Hammock users--side zip v. bottom entry

I decided to give hammock tenting a chance. But there sure are a lot of options, and with no experience in hammock tenting, I’m baffled by the choices, one of which is between bottom entry and side-zippered, entry.

When baffled, it is usually helpful to ask p-net.

I’m also interested to know how often longer straps are needed. I’m looking at a Hennesy which comes with 42" straps.

TIA for any advice.


I try to avoid bottom entry on principle
Not that there’s anything wrong with that

I have the bottom entry. It seems ok. Just make sure you have a sleeping bag because it does get cold.

I’ve got a Hennessey
and like the bottom entry. Only problem I’ve run into is that it becomes a little problematic if you’re using a sleeping pad when it gets cold. Getting in and out around the pad is doable, but a little aggravatin’. Now, HH’s side zipper will not allow you to pull the netting completely free of the hammock. There is a web site where they will add zippers to your HH to do this, but they charge about $50, plus shipping. http://www.2qzqhammockhanger.com/ There have been times when I’ve been out and there have been no bugs, but there was a slight breeze that was stifled by the netting. Being able to pull it away would have been handy.

A good friend of mine who does a lot of hiking, etc., who also owns “several” hammocks, including the HH, really recommends the Warbonnet Blackbird. The Blackbird does allow you to pull the netting to one side which I like a lot. He also said to check out this site, more info there than you probably ever wanted! hammockforum.net

Welcome to the hanging community!

My Hennessy is a well detailed product, but that bottom entry will cause you to wake up in the night when your legs fall through and you find yourself standing. This tendency is exacerbated by shoulder season use of a covered foam pad, the slick coating on older Therm a Rest a particular offender.

I vastly prefer the Clark Jungle Hammock, but their flies were not as thought out as the Hennessy asymmetrical back in the day. In a perfect world we need enought fly on just one side of the hammock to dress, cook on a small camp stove in rain, etc.

And, yeah, you’ll need longer straps

side-entry convenience
I have a Hammock Bliss hammock, the “no-see-um” model with the built-in bug netting and side zipper. I’ve used it with a sleeping bag, and reflective space blanket or full sleep pad as needed for insulation in cooler temps. I orient the sleeping bag so that its zipper runs along the top instead of the side, thus I can sit into the hammock like a swing, remove shoes while I’m sitting there with the netting open, pivot lower body into the bag, zip the netting shut and lay upper body back into the bag. Seems alot easier to me than having to crawl in from underneath the bag & pad and try to wriggle into the bag while inside the hammock; plus it’s convenient exit/reentry if you have to pee or reach for something in the middle of the night. The attached stuff sack doubles as a side pocket for your headlamp, keys and such.

Also the Hammock Bliss is a very roomy size, so it’s big-guy friendly, and they offer three options for tree straps. They only make a very basic fly though, I bought a much better one made by Speer Hammocks instead.

Bottom entry
Thermarests don’t work well in hammocks as cushioning and do work as suffocation devices.

There is no need for them. I use an underquilt for insulation. And have not fallen out at 3 am. A friend of mine got goosed at 3 am by something that ran off.

my experience
i have a clark-side zip. side zip advantages are;you can unzip and reach things on the grount,you can sit sideways and use it as a lounge chair,you can unzip bothe sides,flip them op,and hava an open air experiencs. i much prefer external bottom insulation like clarks to an interior pad. pads inside hammocks are a pain. you will need surprisingly longer straps/ropes to tie to a big diameter tree. i called clark for longer ones and they were so awed at havng that situation of camping in such large trees that they sent me longer ropes for free.


Side entry

– Last Updated: Mar-31-13 11:26 AM EST –

One advantage of side entry is that you can toss the mosquito netting out of the way and use it for lounging, or as a camp chair when you aren't sleeping.

Check out the Warbonnet Blackbird. Great camping hammock and supremely comfortable. Regarding Thermarests, my wife and I use them in our Blackbirds on cooler nights and they work fine. The Blackbird "double" has a two layer bottom and the Thermarest slides in between the layers and stays in place throughout the night

And for hammock questions the best place to go is hammockforums.net. Those people live hammocks and can answer any question you might have.

