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Tents vs. Hammocks: How a Traditional Camper Took to Sleeping in Trees

Hamaca Hammocks

Hammock brand Kammok tried to sell me — a lifelong tent-user — on hanging versus traditional camping. So I went along with the brand for overnights in Texas heat and cool Colorado mountains to see how hammock camping stacks up.

Top image — Roo single hammock with Kuhli Weather Shelter;  Meyvn Creative

I have never been interested in hammock camping; It’s never seemed that comfortable. What about bugs, weather — and how do you move around? As a climbing guide certified by the American Mountain Guides Association, I’ve camped more times than I can count, in just about every condition. An ultralight one-person tent comes near the 1-pound mark, so I haven’t seen the need to hang in the breeze.

But Kammok, an Austin, Texas-based brand focused on all things hammock, is near my hometown. So this summer, we arranged a local camping trip to introduce me to sleeping slung, followed up by a kayak and camping outing near Gunnison, Colorado. I started as a nonbeliever, but now I see how hammock camping can add enjoyment to plenty of outdoor endeavors.

Here’s how I went from hammock curmudgeon to enthusiast — well, ally, at least.

5 Advantages of a Hammock on paper

Kammok lobbied me initially with a healthy list of hammock camping advantages. In general, the brand boiled hammock camping down to five primary benefits:

Set up and break down camp faster. There are no stakes, poles, or sleeping pads necessary — just a pair of tree straps and the hammock for mild, bugless conditions.

Travel lighter. Kammok claims a Roo Single $69 with a pair of 10-foot Python straps $29 weighs in at 1 pound, 2.2 ounces — together under $100. Expensive ultralight tents, like the Big Agnes Fly Creek HV1 Platinum, come in at 1 pound 7 ounces and run $500. Though the tent is slightly heavier, it includes bug and rain protection.

Sleep better. Kammok’s site touts a study that suggests the natural rocking motion of a hammock can elongate the non-REM portion of sleep.

Camp wherever you are. In addition to better sleep, hitting the proverbial hay is presumably less of a chore. No need to clear the ground of rocks or sticks, and mud is never an issue. You just need the appropriate trees.

Leave no trace. Hammocks never leave smashed-down foliage, and the Python straps spread the load across 1.5 inches of webbing to leave trees unscathed.

Some of these claims seem plausible, but I required convincing for others. A local camping trip and subsequent Colorado trip gave me the opportunity to give each reason a stamp of approval — or the thumbs down.

Texas Hammocking With Kammok Staff

Kammok decided on a car camping trip to Pedernales Falls State Park as my initial hammock camping experience. A typical Texas summer guaranteed high temperatures and humidity, a great test for what I considered the apparent venting advantage of hammocks.

Ease of Setup

Upon securing a campsite, two Kammok staffers let me venture off to set up a Roo Double $99 with Dragonfly Insect Net $79 by myself. I had previously set up a Kammok at my house, but I didn’t reference any resources. And even with the added net, common sense got the hammock up more quickly than any tent.

The setup is logical, intuitive, and doesn’t require knot tying. So yes, even in an uneducated, unassisted state, getting a hammock up and functional proved faster than a tent. That is, as long as live, suitable trees 12-15 feet apart are available. And with some pro tips from the Kammok designer, setting up became even faster.

Sleep Quality

One Kammok team member warned me my first night in a hammock might be restless. But I had zero issues falling asleep after setting my preferred hanging tension Kammok recommends starting with a 30-degree angle, which was easy with the 20 adjustment points on each Python strap and the hammock’s carabiners.

I am a side sleeper and have restless legs. The “hugging” effect of the hammock kept me still for the entire night — a rarity for me — without disrupting my slumber. I also slept on my back, as it was more comfortable than sleeping on my side. Lying on my stomach required much higher hammock tension and, in my opinion, wasn’t as comfortable as a tent floor.

Although I was in a “double” hammock, I think it would be difficult for two adults to sleep comfortably throughout the night due to transmitted movement and inability to avoid contact. I enjoyed having the extra space on the hammock as a solo camper, sprawling unimpeded. But for simple relaxation and lounging, the Roo Double was a comfortable and cozy affair for two adults.

Photo credit: Meyvn CreativeComfort and Strength

Kammok rates the Roo Double and each Python strap to 500 pounds, the Dyneema hammock slings to 22 kN, and each Kanga Claw carabiner to 23 kN 13 kN for the Roo Single. All of this quelled any fears I harbored of a sudden midsleep collapse. For safety and comfort, Kammok also recommends a maximum hanging height of 18 inches.

