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U.L and hammocks?
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Don (Biloxi) Carter
(donjuan70) - F

Locale: Red Neck Riviera
U.L and hammocks? on 06/29/2007 19:32:52 MDT Print View

hello everyone..I have a question,I am pretty new here @ bpl.I have been on whiteblaze for it not such a big thing here to use a hammock as your shelter choice as it is over there.I dont seem to see many here useing a hammock or singing its praises as I am used to constantly it not such a good choice?? thanks

David Stenberg
(dstenberg1) - F

Locale: South
Re: U.L and hammocks? on 06/29/2007 19:49:47 MDT Print View

I think hammocking is a great idea, but it depends on the location of your trip. On the AT there are trees pretty much everywhere, but out west there are less trees in the high mountains. It is my opinion that it takes more to stay warm in a hammock versus ground sleeping. If I were hiking on the AT or in the South hiking in the summer then I would probably be in a hammock. If I were hiking in California or Colorado in higher elevations I would be in a lunar solo, tarptent, bivy/tarp combo, etc. Just my opinion. I too have been over at There are a lot of obsessed hammockers over there. I tried to be one, but it wasn't for me.

For a great comparison between bivy/poncho and hammock for SUL weights look at Carol Crooker's article on BPL.

David White
(davidw) - F

Locale: Midwest
Re: U.L and hammocks? on 06/29/2007 20:07:15 MDT Print View

It depends on your goals and what makes a successful trip for YOU. I've very recently started hammocking (got a HH Hyperlight) and so far I love it. This is the first time that I'm actually sleeping through the night and not waking up all sore.

For me its an age and comfort thing. I swear, once you hit 50 that ground gets SO much harder!!!

I started out traditional backpacking with very heavy loads. In my forties I figured out that that wasn't much fun so I seriously started reducing my weight. Now I'm starting to add some weight back on where I feel that it contributes to an overall more comfortable trip.

Even the lightest hammock (like the Hyperlight) will be heavier than sleeping under a poncho-tarp with a thin pad. And I haven't even tried winter camping in a hammock yet. That's why you won't find tons of discussions about it in these formums (after all, it is called BackpackingLIGHT); but to me and many others the slight extra weight of a hammock system is worth it.

I find that now I spend almost an equal amount of time on these forums as well as on the Hammock Forums

They both provide different insights that contribute to my having a great time in the wilderness. Welcome to BPL!!!

Richard Matthews
(food) - F

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: U.L and hammocks? on 06/30/2007 05:49:46 MDT Print View

A hammock is an excellent choice. I have used a Hennessy Expedition as my primary shelter for 4 years in Colorado.

A bivy and tarp is still the lightest kit, but the hammock is so much more comfortable.

There is a learning curve with hammocks.

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
U.L. and Hammocks on 06/30/2007 12:38:02 MDT Print View

I'm still waffling back and forth between hammock vs. tarptent. For my PCT thru-attempt next year I'm thinking I'll go tarptent in CA, then switch to a hammock near the Oregon border.

The hammock route is not lighter --- some claim you can be weight-neutral, but for my personal kit (to stay warm enough on the PCT), it's about a pound delta, a bit less once I end up dual-using my poncho as hammock tarp. It's also bulkier; my tarptent fits nicely in an outer mesh pocket on my pack, the hammock requires not only sleeping bag or comforter insulation above you, but some sort of insulation below you. Where I live, that requires more bulk.

It seems to be more comfortable for many; for me there are discomforts either way, it's a trade-off in comfort. The tent gives me more overall room inside, and we take for granted the ability to leverage off firm ground to move around, mess with gear, whereas in the hammock every action has a counter-action, and dropped gear rolls underneath you.

The thing that keeps the hammock competitive for me is the combination of true stealth (and ~zero impact) camping, and the ability in my native WA state to hike as long as I want to and then just look for two trees. With a tent, you start to look for camping sites sometime in the late afternoon and ultimately stop sooner than you otherwise might just because you've found a reasonable spot.

I think the real issue with "how light can I get with a hammock" is where you'll be hanging it (how cold it can get), and that's perhaps why there are less northern-based U.L. hammockers.

