Gear Guy

There's nothing like a hammock.     Photo: Art of Backpacking/Flickr

Q:

What Are the Best Ultralight Hammocks?

On a humid night in July, I slept in friend’s hammock on the trail. The cool breezes were great, but I wondered about weight. How do they compare with other shelters?

A:For all-around ventilation in hot weather, nothing compares with a hammock. They also set up faster, leave a lighter footprint on the ground, and provide a more comfortable option in campsites with rocky soil than tents.

But are they lighter? All by themselves, most ultralight hammocks weigh less than 2 pounds (compare that with 2.5-pound tents for single sleepers). But that’s sleeping out in the open air. The bug and rain protection really add weight, so that even the lightest hammocks weigh around 4 pounds fully loaded.

Recent hammock designs use performance synthetics and new geometries to increase comfort. More and more through hikers and minimalist adventurers are starting to prefer swinging gently over the campsite to pounding stakes. There’s even an app for calculating the most comfortable setup for your body.

Here are our summer picks for lightest, and most care-free camping hammock.

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