And with overnight temperatures in the 80s with relatively high humidity, the airiness under the hammock proved excellent at keeping me comfortable. Even the slightest breeze provided a cooling effect, and the 70-denier LunarWeave ripstop nylon DWR-treated offered much more breathability than coated tent fabric.

Overall, hammock camping proved pleasant, easy, and environmentally friendly in the humid, high-temperature Texas testing grounds. But I still needed to try it out for more rugged environs.

Kammok Camping in Colorado

Kammok and Oru Kayak put on a trip to Gunnison, Colorado, to test its techier offerings, and I was eager to escape to colder temperatures.

Photo credit: Meyvn CreativeKuhli Weather Shelter

Our first night found us on a forested mountainside. Trees were in abundance, and the night promised a dip in the mercury.

I set up a Roo Single, this time with a wind- and precipitation-proof Kuhli Weather Shelter $169 and 30-degree sleeping bag my own. What was previously an advantage in the heat of Texas became a disadvantage in the mountain cold. The hammock’s openness wasn’t as protective against harsher climes.

Firebelly Trail Quilt

Another cold-weather hammock camping issue was the added challenge of insulating against the cold air beneath. Theoretically, an insulating pad could work, but an underquilt, like the 30-degree down Kammok Firebelly Trail Quilt $279, is a more elegant, comfortable, and efficient solution. It’s expensive, however.

The quilt places the insulating layer underneath the hammock, eliminating loss of loft due to crushing from your body weight. The overnight temperatures dropped into the lower 40s, but I managed to stay warm by engaging the full mummy mode of my sleeping bag and slept well.

Sunda: The Hammock-Tent

The next day put us on the Gunnison River at Blue Mesa Reservoir. We paddled to a sandy beach that had a limited selection of trees. Here, I chose to sample the Sunda Tent Hammock $399, a unique, albeit complex, hammock-tent combination.

Because of its size and componentry, it was the only shelter we had to stow on the exterior of the kayak. Others’ hammocks were compact enough to stow inside the Oru foldable kayaks.

Photo credit: Meyvn Creative

The group congregated in a narrow grove of trees, everyone successfully and quickly finding workable anchors. Finding a suitable tent site in the shade on this beach would have proved difficult, as there wasn’t much flat ground near the trees.

I pitched the Sunda in the tent configuration in a separate area than most of the hammocks to secure a flat tent site. This exposed me to the early morning sun, but the Sunda proved breezy, so sleeping past dawn wasn’t an issue.

At 100 inches, the tent-hammock’s floor is much longer than a typical two-person tent. This leaves plenty of space above or below the sleeping bags for gear and pets within its spacious 34.7 square feet.

Although I didn’t get to try the Sunda as a hammock, a Kammok staffer demonstrated this mode. It was a bit complicated to set up but yielded a hammock with a built-in bug net and fly.

The Sunda left a visible footprint in the sand. But all the hammocks indeed left no trace: No telltale signs of a tent floor, only footprints, and trees were left unharmed.

Kammok Hammock: The Verdict

I came into these Kammok-sponsored outings as an experienced outdoor adventurer that wasn’t impressed with or overly interested in hammock camping. I figured it would take a lot to sway me into believing the advantages could overcome the disadvantages. Or that the hammock camping movement was nothing other than a hipster-driven, backyard-oriented flavor of the month. No offense.

At the outset, Kammok claimed five hammock advantages over traditional tent camping. I tested each of the brand’s claims thoroughly during my outings with the company.

Set up and break down camp faster. I now agree that camping hammocks can be quicker to set up and break down.

Travel lighter. This is possible in mild conditions. A Roo Single and a pair of Python 10-foot straps weight just over 1pound — compact and relatively inexpensive under $100 compared to ultralight one-person tents $500+.

But the hammock package swells in weight, size, and cost if a bug net and tarp are required. Adding Kammok’s accessories increased the claimed weight to 3 pounds, with a total price of $346, negating both weight and cost advantages. And that’s without the underquilt.

Sleep better. Sleep is so subjective. I did sleep better and more still in warmer conditions than I typically do in a tent. But this had nothing to do with the rocking motion, as the brand claimed. Rather, the “hugging” of the hammock subdued my restless legs.