Brian Lewis

Pamela Wyant
(RiverRunner) - F - M
Weight issue would depend on requirments/conditions on 06/30/2007 15:05:54 MDT Print View

The weight difference would greatly depend upon your requirements for comfort (i.e. how cushy of a sleeping pad do you require for ground sleeping) and what type of weather conditions you are using the shelter for. Some things to consider: If you can use a closed cell foam pad in the hammock such as the gossamer gear evazote pad, the weight penalty for insulation will be less than if you want an underquilt (but it will be bulkier). If you are backpacking in rainy weather, the hammock tarp will give you a lot of head room for lounging or cooking under (move the hammock to one side) and might be lighter than a tent with adequate headroom to sit up and move around, and sleeping in a hammock there is no worry about ground water like there might be with a tarp and bivy. (Obviously the more experienced tarper can normally over come this by site selection.)

Don (Biloxi) Carter
(donjuan70) - F

Locale: Red Neck Riviera
hammocks and going light on 06/30/2007 15:20:28 MDT Print View

Hey thanks everyone for your response's..keep em coming. the reason I ask was I to have been struggling with the thought of going to a regular shelter is a golite hex"modified"and total it's near 4lbs and with my pad at would mack sense to go with a H.H @ 2lbs with a big agnes lost ranger bag@ 3lbs, B.A pad at 27oz.the pad is 2.5 in thick so that should just about solve the cold backside by being attatched to the bag via the sleeve of the bag and useing the bag normaly since the down is all on top it would be almost as a good quilt..tell me if my thinking is correct..I have been caught by water running through my tent for the last time

todd h
(funnymoney) - MLife

Locale: SE
Re: hammocks and going light on 06/30/2007 16:13:45 MDT Print View


Where on the Gulf Coast are you? I hammock & tent camp in the Panhandle.

Your proposed setup should work with only one POTENTIAL caveat: warmth. This is a very subjective topic for each Hanger. How warm/cold you generally sleep, as well as how wide your shoulders are (wider than the pad?), and how much the BA pad will compress under your butt, etc, and what temps you hike in will all determine how truly comfortable you are. Try it out, and keep asking ?s.

As for weight, yes, it will generally weigh more to hang than a tarptent,etc will, but you can still get down to low overall pack weight w/a hammock setup.

FWIW: I use a HH w/ JRB under/over quilts (quilts are easier to use in a hammock than are bags). As has been said, check out

Have fun!

john Tier
(Peter_pan) - M

Locale: Co-Owner Jacks 'R' Better, LLC, VA
Re: U.L. and Hammocks on 07/01/2007 08:35:04 MDT Print View


There are, of course, many ways to handle the insulation issues in a hammock.... Personallty I use quilts but then I co-own the company (disclaimer)... I routinely handle winter temps into the teens with a preparedness for single digits or zero with 13-14 pound base and fully contained within 3000 cuin packs, Three season loads are approx 9-10 pounds and in 2000cu in packs and summers as light as 7 pounds in 2000 cu in packs that are only half full before adding food (summer preparedness is hammocking to approx 35-40 degrees). Gear lists and details are on JRB web site.

Stealth and available sites is a bonus... however, for me it is all about comfort...As to handling gear, look into use of gear hammock/pack covers.... same wght as most pack covers and super convient....

FWIW, last Jan we had about 15 guys hanging about 500 feet below the top of MT Rogers, Highest point in Virginia... temp was 22* with wind gusts to 55 knots... While most were testing evolving gear items , the average base winter load was probably well under 15-18 pounds.

Four season hammocking is an evolving niche in camp style...current momentum is about 3 good years old, although systems like the Speer Pea Pod are a few years longer than that.... It is true that the warmer climates have more converts, I believe it because, summer hammocking got its start in warmer area ( witness the US Military long standing use of the jungle hammock and its numberous clones before the currently available HH, Speer, Eno, Travel pod, etc)and they have the lead in developing 4 season use...

Give it a try.


Richard Matthews
(food) - F

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: hammocks and going light on 07/02/2007 09:01:35 MDT Print View


I think the Big Agnes pad in a Hennessy Hammock is a little unstable, but it could be me being a klutz. The Big Agnes pad works great with an Eagles Nest. The Jacks'R'Better quilts are state of the art for Hennessy Hamocks.

