Hammocks & river tripping

I am thinking about trying a hammock for my next extended river trip. I am looking for some reviews from people that have used hammocks. Yes, I have read Charlie’s article in Paddler Magazine, however this is a general info article, I’m looking for some real feedback.

Biggest concern: Where do you store your gear while sleeping, will you get wet in a good storm and how do you get dressed?

Thanks, Mike

Have used a hammock before. I used a poncho strung over top for cover, gear under the hammock. If ya use dry bags your gear will not get wet, but with enough wind and rain you will get wet. I would suggest getting a quality hammock for comfort.

I’ve used hammocks for over 20 years while on river trips. For years I used the rope type but have used a nylon South American style the last few years. I also cary an 8’x 8’ tarp to rig over the hammock. This can be battened down in windy/wet weather to provide protection and you can dress and cook under it.

Last year I also began using a Hennesse when bugs were bad. Used it for a 10 day trip in Quetico and a week long paddling trip on the New/Greenbrier in WV with great results. Hammocks are the best thing ever invented for those of us with back trouble.

Check the Watertribe Forum, they have a number of discussion threads in the archive. They have done some field testing in gator country. There is something to be said about being able to tie a hammock up between a couple trees, while standing in your kayak. Just tie high enough that hungry gator won’t think your a pinyata! TnT

Hennessy Hammock
I use a Hennessy Hammock for backpacking here in FL and the A-Sym model is what I would suggest.

You have to think differently than if you were using a tent. Read the http://www.hikinghq.net/

gear reviews on this hammock. There are many wonderful suggestions on how to hammock camp in rain and storm situations.

For me hammocks are too confining. I don’t like the way they wrap around me. I can only hang out on one for a short period of time.

You didn’t say what river.

A good backpacking store will
have ultra light gear. I just was looking a nice one at REI. Check them out on the web.

I use a Hennessey
And am pleased with the comfort. I wish that I had a hammock on my last Greenbrier overnighter, as our campsite was pretty crowded with tents.

For backpacking I use the standard fly, but I also have an oversize “hex” fly which I will use for canoe/kayak camping. Never got wet even in torrential downpours, even with the smaller fly.

Gear management is sometimes problematic. I usually leave my footwear on the ground (usually Tevas) and hang my pack on an adjacent tree. I have sometimes simply left my pack on the ground under the hammock. I always carry a Crazy Creek chair, and I use it to stand upon under the hammock. Of course, foodstuffs are hung separately & bear/raccoon/mouse-proofed.


Hammock camping
One of my buddies in Texas, uses hammock to stay off ground and away from fire ants, scorpions, and rattlesnakes. Not recommended that you leave shoes on ground overnight or you are likely to have a scorpion to extricate in the am.

He says that the Hennessey works great especially in warmer humid weather, and is even ok in cold weather with sleeping pad.

I have not used one, but considering it! I live and camp in bear country, and at least during the summer, could be pitched where it is sometimes hard to find a flat area. During the snow season I still suspect you don’t want air circulation under hammock. TnT

St Albans drove all of the scorpions out of WV in the 1200’s, so they are not an issue for me.


Yes, I have done extensive searching and have visited lots of sites and read lots of reviews.

I think I am gonna give one a try. I have narrowed it down to two, the Clark and Hennessy. I like the weather shield on the Clark, but can’t seem to stray from my go light backpacking philosophy. In that minds eye the HH ultralight backpacker sure is sweet.


In the desert, find 2 saguaro cacti.
Lots of luck.

Do people use a thermarest mattress in a hammock or is it unnecessary?

many nights in a hammock
I’ve logged close to a year in a hammock, even have a hammock stand in the bedroom. I use the Hennessey Backpacker and their Lite Racer…sometimes I use the Speer.

Pads like Thermarest are problematic because they slip out from under you, a better option is the Speer Pod which wraps around the entire hammock, it can be had in down or synthetic. Also, and my favorite is the Jacks-R-Better underquilt called The Nest which is designed to be used with the Hennessey hammocks. Either way the insulation is under the hammock so you dont crush it with your body weight, compressing it and rendering its insulative value nill.

Spent 19 straight nights in a hammock hiking in Utah/Arizona/Nevada in September–had some serious stormage on the North Rim Grand Canyon but never got wet. I subbed out the OEM Hennessey tarp for a MacCat which is catenary cut.

Hammocks are to sliced bread for ultralightweight backpackers and you would think their use among paddle campers would have already been discovered long ago, but when paddle camping it is rare we see hammocking…the advantages are too many to list with two exceptions:

  1. hammocks sleep cold even in the heat 'bridges freeze before roads
  2. hard to snuggle with a loved one, but provide interesting options for sex

    We’ve done major miles on the AT day after day but when you wake up in the hammock it is like you didnt hike the day before.

    Next month we hope to paddle in the Big Thicket in Texas…hammocks will be in the kayaks.

Medicine Man
The hammock thing isn’t new to me, I think I’m just old school. I have been hiking on the AT for over 20 years now, and was bitten by the lightweight bug a few years back. I have designed and built a tarp/tent/shelter out of sil/nylon that is under 1#. This utilizes my Leki poles, so it not suitabe for paddling. Hiking took a back burner as I got more into river tripping. I have noticed considerable drawbacks to a tent camping along a river. The hammock seems to address these rather well.

I have ordered the HH ultralight backpaker. Tell me more about the insulation and tarp that you use with your HH. HH also has come out with stuff for cold weather hanging, any experience with there stuff?

Thanks, Mike