I also believe that temperatures lower than the 40s Fahrenheit require an underquilt, which adds expense and weight. And should storms brew, a tarp — Kammok’s or third-party — is a must to ensure sound sleep. Finally, stomach sleepers may have issues with creating enough tension to avoid back hyperextension.

Camp wherever you are. This is true if there are trees. And that can be a big “if.” Desert dwellers need not apply.

Leave no trace. I completely agree. As noted above, all the hammock options left fewer visible signs of human presence than a tent does.

Hammock Camping Is Fun

One thing Kammok failed to list as a primary advantage of hammock camping is the added fun factor. The novelty and unique feel of sleeping in a hammock added an irrepressible grin to my outings. And having one up for relaxing during the daytime, in favorable conditions, is worlds nicer and more social than crawling into a tent.

For this tester, the bottom line is that hammock camping can add comfort and fun to both front-country and backcountry adventures, as long as 1 the conditions remain mild and 2 appropriate trees are available.

And for me, hammocks will also get a favorable nod when the temperatures are high, as they allow more breathability than a tent. Perhaps most importantly, as a dad, I will bring a hammock or three along on every family car camping trip. No matter where we sleep, having hammocks hanging around invites relaxing — a primary goal of any getaway.

By Seiji Ishii Seiji Ishii is an adventure journalist that blurs the lines between work and play, writing about his climbing, two-wheeled and on-foot adventures, and the gear involved. He is also an AMGA Certified Single Pitch Instructor and an ACSM certified personal trainer, specializing in climbers and motocrosssupercross athletes. He lives in the woods with his wife, daughter, and a small herd of pets in Wimberley, Texas.

4 Travel Hammocks from elsewhere

travel hammocks

While we have a sale on our travel hammocks. We thought you might like to see what you can buy for at least five times the price elsewhere on the interwebs.

We believe every season is hammock season. But, as August winds to a close, it’s hard not to think about the crisp, cool feeling of fall.

Best Camping Hammocks:

  • Sea to Summit Ultralight Hammock
  • Kammok Roo Camping Hammock
  • Republic of Durable Goods Mock ONE Folding Hammock
  • Tentsile Connect Tree Tent

What better time of year for a nature trek, a hammock hanging, and a deep soul-searching session between two trees? Here are the four best camping hammock designs for travelers, hikers, and outdoor lovers.

Sea to Summit Ultralight Hammock – $90-$100sea to summit ultralight hammockSea to Summit

Sea to Summit’s products are as lightweight and straightforward as their names. The Ultralight Hammock is exactly what it sounds like — a compact, flyweight hammock designed to get you hanging in the simplest way possible. From its built-in, soda-can-sized stuff sack, it unfurls to a spacious 8’6” long x 4’ wide (even larger with the XL size) which is enough room for a six-foot-tall fellow. The 20D monofilament nylon construction is highly breathable and guaranteed to hold up to 300 pounds.

Buy From Sea to Summit

Buy From REI

Buy From Amazon

Kammok Roo Camping Hammock – $69-$99kammock roo double hammockKammok

For a more substantial option, Kammok offers the Roo line of hammocks. At 10 ounces, the Roo Single is heavier than its Sea to Summit counterpart. But that added weight is due to its durable Gravitas 40D ripstop nylon construction capable of supporting 400 pounds. It still packs down small, yet unfolds to an 8’4” x 4’2” footprint. It’s available in a variety of sharp, fade-resistant colors, and comes pre-broken-in for an ultra-soft feel straight out of the box. Upgrade to the 10-foot-wide Roo Double if you’re planning to bring a friend. We’re also partial to the company’s strategy of giving a portion of all proceeds to support young outdoor explorers in the Explore Austin program.

Buy From Kammok

Buy Single From REI

Buy Double From Amazon

Republic of Durable Goods Mock ONE Folding Hammock – $175-$300Republic of Durable Goods Mock ONE Folding Hammock

Republic of Durable Goods/Facebook

The Mock ONE from Republic of Durable Goods is touted as “the world’s most compact folding hammock.” It’s designed to be pitched literally anywhere, even in areas without trees. The steel frame makes this a heavier option than others on this list, but it supports up to 250 pounds and the seat “floats” 18 inches off the ground. It includes a carry bag and a sunshade, plus additional accessories are available including a warm top-/underquilt, a weatherproof tarp, and bug netting. While we’re skeptical of crowdfunded goods, the Mock ONE Kickstarter project has already received a quarter of a million dollars (on a modest $10K goal) from nearly 1,000 backers. It seems likely this clever almost-hammock will see the production line as planned. Delivery for Kickstarter backers is slated for December 2018.

