3 Reasons Why Hammocks Are Better Than Tents
Plus five great hammocks tested by an AT thru-hiker
Hammocks are rapidly becoming the shelter of choice for thru-hikers and backpackers across the country so we asked a Rhys Hora, a recent convert to the hammock who’s fresh off a 2017 thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail, to convince us to ditch the tent and start sleeping in a hammock. Here’s his argument, in three key points.
1. It’s more comfortable. My thru-hike was the first time I slept in a hammock, and I doubt I’ll ever go back to a tent. Once you get the hammock dialed in, it’s better than any night I slept in a tent. Even if you’re using the best sleeping pad in a tent, it’s still not as comfortable as sleeping in a hammock. I can’t overstate how comfortable it is. I see so many people get into a hammock and say, 'holy shit, this is great.' I never see people going from the hammock to the tent and saying the same thing.
2. You stay drier. By setting up your hammock and tarp when you get to camp, even if it starts to rain you don’t have to hide inside your tent by yourself. You can sit in your hammock like a Laz-Boy, hang out, and still enjoy the outdoors. And you’re dry.
3. You get off the ground: When you're in a hammock you’re out of the mud, and dirt, and water. Especially on the East Coast, it’s way easier to find two trees to hang a hammock than it is to find a flat spot for a tent.
If you've been convinced, here are five hammocks that will help you enjoy a night under the stars, off the ground.
Warbonnet Blackbird (From $155)
The Blackbird is Hora’s favorite hammock. Made from nylon with a DWR finish, it comes with a built in bug net and a two-layer system that helps hold your sleeping pad in place. If you’re taller than six feet, he recommends getting an XL.
Dutchware Chameleon (From $125)
People are psyched on this new hammock which raised a whopping $200,000 through a Kickstarter campaign. It’s an all-season hammock with a zipper system that allows you to detach a bug net or attach a top cover that’s water resistant and retains heat. A cool suspension system allows you to hang two hammocks from the same trees using a spreader bar. Also, tie-down points allow you to fine tune the hammock’s lay so you get a customizable sleep surface.
Dream Hammock Darien ($100)
The Darien looks minimalist, but it comes with an integrated Noseeum bug net and a ridgeline which keeps it off your face, plus a zipper on one side and tie-down points on each side to keep it stable in high winds. There are also lots of accessories like an attachable organizer and water bottle holder.
REI Quarter Dome Air Hammock ($220)
If you’re still not convinced slinging between two trees is for you, ease into it with this hammock which feels like a tent thanks to spreader poles on either end that give you a super wide sleeping area. It comes with a rainfly, stowable bug net, and a ridgeline with attachment points so you can hang a lantern. At over three pounds, it's not the lightest but it gives you some of the hallmarks of a tent with the benefits of a hammock.
Eno Sub6 Ultralight ($70)
If you’re looking to save weight, Eno’s new ultralight hammock gives you the basics in just 5.6 ounces. Aluminum toggles, a 30 denier ripstop nylon body, and lightweight suspension system make this a minimal yet comfortable option.
Hammock Gear Hex Tarp ($250)
No matter what hammock you get, Hora recommends pairing it with a tarp to keep out the rain. “The single most expensive thing I bought was this Cuben fiber tarp which was worth its weight in gold,” he says. “It’s super lightweight and Cuben fiber doesn't absorb water or stretch out so it doesn't lose its taughtness.”