2018’s Best Hammocks For Outdoor Adventures

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A woman lying in a hammock

There’s nothing better than hiking to a gorgeous alpine lake on a summer day, stringing up your favorite hammock 200 feet from the sparkling water, and taking a leisurely nap in the trees. We love hammocks for everything from park naps to backcountry camping, and so does everyone else it seems: According to Ad Age, […]

The post 2018’s Best Hammocks For Outdoor Adventures appeared first on REI Co-op Journal.

A woman lying in a hammock

There’s nothing better than hiking to a gorgeous alpine lake on a summer day, stringing up your favorite hammock 200 feet from the sparkling water, and taking a leisurely nap in the trees. We love hammocks for everything from park naps to backcountry camping, and so does everyone else it seems: According to Ad Age, hammock sales jumped 30 percent to $53.8 million between 2015 and 2016.

We wanted to find the most comfortable, durable, lightweight hammocks for sleeping, napping and lounging, so we started by looking at REI customer reviews. Each of the hammocks in this guide has been top-rated and reviewed by verified purchasers, which means that your fellow outdoorspeople lounged, slept in and carried these hammocks across miles of trails before coming back and telling us how they performed.

After reading through hundreds of reviews, we picked seven hammocks to test, including ultralight models, double hammocks, pocket hammocks and hammock tents. Then we took the hammocks to a local park and unfurled them all. We hung them from trees, lounged while reading our favorite novels and drinking our favorite brews, and even loaded them up with gear and humans to their max weight limits. After our initial tests, we took the remaining hammocks on a few day hikes, napped in them beside still waters, examined zippers, flies, straps, seams and materials, and took notes on every detail of the experience. Finally, we picked these three hammocks as the best of 2018.

ENO SingleNest Hammock

Best Single Hammock

ENO SingleNest Hammock

Capacity: 400 pounds

Unfolded dimensions: 112 inches long x 55 inches wide

Weight: 1 pound

MSRP: $59.95

The ENO SingleNest Hammock is one of the most popular hammocks on the market, and for good reason: It’s a packable, durable, lightweight pocket hammock that you can enjoy in your backyard and the backcountry for a solid price.

Unfolded, the SingleNest is 112 inches (more than 9 feet) long, and accommodates both tall and short humans with ease. The hammock’s 70-denier nylon taffeta material breathes well on hot days and dries within two hours after a rainy day hang. Despite its light weight, the SingleNest is also a durable powerhouse of a hammock: Triple interlocking stitching holds you securely in place and the hammock itself can hold up to 400 pounds. During testing, we piled two people totaling 300 pounds into this hammock and noticed no stretching or breakage.

The SingleNest packs into its own pocket to the size of a baseball and weighs less than 1 pound, straps not included. Once it’s all packed up, it’s easy to bring with you on day hikes, beach trips, park picnics and even backpacking trips. The SingleNest doesn’t come with straps but you can buy a set based on your preferences. You can also buy hammock accessories like a bug net or rainfly to turn this pocket hammock into an overnight sleeping option. (We recommend buying an all-in-one set if you really want to sleep in your hammock, though; more on that below.)

Says one customer of the SingleNest: “I am a big guy and I was a bit concerned about getting the single nest... [but] I am very pleased with this product and recommend it to anyone wanting a hammock. It sets up easy, stores well and provides hours of relaxation. I use it when I backpack for a place to sit, take naps during the day and hold all of my small items.”

Kammok Roo Double

Best Double Hammock

Kammok Roo Double

Capacity: 500 pounds

Unfolded dimensions: 120 inches long x 67 inches wide

Weight: 1 pound, 7 ounces

MSRP: $99.00

An elite few products boast more than 350 five-star reviews on REI’s website, but the Roo Double Hammock, created by Austin-based gear company Kammok, has done it—and we can see why. The Roo Double is a double hammock, which means it has more width than a single hammock (think of this like the difference between a single bed and double bed). This Roo Double’s extra width can accommodate wider hips, longer legs, multiple people or extra gear. It extends to 10 feet in length when unfolded and can hold up to 500 pounds. One note of caution: The Roo Double’s 10-foot length means you’ll need to find trees that are farther apart (around 12 to 15 feet) to get the right hang angle.

