Buying new gear is a commitment, both financially and emotionally. Kind of like dating. Our idea of the perfect date? Hanging in the trees with a cold brew and shaky cell service. But that’s the easy part. Deciding what to hang in is a bit more challenging.
We took these five camping hammocks into the forest above Santa Fe to watch the first wildfire of the season burn on the horizon (it was very romantic). Now that we’re back on terra firma, we can give a detailed roundup of our favorite nests. Need a summer fling? Here you go.
The Easy Traveller is the hammock equivalent of a no-pressure first date. It’s also easy on the wallet. The parachute nylon fabric feels flimsy at first, but it proved durable when it scraped against trees during setup. And it’s plenty supportive when holding weight. The cutouts near the built-in hanging mechanism provide ample room to move around. It’s big enough for two, but just barely, so get cozy.
Attaching it between two trees was simple and only required looping the rope around the trunk and through a metal adjuster—no knot-tying needed. The light-colored body got dirty quickly, but the material is easy to wipe clean. We liked that everything needed to use the Easy Traveller was included, and it all packed into a small sack that you can toss into a backpack.
The DoubleNest is for lovers or those who just want extra space to lounge. Our tester took this one climbing at a local crag and found it light enough to haul up the wall and unobtrusive when hanging off a harness. Setup is easy enough while suspended on a rock face or when assembling it between two trees. Like the Roo (below), loop the webbing ($29, not included) around a tree trunk and hook the carabiners through the slots.
Bug nets and rainflies are available to customize this nylon nest and protect you from the elements. Pro tip: The supplied carabiners “aren’t burly enough to catch a whipper.” It’s a good idea to swap them out for hardware that’s up for the task before taking this one climbing.
The Roo is a great all-around hammock with some awesome upgrade options. You can buy the Dragonfly mosquito net, which encompasses the entire hammock while still affording plenty of room to sit up. Then there’s the weather shield, featuring Kammok’s own sun-, snow-, and rain-proof fabric.
Nice touch: The Roo was the easiest nest to set up. All it required was swinging the straps ($29) around a tree and snapping the carabiners through one of the loops. The ripstop nylon is tough, and the hammock is spacious enough for two people (if you’re ready for that, of course).
Looking to get a little wild? Check out the Deep Jungle, suited for the “buggiest jungles on the planet.” The mosquito-proof ripstop fabric is durable and lightweight and has a built-in mesh zipper over the top for 360-degree protection and breathability.
Slide in the included insulation pad for chilly nights, or pitch the detachable rainfly for stormy ones. The Deep Jungle is best suited for solo pursuits, so look to the Safari Deluxe model for suspended camping with a pal.
If you’re in it for the long haul, the NX-250 is the hammock for you. At $429, it’s not cheap, and it took more effort than the others to hang (though our ineptitude could be to blame), but once it was up, it was worth it. A pole system on either end of the hammock creates a roomy nylon cocoon and built-in ways to customize: Lie in it like a basic hammock, zip the mesh layer shut to keep bugs at bay (the fabric is mosquito resistant), or close the waterproof layer to stay dry. (You can put up the rainfly in severe weather.) Plenty of pockets will keep beer and other necessities at hand.
The NX-250 is more like a hanging tent (hence the price) than a hammock. It can also be used in cold weather with an insulated liner (not included). Want to take it to the next level with a significant other? Clark’s Camo Vertex has room for two.
For the couple who like to keep it funky, the Disco hammock merges Betabrand’s “disconium” fabric with ENO’s DoubleNest design. We think its super-reflective outer could be good for keeping unwanted wildlife away, though it will likely attract other partygoers. The more the merrier, right?
Fishing guides and festival goers take note: High-end cooler maker Yeti just revealed its first soft-sided cooler, the 6.5-gallon Hopper that’s sealed with a waterproof drysuit zipper.
It’s got an inch-and-a-half of heavy-duty closed-cell foam for insulation throughout. We had no problem slinging it into a canoe, leaving it on the bank for fishing, or stowing it in the front seat of a car—without any leakage. At $299, the Hopper ain’t cheap, but if it’s anything like its roto-molded forebearers, it’ll last forever.
The home’s open entrance is shaded. Leave your surfboard and wetsuit here before settling into one of the many hammocks. There’s a living area, shower, and bathroom tucked under the eave, while a big bunkroom, two bedrooms, and the entryway make up one long side of the rectangle. There’s also a galley kitchen across from the bath. Minimal exterior windows shutter the house completely from the outside.
This cabin is nearly 100 percent self-sufficient, with solar panels, rainwater catchment, and a composting worm farm to treat sewage. Basic materials and construction techniques were used to reduce cost, prevent corrosion, and take advantage of local resources.
The Cave is a single-piece, three-person geodesic dome that inflates in less than a minute. And no, it’s not likely to pop thanks to the exterior’s high-tenacity polyester fabric. Plus, each of the air chambers (which act like traditional tent poles) are separated, so even if one were to get punctured, The Cave would maintain its structure.
And if this wind test is any indication, this futuristic tent is more than capable of withstanding anything your next camping trip will throw at it.
Even our towable trailers are getting smart. With innovative aerodynamic designs, rugged suspension systems, and wide-open skylights, these four high-tech trailers—from modest to totally excessive—are ready for the open road.
2014 Airstream Sport 22FB Travel Trailer ($48,891)
Airstream assembled this towable trailer like an airplane, using riveted aluminum panels. The Sport 22FB has a low center of gravity and an aerodynamic shape—the company estimates a fuel savings of up to 30 percent compared to other travel trailers. Perks include a glass plate that covers the cookstove and a convection microwave. Plus, all the exterior and interior parts are recyclable.
New this summer, this fiberglass pull-behind camper is a durable, streamlined sleeping compartment. The Micro Minnie uses a tankless water heater, and the dual-axle design means if you blow a tire, you can keep towing until you get to the repair shop.
This teardrop trailer is designed for rugged off-roading. You can adjust the suspension to handle smooth roads or rocky terrain in the foothills. There’s also an option to add a tent to the roof ($2,400) to increase the total sleeping capacity to seven, and another option to add solar panels ($350 each).
This massive 32-foot travel trailer features some of the most advanced trailer tech on the market. The powered awning has a row of LED lights for nighttime cookouts, there’s a skylight on the roof for stargazing, and the sink includes a pull-out sprayer (all part of the new Elite package). When you tow, a unique stabilizer system reduces rattling and smooths out the ride.