As you may well be aware, there’s a huge difference between camping hammocks and backyard hammocks, more often than not in the likeness of a spread bar. Now, the thing about spread bars is that they make the hammock unstable and prone to tipping, and while that’s good for laughs and giggles back home, anyone bringing that camping is just pushing their luck.
Bottom line – if you’re going out into the boonies, you’d better bring the gear for it. That said, how do you actually choose the best camping hammock out of hundreds of possible choices? Let’s find out together.
Last update on 2018-01-19 at 05:43 PST - Details
So, we’ve already mentioned the distinction between camping hammocks and what you might call regular or chilling hammocks (pretty much any hammock you would’ve seen in a movie). For those of you still not in the know, the key distinction between the two types is the balance or stability – camping hammocks achieve that by having a gathering point at each end rather than spreading the material over using a spread bar. We’re not going to get into the physics of that, but you can probably see the benefits for yourself.
Well, to be honest, they aren’t, not in all respects. Let’s dispense with all the ways in which a tent is better than a hammock so that we can continue with listing all the ways in which it isn’t. For a start, you get better protection from the elements, especially if you get an all-season tent.
On a similar note, you get lots of space for storage and various activities, such as changing clothes or other, more demanding but related ones. Finally, tents are much more stable than hammocks, even camping ones.
For one, setting a hammock up and taking it down takes less time, even (or especially because) you’ve never been a Boy Scout. All you need to do is find a couple of suitable trees, rocks, poles, or combinations thereof, and strap everything in place (or tie a couple of simple knot's, depending on your suspension system).
Our second point is sleep quality – hammocks are the closest thing adults have to cradles, and it’s been proven how rocking motions help anyone doze off faster and experience longer deep sleep (which is when our brain recovers). On a similar point, the weightlessness we experience in hammocks is beneficial to the anatomy, as well, and your muscles will feel much better after a spell in the hammock than a year in the softest cushions imaginable, let alone camping mattress.
Thirdly, as Bear Grylls has taught us, you lose more heat through the ground than the air (“one layer of insulation underneath is worth two above”). Seeing as a hammock pretty much means zero contact with the ground, you don’t need as much insulation to keep your optimal temperature.
Finally, and this is really a minor point, but important for all the backpackers and trekkers, hammocks are much lighter than tents, as well as less bulky. It might not seem as much to drive campers, but for anyone going a decent distance on foot, every ounce counts.
If you feel convinced, we can then make a segue to our next section – how to actually choose the best camping hammock for your needs.
Most folks start with figuring out a budget and then go from there. However, with hammocks, this is a mistake, and for two reasons. One, there’s really not a budget to plan – your average single hammock costs less than a monthly allowance for a young teen, and even high-end ones will be well under a hundred green ones. Two, it makes you focus on all the wrong things and start looking for bells and whistles.
So, the proper way to start looking for you next (or first) hammock is by deciding on the size. In general, hammocks are divided into single and double – pretty self-explanatory, right? Both types are long anywhere between 9–11 feet, and the real difference is the width – single hammocks are typically between 4–6 feet, while their double counterparts are at least 6 feet wide.
As for the weight, the lowest you’ll see is probably 8 ounces, anything lower than that is either unrealistic or expensive as all hell. On the opposite side, you could find luxurious hammocks as heavy as 3 or more pounds. Still, the most realistic range is about a pound for single hammocks, and half that much again for doubles.
Now, it’s important to make a clear distinction between the weight of the hammock itself and its capacity, and take both into consideration (you’d be surprised how many folks don’t care about this). You’d be as equally surprised to hear that the hammocks weight doesn’t really correlate to its capacity, and that for most of them, the upper limit is 400 pounds.
This is more than enough for a single hammock, and covers doubles just as well, but you’d do well to aim for 500 pounds if going double, just in case. Also, keep in mind that this is usually the recommended weight, and not the breaking point, so you could probably stretch it up to 10% in most case, as long as you check your hammock regularly for signs of giving way (that means ropes, carabiners and straps as well, not just the fabric).
Last update on 2018-01-19 at 05:43 PST - Details
ENO is pretty much a household name when it comes to camping hammocks and camping gear in general, and their SingleNest Hammock certainly lives up to the reputation. The material that goes into making this puppy is 70D nylon taffeta, whose main characteristics are durability and breathability.