The Roo Double is made with 70-denier diamond ripstop fabric, which feels nice against the skin and breathes well. According to Kammok, those diamond reinforcements reduce fabric stretch for a more consistent hang. The Roo Double also offers gear loops so you can hang lightweight equipment (like a water bottle or headlamp) off of the hammock via carabiners, and there’s a nice pocket along the side that serves as a stuff sack.

The Roo Double packs down into its own pocket easily to about the size of an eggplant, making it fairly easy to backpack with. As with ENO, hammock straps as well as the Kammok bug net and rainfly are sold separately from the Kammok Roo Double itself.

One customer reported that their Kammok Roo double has lasted for more than two years with no signs of wear and tear. ”It stood up well to backyard and car-camping use on multiple occasions, performing exactly as desired,” they wrote. “It is well-designed and well-made, and very easy to set up. Its construction seemed to me a notch above that of its most direct competitor.”

REI Co-op Flash Air Hammock

Best Hammock Tent

REI Co-op Flash Air Hammock Tent

Capacity: 250 pounds

Unfolded dimensions: 9 feet long

Weight: 2 pounds, 13 ounces

MSRP: $199.95

If you want to sleep in a hammock overnight, you’ll need more than just a basic pocket hammock; you’ll also need a bug net, rainfly and sturdy straps, to start. You can buy these extra components separately, of course, but we prefer the convenience of an all-in-one hammock tent set.

The REI Co-op Flash Air Hammock is our top pick for an all-in-one hammock tent. It packs up light compared to its hammock tent competitors, at under 3 pounds, and it has a bug net already built in. The Flash Air’s ripstop nylon feels nice against the skin and the seams are durable. An angled tent pole keeps the bug net away from your face, and there are a few mesh pockets above the face area for storage, as well as a sling below the hammock to hold small items overnight. Inside the hammock, you’ll find straps to keep your sleeping pad or underquilt in place overnight, too. (See below for more details about how to set up your hammock tent for optimal warmth.)

The Flash Air includes a rainfly that can be placed over the hammock on rainy days, with tied-out guylines and stakes. It also includes unique-to-REI whoopie slings for hanging your hammock, which are ropes designed with adjustable loops. (See below for more information about hammock strap types.) Some reviewers noted that the included whoopie sling-style suspension straps, while easy to use, are a bit short (depending on where you’re camping and how big the trees are), so you may want to bring a spare set of extra-long straps just in case. When it comes to sleeping, this is a cozy option: The bug-stopping mesh zips up around you like a cocoon, quieting the world around you and blocking you from the elements. We’ve found that hammocks release the pressure load on your low back, which makes sleeping in a hammock more comfortable than sleeping on the ground for many people.

The Flash Air is “lightweight and comfortable,” said one customer. “I have an REI inflatable sleeping pad that fit perfectly. Easy to set up. Definitely prefer this to a tent. It rained most of the night, but I stayed bone dry.”

Shop All Hammocks

How to Choose a Hammock

What makes a “good” hammock?

Jon Arruda, senior product designer at REI says that a good hammock should be made from lightweight, durable material like ripstop nylon. It should be packable, comfortable and well-priced. “Really, a good hammock should make you want to get outside. It should have high-end materials and low weight,” he says.

You should choose a hammock that’s the right size for you. Most brands offer single and double hammocks, and the decision to buy one over the other has mostly to do with your height and weight. Like single and double beds, double hammocks simply contain more width than single hammocks, making them a better fit for two people, extra gear, taller people or people with wider hips. Most hammocks are rated to at least 250 pounds, which means that your hammock should hold strong even if a 250-pound person falls into it. Double hammocks can typically hold more weight than single hammocks, and double hammocks are often a bit longer.

