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March 06, 2021 7 min read

Camping, hiking and backpacking have seen a dramatic increase in popularity. That means hundreds of thousands of people are picking up gear to enjoy the great outdoors. A portion of these people are getting into backpacking. A lot of people are spending a day or several outdoors with a backpack to carry everything they need. It can be overwhelming and a little intimidating to start backpacking. You can spend a lot of money on.clothes, shoes, backpacks, sleeping bags, tents, hammocks and dozens of other specialty items to choose and spend money on for your trek. 


This information is for the people who are stepping into the hammock space. If you like what I say then leave a comment. If you disagree, leave a comment too. Maybe you’ve camped in a tent or maybe you just need to relax in your backyard? We advocate that the best way to spend the night outdoors is by sleeping in a hammock.  It might seem like a simple decision but you will soon find there are lots of things to consider and many choices when buying a hammock.


What makes a good hammock? 


The right price for the multiple features you absolutely want while spending a night under the stars. 


A good hammock is the right length at the right weight made with comfortable material with the features you want. It’s that simple. 

When it comes to selecting great gear you will always be considering cost, durability and weight. The more you backpack or camp overnight the more you will realize some things are worth the extra money. 

There are five factors to consider when choosing a hammock.

  • Price
  • Quality construction
  • Material
  • Weight
  • Size 

Why are hammocks so expensive?

  • Price is usually the most important factor for most people. Whether you are a newbie or a long time hammocker you will have very different expectations. Some hammock set ups can cost $35 or run well over $400 plus. Either way, you will likely get what you pay for considering the other factors below. 
  • Quality construction usually means triple seam stitching with quality material. The stitching along the side of the hammock and near the top and bottom where it connects to the carabiner (metal hook that automatically closes) is the most important. This is what keeps it from coming apart in the air. For the most part you will find triple sticking. You should also consider the seams and how fast they fray. 
  • Material matters because it's the entire product. The sewing and construction is often only as good as the material. This is where it can be very complicated. Most camping hammocks are made from some form of polyester nylon or plastic based material. 
  • Weight is a factor. For most hammocks the material is generally lightweight. It’s just how lightweight you want to be. All the material comes with a number grade which generally means the weight of the Denier (or my layman term) thread size. There are about 3 different grades of nylon.

  

Type 

210T Nylon: 

20D

70D

Hammock cost

$

$$$

$$

Benefit

Good: Least expensive option and works great

If you count your back in ounces this is a probable choice.

Good choice for the lightweight crowd. 

Detractor 

Not the softest or lightest

Expensive and limited manufacturers

Fewer options to buy and more expensive to find



This is where it gets a little trickier and can get expensive. Most hammocks are made from a polyester nylon material. There are dozens of different materials that use this type of material. The grade is often what makes the difference. The most common less expensive hammock is made of 210T nylon. It’s durable and soft to the touch. It also weighs a little more than the lower numbers. Camping hammocks are soft but the material can feel very different depending on the grade. 

You will also see 70D, 40D and 20D nylon and even a Dynanylon. The numbers help you understand the tension in the nylon. The 70D and 40D are a little softer to the touch. They also don’t make as much of that crackling noise. 

Always realize it comes down to cost. Those materials are made differently and have a higher price. That’s why you might see a hammock cost from $25 to $300. Yes, some people will pay more than $200 for a hammock. 

You will see a  lot of companies that have different names for fabric and many of those are proprietary. Fabrics have seen huge improvements over the last few years and many manufacturers are pushing the limit with new patented fabrics.

Size depends on what you want to do. Hammocks often come with the words double and single. This generally refers to length and width. It also  implies the double hammock can fit 2 people. While that might be true and okay for a little friendly closeness. I have never met anyone who slept with two people in a hammock. Since you are hanging in a big sling it’s likely you will be smashed together. A hammock is also not very forgiving on movement. If your partner sneezes it could send you both into swing mode for several minutes. Not the most optimal for sleeping. 

