Author Topic: Touring with hammocks: any other Pros & cons?  (Read 1391 times)

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Offline walks.in2.trees

Touring with hammocks: any other Pros & cons?
« on: February 20, 2016, 08:30:46 pm »
I see surprising few hammocks mentioned on this forum.  In my experience, a hammock & hammock-tarp is the perfect ultra-light sleeping solution for cycling, so long as there are trees.  It's possible when no trees are available, or where using the trees is prohibited, to go to ground and use all the same gear, but it's not ideal, however as I consider this statement, I realize that it wouldn't be any different than a tent at that point. 

As reference for those that don't know, a proper hammock camping kit includes the following:
Hammock, Bug net, tarp, insulation, tree straps, tie-outs, stakes, Ridge-line of some sort

There is an ultralight hammock stand you can get in case there are no trees
Most hammockers who go the ultra-light route (weight weenies, affectionately) buy their gear from other hammockers who have started cottage industry businesses, or, they modify the stock equpment they buy to get the weight down to acceptable levels.
ultra-light tarps come in all shapes and sizes, hammock tarps are made FOR hammocks, but can be used for other uses too, some are fuly enclosed while others only offer enough coverage to keep you dry.
Hammock insulation can be a sleeping pad and a sleeping bag, or it can be an under quilt, with a top quilt, 850 down or synthetic or hybrid of the two.

Currently, I use a cottage-vendor-made top and bottom 850 down quiltset.  I have a 0 degree set for winter, and a 45 degree set for summer, a 12' Silnylon tarp with side-pulls that can be rigged wide-open and roomy in nice weather, or close-in and cozy with doors that close against the wind for winter weather.

I've been hammock camping for local overnights for several years now, but I havn't been able to do a cross country tour yet, nor have I had to test the ground-dwelling abilities of it yet. This winter was the first that I had proper gear for 4-season overnights.  but previous years I did 3-season camping down to 10 degrees with nested sleeping bags and heat reflective padding

heres the pros and cons as I know them so far:

Pros:
light weight
pack small
best most restful sleep ever
no need for a pad
deploys quickly
never wake up in a puddle ever again
no rods

Cons:
If not set up properly, you can get very wet from water running down your suspension system
lack of trees is no fun
I'm told many state parks prohibit tying things to trees for fear of damage
Winter wind can ruin your day if your tarp is too small to protect you from it

So, obviously, I'm a fan of hammock camping, so my question is, what percentage of ground sleeping could I expect on a cross country tour, I feel like finding places suitable for hanging might be rough in the desert and the plains. In the north east and down the east coast I'm pretty confident that I could find places to hang each night.

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Offline 22hornet

Re: Touring with hammocks: any other Pros & cons?
« Reply #1 on: February 21, 2016, 02:00:00 pm »
Big hammock fan here, I own 3. I did the southern tier last Feb and was concerned about the desert sections, so I reluctantly left my hammock home. I think if I left my UQ behind and used a pad I could have rigged the hammock like a bivy and used some kind of ground cloth to protect the fabric. I will tell you this I will never again leave my hammock at home ,I will find a solution. HYOH enjoy Jim

Offline BikePacker

Re: Touring with hammocks: any other Pros & cons?
« Reply #2 on: February 21, 2016, 05:39:13 pm »
I absolutely love hammocks (for all the many 'pro' reasons you have cited) and, yet, have never been able to find enough places to tie one up at the end of the tour day .... I just gave up on the idea .... cause for me it, thereby, proved too limiting, sadly.

Offline DarrenBnYYC

Re: Touring with hammocks: any other Pros & cons?
« Reply #3 on: February 21, 2016, 11:10:03 pm »
I go back and forth between my hammock and tent. I love the hammock very much, and nothing matches the sleep I get in a hammock, especially in the backcountry. And frankly, it is hard to sleep on the ground again after getting used to a hammock (and I have tried all kinds of sleeping pads).

But there are some reasons why the tent, bag, and sleeping pad combination are better:
- up here in Canada, particularly in the Rockies or the interior of British Columbia where I tend to visit most, you really need an underquilt or insulated undercover with a hammock to stay comfortable (that adds additional weight and bulk that sometimes isn't considered in comparisons of tent vs. hammock)
- my Hennessy Ultralite Asym Backpacker hammock and the undercover insulation system together is a lot bulkier and a wee bit heavier than my Big Agnes Seedhouse SL2 tent
- you get a lot more privacy in a tent
- I have had campground staff give me a hard time about hanging a hammock (they thought I would hurt the trees, despite my 2" tree webbing straps)
- even in the forest, sometimes it is actually easier to find a nice flat, level piece of ground than two trees spaced just the right distance apart to hang the hammock without a bunch of branches getting in the way, especially if you want a scenic view from inside

To balance, here are some additional reasons I like the hammock over the tent, which I don't think were mentioned above:
- hammocks make wonderful chairs to lounge in -- it is such a luxury at the end of a long day
- my large hex tarp has plenty of room underneath to protect my bike and gear overnight
- my hammock tarp is on a separate ridgeline so that I can break it out quickly en route (e.g., need quick shelter from a boomer)
- setup and tear-down is much simpler and quicker with the hammock system that my tent, especially in the rain

So I tend to choose my sleep system based on where I will be going (lots of trees to hang a hammock?) and/or whether I will be likely to staying in a lot of campgrounds.

