Reviews You Can Rely On

How We Tested Hammocks

By Elizabeth Paashaus ⋅ Review Editor
Thursday May 20, 2021
How much space do I have?
How much space do I have?
Photo: Adam Paashaus

How We Tested


We have spent several hundred hours and many seasons "hanging around" backcountry campsites, campgrounds, canyons, and city parks to evaluate how all the best hammock models perform in a multitude of environments. We rated each product on the same criteria: comfort, weight, durability & protection, ease of setup, and versatility. As new and impressive products become available, we test, test, and retest. We made spreadsheets of every detail and measurement to discern minute differences between even the most similar models.

Comfort


We evaluated comfort for sitting, lounging, and sleeping each time we slung a 'mock between two trees. Our reviewers spent nights in every backcountry model and lounged in everyday-use specimens. We tested multiple positions to find the ones that were the most comfortable for each model. Sometimes the difference between a sore neck and a dreamy good time was scooting down an inch, adjusting the tension, raising the feet, or laying more diagonally. We experimented a lot and had fun doing it.

The Pro Double makes an excellent spot to get out of the sand, lie...
The Pro Double makes an excellent spot to get out of the sand, lie back, and enjoy springtime in the canyon.
Photo: Elizabeth Paashaus

Weight


We weighed each model with all the bells and whistles and just the essentials. We loaded each one into a backpack and a shoulder bag to compare sizes to see which are the best to carry into the backcountry and which are clutch for a festival in the park or car camping site.

Some hammocks were tiny while others were comparatively massive.
Some hammocks were tiny while others were comparatively massive.
Photo: Adam Paashaus

Durability & Protection


We include specs about each model's material and construction. We also tell you how they feel and perform in the real world. Throughout the review, we note which materials feel robust enough for your dog to join you and which ones make us sit lightly due to their delicate feel.

Some shapes allow you to keep an underquilt in place relatively...
Some shapes allow you to keep an underquilt in place relatively easily while others have you reaching out to shift it around throughout the night.
Photo: Elizabeth Paashaus

Ease of Set Up


We set up every sling so many times in a bunch of different environmental settings to dig into how easy (or not) they were to use, attempting each set up without instructions the first time to see how intuitive they were. We overnighted in cold temperatures to see which models were easiest to use with a sleeping pad inside or an underquilt below. We assessed various suspension systems to see which took time to learn and which were quick and easy, which buckles slide smoothly, and which ones take fiddling and force.

Testing isn't always easy, but we hope our struggles and fails help...
Testing isn't always easy, but we hope our struggles and fails help you make the choice that makes sense for you!
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Versatility


We tried out the backcountry models in casual settings and assessed the ability of day-use models to make the transition to a backcountry shelter. We tested accessories, used every pocket, fumbled with sleeping pads and underquilts, and generally moved around inside the 'mocks a whole bunch to get a well-rounded sense of their versatility.

So many choices... We can help you decide.
So many choices... We can help you decide.
Photo: Elizabeth Paashaus

Many books were read during the hours we spent lounging — it's a tough job, but someone's gotta do it. We invited friends and family on board to see how they performed with multiple occupants. We hope our adventures and experiments inform your decisions on what gear to buy and inspire you to get outside and create amazing memories.