Three Keys to Selecting Your Next Pack Hammock

A light, packable hammock is a great tool to bring along when camping, hiking, or backpacking.

hammock hanging outside
The great thing about some hammocks is you can use them as a shelter instead of a tent.Lawson Hammock

If you’ve never slept in a pack hammock, you really should give it a try. Some are super light, and most are very comfortable. In fact, in very nice weather, a lightweight pack hammock can save you from having to carry extra weight by taking the place of both a tent and a sleeping bag. You don’t have to be an avid outdoor adventurer to enjoy a pack hammock, though. Stretch one between a couple of trees in your backyard, and you’ve just made the perfect place for a quick snooze when you get home from work. Use these suggestions to pick the right hammock for you.

Weight/Packability

ENO - Eagles Nest Outfitters DoubleNest Lightweight Camping Hammock
This hammock weighs only 19 ounces but can hold two people with a total of up to 400 pounds.ENO

If you’re going to be using your hammock in the backyard, you don’t really need to worry about weight and packability. In fact, if that’s how you plan to use it, you’ll likely be happier with a bigger, more comfortable hammock made for use on your patio or deck. But if you’re heading to the backwoods by foot or canoe, weight and packability are among the most important factors. A good pack hammock shouldn’t weigh over a couple of pounds, so it doesn’t add much weight to your pack. It also shouldn’t take much room in your pack, so if it doesn’t compress down to a package about the size of a tin can, you’re probably looking at one larger than you need.

Length and Width

Hennessy Hammock
This Expedition series hammock will comfortably hold anyone up to six-feet tall.Hennessy Hammock

While you might think one size fits all when it comes to hammock, that’s not actually the case. And length is very important—especially if you are extra tall—even though it might seem kind of trivial at first blush. Experts recommend your hammock be at least two feet longer than your height. That’s so you can be comfortable at both ends, without your head or feet feeling cramped. Width isn’t really important if you plan to be in your hammock alone. However, if you plan to have a companion in there with you at least some of the time, choose a double hammock made for two. It will be a little heavier but will serve your needs.

Extra Features

Lawson Hammock Blue Ridge Camping Hammock and Tent Bundle
This versatile tent hammock is designed to keep bugs off when sleeping in the backwoods.Lawson Hammock

Some hammocks come with a rain tarp, and that can make a ton of difference in how comfortable you are when camping in inclement weather. Other hammocks are designed to hold their shape so you can sleep comfortably with a flat back, then convert into a lounger when you’re just hanging around camp. Still others have handy gear pockets to put your belongings in when lounging or sleeping. Some hammocks even have tent coverings that allow you to sleep in them in places like the Northwoods where bugs can chew you up all night. These might be a little heavier to carry, but they’re well worth it if you frequently visit areas where mosquitoes and other biting insects are a problem.