Practical Backpacking™ Forums

Welcome to Practical Backpacking™ Forums (PBF).

You are currently viewing PBF as a guest which has limited access. By becoming a PBF member, you will have full access to view and participate in tens of thousands of informative discussions, to view links and attachments (photos), and will gain access to other special features. Registration is fast, simple and absolutely free! Click to Become a PBF Member! Be sure to also explore the Practical Backpacking Podcast.


Go Back   Practical Backpacking™ Forums > Practical Backpacking™ Gear Discussion > Hammocks
HOME FAQ PBF GUIDELINES BLOG PODCAST GALLERY STORE CALENDAR Mark Forums Read

Hammocks The Hammocks forum is for the discussion of backpacking hammocks and related sleep systems.


Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 03-13-2009, 06:11 PM
© 2006-2016 Practical Backpacking™ / All Rights Reserved
Reality Reality is offline
PBF Administrator & PB Podcast Host
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Oregon
Posts: 4,954
Hammocks Suck [Not]

I've received and/or heard so many negative comments from others about hammocks/hammocking that prompted me to compile much of the feedback that I've got over the years on this topic. This way I can just point people here for thoughts on the matter, rather than keep typing it out in email and such.

What follows are (negative) segment quotes from conversations and/or messages that I've received from those who do not like hammocks/hammocking (or sadly dislike 'hammockers' themselves).

My intention is to present these with my commentary and open this up for others to discuss. The quoted comments have only been changed to appropriately tone them down and/or to remove tidbits that may disclose their origin.

[Note: I've only quoted those comments that I've received numerous times over the past few years. My comments follow each quote respectively.]

Quote:
You can only camp where there are trees and then you have to be willing to damage them.
This is largely true (except for the damage part), but generally not a problem for most. Also, some hammocks can be pitched on the ground. However, I'm not likely to ever take a hammock out with the intent to use it on the ground. But it's nice to know the capability is there in the event of an unexpected no-trees-available emergency.

I could go into a whole bunch of things that damage trees in the wilderness, but I won't. Each and every time that I've used a hammock, the trees have shown very little if any sign of my having tied to them. This, as with many other things, is largely user manageable. Care can and should be taken.

Quote:
They think hammocks are good for your back.
Well I've heard a lot of chatter about all types of things that are said to be 'good' for the back. Truth be told, I don't think our human bodies appeared on earth only to wait for a plethora of centuries to pass for a hammock to be eventually created so that our backs could finally find rest. And a hammock isn't necessarily holding one's back in the perfect position for posture. However, neither is most anything else.

Even if something does hold your spine in a 'good' position, who's to say that your spine doesn't already have defects and the 'hold' is merely supporting the existing misalignment(?)

There's more than a few who will jump at the chance to sing the praises of back comfort while hammocking. But, in all fairness, even more say the same thing about this or that mattress. There's always a group of believers for nearly everything. So I'll just say that it's best to do your own independent research and pay attention to how your body responds to your choices. [That said, we can practice poor posture/sleep position for many years before our bodies show evidence of a bad choice.]

Quote:
This is not what real backpacking is all about.
Hammocks are carried in a backpack just like other shelter options. So, in short, yes it is. It may not be old school - but it's still backpacking.

Quote:
If an emergency arises, you're trapped in a hammock and cannot escape quick enough.
Ah, the old "human burrito" concern. Yep! That could be a problem, but perhaps no more than being a human taco/tostado in a ground shelter.

While I prefer cowboy camping or ground tarping for a more open wilderness experience, I also understand that whether one is in a tent or a hammock, it's about the same degree of restriction (depending upon model/features). All other safety precautions should be taken regardless of shelter choice (e.g. not eating in camp in bear territory).

Quote:
In cold weather, you have to carry too much insulation.
I'm hopeful that everyone increases the insulation that they carry/wear in cold weather. This includes whatever insulation is needed to avoid such heatloss issues as convection and conduction. If you're on the ground or in the air, you'd better have good insulation beneath you when its cold.