Pre-Order From Kickstarter

Tentsile Connect Tree Tent – $450

tentsile connect tree tentTentsile

It’s difficult to classify Tentsile’s now famous outdoor products. They’re part tent, part hammock, and part backcountry treehouse. The Connect Tree Tent is their entry-level product and the one that made them a household name among hikers, campers, and outdoor lovers. If you’re only after a basic hammock to quietly while away an afternoon in the woods, this might be overkill. If, however, you’re looking to replace a third of the gear in your pack (tent, sleeping pads, hammocks, bug net, etc.), it may be just the trick. The two-person Connect is designed to “float” between three strong anchor points — trees, boulders, even a few truck beds will do. Inside, you’ll find a spacious, 53-square-foot living area for relaxing, sleeping, and other “couple’s pursuits.” The included no-see-um mesh top, fold-away doors, and removable rain fly all make the Connect a great, four-season home base in almost any weather conditions.

If you’ve been putting off buying a hammock because you’re intimidated by the process of hanging one, we have you covered.

August Hammock Newsletter

Deck Hammock XL

 

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The Biggest Hammock in the world

Supernova Hammock - XXL - Kaleidoscope

If you can find a bigger one, please let me know … contact

HAMACA SUPERNOVA – click here

Bigger is better…
– Biggest hammock in the world
– All hang out together
– Colourful and strong
– 1 year warranty
– FREE matching shoulder bag
– HUGE!!! Really HUGE!!

Hammock Details
Laying area – 300x400cm
Total length – 600cm
Capacity – 280kg+

The HAMACA Supernova hammock is the biggest hammock we know of. It is truly huge, it even makes the Mammoth look small and that is one giant hammock too!

You can easily have the whole family in this hammock. The fabric is made from 100% recycled cotton, so it is gentle on the environment.

Being cotton, it is soft and breathable and very comfortable to lay in. It is brightly coloured and machine washable. Designed for years of use, this hammock is perfect for those who want nothing but the very best for summer.

This hammock is a great place for friends to hang out in, there really is room for everyone.

 

Supernova Hammock - XXL - Kaleidoscope

April 16th Hammock Heaven Newsletter

This months newsletter is to give customers on our mailing list advance notice that we are offering 50% off our family hammocks from 16th April to 23rd April.

Newsletter receivers can actually buy these half price hammocks on the 15th April also.

It’s a great opportunity to get a fantastic and big hammock for half price.

https://www.hammockheaven.co.uk/product-category/hammocks/family-hammocks/?orderby=price-desc

A Deer With A Bad Eye – Caught In A Hammock – A Bad Idea.

Another Deer, probably with a bad eye.

I am just amazed by the amount of garden stuff wild animals can get entangled in… but if you have ever been in American suburbia over Christmas or Halloween, they really do fill up their gardens with all sorts, other than hammocks . Where do they keep it all?

It’s a good job there are no wild animals left in the UK, and even if there were, most people have sensibly built a 6ft fence around their garden anyway.

From http://www.prescottenews.com/index.php/news/current-news/item/30911-a-tricky-entanglement

“Oh, what a tangled web we weave…” – Sir Walter Scott.

We’re not sure exactly what happened here, but somehow this deer got tangled up in what appears to be a hammock. This photo, sent to us by reader Jan Nelson, was taken near Gail Gardner in Prescott.

Arizona Game and Fish (AZGFD) are aware of the situation, and are trying to locate the deer. If they can find him, they will attempt to help extricate the deer from it’s entanglements. 

In an urban wildland interface, wildlife can find themselves in unexpected predicaments. Humans can make their yards safer for wildlife with prevention in mind, according to the Humane Society.

1. Make sure Jack-o-lanterns (especially those with candles) are out of reach, and preferably inside, shining through windows.
2. Wait to put up your outdoor Christmas lights until after the 1st week of December, which is the peak of the deer rut when they are most actively scraping their antlers.
3. Make sure your lights are attached firmly, using multiple short strands which will be less trouble if animals do get tangled up. Try not to string them across open areas. 
4. If you are going to put up bird feeders, make sure they are kept full all winter long. 
You can string together popcorn, cranberries and peanuts for a festive decoration that even the birds will love. 
5. Try to ensure that hammocks and game nets are up high and in areas safe from wildlife. Tie them up when not in use.

