Written by our Gear Geeks:
BEST HAMMOCK TO GET IN 2021
PADI Scuba Instructor
Hunter Bierce is a PADI Scuba Instructor and multidisciplinary outdoor professional.
Editor at DIVEIN.com
Vikingship building gear enthusiast and waterworld fanatic.
Whether you’re looking for a new piece of backyard furniture, trying to perfect a backcountry sleep system, or just like to hang out- hammocks are great for any outdoor recreation venture. Hammocks come in all shapes and sizes, built from a wide variety of materials. A simple search will yield overwhelming variety in style and purpose.
Choose a hammock tent that is a great alternative when camping, a very portable hammock that fits easily in your bag for lounging in the forest, a hammock chair, or a permanent hammock with stand for your backyard or for indoor use.
Our hammock guide is here to help you find the perfect type for you.
How to Choose your Hammock
So you’ve decided to take the proverbial plunge and buy a hammock. Great, but with all of the variety, you need to figure out how to narrow down your selection. There are countless factors to consider when choosing a hammock; before you decide based on the color or cool patterns, there are few things to consider.
Ultimately the most important thing to take into account is how you’ll be primarily using it. Are you looking for a backyard fixture? Or a lighter-weight hammock to take to the park on the weekends? Brands like ENO specialize in portable loungers, while Kammok makes fast and light camping models.
How you intend to use your hammock will impact how big it is, the fabric of the hammock itself, and what kinds of straps or rope you’ll use to hang it up.
Speaking in broad strokes, most hammocks are either singles or doubles. Though it’s possible to fit more people than that on certain types or models, it’s oftentimes ill-advised lest you exceed the weight rating of your straps. Also keep in mind that it’s tough to get a decent night’s sleep with more than one person in the same hammock, regardless of the size.
Otherwise, the only other consideration you should make is the length. Your hammock should be roughly a couple of feet longer than you are. Your hammock will rarely be too short for you. But, if you’re one of those exceptionally tall individuals, it’s worth checking to make sure that your hammock won’t fit you like a burrito shell.
For all the idyllic simplicity that hammocks supposedly represent, there are multitudes of extras and accessories for every type of hammock out there. Stand hammocks, by nature of design, need a stand; and the lighter weight portable options need straps or some kind of line so you can set them up in the first place.
By and large, the most common accessory you’ll want for your hammock is a solid set of straps. Tree straps have a built-in girth hitch with a daisy chain tail. All you need to do is loop them around a tree and clip the included carabiners on your hammock to hang it up at the appropriate length and tension.
As someone who has hit the ground pretty hard a couple of times, I can vouch that hammock straps take all of the guesswork out of the occasion. They make me much more comfortable hopping into my hammock before thoroughly and cautiously weight testing it. Brands like Grand Trunk and ENO make straps that will let you hang your hammock anywhere.
If you’re planning on trying to camp in your hammock in any less than perfect conditions, you need a few amenities to keep you from freezing, getting soaked with dew, or eaten by bugs. To get a better idea of what exactly you need to be a pro camper without ever having to touch the ground, take a look at our hammock camping section at the bottom of the guide.
3 Types of Hammock
As previously mentioned, the most significant deciding factor in figuring out what kind of hammock you want is to first decide on the intended purpose. Despite the ubiquity of its design, rope-woven bungalow beach hammocks are a far cry from the ultralight neoprene options that avid backpackers will use.
Permanent: On a Hammock Stand
It shouldn’t be much of a surprise that any hammock with an external stand is one that you shouldn’t expect to travel very well. But that being said, so long as you aren’t camping in them, that’s about the only drawback. Heavy-duty backyard hammocks will be in either the Brazillian “double hammock” style or of the flat “spreader bar” variety.
These freestanding models are going to more or less be permanently strung up and ready for action. The fabric they’re made of is mostly weatherproof, and the integrity of their construction is suitable for extended use and exposure to the elements. It’s not uncommon for these models to be attached to their stands via a chain, and assuming you’ve checked the weight certification, can hold a small family.
