An Introduction to Backpacking With an Ultralight Hammock
If you consider yourself to be an avid camper, it is more than likely that you have started to notice that more and more people are ditching their traditional tent for a hanging hammock tent. For those who consider an outdoor experience to consist mainly of driving out to a designated campsite in their local national or state park to spend the night, hammock tents are more of a novelty. For backpackers and thru-hikers, however, backpacking hammock tents are a practical solution to two common issues: comfort and pack weight.
When it comes to planning for a backpacking trip, it is always best to have a comfortable outdoor sleeping solution that doesn’t weigh down your pack. Before the backpacking hammock tent became popular, backpackers would usually have to prioritize one or the other. If you want to be comfortable, you’d likely have to bring a larger tent so that you can spread out. To lighten the load of your pack, however, you might have to forgo comfort and sleep in a cramped tent.
Ultralight backpacking hammocks are a solution to both problems. For one, they allow you to be comfortably cradled above the cold, hard ground. To make it even better, complete hammock tent sets like ours, here at Hennessy Hammock, are often just a fraction of the weight that a medium-sized tent would add to your pack.
Because people are starting to realize that ultralight backpacking hammocks are a lighter, more comfortable alternative to traditional tents, backpacking with a hammock is becoming incredibly popular. After all, thru-hikers attempting long-distance journeys like the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, and Continental Divide Trail will attest to the importance of comfort and a lighter pack — not to say that weekend warriors wouldn’t tell you the same thing.
So how can you make the transition to being a hammock camper? Continue reading to learn more.
Backpacking Hammock Introduction
When you choose to ditch your tent for a camping hammock, the most important thing that you can do is research. Luckily, if you visit trusted retailers in the outdoor industry, it will become painfully obvious that there are a handful of ultralight hammock brands with spending your money on. Among those brands is ours — Hennessy Hammock.
Offering multiple models and designs, our ultralight hammocks are built to take on any outdoor challenge. But when you are searching for your first backpacking hammock, what kind of features and gear should you be looking for?
Ultralight Backpacking Hammock Setup: What You’ll Need
When it comes to creating your new camping setup, there are a few key items that you’ll need. Continue reading below to learn more.
When it comes to the hammock you choose as your new backpacking sleeping solution, you’ll want to find one that is light, comfortable, durable, and easy to get in and out of.
When it comes to weight, the general rule of thumb is that you never want to carry more than 2.5–3 pounds per person. If you are looking for a backpacking tent that you don’t have to share with your hiking parent, the odds are that your pack weight will exceed three pounds — unless you plan on spending a good deal of money, that is. If you plan on sharing a tent with your adventure partner, you can opt to split the materials — although it is rare that you can split the weight evenly.
If you choose an ultralight backpacking hammock like the Ultralight Backpacker Zip, however, you can rest easy knowing that your hammock, rainfly, and bug netting only weighs around two pounds total.
When people think of backpacking, they usually think of having to lay on the cold, hard ground after a long day on the trail. Sure, when you are tired, it is pretty easy to sleep anywhere — but when you wake up in the middle of the night after rolling off of your sleeping pad, you might not be very happy.
Sleeping in a hammock eliminated the need to sleep on the ground — in turn allowing you to avoid waking up with knots or cramps. That said, people tend to have a general concern with sleeping overnight in hammocks: the fact that they can’t lay flat.
Luckily, at Hennessy Hammock, we have a solution. Our patented asymmetrical hammock shape allows you to lay almost completely flat while our patented “Never-Tip” center balance design provides you with the security that you need to feel comfortable.
When planning an outdoor adventure, it is incredibly important to consider the chance for severe weather — even if the weatherman says you should have a clear weekend.
Tents come with a built-in rainfly that mounts on the outside of the external frame. In doing so, it provides protection from rain and wind on all four sides and the top of the tent. To protect the inside of the tent from the wet ground, most tents have a water-resistant bottom. That said, if there is a lot of rain that falls in a short amount of time, the water-resistant tent bottom is likely to be overwhelmed and get wet.
Backpacking hammock tents, however, do not have this issue. Being suspended from the ground, no amount of hard rain can get the bottom of the hammock wet unless there is a severe flooding event. To protect the hammock from above, you can purchase a rainfly.
At Hennessy Hammock, all of our backpacking hammocks come standard with rainflies. That said, we also realize that you might want a different rainfly for your trip to the New Mexico high desert than you might for your trip to the damp, rainy Pacific Northwest. Because of this, all of our hammocks can be equipped with rainflies of different sizes and even a full enclosure.
If you have spent any amount of time in nature, you have likely noticed that when the sun goes down it can become extremely cold — even in the desert. Because of this, it is important to include insulation (in addition to your sleeping bag) in order to stay warm.
When sleeping in a tent, the additional insulation is your sleeping pad. Whether it be a foam pad or an inflatable pad, the barrier between you and the ground allows you to stay warm.