Now, I must admit that it's one thing having to carry insulation for myself but quite another to have to carry a "blankie" for my shelter too (i.e. an under-quilt for a hammock). But if you sleep in a hammock in the cold, you'll wish your shelter had that blankie!

Quote:
Hammocks are far too heavy.
This is a difficult one to address directly, since it's too subjective as presented. There are heavy ground tents and light ground tents. There are heavy hammocks and lighter versions too. And the weather does play a significant role with regard to hammock weight.

There are some gear items that ground sleepers may be able to leave at home, if they opt for a hammock instead. So, this has a lot to do with many factors - for both ground and air setups with regard to weight.

Quote:
Hammocks are too complicated to set up.
This is subjective too. I've seen many more complicated ground setups than I have hammock configurations. It's like anything else, you can learn...

Quote:
It's too confining in a hammock.
As far as solo shelters go (although there exists 2-person hammocks), hammocks are quite confining. But many who sleep in a hammock will tell you that they somehow feel less-confined in a hammock than they do in a solo ground shelter or bivy. Much of this is likely attributed to the added comfort that many experience in a hammock. This offsets the confinement to some extent.

Personally, I like to be as open to nature as possible. I'm not one for the body bag or cocooned feeling - ground or air. It should be stated that many hammockers 'open up' in good weather by shedding the tarp and netting.

Quote:
The hammock culture that I've seen is too immature and they 'hang' in groups.
This is completely subjective. By the way, there are immature people carrying backpacks but that doesn't stop me from carrying one.

I've also heard stories about foul-mouthed hammockers who don't know how to behave around others (e.g. women and children). But hammock users have absolutely no exclusive on this. This immaturity takes place among all sorts of groups - regardless of shelter choice. [By the way, I've also heard stories of others who have spoke up at hammock hangs and have asked some to be more respectful. ] This is not about hammocks. And I wouldn't judge all hammockers by a particular online site or one group-hang-crowd -- likewise for any other group. All hammockers are not the same -- they're quite diverse. I've found this to be particularly true among those hammockers I know who haven't even heard of 'group hangs' or online hammocker hangouts. This is an individual thing. Using a hammock or ground shelter is not what makes the person or his/her character. So don't be afraid to make a gear choice - regardless of the actions of other users.

I will interject that I'm not much for certain types of cliques, over-used lingo, or some of the group dynamics that pop up in some group events. But these things may occur among any group or practice.

And nobody is forcing anyone else to go hammocking with others - just as nobody is forced to ground-camp with others.

-----

I'm sure others who use hammocks have their own thoughts on these issues. I've shared mine. Beyond those matters, I'd like to offer that I have a variety of gear choices and methods when it comes to backpacking - depending upon my needs/wants for a particular trip.

Hammocking, for me, tends to be something (at this point) that I reserve for trips in which I feel the use of a hammock is more suitable in the given terrain/conditions (e.g. jungle-like trips). Others prefer to use them all the time.

To each his/her own, HYOH, and whatever trips your trigger! What's practical for one may or may not be for another. I'm glad we may all make our own gear choices. And I'm pleased to offer PBF as a place for hammock-users and non-hammock-users to share their backpacking gear, experiences, and techniques.

Reality
Reply With Quote
Please Consider PBF Sponsors
  #2  
Old 03-14-2009, 08:02 AM
© 2006-2016 Practical Backpacking™ / All Rights Reserved
Trudy Trudy is offline
Practical Backpacking™ Regular Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 199
This is an interesting essay on the prejudices some of us have towards hammocks. Seriously, the prejudice is real.

My negative opinions of hammocks have to do with what I'll call, for lack of a better phrase, some sort of smugness on the part of hammock devotees. It seems like some hammockers are always jumping up and saying "Hammocks are superior, blah, blah, blah."

I don't see tenters or tarpers promoting their choices of shelters with this kind of fervor.

