The Best Hammock Review
With so many hammocks on the market, how can you know which is the best model to fit your needs? We took 12 of the most popular models and brought them camping in a variety of environments, from the high desert in winter to wet mountains in spring, to see how they compared. We evaluated each product for comfort, weight, versatility, ease of set-up, and durability. Each model was high quality, but a few hung above the competition. What we found was that any camper, from ultralight backpackers to budget car campers, will find the perfect product in our review.
Read the full review below >
Test Results and Ratings
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Analysis and Award Winners
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Analysis and Test Results
The decision to leave the tent at home and hike into the hills with a hammock is a tricky one. A camper heading into a winter storm has a completely different set of problems than a desert hiker posted up at a bug-infested watering hole. We go into specifics in our Buying Advice article, but the simple thing to keep in mind is that a heavy version has more features for weather and bugs while lighter ones weigh less on your pack.
So which one should you start with? First, consider in what settings will you use it. Do you need a rain fly or a bug net? Or is sleeping in an open model just fine? Second, determine if you will be using yours as a primary means of sleeping or mainly for lounging around camp. If you have never slept in a one, lounging in camp and taking mid-day naps are a great way to get used to get used to it. If you are just starting out, we suggest bringing an ultralight model on your next short backpacking trip along with a lightweight tent or shelter as back-up. For those looking to head out on longer trips, where weather can't be as easily predicted or changes in elevation can create colder nights, fully-rigged backcountry versions can be brought as a replacement for a tent altogether, helping reduce pack weight and adding comfort and versatility to your camp set-up.
Depending on what level of commitment you want, our tested models range from $20 to $185, and fluctuate between seven ounces and just under two pounds. This puts all models at a fraction of the cost and weight of a tent. Even the heaviest models are worth their weight, as hammock camping is a fun and substantially more comfortable way to enjoy the wilderness!
Different Types for Camping
In our review we examined 12 different models to find the best camping option. Our review focused on four distinct categories:
Parachute Nylon Singles
These are fairly inexpensive, lightweight, extremely durable, and fit a single camper. Our tested models include the Grand Trunk Single and the Eagles Nest Outfitters SingleNest.
Parachute Nylon Doubles
These are longer, wider versions of the singles that are excellent for a couple to sit and lounge in, though they only comfortably sleep one. They make excellent options for larger campers or people who want more space. The doubles we tested are the Grand Trunk Double, Eagles Nest Outfitters DoubleNest, and the Hammock Bliss Double.
These are extreme weight cutting options for backpackers looking for the lightest option available to shave ounces from their pack. These options are usually less comfortable and less durable than a regular singe. In this category we evaluated the Grand Trunk Ultralight, Grand Trunk Nano 7, Eagles Nest Outfitters Pronest, and Byer Traveller Lite.
These are burly models designed to withstand a variety of conditions and extended stays in a more comfortable asymmetrical design. They often come with features such as rain flys and bug nets, and will be heavier and more expensive than any open design. In this category we tried the Warbonnet Blackbird and the Hennessy Expedition Asym.
Check out our Buying Advice article for an in-depth look at how the features of different models translate into a camping experience and which style will work best for you.
Criteria for Evaluation
Comfort is the most important quality we scored in our review because models that sleep uncomfortably are not ideal for camping. Roomier models tend to sleep a bit better while the lighter designs sacrifice comfort for gossamer materials and a compact size that feels great in the pack but can often affect the quality of sleep a user can get. Each model was tested with a sleeping pad and sleeping bag. See our Backpacking Sleeping Bag Review as well as our Sleeping Pad Review for high quality lightweight bags and pads that will pair well.
While comfort is extremely personal, extra space and features lending to comfort can always add to the experience. Ultralight models, like our Top Pick, the Grand Trunk Nano 7, sacrifice extra space for lighter weight and a smaller packed size. At the end of a long day, a tired camper can nap reasonably well in even the most minimalist designs available, while winter and car campers may prefer the added weight of a foot box and double layered floor for an insulation pad, like is found in the Blackbird by Warbonnet.
Most people will prefer the comfort of parachute nylon models, since they are slightly stretchy, feel great against the skin, are lightweight, and set-up easily. While no one had trouble sleeping in the comfortable expedition models like the Hennessey Asym Expedition or Blackbird, the polyester Byer Traveller Lite and Grand Trunk Ultralight were not preferable to camp in for more than one night.