On the flipside, just like any nylon fabric, this one is not resistant to sunlight, so too much exposure can damage it over time. Still, seeing as you’ll probably spend most of your hammock time in the shade, this doesn’t strike as that much of a concern.
Now, while we’re on the subject of fabric, it’s worth mentioning that ENO uses any and all bits of fabric they have available in making their hammocks, as an attempt to reduce waste. That’s why it just may happen that the hammock you receive is not the exact shade you ordered. That said, there are 26 dichromatic flavors to choose from, from the vivid red & yellow to the more subtle green & black, depending on your preferences and needs.
As for dimensions, the SingleNest measures 112 x 55 x 0.1 inches when unfolded (4 x 5 when packed), and weighs in at about 1 pound. When you factor in another 5 ounces for the wiregate carabiners and ropes (nautical grade), you get about 1.3 pounds of shipping weight. Speaking of weight, the manufacturer puts 400 pounds as the upper limit.
Of course, it goes without saying that you’re not limited to just camping with it. You can just as easily bring the SingleNest on a boating trip, as well as hiking or just chilling in the backyard. The suspension system allows you to attach it to pretty much any stable vertical object, be it trees, poles, boat masts, even walls or your car’s roof rack.
The ProVenture Double Camping Hammock is exactly what it reads on the tin – a camping hammock intended for a couple (or a single tall person, whichever floats your boat). Speaking of boats, it’s worth mentioning that you can just as easily take this hammock boating or just lying around your backyard, provided there’s something to suspend it from. Anything will do – a couple of trees, poles, boat masts, even RV ladders or your car’s roof rack.
On that note, the ProVenture is a bit on the heavy side, as far as hammocks go, but it does make up for it with durability. Also, keep in mind that this is a double model, so there’s some extra material that accounts for a part of that weight (about 2.3 pounds, 2.4 if you factor in the suspension system).
The material they used for making this puppy is 210T nylon, the same fabric that goes into making parachutes. The fabric is coupled with triple stitching, which should go a long way to preventing the hammock from falling apart.
Another great thing about this is that you get all the mounting hardware you’ll need – solid steel carabiners, nautical grade line, plus 9-foot non-stretch straps to make setting it up all the easier (enough for trees up to 20 feet apart). Seeing how these are essentially just throw-in items, this is surprisingly good value package.
The ProVenture double is the largest item on our list, measuring about 126 x 78 inches. On that note, the company does carry single hammocks, with all the specs, features and throw-in items as you get with the one we’re reviewing here (except the size, obviously).
On that note, this is one of the best hammock models for tall people (think 6 feet and up), though you will have to keep in mind its limitations. Notably, the recommended load shouldn’t exceed 400 pounds (well, you could conceivably go over, but you’d have to remember to check for wear and tear each and every time you use it).
First thing’s first, we should mention that the Wise Owl Outfitters Camping Hammock is available in two flavors, much like the majority of items on our list – the SingleOwl and the DoubleOwl. Obviously, the models are exactly the same in every respect, except their size and weight, obviously. The DoubleOwl unfolds to 120 x 78 inches and weighs in at around 1.6 pounds, while the SingleOwl measures 108 x 54 inches and weighs a mere pound.
Still, either way, you choose, you’re looking at a hammock with maximum weight capacity of 400 pounds, so you should take that into consideration. Granted, you could probably stretch it for an additional 40ish pounds (this is the recommended limit, not the breaking point, after all), but you’d have to check it for wear and tear each time you get in or out, as well as when packing and unpacking it.
On the flipside, the Owl is easy to set up and will hang from just about anything – trees, poles, boat masts, RV ladders, car racks, hammock stands, even walls or a particularly convenient rock (provided you have the right suspension). On that note, you should know that no straps are included, although you do get about 8 feet of nautical grade rope, as well as a couple of solid steel carabiners.
All in all, the quality of the material and stitching is surprisingly high-end, considering the price, and both sizes are roomier than most of their counterpart. On the other hand, this does mean that the hammock will tend to wrap around you as you sleep – it shouldn’t be a problem if you’re camping in somewhat cold weather (in fact, it’s preferable), but if you plan on spending your trip somewhere warm, it might get annoying.
