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Going to ground?
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Jason Schafer
(jjschafer) - MLife
Going to ground? on 06/15/2012 00:43:37 MDT Print View

So I'm told that "going to ground" is possible with a hammock set-up and I've seen a few pictures of various set-ups (tarp set either a-frame or flying diamond with trekking poles with hammock as ground sheet and bug-netting for bug protection) but was wondering what it's like and had some general questions?

Is it easier with a hammock with integrated bug net or a separate bug net? Is it stable and comfortable?

Is it important to always be prepared to go to ground? I've heard it doesn't happen often..but I'm thinking suspension issue/failure, exposed open area, etc.

what is the easiest, most comfortable, and yet lightweight hammock set-up that can go to ground well?

In general please describe instances when you had to go to ground with your hammock set-up and what it was like.

Any feedback on this topic would be great. Thanks!

Edited by jjschafer on 06/15/2012 13:02:25 MDT.

Brandon Guy
(brucky) - F

Locale: Central Cal
Go to Ground on 06/15/2012 23:42:55 MDT Print View

I can only think of 3 conditions where you would need to go to ground
-Can't find any trees, or are above treeline
-Equipment failure, or inadequate equipment. Somehow break a tree-strap, dog chewed through strap, rip a hole in your hammock, other random situations, trees are too big for your straps
-Crazy weather and you're more comfortable being on the ground.

You can have a setup that is "go to ground" friendly, but it might come at the sacrifice of 'in hammock' comfort, or have a weight penalty. If I expected to go to ground I might have a double layer hammock with a sleeping pad instead of an underquilt and make sure you bring trekking poles for tarp setup.

Your bug protection might be a little awkward, I'll let somebody else answer for that part.

Michelle A
(mauhler31) - F
Bug protection on 06/26/2012 17:43:25 MDT Print View

I'm also new to hammocking, and I'm considering making a HUG (half bug net) that may also work on the ground as well. I haven't made it yet, but I would imagine it would involve attaching the hammock suspension to the tarp poles and then just hanging the net off of the hammock ridgeline. Others have said that they just wear their head nets, but I'm not sure how comfortable that would be.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Going to ground? on 06/26/2012 18:14:47 MDT Print View

I would fear damaging the fabric of my hammock if I slept on it as a ground cloth. The tarp could be rigged easily enough with my trekking poles or sticks and I could get by with a space blanket for a ground cloth and some evergreen boughs or leaf little under that for insulation. I carry an insect head net anyway, so I could suffer through a night.

In a life threatening situation, I would happily sacrifice the equipment. If you survive, buying a new hammock would be a pleasure :)

If you know you will be sleeping on the ground and hammocking on the same trip, all you really need is a ground cloth, a sleeping pad, and whatever level of insect protection you want. A piece of polycryo ground cloth is nothing, and you can rig a hammock with a CCF pad if you must get the lightest combination.

My first thought was "ewwww, sleeping on the *ground*? How gauche!" :)

Brian Camprini
(bcamprini) - MLife

Locale: Southern Appalachians
Re: Going to ground? on 06/26/2012 19:14:05 MDT Print View

Depends where you are. I assume you are hiking mostly in the Eastern US. I just finished a 500 mi AT section followed by a bike tour across VA and only had to go to the ground once (could have avoided it, but the person I was with wanted to camp on a bald). A couple other times it might have been desirable, but I moved on and eventually found trees. And bugs aren't really a concern to me after dark in most mountainous parts of the Eastern US that I hike in. So the only concern for me was ground padding/insulation. A little more than what I carried would have been desirable if I had to do it often, but I got by just fine with a couple of pieces of foam padding (one was the internal padding in my pack and then I used a small cut off section of a z rest that doubled as a sit pad under my hips). With spongy grass underneath, I slept great. I got lucky and didn't need a ground sheet, but next time would probably carry some polycro (which I suppose could double as emergency wind protection underneath me in the hammock or a vapor barrier if things got really cold). I wouldn't use my hammock under me for fear of damaging it, but I was carrying a really lightweight hammock so YMMV. My hex tarp (WB Big Mamajamba) was fine on the ground. I used one trekking pole at one end of the ridgeline, nailed the other end of the ridgeline to the ground and used the other pole nearly collapsed inside the tarp to raise the ceiling. If you plan to go to ground often, it might require more thought, but in the East it's not necessary very often in my experience.