Ordered an HH
Despite the substantial number of hammock devotees, I’ve never been convinced I will be comfortable hammock camping. But, it sure seems to offer a number of practical advantages compared to grounded tents.

I fooled around with a Hammock Bliss screened hammock last summer. Even in summer, I thought it got a little cold beneath. I put my thermarest in it, which helped, but it still seemed cool where the sides of the hammock touched my shoulders or whatever other body part was against the side. That was enough to convince me I need to get a hammock tent that is set up to accept an underside quilt. And during the nights spent in the Bliss, hanging between a couple lally columns in the basement, I can’t say I really slept well. I returned the Hammock Bliss with the thought that, when it came, I’d use my REI dividend to get a Hennesy.

Why Hennesy? Well, because REI carries Hennesy. REI’s satisfaction guarantee cuts the risk of my hammock camping trial.

The Warbonnets look to be the cream of the crop, and thanks for recommending them. I’ll consider upgrading if I become a hammock devotee, but for now, I’ll start with a Hennesy–side zip.

The Bliss had side zip, and it seemed fine to get in and out of, Bottom entry does not seem to offer any distinct advantage, so why mess with it? The hammock forum was an excellent recommendation, and I read up on bottom quilts and side entry v. bottom over there. Thanks for recommending that.

Pretty funny wise crack by bowrudder there. Not too helpful, but funny and it made me embarassed not to see that set-up.

Thanks all. I appreciate the advice.


Hammock Pad
You can go to lowe’s and buy some Reflectix insulation and make a very cheap pad. I have done two overnights this winter testing this set up, low temps were mid 20’s. Using a 20* down bag. It’s fairly light but takes up some space. Used a Cabela’s lightweight nylon hammock, no netting (it’s winter) with my HH fly. Was very pleased.

A thermarest does work well

– Last Updated: Apr-01-13 11:26 AM EST –

Of course you can use a Thermarest pad in a hammock. Not needed for cushioning, rather it is for insulation from cool air beneath you. The trick is to keep it underneath you and your sleeping bag. It will not stay there if you simply try to lay on top of it - it has a tendency to "squirt" out and end up on top of you. There are fortunately several good ways of holding it in place. One of the easiest is to use a light overbag, simply put your sleeping bag and pad inside and all is well. For years I used an old worn sheet sewn together to make an overbag. Costs nothing and weights practically nothing. A little more advanced option is to use a sleeping bag with a built in sleeve, such as a Big Agnes, which is what I do now. Others have glued small strips of velcro in place.

If your feet fall through the bottom entry, you have either not closed it properly by pressing the velcro together, or the velcro is dirty and clogged with debris. If you are using the hammock properly, your feet would not be directly over the opening. You should be laying in a semi-diagonal to the support line. Try not tying it so tight to the trees so there is a slight sag. Because of the way the hammock is designed, that will allow you to lay flatter than if it is ultra tight. I've been using the same bottom entry Hennessy for well over 10 years for a good many nights a year, and I don't see any need or compelling advantage to change.

A friend of mine has tried a couple of different under quilts, and that works for him, but he often doesn't bother with it, going back to the BA/sleeve/pad method instead. I haven't tried the side entry model, but remain very happy with what I have.

Flat vs. banana
To me the key to hammock comfort is the ability to lay at an angle across the hammock, which enables me to sleep relatively flat. Hammocks that force me to sleep in a banana shape are murder on my knees because they are bent the wrong way all night.

And as a side sleeper it’s possible for me to sleep on my side in hammocks that let me sleep flat, but it’s hard to do that in most hammocks.

in summer i sleep in my clark with insulation on the external bottom and my mummy bag over me ,open,upsidedown with my back against the hammock fabric. this prevents nylon to nylon sliding around which is a magor pain. pow’r tack spray inside the hamock helps that problem also. below 30 degrees i put a wide 1/4’ ensulite pad inside and use the mumybag conventionally.


Thats right. Whoopieslings. It’s even fun to say. You need to go to Hammockforums.net and read all about them. I have 8’ whoopieslings on each end which are adjustable to pretty much any situation. And they are light, making your kayak happier.

Oh, and side zip all the way.

Caution: Hammock camping is a bit addicting (like paddling).