Hammocks come in different lengths and widths. The shortest you would ever want to go is 9 feet. This is small and probably the single hammock. For most regular size Americans this would be a little small for several nights. It may be perfect for a hang in the collage quad. 

If you are an average size then it’s a good idea to try a double hammock that is at least 10 to 11 feet long. It depends on how big you are and how much room you want to have . The longer is generally better for comfort. 

Is the double hammock too big for one person?

Backpacking and camping take a lot of energy. If you can’t get a good night's sleep then it can make for a horrible trip. Remember that a safe and comfortable sling is what it’s all about. So what makes a comfortable hammock? The right length. Some hammocks are 9 feet long and some hammocks are 12 feet long. If you are a bigger/longer person than 6 feet then you might get a longer hammock. The 11 foot hammock is a nice option for most big people. I am 6’7” and I like an 11 foot hammock. 

What is ripstop?

Ripstop is used in many clothes and anything with cloth or nylon. If you’ve ever noticed small squares in your fabric then you are likely looking at ripstop. It simply makes it hard for a tear to travel once it starts. The squares limit the spread of a rip. 

Are hammocks comfortable?

Yes, hammocks can be very comfortable. Some swear by them and even use them to sleep in nightly at home.If you don’t know what you are doing they can be very uncomfortable and the worst nights sleep you’ll ever have. You have to hang them correctly and sleep in the correct position. 

How do you sleep in a hammock?

There are a lot of videos and people who teach a perfect lay. The main idea is to never sleep in a hammock like a banana. If your feet and your head are too high then you will be uncomfortable. You want to sleep as far side to side as possible. This will keep your feet and your head slightly raised but almost level with your middle. This is generally how you want to sleep in a hammock. 

What is the best hammock?

This is a tricky question. It really depends on what you want to spend and what you want to carry. Some people want the lightest hammock they can find. They will spend an extra $50 to $200 to shave a few ounces. We have listed a few hammocks to consider These are not recommendations but they are well know brands. 

 

Hammock

Dutch gear

Superior Hammock

Wildhorn Hammock

ENO (Eagle's Nest Outfitters)

Cost

$100+ $150+ $39 $69

Features

Top brand for hardcore enthusiast. Light and many features included. They will also make them to order with the fabric you want and colors. 

One of the best cold weather hammocks you can find. Made in Minnesota. 

Simple hammock from a leading brand on Amazon. 

You can find these in many sporting good stores.

 

Safety:

No matter what crazy pictures you see on Instrgram you never, ever want to get more than 18 inches off the ground. 

By nature the hammock is a little more dangerous than a tent on the ground. You want something that is well made and you can trust that it will hold you through a storm or when the wind picks up around your campsite. 

Another safety tip to consider is the thing you tie your hammock to. Trees can be dead, wood can be rotted and some people have been hurt by not testing the anchor or tree they use to tie on to. Again, we see some daredevils tie up over ravines, rivers, big drops and all sorts of crazy places. The fact is you can fall and if you are more than 18 inches off the ground you can get hurt or worse. Even if the hammock doesn't fail you can simply slip while trying to get in or out of the hammock. Stay safe and sit down carefully before you rest your full weight on the hammock.


Are hammocks good for your back?

I started sleeping on a hammock because I wanted to camp and I was tired of sleeping on the cold hard ground. As an adult, you forget how unforgiving the ground can be.Yes, hammocks can be much easier on your back than on the cold hard ground.You also don’t have to carry a tent.

The key takeaway 

Hammocks are part of an entire sleep system. The sleep and shelter system can be a tent, hammock, sleeping bags, canopies, sleeping pads, camping pillows and blankets. There are a few keys to getting started in this space. Weight, cost and durability are all a factor. If you want the lightest gear available then cost will be high for the new nylons, polyesters and technology. If you want something cheap it will likely be heavier and not last as long.

This article gives you a lot to think about when hammocking. It’s a simple idea that can become an obsession for some. Consider quality production and sewing, material, components such as carabiners that hold the hammock to the strap. These make a good hammock and there are many choices. What’s good to you greatly depends on how much you want to spend and how serious you are about backpacking. 


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