Hammocks have come a long way since that crocheted thing hung from a metal stand in your weird aunt’s backyard. These days they’re lightweight, they pack down to the size of a beer can, and you can set one up in a couple of minutes. All of which makes the humble hammock the most underrated piece of gear we own, serving as both camp chair and elevated shelter.
Sea to Summit Ultralight XL ($100)
The best designs—like the Sea to Summit Ultralight XL—offer both portability and ease of use. The XL is made with burly nylon, tips the scales at only 7.2 ounces while supporting up to 300 pounds, and measures just over four inches tall when packed up. If the perfect blend of capability and ease of use is achievable in a hammock, this is it.
Grand Trunk OneMade Double Trunktech ($119)
Want seating for two? Loop the straps of the Grand Trunk OneMade Double Trunktech around a couple of pieces of timber, clip the carabiners, and climb in. It’s just as roomy as other doubles, but feathery fabric helps it pack down to the size of a loaf of bread, and it comes in at just under a pound.
Therm-a-Rest Slacker Hammock (from $70)
A word of warning: hanging in a hammock means airflow above and beneath, so chilly breezes can become a nuisance. Therm-a-Rest’s Slacker hammocks avoid this problem via the optional Down Snuggler ($170)—essentially a giant, packable, 650-fill hug for your hammock that straps to the underside, insulating you from the cold. It can also be used by itself as a warm blanket.
TreePod Cabana ($250)
And if you have only one tree to work with? The flat-bottomed, spacious TreePod Cabana is a full-size suspended tent that hangs from a single branch and accommodates multiple people. It’s available in diameters of four, five, and six feet, canvas and mesh walls provide excellent breathability, and setup takes less than ten minutes. Think of it as a go-anywhere tree fort.