Overall, smaller campers will find that more models fit them and larger campers will prefer roomier designs. There were no double models that slept a pair comfortably, though larger doubles fit two loungers better than a single, and sleep one very comfortably.
Comfort is often one of the main reasons to switch from a tent, but the weight savings is also a huge benefit. Many are made from lightweight parachute nylon, a durable and smooth fabric comfortable to the touch. The lightest models are not as durable as the burlier heavy denier nylon expedition models, like the Hennessey Asym Expedition or the Warbonnet Blackbird.
When weighing, it is also important to consider the suspension system. Grand Trunk has included 5 mm cord with every parachute nylon version, and while ENO models do not come with any included cord. Many campers prefer to use their own personal suspension system, and the lightweight ENO carabiners that come included were our favorite of all tested.
In addition to suspension and materials, size has a drastic effect on the weight. Those looking to stay ultralight will appreciate the Eagles Nest Outfitters Pronest and the Grand Trunk Nano 7, which is the lightest model we tested. Both of these models feature slim profiles and durable materials. The Warbonnet Blackbird is available with several options, and with the lightest selections it can weigh in at just under a pound.
A camper in the backcountry relies heavily on gear. A backpack or pair of boots failing far from the trailhead can be a major problem, and camping hammocks are no different. We ran each test model through a tough test of different terrain to see which ones hold up the best and which ones should not be trusted beyond fair weather car camping.
The strongest products were those made of nylon, like the Grand Trunk Double and Grand Trunk Single as well as theEagles Nest Outfitters SingleNest, DoubleNest, and Pronest. Materials can also provide a bit of protection from wind or light rain, and thinner polyester material tends to be a flimsy shield against the elements. We prefer nylon for windier conditions.
The most protection from the elements can be found in the Hennessy Expedition Asym, an extremely weatherproof design with a tarp and bug net integrated. The Blackbird has a deep floor to cut the wind from flowing into it as well as a zipper-removable bug net.
A good model should be versatile enough to fit the needs of the user. In our tests, we found that often one used for camping is also used for lounging, reading, and sitting around camp when waiting for dinner to cook. For these users, and of the doubles are great, as being able to sit up in it, pitch it in poor weather, and let the kids pile into it are great features and make for a very versatile product. Specialty models, like ultralight models made from weak fabric or expedition types with bulky infrastructures, are great for backpacking but can be difficult to share or sit up in due to bug nets and asymmetrical designs. If looking for one to use in a variety of situations, consider which product has the versatility that is best for the intended use.
We found that the features that made the Hennessey and Warbonnet models comfortable and bug-proof made them fairly complex to set up and almost impossible to share with a friend. Tiny ultralight versions did not lounge very well, but single parachute models are a good blend for those looking for a versatile, lightweight option for camping and lounging.
Ease of Set-Up
Set up in a perfect spot can often be difficult, especially if it is lacking straps or cord to wrap around available anchors. Some come fully equipped with steel carabiners and extra cord, while ENO products include only light wire gate carabiners and no cord. Larger models have to be between trees that are further away, like the ENO Double. Longer versions have more stretch, which can make finding that perfect 30 degree angle a bit tricky, since once it is weighted, the sag is affected by stretch in the system. Those looking for an all-inclusive camping model will prefer the Blackbird, Hennessey Expedition or Grand Trunk Single/Double. The Byer Traveller lite, Grand Trunk Ultralight, Hammock Bliss Double and all ENO products require additional suspension, but are all quite simple to set-up. Staking out guy lines on the Expedition Asym and the Blackbird could limit the available spots for set-up, yet we found good locations with anchors for guy lines fairly easily.
A great perch is often a difficult spot to find anchors for, and while most of our testing was in the deserts of the southwest, we always managed to find something – whether a rock horn to sling or a pair of trees just the right distance apart – to get the 'perfect hang.'
Any of the models we tested easily pair with the Eagles Nest Outfitters Guardian Bug Net, a versatile product that can be slapped on any model to provide easy access into a bug-free sleep space.
Staying warm can be an issue since the wind comes up from under you. One way to solve this is by using a standard sleeping pad at the bottom. Some hammockers prefer to use an underquilt, such as the Blaze Underquilt from Eagles Nest Outfitters.
The Grand Trunk Hanging Kit are treeslings that allow you to hang up to a 400 pound load easily from a tree.
