the Gatewood to 4oz--- 11oz, minus what a silylon poncho weighs, ~7oz. It's all academic anyway.There's no way I would go out without rain gear, nor shelter. I wouldn't go without a ground sheet either-- not in the Cascades.

John Harper
(johnnyh88) - MLife

Locale: The SouthWest
Re: Re: UL Hammock on 07/25/2011 21:40:55 MDT Print View

With the poncho tarp, I don't use a ridgeline, so 2 guylines are used to tie off to trees. The other 4 guylines are used to stake to the ground - 2 on the corners like a normal asymmetric pitch and then 2 more guylines attached to the tie outs on the long side of the poncho.

I find that tying out the poncho on the sides gives a much tighter pitch and way more coverage. If you hang the hammock close to the tarp, you can stay pretty well protected. Plus with poncho tarps, I always bring some lightweight emergency poncho, so I think you could hang that at one end of the hammock and your pack at the other end to help with wind blown rain.

Originally, I planned to use my poncho tarp in conjunction with a WB asym-diamond tarp. I thought that by pitching the two together in opposite assymetric styles would provide great coverage for minimal weight. And it would have provided enough protection for me, just not for my pup who sleeps under/beside my hammock (thus my ordering of a Mamajamba tarp).

I'm still trying to think of a way I could incorporate my poncho tarp into my shelter because it just feels silly to not use it when I'm already carrying it. If I could sew, I'd love to make a tarp that covers one side of my hammock, wraps over my ridgeline, and then continues down for about 8 inches or a foot where it overlaps or somehow connects to my poncho tarp (which is pitched to cover to the other half of my hammock). That way I could have my huge tarp, but half its weight would be my raingear! I've CAD'd this idea up in a drafting program, but I'm running Linux right now and can't open the files. I can post pictures later if any one is interested.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Hammocks and ponchos on 07/25/2011 23:04:01 MDT Print View

You can use a poncho for a weather shield on your hammock, adding wind and rain protection and a "free" ~10F boost.

Combination poncho and under cover

The photo shows a Hennessy Expedition sans tarp with a 104"x60" silnylon poncho covering the bottom. It has shock cords in all the edge hem/channels. You can see the orange side of the space blankets through the translucent fabric-- I was experimenting with them as insulation.

Dale South
(dsouth) - M

Locale: Southeast
Re: UL Hammock on 07/26/2011 08:24:14 MDT Print View

I noticed the HH Adventure Racer (no longer made), the Nano-7 and the Traveler mentioned in posts above. I have an Adventure Racer that has been modified with whoopie slings and a full length side zipper. It weighs 10.7 oz. My tree hugger straps which I use with all my hammocks weigh 2.3 oz. My Nano-7 with whoopie slings weighs 6.2 oz and my Traveler with whoopie slings weighs 7.3 oz. I use a 10x8.5 cuben tarp that with guy lines weighs 8.2 oz. I have a removable bug net for the Nano-7 and the Traveler that weighs 2.7 oz. Any combination above brings me to around 16-18 oz. Depending on the season I have different insulation. My lightest is and IX under quilt at 8.5 oz a Leighlo summer underquilt at 9 oz. I spent the night on Roan Mountain this January with a low of 1.8ยบ in the Traveler with the IX UQ and a JRB No Sniveler UQ (21 oz). I had a Warbonnet Black Mamba TQ. I had my cuben tarp pitched in tent mode and slept toasty but I was cold during the day. My clothing system was not nearly as effective as my sleeping system.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: UL Hammock on 07/26/2011 08:53:06 MDT Print View

Nice hammocks!

How do you like the IX underquilt? I have an insert on order to use with my poncho under cover. IX looks like a good UL summer option.

I did some experimenting yesterday and found surprising results using two space blankets, with one flat on the undercover and another on top, crumpled and rolled into the bottom blanket down the side. I'm going to try similar combinations with a convoluted 5/8" CCF pad and the IX insert.

I have to learn to sew and build some insulation systems and my own hammocks.

John Harper
(johnnyh88) - MLife

Locale: The SouthWest
Re: Re: Re: UL Hammock on 07/26/2011 08:55:35 MDT Print View

Using the poncho as a weather shield is a pretty interesting idea. I might have to see what I can rig up. How important would you say the shock cord on the long sides of the poncho is?

Sounds like you have some pretty cool setups, dsouth. Is your bug net the one from Papa Smurf? How do you like your IX UQ? Did you put it on the outside or the inside when using it with the JRB No Sniveller UQ?

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: poncho as under cover on 07/26/2011 09:34:52 MDT Print View

I think the side shock cord is important. It helps shape the cover and make a much more effective seal. With a simple non-asym hammock, it can come over the top edge, making an excellent wind shield.

Was planning on using a Integral Designs or GoLite poncho, but I had the good fortune to work with a fellow who makes ponchos and wanted some items I had in trade. That allowed getting custom design.