Also, battle lines can be drawn on the issue of whether or not tents should ever be set up in shelters. I vote no. But now we have trail journal accounts of hammockers setting up in shelters, causing pressures on structures never designed to handle such a load. Some even attach bolts to hang from.

Basically, these issues are the source of my prejudice.

Even though the majority of hammock users are people who respect trees and property, there is a fair number of users who could care less.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 03-14-2009, 09:06 AM
© 2006-2016 Practical Backpacking™ / All Rights Reserved
Bearpaw Bearpaw is offline
Practical Backpacking­™ Associate Member
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Ooltewah, Tennessee
Posts: 420
It's a personal matter.

I tried a hammock for the first time four years ago on the Benton MacKaye Trail. I was using the stock tarp. It rained all six days I was out there. With the diamond fly tarp, I was forced to hole up in the hammock nearly all the time, and I got a little claustrophobic.

Two years later I tried the hammock on the Sheltowee Trace in milder weather and fell totally in love with it.

Now I use a much larger tarp (so I can hang out under it and cook or do other chores in the rain) and have moved to an open hammock with underquilt for the winter. I hammock at least 80% of the time.

More knowledge and refinement has made for a much better experience, sort of like most other backpacking endeavors.

Most die-hard hammockers have found their piece of Nirvana, much like many die-hard UL and SUL hikers have found theirs. They want to let others know about it. It's that simple. I've grown to reject some of the concepts of the UL movement because they just don't work for me any more. If you've tried a hammock and it didn't work for you, no problem.

As for damage, I have trouble believing those who complain have actually hung a backpacking hammock. The strapping, particularly the 2" seat belt style webbing my Hennessy Expedition uses, do not damage trees. You'll never know the hammock was there. I can't say that for many places I've seen tents, where the grass is clearly compressed (though it still springs back up eventually, unless that place is used continuously).

For now, I have to get back to loading my hammock and underquilt for the Pinhoti Trail this week.
Reply With Quote
Please Consider PBF Sponsors
  #4  
Old 03-14-2009, 08:40 PM
© 2006-2016 Practical Backpacking™ / All Rights Reserved
brobin brobin is offline
Practical Backpacking™ Junior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 47
Let me start by saying I don't use open tarps or cowboy camping....

I tried a Hennessy and fell in love. Maybe its getting old, but sleeping on the ground was not comfortable. I slept poorly and woke up stiff. My first hammock sleep was bliss in comparison.

I don't have an underquilt, so I still use a tent during early spring and late fall. In late spring, early fall, I just put a blue pad under me in the hammock. In the summer, I just use a sleeping bag in it. This means it weighs less then my tent plus pad. I suspect an underquilt would even it up.

It does take changes in some habits due to having less room, but I have worked around it. I found it worth it for the comfort.

I have never hurt a tree.

I don't understand why this works people up. Some people will find it more comfortable, other won't. The only thing that annoys me is people who say is sucks, but have never spent a night in a hammock.
Reply With Quote
Please Consider PBF Sponsors
Aquaponics 4 You
  #7  
Old 03-15-2009, 05:13 PM
© 2006-2016 Practical Backpacking™ / All Rights Reserved
Reality Reality is offline
PBF Administrator & PB Podcast Host
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Oregon
Posts: 4,954
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trudy
I don't see tenters or tarpers promoting their choices of shelters with this kind of fervor.
I've, personally, found that human nature transcends the boundaries of gear selection.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trudy
Even though the majority of hammock users are people who respect trees and property, there is a fair number of users who could care less.
Again, I don't feel that it's the gear acquisition that's responsible. However, that's just my opinion and personal observation though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bearpaw
I tried a hammock for the first time four years ago on the Benton MacKaye Trail. I was using the stock tarp. It rained all six days I was out there. With the diamond fly tarp, I was forced to hole up in the hammock nearly all the time, and I got a little claustrophobic.