Brandon Guy
(brucky) - F

Locale: Central Cal
Go to Ground on 06/27/2012 00:59:25 MDT Print View

I would agree about not sleeping in my hammock on the ground to avoid damaging it. Because of that, a separate bug net would be nice. Assuming your hammock body is normal ripstop/polyester, it wouldn't provide much wind/water protection. That being said you might want a dedicated bivy, if conditions demand it.

John Almond
(FLRider) - F

Locale: The Southeast
Thought about this... on 06/27/2012 07:58:12 MDT Print View

I've yet to have to do that, after approximately thirty or forty nights spent in the hammock over the last year.

If I had to, I'd lay down my poncho as a groundsheet for the hammock and use the hammock as a bug bivy, with the tarp set up in an A-frame overhead. It should work (I've tested the configuration in my yard, and it felt solid), though I don't think I'll run across a situation that I have to do that in the near-term.

Hope it helps!

Joe L
(heyyou) - MLife

Locale: Cutting brush off of the Arizona Tr
ground hog on 07/01/2012 17:53:21 MDT Print View

When I go to ground, I use the hammock as a pillow by stuffing most of it back into the stuff sack.

As mentioned before, I've hung diagonal from the reinforcing fence posts where two fence lines meet at a corner.

I've also hung across an open gate where the gate was just barbed wire with a few sticks to stiffen it. First I checked for, shall we say, fresh cow tracks aka cow pies. Since none were there, I believe the cows had been moved to better pastures for weeks prior to my visit. I also got up very early to take down my hammock and close the gate. This place was in the sagebrush desert lower than where trees grow.

Jeffrey Windsor
(jeffreywindsor) - F
Going to ground: group dynamics on 07/10/2012 09:30:39 MDT Print View

I was forced to ground last week when I accompanied a group of boy scouts on a 14 mile overnighter trip. The scoutmaster picked the site and my only option at that point was to leave the group or hit the dirt.

There were some trees in the area, but they were very tightly grouped and in very deep brush. I also couldn't find two that were close enough that were of adequate size. My 120 lb son found two trees at the edge, but they swayed dramatically when he got into his hammock--no way it would have held me additional 80 pounds. So he slept in a hammock and I tossed my RidgeRest on the ground and slept under my tarp.

Bugs were a bit of an issue: I needed to apply DEET to my face at one point in the night, and I did not worry about any ground sheet: it was just dirt, pad, then me.

The real concern for me is the pad. If I have only an under quilt (no other sleeping pad), then going to ground is going to be hard and very, very, very cold. If I'm taking both a pad and an underquilt, I'm doubling up "just in case." And that is weight I'd rather not haul around.

If I'm camping solo, then I can avoid the circumstance I was in that forced me to go to ground, but if I'm the only hammocker in a larger group, I'd be unwise to not prepare for it.

j lan
(justaddfuel) - F

Locale: MN
Re: Going to ground: group dynamics on 07/10/2012 11:06:22 MDT Print View

You could bring a lighter weight foam pad like oware's double wide - and use it to supplement your hammock insulation so you could bring a lighter UQ and then fold it over and double up parts in the rare chance that you go to ground.

Jason Schafer
(jjschafer) - MLife
Thanks! on 07/18/2012 22:55:08 MDT Print View

Thanks everyone. These are a lot of great suggestions.

Just went on my first multi-day trip with my hammock set-up. Didn't need to go to ground...on this trip at least.

medicine bow national forest, wyoming

warbonnet edge spinn/grand trunk ul/ diy ix uq & bug net/ whoopie slings/ mason line guidelines

Edited by jjschafer on 07/18/2012 22:58:14 MDT.