While we’re discussing locations, it’s worth noting that most camping grounds do encourage using straps, at best, and outright forbid using ropes, at worst, so you should think about investing in a pair of looped straps as soon as possible.
As you can infer from reading the name, the Winner Outfitters Double Camping Hammock comes with plenty of room for two people. The exact measurements here are pretty much the standard – 118 x 78 inches. On that note, Winner Outfitters do carry a single hammock, which is indistinguishable from its double counterpart, apart from size, that is.
Now, there’s one minor gripe that needs be addressed right out of the gates – the manufacturer states they’re selling the hammock with “tree-friendly straps” included. It’s important to clarify that these aren’t straps at all, but rather nylon covers for the nautical grade rope so that it doesn’t cut into the bark.
Still, they more than make up for this somewhat misleading advertising with the fact that you get pre-tied knots in your ropes, which is a nice touch. In other words, you’re getting all the adjustability and eco-friendliness of a looped strap without the actual strap.
Other than that, the hammock is a great bang for the buck – you get a pretty much all the gear you need for setting it up in a little over 2 pounds, with about 1.5 pounds of it being the hammock itself. Speaking of weight, this puppy is able to support up to 500 pounds of weight, which gives a decent safety margin, considering it’s a double. As far as roominess goes, you can use it either as a double for two average-height people or as a single for one tall person (think 6 feet and up).
It’s also worth mentioning that the hammock is available in 4 distinct flavors – the soothing Green & Dark Green, subdued Khaki & Grey, Vivid Red & Black, and fairly neutral Sky Blue & Blue, so you can take your pick. It’s not as rich a range as you’ll see in higher-end hammocks, but at least the colors are true to picture, and the customer service is certainly up to par.
If you’re looking for a heavy-duty camping hammock (either in single or double size), then the Honest Outfitters Camping Hammock might just be the thing for you. It’s made using 210T woven nylon taffeta, which is pretty much the same thing you’ll find in parachutes. Of course, the price will vary depending on the size you choose, but there’s no way of breaking the bank whichever way you go about it.
The maximum recommended weight this puppy supports is 500 pounds. Sure enough, this is just the recommended weight, not the breaking point, but do you really want to go experimenting? Speaking of numbers, the deal includes not only the hammock (again, either single or double) but also a couple of solid steel carabiners, as well as 10-foot straps.
Granted, the straps are a bit of a disappointment, as they have only one loop at each end, so there’s no way of adjusting them. On the flipside, the setup is much easier than if you used ropes, which should suit anyone who missed out on Boy Scouts.
The measurements for the double hammock are 118 x 78 inches, while the single measures 108 x 55 inches. Both are fairly roomy, though if you’re over 6 feet tall, you might want to go with the double just for yourself (unless it’s for backpacking).
The double weighs in at around 1.5 pounds, which isn’t really much, but if you’re backpacking, every ounce counts. On that note, it should really go without saying that the hammock can be suspended from pretty much any firm and erect object – trees, poles, boat masts, even walls and RV ladders should do the trick.
The only thing you need to keep in mind is that the distance between your two anchor points is appropriate for your mounting system, though if you have adjustable straps or just plain ole rope, you needn’t worry.
All in all, as far as the title of the best camping hammock goes, there’s really not a clear winner. ENO and Wise Owl are pretty much neck to neck at the top, though if you twisted our hands to pick one, we’d have to give a slight advantage to ENO. Yes, Wise Owl is slightly bigger and less expensive, but size, although important, is not the be-all and end-all of hammocks.
Granted, ENO does cost a bit more pennies than the rest of the items on our list, but you can rest assured you’ll feel where each and every of those pennies went. The fact of the matter is that ENO is a big player in this niche, and as such, they have a reputation to uphold. Consequently, their quality control is on a high level, and they have the least amount of complaints in this regard.
One minor gripe is that the SingleNest tends to be too small if you’re over 6 feet tall, though that’s something shared between most of the items on our list (with the exception of the ProVenture). So, if the proverbial boot fits you, keep this in mind. Happy shopping!
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