Two years later I tried the hammock on the Sheltowee Trace in milder weather and fell totally in love with it.

That's good that you stuck with it and had better experiences. Being rained-in can be somewhat difficult in any type of shelter.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bearpaw
Now I use a much larger tarp (so I can hang out under it and cook or do other chores in the rain) and have moved to an open hammock with underquilt for the winter. I hammock at least 80% of the time.
Large tarps are nice. IMO, they really add to the overall experience.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bearpaw
Most die-hard hammockers have found their piece of Nirvana, much like many die-hard UL and SUL hikers have found theirs. They want to let others know about it. It's that simple. I've grown to reject some of the concepts of the UL movement because they just don't work for me any more. If you've tried a hammock and it didn't work for you, no problem.

Yes - that says a lot. It really is a personal thing.


Quote:
Originally Posted by brobin
My first hammock sleep was bliss in comparison.
It's nice when you find that sweet spot that works for you. It makes a big difference in the overall experience.

Quote:
Originally Posted by brobin
The only thing that annoys me is people who say is sucks, but have never spent a night in a hammock.
Yes - it doesn't seem too reasonable. I encourage everyone to give a hammock a try. If it's not for them, then so be it. I was fortunate enough to gain my experience with them at an early age. It's interesting to see all the new companies and users of them popping up.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Coldspring
I've also passed up too many beautiful campsites, just to hang in a hammock.
Yeah that's an interesting point you raise. That's been true of ground camping too, as I know you're aware. That's why you'd like that hybrid - so you're ready either way.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SouthMark
I just returned from a group hammock hanging weekend trip. There were ten. One 62 yo, one 61 yo, one 57 yo, etc. Maybe we should give up hammocking until we grow up.
I'm sure the type of 'immaturity' that's been alluded to here is not referring to age - rather behavior. That's great that you were able to get out and enjoy a weekend with others.

Reality
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 03-16-2009, 01:44 PM
© 2006-2016 Practical Backpacking™ / All Rights Reserved
Rambler Rambler is offline
Practical Backpacking­™ Associate Member
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 241
Two advantages of hammocks: (1) You can successfully use a hammock when the ground is on a steep incline, rocky or not smooth enough to sleep on comfortably (2) You do not need to carry a sleeping pad/mattress

If you do carry a pad and a hammock, you then have the option of sleeping on the ground under just the tarp and not the hammock.

Disadvantage: Hammock needs a tarp cover, so just using a tarp is a lighter weight option.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 03-16-2009, 05:50 PM
© 2006-2016 Practical Backpacking™ / All Rights Reserved
bombernbr bombernbr is offline
Practical Backpacking™ Regular Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: South Carolina
Posts: 98
I really love hammocking. It is far more comfortable to me than the ground (i'm only 21, so it's not due to a long life of hard knocks). It is easier to set up (you don't have to clean up the ground around the hammock), and you have a comfortable place to sit when eating (vs. sitting on logs all the time). There is the problem claustrophobia, but plenty of netting in a hennessey helps that. I now have the supershelter kit, which I hope will really keep me warm.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 03-18-2009, 11:09 AM
© 2006-2016 Practical Backpacking™ / All Rights Reserved
tracyn tracyn is offline
Practical Backpacking­™ Associate Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: West Virginia
Posts: 405
Quote:
You can only camp where there are trees and then you have to be willing to damage them.
I hike in WV. No problem finding trees here! I use tree straps to minimize any damage. In fact when I take down my straps I doubt anyone can tell that I've hung there.

Quote:
They think hammocks are good for your back.
I've had other hammockers tell me that they would not be camping anymore if they didn't have hammocks. I'm sure there are many who have tried hammocks and have felt just the opposite. I don’t have back problems, but I am older and have the typical aches and pains that come with aging. I do know that I get a better night’s sleep in a hammock and I don’t wake up as stiff as when I’m on the ground. I do use a pillow under my knees for comfort in a hammock. It’s easier for me to enter and exit my hammock than it is my tents. My hammock serves as a chair, my tent doesn’t. It’s easier on my knees getting up from a hammock than getting up from sitting on my pad on the ground.