Offline Jason

Re: Touring with hammocks: any other Pros & cons?
« Reply #4 on: May 09, 2016, 10:42:37 pm »
I too found the same with hammocks.

The size and their relative light weight convinced me before leaving (TransAm) that all would be good.  In truth, not so much.  I was creative (as i could be) with setting it up; bridged between piknik tables (basically laying on the ground) tied to poles @ parks, etc, etc.  In the end, it was far more trouble than any potential weight savings.

I'm sold on using either a bivy sac or a tent only.
singlespeed touring - life generally requires just one speed.
Southern Tier, TransAm, tons of places in between.

Offline paddleboy17

Re: Touring with hammocks: any other Pros & cons?
« Reply #5 on: May 10, 2016, 11:54:09 am »
I think that the actual weight difference between a hammock setup or a solo tent comes out to be a wash.

So choose a hammock because that is what you want to do, and accept that sometimes you will have to make a bivy out of your hammock.

Danno

Offline Timberhack

Re: Touring with hammocks: any other Pros & cons?
« Reply #6 on: May 25, 2016, 10:17:29 am »
Big hammock fan here too. Did the western half of the Trans-Am with one last summer and concluded that in the plains states a tent would be the way to go. With a little creativity I was able to find methods to hang without trees, that was not the problem. The problem is if it looks like it might rain, you need the tarp up, and with a tarp that's above the ground, it acts like a big sail. 30+ MPH winds are a major PITA with a hammock tarp. That being said, it would be hard to go back to the ground after the comfort of my W.B. Blackbird.

 Disclaimer: I'm old. When I was young I could sleep on a pile of rocks and snooze like a baby.

Offline walks.in2.trees

Re: Touring with hammocks: any other Pros & cons?
« Reply #7 on: January 01, 2017, 05:16:50 pm »
Big hammock fan here, I own 3. I did the southern tier last Feb and was concerned about the desert sections, so I reluctantly left my hammock home. I think if I left my UQ behind and used a pad I could have rigged the hammock like a bivy and used some kind of ground cloth to protect the fabric. I will tell you this I will never again leave my hammock at home ,I will find a solution. HYOH enjoy Jim
Since most of the objections here seem to be related to finding places to hang:

Over on HammockForums there's someone that makes something she calls "No-Ground Poles"

It's a work in progress that began as a DIY project based on a similar project in the UK called the Handy Hammock stand.

The difference between the No Ground Poles and the Handy Hammock is that the No Ground Poles convert into trecking poles, whereas the Handy Hammock is a one purpose item. On the bike, being able to convert to trecking poles isn't a huge benefit, but there is the benefit of using them for an outside pole mod, or to use them in place of trecking poles to set up your tarp in "porch mode" when you don't need them to support the hammock.

I bought a pair of No Ground Poles knowing that it's a work in progress, and knowing that she'll upgrade them (with limitations) as she makes improvements to her design.

She's on the third iteration of the design, and while they look and function great, there's definitely improvements that need to be made, though nothing so far that relates to safety while hanging from them.

For instance, the setup instructions need to be better. I had to resort to the YouTube videos, and I'm usually able to figure things out without instructions at all.

It's made of steel tubing. Obviously, titanium would reduce the weight, but increase the cost.

I've communicated most of my issues so far to her, and she's very good about getting back to me.
I absolutely love hammocks (for all the many 'pro' reasons you have cited) and, yet, have never been able to find enough places to tie one up at the end of the tour day .... I just gave up on the idea .... cause for me it, thereby, proved too limiting, sadly.

I go back and forth between my hammock and tent. I love the hammock very much, and nothing matches the sleep I get in a hammock, especially in the backcountry. And frankly, it is hard to sleep on the ground again after getting used to a hammock (and I have tried all kinds of sleeping pads).

But there are some reasons why the tent, bag, and sleeping pad combination are better:
- up here in Canada, particularly in the Rockies or the interior of British Columbia where I tend to visit most, you really need an underquilt or insulated undercover with a hammock to stay comfortable (that adds additional weight and bulk that sometimes isn't considered in comparisons of tent vs. hammock)
- my Hennessy Ultralite Asym Backpacker hammock and the undercover insulation system together is a lot bulkier and a wee bit heavier than my Big Agnes Seedhouse SL2 tent
- you get a lot more privacy in a tent
- I have had campground staff give me a hard time about hanging a hammock (they thought I would hurt the trees, despite my 2" tree webbing straps)
- even in the forest, sometimes it is actually easier to find a nice flat, level piece of ground than two trees spaced just the right distance apart to hang the hammock without a bunch of branches getting in the way, especially if you want a scenic view from inside

To balance, here are some additional reasons I like the hammock over the tent, which I don't think were mentioned above:
- hammocks make wonderful chairs to lounge in -- it is such a luxury at the end of a long day
- my large hex tarp has plenty of room underneath to protect my bike and gear overnight
- my hammock tarp is on a separate ridgeline so that I can break it out quickly en route (e.g., need quick shelter from a boomer)
- setup and tear-down is much simpler and quicker with the hammock system that my tent, especially in the rain

So I tend to choose my sleep system based on where I will be going (lots of trees to hang a hammock?) and/or whether I will be likely to staying in a lot of campgrounds.