In a backpacking hammock tent, however, there is no insulation between you and the cool air below you. Even if you have a down sleeping bag, the compression between you and the hammock bottom prevents the bag from retaining heat. Instead, you should consider adding insulation to your hammock bottom. Insulation can come in the form of internal padding and underquilts, so be sure to research the area that you intend on backpacking through and bring insulation accordingly.
The Webbing & Accessories
Last, but certainly not least, you’ll need webbing, cordage, and the other accessories necessary to hang your hammock! When choosing webbing, it is important to find straps that are “tree savers.” Tree saver straps are straps that are over .75” in width so that they do not damage the outer bark of the trees that you choose to hang your hammock from.
Once you have chosen a set of webbing like our 42” webbing straps, it is time to think of what accessories will be able to help you optimize your outdoor sleeping experience. You’ll want spare webbing, straps, and cordage to help you secure your backpacking hammock and repair it when parts are damaged.
Among our favorite accessories are our SnakeSkins —an instant stuff sack that can help you get onto the trail faster during those cold backcountry mornings. Once you have collected all of the gear that you’ll need, it is time to plan your trip!
Backpacking Hammock Tent Spotlight: The Ultralight Backpacker Zip
The Ultralight Backpacker Zip is the ultimate ultralight camping hammock. This durable hammock is meant to keep you comfortable and sheltered while having the smallest impact on the weight of your pack.
General hammock specs:
- Height Limit: 6 ft tall /183 cm
- Weight Limit: 200 lbs / 91 kg
- Packed Weight: 2 lbs / 896 g not including 2 oz / 56 g free webbing straps
- Packed Size: 4" x 6" x 9" / 10 cm x 15 cm x 23 cm
- Hammock Fabric: 70d nylon, 160 x 90 high count taffeta
- Bottom Fabric Dimensions: 120" x 59" / 305 cm x 150 cm
- Zipper: Heavy duty black double slider #5 YKK zipper
- Mesh: 20d polyester No-See-Um netting
This innovative hammock also comes with a rainfly, straps, stuff sack, webbing, and more! So what are you waiting for? Check out this high-quality backpacking hammock tent today!
Questions To Answer Before Your Trip
Before you begin your backpacking trip with your new hammock setup, there are a few things that you should do. The most important thing that you should do to prepare yourself is to familiarize yourself with your new gear and set up your backpacking hammock tent a couple of times. After you have familiarized yourself with your new setup, it is important to answer a few pre-trip questions to make sure that you have planned correctly.
Below, we have listed a few of the questions that we consider before each one of our backpacking hammock tent trips.
What Weather Will You Be Expecting?
Sure, checking the news a few days before you hit the trailhead might not help much, but it could give you an idea of how you should prepare. If it says that it will be raining during most of your trip, you’ll want to bring a larger rainfly so that you can keep dry in your hammock tent and keep the ground around your hammock dry. If you end up not getting any rain while you are on your trip, you may think that you brought too large of a rainfly, but trust us when we say it is a better alternative than getting stuck in a downpour without one.
What Type of Terrain Will You See?
When you are planning a backpacking trip of any size — whether it be a weekend jaunt through the woods or a 6-month thru-hike — you’ll want to be familiar with the different types of terrain that you will pass through.
If you are backpacking the Pacific Crest Trail, you might want to bring larger webbing and longer straps, as the trees are much larger than in other parts of the world. If you plan on trekking through a region where trees tend to be more spread out, you might want to bring extra hanging materials in case the hanging of your hammock and rainfly becomes a little tricky. Lastly, if you plan on trekking through an area notorious for having little or no trees, it is important to bring a bivvy system. Unless of course, you have a Hennessy Hammock, that is.
Hennessy hammocks can be set up as they were intended (hanging between two trees) or as a bivvy system on the ground. With your hiking poles or a few scavenged sticks, you can set up your ultralight backpacking hammock on the ground! Learn more about how to set your hammock up on the ground by clicking here.
Why Choose Hennessy Hammock?
At Hennessy Hammock, we are dedicated to creating innovative outdoor sleeping solutions for the weekend warrior and the passionate thru-hiker. Over the last 60 years, Tom Hennessy has shaped and created the Hennessy Hammock using trial and error. In fact, our hammocks are built to resolve hammock camping problems that as a beginner you might not ever knew existed.
So whenever you decide that you’d like to experience backpacking with an ultralight hammock, we hope that you choose a Hennessy Hammock. Check out our extensive inventory of backpacking hammocks today!
A Special Message to Our CustomersWe know this is a tough time for everyone out there. So many plans have been disrupted, there is so much uncertainty and there is a lot of news to cope with every day. We just want you to know that we are here if you have any questions or concerns about your new order or a Hennessy Hammock you've had for a while. Our team has always all worked from home (Vancouver, New Zealand, Galiano Island, Kauai) so everything is normal in the office.
Our shippers in the US, Canada, UK, and EU have been in touch and all have plans for making sure orders go out on time. That said, there may be a few disruptions because of local situations. We hope you'll contact us if you need any information about your shipment.
Let's hope that things get back to normal soon, and in the meantime, that there'll be some chances to get outside in our hammocks for some quiet time. -- The Hennessy Team