A good hammock shouldn’t stretch over time, says Arruda, even if it’s holding a lot of weight, and it should contain nice storage features like a mesh pocket and strong seams. If you’re buying a hammock tent or sleep system, look for aluminum poles, a durable mesh bug net and a well-made rainfly.

What’s a hammock tent?

A hammock tent is not actually a tent. Rather, it’s a traditional pocket hammock that contains a rainfly and bug net and is meant for overnight sleeping. It’s also sometimes called a “floating tent.” Arruda says there are many benefits to sleeping in a hammock at night: Hammocks allow you to sleep off the ground and be protected from the elements. Some people can get a better night’s sleep because they’re off the hard surface. Plus, you won’t have to kneel down to pack up—and it’s fun!

However, sleeping in a hammock does require some preparation: First off, hammock tents are built for one. They hang above the ground which means you’re exposed to the cold all the way around your body. Plus, you’re compressing the bottom of your sleeping bag and you’re exposed to the wind in a hammock, which can mean you get cold quickly. To combat the cold, you’ll want to use a sleeping pad or a hammock underquilt like the REI Co-op Hammock Underquilt to allow for proper insulation once temperatures drop below 50 degrees. Underquilts, especially, are a good option because they block the wind but don’t take up much space in your pack.

While some retailers sell hammock tents as an entire package that contain a hammock, bug net, rain fly and straps (like the REI Co-op Flash Air), you can also make your own setup by buying these items as add-ons for your pocket hammock.

Do I need a special kind of hammock straps?

Most hammocks don’t come with high-quality straps included, so you’ll need to buy your own. How do you choose? You can use almost any kind of strap set with almost any hammock, so choosing the option you’re most comfortable with is the best way to proceed. You should also check the product descriptions to ensure hammock-strap compatibility before buying, just in case.

Typically, brands offer three different strap styles: daisy-chain-style suspension straps; thinner, cord-style straps with knots tied every few inches and clips at the end; and whoopie slings:

  • Daisy-chain-style straps generally allow more versatility because they extend longer distances and offer more preset options to clip into.These are often recommended for beginners.
  • Cord-style straps are simple and more traditional, typically involving the use of a carabiner within the cord loops. (You may also see a toggle on these systems, especially on ultralight hammocks.)
  • Whoopie slings involve a rope designed with an adjustable loop. They are still fairly new to the market and are quite easy to adjust. They are very light, but they don’t extend quite as long as most daisy-chain-style straps.

Overall, any strap system that’s adjustable and durable, with no complicated buckles or operational requirements, will work. Most people will be fine with a standard-size 10-foot set of straps, although you can look for extra long straps or extenders if you plan to camp somewhere with thicker trees that are further apart.

Tips for hanging a hammock

To start, find two suspension points that are 10 to 20 feet apart and are thick enough to support the weight of your body in the hammock. Typically, this means finding two medium-sized trees. Our Expert Advice offers some tips for responsible hammocking practices, including using “tree savers,” so you don’t cause damage to the trees around you.

Set the straps at chest level or above, then get the hammock centered. You don’t need to get the hammock as tight as possible but the straps should cinch tight along the tree. After using your hammock for awhile, you’ll get a sense for the most comfortable hang angle, but in general, an ideal hang is somewhere around 30 degrees from the horizon line, which allows you to minimize the amount your back bends while preventing sag.

Hammock care & maintenance

If your hammock has aluminum poles, wipe them down. Zippers can also be a big source of failure, says Arruda, so clean them of debris using an old toothbrush with soapy water every few months. You should also be careful not to leave your hammock up for too long, as UV rays can break down the materials and lead to a shorter life for your hammock.

If your hammock rips, you can look into using a patch kit. However, because hammocks hold your entire body weight, you should be careful about sleeping in a hammock with a hole. Arruda recommends contacting the retailer or brand where you got the hammock and asking them to assist with repairs instead of doing it yourself.

Learn More: How to Choose a Hammock

The post 2018’s Best Hammocks For Outdoor Adventures appeared first on REI Co-op Journal.

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