Forgot: can be rigged high enough to stand under, get dressed, or remove wet gear... I'll never go back to a minimalist tarp...I remember trying to stay dry while taking off my rain gear with only enough room under the tarp to stay dry while actually in it. Try that with a bivy.

I too found the same with hammocks.

The size and their relative light weight convinced me before leaving (TransAm) that all would be good.  In truth, not so much.  I was creative (as i could be) with setting it up; bridged between piknik tables (basically laying on the ground) tied to poles @ parks, etc, etc.  In the end, it was far more trouble than any potential weight savings.

I'm sold on using either a bivy sac or a tent only.

Big hammock fan here too. Did the western half of the Trans-Am with one last summer and concluded that in the plains states a tent would be the way to go. With a little creativity I was able to find methods to hang without trees, that was not the problem. The problem is if it looks like it might rain, you need the tarp up, and with a tarp that's above the ground, it acts like a big sail. 30+ MPH winds are a major PITA with a hammock tarp. That being said, it would be hard to go back to the ground after the comfort of my W.B. Blackbird.

 Disclaimer: I'm old. When I was young I could sleep on a pile of rocks and snooze like a baby.

Yes, last March I had to get creative in the heavy winds. I've found two ways:

First, if there's conveniently located existing brush or saplings, you can do a single wrap around that then stake out the remaining length of the guyline horizontally. The action of the tarp will be taken by the sapling, not your stake, and the stake is only keeping the line taught, while the sapling serves as the actual anchor. Alternatively, you could tie off directly to the sapling, but this is less convenient.

The second method involves a larks-head around the top of a trecking pole or pole cut on location as the intermediate connection...A fulcrum. The overall effect is that the action from the tarp through the guyline presses down against ground through the trecking pole, instead of yanking directly on the stake which works it out of the ground. For this method to work, you have to set it up specifically for the situation for greatest effect.

In my case, one side of my tarp was against a hill, but the other side was not. The wind of course was on the side next to the hill and it was lifting the tarp and yanking the stakes out one at a time, or with the strongest gusts, all of the stakes on that side at once. Because of the hill, I couldn't use the bottom tieout loops for this, so I larks-headed the lines from both side-pulls to one trecking pole, fully extended and placed centered, then staked the ends out to form an X, using the stakes to pull on the top of the trecking pole, to tension the tarp via the side-pulls. Since it was mostly the action of the tarp working them out of the ground, this configuration stopped this action, and they didn't work loose anymore.

I think that the actual weight difference between a hammock setup or a solo tent comes out to be a wash.

So choose a hammock because that is what you want to do, and accept that sometimes you will have to make a bivy out of your hammock.

↑ This is my thought as well. ↑

Most of the comparisons that I've seen between the two systems, do so incorrectly

They usually mention the poorer performance of a Pad when used with a hammock as opposed to a superior performance of a Pad on on the ground, then include the weight of an Underquilt as additional weight to the hammock system, but leave out the extra weight of a pad as a factor when talking about sleeping on the ground. Nobody ever compares the bulk of a packed pad to the bulk of a packed Underquilt at all that I remember nor does a gram-per-gram insulative performance comparison between the two, rather than as an alternative to using a pad as it should be.

What hammock/gear do you other folks use? Snake-Skins? Dutchware bling? Suspension type? Mods?

Packing technique/preferences? Pack-weight?

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Offline canalligators

Re: Touring with hammocks: any other Pros & cons?
« Reply #8 on: January 01, 2017, 10:01:55 pm »
To me, it comes down to comfort v. Places to hang and coldness.  I've gone to several state campgrounds where I had to cruise around to find the one site where there were trees 12-14' apart. There were very few and I counted myself lucky. And hammocks are cold below 55F and hot above 85F.  No argument with comfort; much better than sleeping on the ground. I'm getting myself a solo tent and saving the hammock for perfect conditions.

One other point. If it's cold and you're in multiple layers, allow a lot of time to actually enter and get situated. I find it helps to have a good assortment of swear words handy, too.
« Last Edit: January 01, 2017, 10:05:26 pm by canalligators »

Offline DarrenBnYYC

Re: Touring with hammocks: any other Pros & cons?
« Reply #9 on: Today at 09:42:27 am »
Forgot: can be rigged high enough to stand under, get dressed, or remove wet gear... I'll never go back to a minimalist tarp...I remember trying to stay dry while taking off my rain gear with only enough room under the tarp to stay dry while actually in it. Try that with a bivy.

You rig your hammock and tarp high enough that you can STAND underneath? I don't think I could do that, unless I dug a pit underneath my hammock after I tied up. And definitely not much privacy changing with the hammock/tarp that high, eh? Unless of course, you dug a REALLY deep pit. LOL.