A few of our favorite backyard hammocks:
- Patio Watcher 14-ft Quick Dry Hammock
- Ohuhu Double Hammock
- Lazy Daze Hammocks Double
- Gocan Brazillian Double Hammock
- Hang Fen Double Hammock
This category of hammocks includes ones suitable for day trips and camping based out of your car but aren’t quite light enough to justify taking them along on a backpacking trip or extended journey in the backcountry. Though they might look similar to their ultralight brethren, the material is a much heavier denier.
The fabric used in this category of hammock is much more resilient to exposure to moisture and UV radiation. However, you should always dry your hammock after any exposure to water and make sure to store it while not using it to limit degradation from exposure to light.
Given that hammocks lack the insulative properties of a sleeping pad and bag that you would get on the ground, things will start to cool down quickly. If you’re planning on using one of these as a temporary sleep system for a weekend camping trip, you’ll want to take a look at our “How to Camp in your Hammock” section at the end of the article.
Some of our favorite day use and car camping hammocks
- Grand Trunk TrunkTech Double Hammock
- ENO Single Nest
- Kootek Camping Hammock
- Grand Trunk Skeeter Beater
- Fourbaneco Camping Hammock
In addition to being a great place to spend your afternoon on the beach, a hammock tent also makes a great alternative to the traditional tent set up while you’re backpacking. Hammock camping in these models will be lighter, more compatible with different accessories, and a little more soundly built than the options listed above. A well-tuned hammock tent setup can be even lighter and faster than the traditional ultralight setup. For more on “mids” and the possibilities of lightweight tents, check out the backpacking section of our “teepee tents” guide.
Pros of a Hammock Tent
- You can camp anywhere there are suitable trees
- More modular and customizable than a tent
- Keeps the heat off in hot climates
- Definite style points
- Tends to be more affordable options
Cons of Hammock Camping
- Finding a place to camp depends on having trees
- Colder and more prone to exposure than a tent
- There are a lot of extra purchases involved
Investing in a hammock tent or otherwise a whole sleep system is a perfectly viable way to go about your backcountry setup. To make it work, you’ll want to vet your system pretty extensively to make sure you’ll stay warm, dry, and bug-free before you end up in a committed situation.
A few of our favorite hammock tents:
How to do Hammock Camping
Love it or hate it, one of the big things implied in camping is spending time on the ground. Camping in your hammock is a great way to reduce your setup’s weight or avoid spending time in the dirt or mud. If you’ve decided to bite the bullet and do away with your tent, you need to ensure that you’re protected from exposure to the elements.
Things to Make Sure your Hammock Tent has Covered
- Warmth– Without a sleeping pad or ground to provide insulation, things will cool down much faster than a traditional setup
- Overhead Protection- Regardless of how the weather looks, you should always travel with some kind of overhead coverage to keep rain, snow, and hail from soaking you through
- Bug Protection- Between mosquitoes, ticks, and black flies, dusk and dawn are prime feeding times for pests of all kinds. Make sure that your hammock doesn’t just make you a tasty hanging burrito for biting insects.
- Suspension System- Your hammock won’t do you any good if you can’t find a way to rig it up; having a dynamic suspension system is key to a successful hammock setup.
A Hammock Tents Versus Building your own Setup
As you can see, even the simplest hammock camping setup has a lot of moving parts. You can cut down on some of the separate purchases and research by investing in a wholesale, integrated unit. Essentially you’re measuring convenience against customizability. For my part, I prefer to keep it simple. That usually means tying a couple of extra knots to avoid breakable plastic clips, jamming zippers, and delicate specialty pieces.
Accessories for Camping in your Hammock
In many ways, integrated hammock sleeping systems are more complicated than their ultralight tent counterparts. But in order to build your setup outside of a package deal, there are quite a few things to take into consideration.
As we mentioned above, your hammock isn’t going to do you any good if you can’t figure out where to hang it. There are a couple of ways to go about this- the first and most adjustable method is learning a couple of knots. Hitches, bowlines, and the occasional taut-line for tarps and accessories are pretty much all you need to hang a hammock anywhere.
Alternatively, you can invest in a set of straps. These will weigh a little bit more but tend to save some time and effort when it comes time to set up camp.
Camping in your hammock will be colder than in a tent because of the only partial overhead covering and the lack of ground insulation. To keep warm and comfortable through the night, you’ll want to invest in either an underquilt, a “hammock pad,” or both.