Jason Brinkman
(jbrinkmanboi) - MLife

Locale: Idaho
Re: hammocks and going light on 07/02/2007 10:50:28 MDT Print View

I have no experience with hammocks, but at over 6 pounds for the hammock, bag, and pad, you are still carrying a lot of base weight. My shelter and sleep systems total around 4 pounds (~ 1 lb bivy, 1-1/2 lb bag, 1 lb pad, and 1/2 lb tarp), and they are still heavy compared to others here. The lightest folks here have shelter and sleep systems that total around 2 pounds (1/3 lb tarp, 1/3 lb bivy, 1/3 lb pad, and 1 lb quilt) for summer use.

Running water through your tent seems like a site selection issue, although I'll grant you that in some areas this may be unavoidable. I don't backpack anywhere like that.

If you are really considering an AT double yo-yo, then you will likely want a different sleeping and shelter kit for winter than what you use for the other 3 seasons. Plus there are extensive shelters on the AT that would affect your shelter selection, right?

Also, a lot of the active members here seem to be from the western US (or Japan!). The landscape and climate out here might be part of the reason for fewer hammocks. But I like to hear different perspectives and solutions for different climates, so keep it coming!

Edited by jbrinkmanboi on 07/02/2007 15:37:24 MDT.

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: Re: hammocks and going light on 07/02/2007 13:59:45 MDT Print View

Hi Don,

I've been reviewing Jacks R Better quilts with a Hennessy Hyperlight since early winter. The reviews will be on the site within the next month or so...

Anyway, I used the JRB 4-Season hammock setup almost exclusively all winter. Living in Washington, that meant in cold coastal downpours and also swinging above 10 feet of snow at treeline in the Cascades. I really wanted to see the limits of a 4-season hammock setup. Here's what I learned:

Folks are right- ground sleeping is lighter (especially in winter). In high mountain dead of winter camps, I had a lot of gear. Three quilts, the hammock, wind covers top and bottom, and a Gossamer Gear pad for backup (and I did use it). It was a lot of bulk and weight and was more affected by wind than a tent, so site selection was very important.

Weight aside (and the HH/JRB system is NOT particularly heavy), I have consistently had the most comfortable nights that I've ever had outdoors with this setup. Man, it is amazing! It takes some dialing to get the quilts just right but when you've got it, there is nothing as comfortable as a hammock!

In 3-season use, I use a JRB Nest below and a No Sniveler on top and find it to be a great combo. I don't recommend your Big Agnes bag in a hammock- sliding into a bag in a hammock is a real hassle. A quilt is the way to go. Slide in. Pull your hammock onto you, tuck in the sides, and your're good to go! It's expensive to have to buy a whole system, but I'm convinced that it's the way to go. Your existing bag would certainly work, though.

There is a learning curve with hammocks. Like others have said, you drop something and it's under you. It's not really easy to move around and to keep track of items. However, the cord above your head and the pocket are great ways to keep things organized. I now have a great system and it's not a problem. But it is not as easy as a tent.

Selecting a site is so easy. You can camp anywhere you find a tree. I've pitched on wicked steep slopes and it's been great! I now know to find the lee of an exposed slope- no ridgelines with a hammock- winter winds just strip your warmth. But a hammock opens a whole world of new sites. You've been talking about the AT...well, I'm thinking about my time on the Long Trail and a hammock would mean a HUGE amount of new camping options.

Hey - here's a great article on our site. You'll also find some good reviews of Jacks R Better and Speer Hammock gear.

I recommend Speer's Hammock Camping book- it's a great one. Lots of good info on the JRB site too.

Now, I'm not a 100% hammock convert. There are lots of times I want a tent (above the treeline, with my family, etc.) and you can't beat a poncho/tarp for going SUL. But when I'm soloing and I want the best night's sleep, I'll pick a hammock every time. It's really changed how I approach solo backpacking.

Best of luck!

Edited by bugbomb on 07/02/2007 14:46:38 MDT.