In the meantime, if you happen to see this unfortunate young buck, please do not attempt to approach it. Please report the sighting to AZGFD at 623.236.7201

 

Deer In Hammock Wears Police Jacket On Head

Yes, totally true. From CBC news in British Colombia


Here is the deer not knowing how to use a simple hammock properly.

Conservation officials are reminding rural homeowners to take down hammocks and volleyball nets on their properties after a large mule deer had to be removed with the help of a tranquilizer.

The four-point mule buck got himself tangled in a backyard hammock on Monday near Kimberley in the East Kootenay.

“He was pretty agitated. He had been working pretty hard to free himself,” said conservation officer Jeff Scott.

“Usually the more they fight, the more they get tangled in it. He had multiple layers wrapped around his antlers.”

Remove hammocks, wires, volleyball nets

Two officers attended and sedated the buck with a tranquilizer in order to cut the hammock from the animal’s antlers.

They later used a reversal agent and released the deer on site.

He was so embarrassed by his failure to use a simple hammock, that he covered his head with his jacket.

“Everything went well… shortly after, he was on his feet and on his way.”

Scott said he gets two to three calls a year of animals being tangled in “some kind of wire, mesh, netting or hammocks.”

He said it is a good reminder for homeowners to clear their properties of hazards.

“Remove hammocks and wires in the fall when the deer, elk and moose are in the rut.”

Most gardens in the UK have 6ft fences around them any way, so I this this is probably more a Canadian problem, not to mention the lack of giant deer wandering around in London. But if you have a rope hammock or hanging chair, take all necessary precautions.

Corda - Rope Hanging Chair - Regular
Rope hanging hammock chair – £71.94

Corda - Rope Hammock - Large
Rope Hammock – £47.95

Hammocks are becoming more popular.

Global Hammocks Market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 17.45% during the period 2017-2021.

chart - hammocks getting more popular

“The latest trend gaining momentum in the market is Popularity of rocking chair hammocks. Hammocks are currently being subjected to continuous innovations to cater the growing demand for leisure products. Vendors have come up with a combination of a rocking chair with hammock. Although they sacrifice the swinging ability of the hammock, they make up for that with the rocking ability. These products have a woven seat with a circular shape, which serves as a hammock canopy. These are more comfortable than traditional chairs good and are good for people who are unable to use traditional hammocks. Rocking chair hammocks are made of a metal frame that rocks back and forth. Cotton fabrics are attached to the frame through three different styles of weaving. Hammocks can hold a weight of up to 176 lbs and are large enough to hold a person.”

“According to analysts forecast the global hammocks market to grow at a CAGR of 17.45% during the period 2017-2021.”

According to the report, one of the major drivers for this market is Increasing participation in outdoor recreational activities. With the increase in fast-paced and hectic lifestyles, growing health consciousness, and need to engage in physical exercises, consumers, especially in regions such as Europe and North America, are opting for various ways to de-stress. Hence, they are willing to take up outdoor fun and adventurous activities, thereby pushing the demand for leisure activities and outdoor sports. A global increase in disposable income has also raised expenditure on recreational activities. Thereby further creating a high demand for outdoor activities such as camping. These factors are the primary drivers that will boost the global hammocks market during the forecast period.

Further, the report states that one of the major factors hindering the growth of this market is Uncertainty in the prices of raw materials. The rising prices of high-quality raw materials will increase the overall manufacturing costs of hammocks. This added cost is usually transmitted to consumers in the form of increased prices, which can restrict volume purchases. Cotton, polypropylene, and polyester are the major raw materials used in the manufacture of hammocks. Recent hikes in commodity prices and the scarcity of raw materials had a negative impact on the profit margins of hammock manufacturers. On the other hand, the increased manufacturing capacity in China has particularly created a global shortage of raw materials. This is particularly evident in the prices of natural fibers such as cotton. The prices of artificial fibers like polypropylene and polyamide have also increased. The sheer scale and frequency of rises in the price of commodities have posed a significant challenge for the vendors in the market.

The study was conducted using an objective combination of primary and secondary information including inputs from key participants in the industry. The report contains a comprehensive market and vendor landscape in addition to a SWOT analysis of the key vendors.