Hammock camping

Last fall at a family gathering I casually mentioned I might try camping out of my kayak this summer, but wasn’t sure I wanted to spend $$ for more equipment, like a tent, etc. Low and behold, under the Christmas tree this year was a nifty Enos hammock, straps, and bug net.

Any in our community done that? Are hammocks comfortable enough to wake up without an aching back? Do you get cold? I like the compactness but also wonder about curious wildlife in the middle of the night.

My last camping experience was some years ago when I pitched my tent over a few ants nests. It wasn’t a very good tent and wasn’t long before I had lots of company.


I have not tried hammock camping so can’t comment on the logistics you mention. But check for any restrictions. In some places, for ex some of the Maine Island Trail sites are short on trees sturdy and well located enough to tolerate hammocks well.

I have been a hammock camper for going on 15 years now. I am not personally familiar with the cut and shape of the Enos brand, but there are a number of hammocks specifically designed for backpack or canoe camping, such as the Hennessey and others. The difference between them and a simple backyard style hammock is the layout and the cut of the fabric. It is shaped such that you lay on a semi-diagonal and therefore are not forced to be bent into a “U-shape” of a simple cheap hammock. Most people I know who hammock camp, including myself, say that they sleep better and more comfortably than in a bed, and certainly better than on the flat hard ground in a tent. No back ache issues whatsoever. Back sleepers or side sleepers like me are very comfortable. Back in tenting days I would sometimes search for the better part of an hour in the backcountry for a small spot flat enough for even a tiny solo tent. With my hammock I have set up over rocky terrain, on steep slopes, over blowdown logs, heavy brush, in swamps, and many other places that you would never consider placing a tent. No more searching along a remote landing with my canoe for an ideal tent site.

Except in mid-summer, you will need some sort of insulation system under you to keep the cool night air from cooling your backside while suspended. It could be as simple as a regular insulated sleeping pad or a fancier underquilt for colder times.

I have always thought the sight of someone in a hammock would look to a bear like a giant rolled burrito, with a soft chewy center. But I have never heard of anyone having any such problem. Look at it this way - a tent on the ground provides easy side wall access for mice, ants, and other critters, but they can’t bother a hammock so easily.

Great advice. Eno guy here too. They are great in my opinion. No need to buy a fancy strap system, (or an expensive hammock). Buy a cheap cargo tie down - remove the hardware, learn how to tie a bowline with a quick release knot (youtube) and your’e good to go; that way you wont damage the tree (paracord and other rope tends to cut and shed bark). Sleeping on an angle (toward the side of the hammock) will give a more comfortable platform. Insulation is important in the winter and some soft of tarp for the rain.

Appreciate all the good feedback. Thanks for the advice.

Will give it a try first here at home once the snow melts and I can scout out trees.

Do love that rolled burrito analogy, yknpdlr.

I’m not familiar with the particular hammock you’ve mentioned. But I’ve been a tent camper for quite a few years. In the last year or two I purchased a Blackbird Warbonnet Traveler to try out at home and see whether I’d be able to sleep comfortably in a hammock. If everything worked out well I was going to also purchase the camping model with integrated bug net (the XLC, or whatever else is highly rated when I’m ready to purchase).

I’ve learned much. The most important of this is to have proper insulation underneath in the form of an under quilt or nice wide thick sleeping pad - enough to wrap around you and keep your shoulders and hips from contacting the hammock. It needs to be something that does not compress under your weight. This may not be the case when the weather is very hot, but evenings can still get cool at those times and many people’s ability to stay warm while sleeping is less than when they’re awake.

Others have already mentioned that you need to position yourself on an angle. The correct hang is also something of an art (or black magic) to get it set up just right for your comfort.

I recently had the choice between sleeping on the floor of my recently sold almost empty house at 8°C [46°F] or outside under cover in my hammock at -8°C [17°F]. I chose the latter and I had a much better sleep with no body aches like I would have had on the floor using two sleeping pads. Full disclosure, I also used a down sleeping bag rated for -12°C [10°F], a thick toque, thermal underwear top and bottom, a few layers of fleece, and an inexpensive sleeping bag draped over the ridge line to form something of a “hot tent”. I’m sure the sleeping bag soaked up moisture during the night so this wouldn’t be a good plan for a backcountry trip. But it sure was cozy! There are only two problems with this: 1) The perpetually cold nose, and 2) getting out of the toasty sleeping bag in the morning… Having some fluids before going to sleep can help both to keep you warmer overnight, and having to eliminate those fluids in the morning forces you to face the cold.

Check out some of the online hammock forums. There are lots of people way more dedicated to “the hang” than I am.

I expect my future will involve bringing both a hammock and a tent with me on longer trips where I may encounter differing terrain. There are lots of places you can use a hammock that a tent won’t work, and vice versa. I’d hate to get to a great campsite planning to hammock camp and find but a few stunted scraggly bushes… and yes, I understand it’s said you can use your hammock as a bivy. But if I have the room I’d much rather a tent in that case.

@Sparky961 Since I’m a wuss in really cold weather, I think I would have tried to set up the hammock inside the house - but understand the buyers might not like support thingys embedded in the woodwork.

The really cool accommodations are tree tents. But you need more trees.

I did have it set up in the house for a few months already. It had been weeks since taking it down for the finishing touches and patching holes from my anchors in the walls.

I found a distinct preference for the hammock over most other places I’ve slept.

@Sparky961 said:

I found a distinct preference for the hammock over most other places I’ve slept.

Am happy to read the positive responses. Now it’s a waiting game for the great meltdown.

I loved my hammock
I started to camp in FL
and the Far North
In the former situation you do not want to be in the trees like Gumbo Limbo
The bugs will feast
And always am
seeking wide open beach for more breeze less bugs.
The boreal forest has spindly trees and people have hung successfully: its just a matter of picking a less spindly black spruce
Out on gravel bar rivers there is a problem Willows make very unstable hanging trees
So if you know your camping area a hammock could be the way to go
In Maine I don’t
trees for hanging are in dense no seeum woods. I’ll tent in the open thanks


Hmm. I better check out that bug net mesh.

Maybe the Polar Vortex killed lots of those blood-sucking critters?

@Rookie said:

Hmm. I better check out that bug net mesh.

Maybe the Polar Vortex killed lots of those blood-sucking critters?

No such luck. Our northern moises & blackflys thrive in the cold. Best hope is with a freeze after they hatch but before they fly. If your ENO doesn’t have a bug net then you may need to wait until late summer or early fall. August is usually pretty good in Northern Michigan once you get in dryer areas.

Just checked and there’s a stuff sack labeled “Guardian Bug Net.” Zippered entry and super-fine no-see-um netting. :slight_smile:

Then all you need is a decent tarp for our liquid sunshine.

Since I don’t want to repeat what’s already been said I’ll just add this - don’t drink to much before getting in the hammock. Getting out and back in in the dark is a pain in the neck.