Don (Biloxi) Carter
(donjuan70) - F

Locale: Red Neck Riviera
U.L hammocks on 07/02/2007 14:38:05 MDT Print View

hey guys thanks for feedback..yes I am very aware that my current setup is way heavy.I was just trying to find a way to incorperate the bag and pad together since that seems to be the major complaint..loseing heat and a cold backside. with the HH I am wondering about their underpad set you still need a pad inside as well, or is that pad sufficient for blocking the wind and robbing your warmth..the bag situation is still very much open.I have a DIY quilt but I wouldn't take it past 50.have thought of adding more down and useing it as a under quilt though, then I could just cotinue to use my bag as a top''marmot helium'' opened..thanks

Pamela Wyant
(RiverRunner) - F - M
Re: U.L hammocks on 07/02/2007 15:43:53 MDT Print View

I've used the Hennessy underpad and underquilt. Under 40 F or so, I need more insulation. I have a Jacks-R-Better quilt, and really like it, but have only been able to use it a couple of times so far due to testing a Double Rainbow Tarptent for I was very cozy in temperatures below freezing (high 20's as best I recall) using the underquilt for my sole underinsulation and a Western Mountaineering Ultralite as a quilt on top.

I've also used a RidgeRest Large which I custom cut on the top and bottom at an angle to better fit the hammock body and stayed warm with that alone to the mid 30's or so.

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: U.L hammocks on 07/02/2007 17:39:17 MDT Print View

Hey Don,

I tested the Hennessy SuperShelter pad set up. Not that warm, really. But it's cheap. Maybe in combo with the Gossamer Gear pad it would be better in colder temps...haven't tried that combo yet.

But I agree- it's about a 40 deg setup. Maybe mid-40s for me.


William Kline
(BillyBob58) - F

Locale: SE US
HH SS on 07/02/2007 22:04:04 MDT Print View

I have been able to be adequately warm with the basic HH SuperShelter/space blanket to at least 38* with ease. YMMV, as you see by other people's posts. But it only weighs 13 oz. while adding additional wind and rain protection. Adding the optional torso/kidney pads gets me to the high 20s for a few more ounces. The best thing about the SuperShelter, after you have mastered the learning curve, is the ease of augmenting it with very light weight insulation, some or most of which you might have with you anyway. For example, if you don't already need to sleep in it, placing your jacket or a vest underneath the underpad, in the undercover. Or spare longjohns/socks/dry pack towel on top of the underpad.
Or a trashbag with a spaceblanket crumpled up in it and sealed up with a few inches of trapped air, and placed underneath the underpad. That gives major additional warmth for just a few ounces. There are a lot of ways to skin this cat.

I always carry a Ridgerest ( or something similar ) in case I have to go to ground, as when I am above timberline on some nights in Wyoming's Wind Rivers. Adding this to the basic SS will easily get me into the teens. Preferably inside of a Speer SPE(4oz.), which makes the pad much easier to handle in the hammock, plus allows for side insulation.

Finally, forgetting about the SuperShelter for the moment, one 18-22* night I tested just the SPE with a Ridgerest + 3/4 length Thermarest 1" self-inflater circa 1983! This combo, even without the SS, was extremely warm. And since this is the minimum I carry anyway when tarp/tent camping ( these old bones can't take hard ground without a fairly thick pad!), the weight penalty in my case would be zero. At least as far as underside warmth goes. Now, was it as comfy as without the pads? No! Was it still far more comfortable than those same pads on the ground? You bet!!! And with this approach you are just as set for ground/shelter sleeping as you would have been anyway without a hammock.

I have not tried the underquilts or peapods, but they are obviously an excellent approach, just baseing that on the many fans, most of whom have tried many other approaches before swithching to underquilts. Of course, if you go with a down UQ, it will be one of the more costly approaches, and you still won't have anything for the ground. So if you are going above timberline, consider that.

I repeat, there are a lot of ways to approach this, and there are several approaches that work quite well.

Good luck on finding what works for you!

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
Re: HH SS on 07/03/2007 11:37:16 MDT Print View

"The best thing about the SuperShelter, after you have mastered the learning curve, is the ease of augmenting it with very light weight insulation, some or most of which you might have with you anyway. For example, if you don't already need to sleep in it, placing your jacket or a vest underneath the underpad, in the undercover. Or spare longjohns/socks/dry pack towel on top of the underpad."