Ask an Expert: Jacob Hanneman
BakPocket Products was born from a Senior Project while Jacob Hanneman and Bryan Burnam were studying Recreation Administration at Humboldt State. Per the advice of a professor, they brought their idea into reality as an outdoor company designing backpacks, shoulder sling bags, reusable shopping bags, and even blankets. Their extensive experience in the mountains, rafting rivers, and relaxing on the beach, offered great insight into design. When they relocated the business to South Lake Tahoe, David Williams became the third owner. For the past year and a half, Bakpocket has been designing and improving their design, now in its third stage, for outdoor enjoyment. We sat down with Jacob for expert insight.
What is the best application
"Trees grow in a lot of very relaxing places." If you can find two points to suspend from, whether its two trees, two posts, or two roof racks on trucks, you can use a hammock. I prefer sleeping off the ground when I am on rafting trips, backpacking, or even just out for a day hike and want to nap in the forest. There are many applications!
There is a wide range of suspension system options- what do you prefer and why?
Suspension systems become a personal preference. If I am going to carry the gear to the beach or down the river or into the backcountry, I like it to be multi-functional. The added versatility in emergency situations or for strapping gear to a boat or any other need is convenient and makes efficient use of your energy as opposed to carry gear or material for a single use. User-friendly designs are very important; although knots are useful to know, having a suspension system that can be easily placed alleviates the necessity for tying multiple knots. A simple strap, such as webbing, with a couple carabiners does the trick.
Some trees have sturdy bark, such as pine, and are relatively unaffected by the straps. Soft barked trees, such as redwood or aspen, are affected by the tension of the straps. In any case, I recommend carrying burlap pieces or a similar material that will limit the direct contact between the suspension system and the tree bark. Side note: Rope has a higher impact than webbing.
How do you select the ideal style for backpacking or camping?
It's best to try out different sizes and find one that fits your need for space and weight.
Ultra light models are great for day hikes and napping near an alpine lake but they aren't very comfortable to sleep in for a full night, especially for trips longer than a single night.
The single width and double width are often the same in terms of design and material but the double offers a more spacious nights rest. Otherwise, a single and a double have the same applications.
Do they stretch out over time and with more use?
Most hammocks, particularly ones like ours and those intended for backpacking are made of a material that retains its exact measurements throughout its life. After four years of owning the same one, it is the same length and size as when I purchased it.
What does proper care look like?
One way to extend the lifespan is to care for it properly and avoid extended exposure to the elements.
Taking it down everyday and not leaving it out to be weathered will extend the life of the material. If I am camping in a single location, I take the it down during the day so that sap and sunshine doesn't wear it out or damage it.
How do your find the perfect angle to hang a hammock?
Ideally, I look for a 12-15 foot span between hanging points; this will vary by individual but it is a good starting point. Having enough space to adjust the tension of the suspension straps allows for individualized tightness or looseness in the hammock itself. And when hanging on a slope, its best to keep your head higher than your feet. A slight angle downward is ok but can result in you sliding downhill in the hammock; the closest to level you can get, the better.
What are some tips for getting a comfortable nights rest?
Using a sleeping pad will keep you warm. Some people question the airflow beneath, as opposed to sleeping on the ground, and this can be reduced dramatically with a good sleeping pad. Because of the material used in most backpacking hammocks, sleeping pads will slide around, limiting your comfort, so assuring the security of your pad with an integrated sleeve lends to a better nights rest. There are designs, including one of our Bakpocket models that have pockets for a sleeping pad to be secured into.
In regions where morning dew or bugs are common, an enclosed system is nice- some have zipper closures while others have netting that is separate, but surrounds the outside. There are also options with tarps and overhead coverage for enduring weather.
A nice detail is a pillow pocket- you can either stuff clothes into it or bring a pillow along.
Referring back to the rigging aspect, the tension of the straps and distance between the hanging points will affect the tightness of the hammock. With shorter distance and more sagging, you will have less support, comparable to a very soft mattress. With a wider span and taught webbing lines, you will achieve support comparable to a firm mattress. Use the adjustability to your advantage by finding the optimal rigging points for a comfortable nights sleep.
Any last thoughts?
I am stoked to see the direction hammock camping is going. Its innovative and we are excited to be a part of the evolution.
Hammocks are not for everyone, but they can provide the ultimate sleep and relaxation experience for many outdoor enthusiasts. In addition to the novelty of floating above ground, they are often the most compact and lightweight sleeping option and can negate the need for an expensive sleeping pad. We hope this review helped you narrow down the right hammock for you. For more information on making the right purchase, check out our Buying Advice article.
— Greg Davis
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