As far as sleeping pads go, one of the egg carton foam pads works well, or an inflatable option with raised sides. You’ll want to avoid anything that could slip out from underneath you during the night, so rigid inflatable ground pads are usually best avoided.
Underquilts are essentially another sleeping bag that you hang underneath your hammock. The advantage of an underquilt is having a layer of insulation that isn’t compressed from your weight. Of the two options, an underquilt is the warmer and the more comfortable way to go.
Our Favorite Underquilts
Having a tarp or rainfly for overhead protection is an additional essential piece of your hammock setup. It’s what keeps you dry in inclement weather and can also help prevent you from waking up in a pile of pinecones and needles. When considering tarps, you’ll want something camping-specific- a little lighter and a bit more weather resistant than the coarse cheap ground tarps from the hardware store.
A bug net is one of those things that you think you don’t need until you do. When looking for yours, make sure the mesh is small enough to keep out biting mites and flies. It also pays to have some coverage on your back; mosquitos are tenacious and will bite you right through the fabric of your hammock.
Most hammocks will come with carabiners included at either end. If you eventually wear through these or decide to hang your hammock up somewhere that you’d want to opt for a locker, any carabiner rated for climbing is a perfect substitution. For more on carabiners, check out our buyer’s guide for an in-depth glance.
FAQ – Frequently asked questions about hammock
How to hang a hammock?
The first step in hanging a hammock is finding two suitable anchor points. Whether these are the pilings of a pier or trees- you’ll want to be sure that what you’re hanging from isn’t going to give out on you suddenly. If it is a tree, make sure it’s thick enough with tough bark, so you don’t damage it. Using either your hammock strap or some load-bearing rope, you should aim for a loose, 30-degree angle so you can lie flat.
What is the best hammock?
The question of which hammock is the best largely depends on how you intend on using it. Factors like weight and the thickness of the fabric will primarily inform your decision. That being said, there are excellent options worth looking at regardless of whether you’re planning on lounging at the beach or planning a long-distance hike.
Top 5 Hammocks:
- ENO SingleNest
- Sea to Summit Pro
- Kammok Roo
- Grand Trunk Ultralight
- Hennessy Hammock Expedition
How do you hammock camp?
Camping in your hammock isn’t as simple as just hanging it in a tree and hopping in. As with any kind of excursion into the wilderness, you want to make sure you’re adequately prepared for whatever nature has to throw at you. In addition to your hammock, you’ll need at least a few accessories. For more specific information on how to camp in your hammock, check out our hammock overview guide
What you need to camp in your hammock:
- Suspension System
- Underquilt or Hammock Pad
- Tarp or Rain Fly
- Bug Net
Are hammocks good for sleeping?
Hammocks aren’t just a great place for a nap but can make a perfectly suitable sleep system for anyone willing to commit. There are a couple of considerations to make before throwing out your mattress or your tent. For more on the types of hammocks and which might be the best for you, take a look at your comprehensive hammock overview.
Tips for sleeping in your hammock:
- When hanging your hammock, try to make your straps angled around 30º, loose is generally better.
- If your hammock doesn’t have spreader bars, try to sleep at an angle- this will allow you to lie flat rather than arched around your feet and head
- If you’re camping in your hammock, make sure you have a tarp and sleeping pad to keep you warm through the night
Do you need hammock straps?
No, you don’t need hammock straps, but they do cut down on a lot of time and effort if you’re unsure about knots. Carrying some load-bearing rope is a lighter option, and with some creative knot tying, it is much more versatile.
Top 5 hammock straps:
- ENO Atlas XL
- Kammok Python 10
- Wise Owl Outfitters XL Straps
- Grand Trunk Trunk Straps
- Bear Butt Kodiak Straps
Knots for hanging your hammock:
- Hitches of all kinds
- Taut line “hitch”
How much is a hammock tent?
Hammock tents are priced in a fairly similar way to most single-person backpacking tents. In total, you should expect to pay somewhere between $150-300 USD depending on the model that you prefer. You can also assemble your own hammock tent by buying a rain fly and bug net for a comparable, but maybe slightly cheaper total