This is nice in theory, but in practice if I'm concerned about keeping warm, I'm generally wearing pretty much every stitch of clothing I carry --- makes it easier to get in-and-out of "bed" in cold weather. I'll have maybe a spare pair of underwear and socks to stick in there, which doesn't make much difference. The HH site talks about putting in dry leaves; where I live, if it's likely to be cold out, you don't find a lot of dry leaves or moss or whatever. It's possible, but not typical.

I'm not saying this to knock the overall idea that, yes, you can use various things to augment the underpad as part of the supershelter system. I'm just saying that in practice for me, it doesn't happen.

The space blanket does help, but is a bit of a PITA to put in at night and then take out and fold up in the morning; I'm not fond of the crinkling sound at night, and it can cause condensation.

To my knowledge, torso/kidney pads aren't available via the HH website or anywhere. You could no doubt get some open celled foam from a local outlet and cut your own. The open celled foam wouldn't likely move around (on top of the supplied underpad) due to friction, but just getting it in the right place to begin with --- I think most of us move around some as we sleep, dunno how well a person would stay properly aligned over strategically placed foam pieces.

It could well be that a hammock setup involving a JRB Nest could get (significantly) lighter than what I'm carrying; I'm not sure how, though, I think the JRB nest plus suspension system is something like 22 oz. The HH undercover plus underpad is listed at 13 oz, and I think that's about right --- I add a second underpad for 5.5 oz more, or 18.5 oz. The JRB nest is likelier warmer than the supershelter even with two underpads, but (a) I already own it, and (b) I think what I'm carrying is slightly lighter and (c) it will hopefully be warm enough for where I'm likely to camp.

Going the Spear route doesn't save weight, in fact it loses gound; looking at my notes from last time I checked, a Spear hammock + straps + tarp is 32 oz, peapod is about the same, so that sums to about 4 pounds.

It's tough to do a fair apples-to-apples comparison either between hammock options or between a hammock and a tent --- as everyone is different, we'll make different trade-offs, plus $$$ factors in.
For example, I tried going without a thermarest when tent camping, just using a pad, but after testing I went back to the lightest 3/4 length thermarest. A person who uses just a torso pad and wears a bug headnet under a poncho tarp will find any warm-enough hammock option (in my part of the world) a whole lot heavier.

For my specifics (gear, body chemistry, existing equipment options, geography, etc), the hammock route is about a pound more, and I'm hoping to narrow the gap a little, but ... I think it will always be heavier.

Brian Lewis

Andrew King
(drewboy) - F

Locale: Arizona
HH/JRB combo on 07/03/2007 12:28:30 MDT Print View

Hi Doug. I look forward to seeing your review, as the Hyperlight and JRB quilt combo is exactly what I have, and am planning to use for an upcoming Weminuche trip in July (just ordered my Nest from the Jacks today in fact). May I ask what tarp you were using? Many people say the stock Hennessy tarp does not provide much coverage. Being new to Hammocking, I am still a bit nervous about the gear and how to use it properly. I did upgrade mine by purchasing one of the new Speer 8x10 cat tarps, for better coverage but at a significant weight cost. Also, for 3 season usage did you use the underquilt without a weather shield underneath? Did you find the DWR finish on the underquilt sufficient to protect it in blowing rain conditions? And lastly, any advice on dialing in the quilts for best performance would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Don (Biloxi) Carter
(donjuan70) - F

Locale: Red Neck Riviera
hammock insulation on 07/03/2007 15:53:15 MDT Print View

I have kind of a hypothetical question.I was wondering what kind of temps could comfortabley be attained in a hammock setup of a HH,with SS and JRB old rag as a bottom quilt and useing a no snivler top AND a nest as extra top with a JRB weather shield??? all total it's around 5lb10oz minus hammock so somewhere in the 8lb cold could you go in this system and is that just to heavy?

Richard Matthews
(food) - F

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: hammock insulation on 07/03/2007 16:28:37 MDT Print View

The Hennessy Super Shelter and the JRB Weather Shield are redundant.

I would double layer the Nest & No Sniveller on the bottom with the Weather Shield and use the Old Rag Mountain on top. I believe that would take me down to zero.

I had a Super Shelter at one time and sold it to a guy in a warmer area. It bothered me that the open cell pads looked like sponges. I do not want a sponge for insulation as hypothermia approaches.