Quote:
This is not what real backpacking is all about.
Oh, that’s funny. Who made up that rule, she asks rhetorically.

Quote:
If an emergency arises, you're trapped in a hammock and cannot escape quick enough.
No different than a tent with netting and zippers. In fact my hammock is quicker than my tent because my tent has a tent zipper on the netting and then the fly zipper. MY hammock only has one zipper and then I’m out.

Quote:
In cold weather, you have to carry too much insulation.
I carry more insulation with my hammock in winter than I do when using my tent. Others do not.

Quote:
Hammocks are far too heavy.
No.

Quote:
Hammocks are too complicated to set up.
No, but there is a learning curve. And I've had a learning curve with every tent I've own. Depends on the instructions that come with hammock and what type of of hammock you get. Kinda like tents. Plus with more information getting out on hammocks, I think the learning curve is getting shorter every day.

Quote:
It's too confining in a hammock.
I felt that way in my Hennessy with its “birth canal” bottom entry and exit slit. So I got zippers on the netting and now use it as a top entry hammock with or without the netting. Because I can tie the netting completely out of way in some respects it feels less confining than my tent.

Quote:
The hammock culture that I've seen is too immature and they 'hang' in groups.
I’m rubber, you’re glue! Whatever you say bounces off of me and sticks to you! Ok, sorry, sorry, sorry. Hammockers haven't cornered the market on maturity or immaturity.

I’ve been to group hangs and they are so much fun and I learn a ton at each one I attend, so no apologies for the group thing. I hope to go to many more! All of the hangs I’ve been to are family-oriented so EVERYONE watches their language or are reminded by others to please do so.

My first hang we were all around the campfire, chatting, singing and didn’t realize the time. A tenter came over and reminded us that it was “campers' midnight” and we broke it up immediately, no griping whatsoever. The next night a few tent campers came in very late and started partying, being loud, drinking. It was 2 am. Someone went over to that group and asked them to please be quiet and the tenters were totally obnoxious about it. Whaddaya gonna do? Everyone has a story. Obnoxious people can be everywhere. Great people are everywhere.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trudy
Also, battle lines can be drawn on the issue of whether or not tents should ever be set up in shelters. I vote no. But now we have trail journal accounts of hammockers setting up in shelters, causing pressures on structures never designed to handle such a load. Some even attach bolts to hang from.

I also vote no on tents and hammocks in shelters, unless there's a very good reason for it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trudy
My negative opinions of hammocks have to do with what I'll call, for lack of a better phrase, some sort of smugness on the part of hammock devotees. It seems like some hammockers are always jumping up and saying "Hammocks are superior, blah, blah, blah."

We're not smug, just happy from the good night's sleep we got! OK, guilty.

Last edited by tracyn : 03-18-2009 at 02:47 PM.
Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Hammocks - Adventures in keeping warm Perkolady Hammocks 45 04-25-2012 09:43 AM
Sleeping Pads & Hammocks Reality Hammocks 25 04-14-2011 07:54 AM
Pillows & Hammocks Reality Hammocks 22 03-03-2011 11:51 AM
Explaining Hammocks Buffaloscout Hammocks 5 05-04-2007 06:52 PM
MLD Hammocks Narwhalin Hammocks 3 03-10-2007 11:59 AM



All times are GMT -7. The time now is 02:49 AM.

Backpacking Forums


Powered by vBulletin Version 3.5.4
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright © 2006-2017 Practical Backpacking™
Practical Backpacking is a trademark of Absolutely Prepared™
Practical Backpacker is a trademark of Absolutely Prepared™
Practical Backpacking Podcast is a trademark of Absolutely Prepared™
Practical Backpacking Magazine is a trademark of Absolutely Prepared™