My poncho is 59"x104" and has a slit for the head opening, like the MLD ponchos. Instead of a hood, it has a 3" collar with a drawstring at the top, much like the BMW ponchos once offered at BPL. I wear a Tilley hat and you don't need a 100% seal as an under cover (it is upside down!) so I saved the weight and hassle of a hood. The shock cord channel/hems end in diagonals, so the hems don't cross each other. I used 1/8" shock cord across the ends and 3/32" down the sides. All four corners have mini-toggles. There is one mitten hook on each end shock cord, so the end can be gathered like a hammock and the mitten hook completes the suspension. The end shock cord is simply looped though the hammock end of the suspension. The side cords can be micro-adjusted for the hammock and whatever mix of insulation I have below. All the extra hardware adds 2.7oz. I made a belt of light cord, with a fixed loop on one end and a mitten hook on a taut line hitch on the other for an adjustable belt. That hangs on the stuff sack drawstring for storage. The poncho can still be used for a solo shelter with some care to seal the head opening/collar

I've tested the system overnight several times and had only minimal condensation using a space blanket alone, with a foam pad, or a space blanket/polyfill sandwich--- nothing more than a light film of moisture and all under the hammock, so my clothing and sleeping bag were not damp. I'll hazard to guess you get a 10F bump with the cover alone and more if there is cold wind. The small Hennessy asym tarp can be pitched low and give decent protection. With a larger tarp and the under cover, it could get pretty nasty and stay dry. With all the shock cords, you can dial in the amount of ventilation you want.

Dale South
(dsouth) - M

Locale: Southeast
Re: Re: Re: UL Hammock on 07/26/2011 09:39:04 MDT Print View

The IX UQ I have is a two layer with what is called a torso heater (pleated insert). It was one of the original designs by MacEntyre over at hammock forums. It is sized the same as the HH Super Shelter pad and it is not covered hence the low weight. I used it exclusively with my Adventure Racer last August on my Katahdin to Monson hike. It performed perfectly. We had a couple of nights into the 40's and I never got cold. I used the IX between the JRB and the hammock on Roan Mountain. The bug net that I have was made for me by a dear friend using the HUG design by dejoha on hammock forums (

Edited by dsouth on 07/26/2011 09:41:30 MDT.

Michael Oppegaard
(mike_o) - F

Locale: Coastal NC
light on 07/26/2011 14:01:57 MDT Print View

I tend to agree with you Dale, I think that I am paying about a 20 oz penalty for having a hammock.

744- BlackBird 1.1 Double
314- LeighLo 2/3 UQ
409- MLD Top Quilt
383- Zpaks Z Dreamer

That gives me a total of 1850 grams or 66oz or 4.12lbs. Yes it could be lighter but overall I think that is pretty good for everything, shelter and sleeping. In the end I have decided that sleeping in a hammock and having a huge tarp that I can cook under or hang out if its storming is worth the extra 20oz.

Kevin Babione
(KBabione) - MLife

Locale: Pennsylvania
Ultralight Hammock Setup on 07/26/2011 21:25:53 MDT Print View

I've really enjoyed this thread because my evolution to hammocking went as follows:

1 - Tent, inflatable Thermarest, sleeping bag
2 - 8x10 tarp, Polycro groundsheet, Z-Rest, sleeping bag
3 - Gatewood Cape, Polycro groundsheet, GG Nightlite, GG Thinlight, BPL UL60 Quilt
4 - Speer hammock, Speer tarp, Speer straps, Z-Rest, UL60 Quilt
5 - Grand Trunk Nano-7 Hammock, Lawson Equipment HexaLite Cuben Hex Tarp, Whoopie Slings, Te-Wa Summer Breeze UQ, UL60 Quilt

I hit my lowest pack weight with option #3 - 932 grams (33 ounces) with the added benefit of not needing other raingear.

When I went to try hammocking my weight for these items almost doubled - growing to 1,767 grams (62 ounces). That was tough to swallow.

Now, for hiking in Pennsylvania from mid-April through October, I use #5. The total weight? 1,274 grams (45 ounces). I'm quite comfortable in the Nano-7 and I'm a big guy (6 foot, 270 pounds).

One side note - I do pick my hammock sites carefully. I was the "Test Subject" who was sleeping in Lawson's Cuben hammock when it failed. I was just about a foot above soft turf when that happened and the memory of it has stuck with me since.

te - wa
(mikeinfhaz) - F

Locale: Phoenix
Re: Ultralight Hammock Setup on 07/26/2011 21:39:06 MDT Print View

45 oz is good stuff!
i have the benefit of being a lightweight @ 145 lbs - i can get away with a 1.1 traveler.

wb 1.1 traveler, whoopies, 3" alum. toggles, stuff sack: 9.1oz
wbbb 1.0, whoopies, toggles, stuff sack: 16.0
te-wa breeze, 10.3oz
tq, 35~ degree, 12.6oz

netless setup is 31.6 + a 1oz sea to summit headnet
netted bk.bird is 38.9oz
cuben zpacks tarp adds 9.1 for either setup.
41.7 and 48 oz, respectively. to be totally fair, i use a leg pad in the 3oz range. but.. i usually include that in my PACK weight, not in shelter weight.

Kevin, i'd bet the differences in our UL weight is the tree straps, i am using amsteel with bowlines for tree straps. like mentioned, a few sticks inserted protects softer trees.

Edited by mikeinfhaz on 07/26/2011 21:45:56 MDT.

Bryce F.
(bster13) - MLife

Locale: Norwalk, CT
Another thread I found on 07/26/2011 22:08:45 MDT Print View