Suspended shelters used to refer specifically to hammocks, however there are now many companies that sell structures the same size and shape as a classic double wall shelter, but suspended above the ground on tension straps from three or more trees. I have no experience with the later, which judging by their size and weight are probably more suited to base camps and “Glamping” than for use while hiking from place to place each day.
Hammock camping is a great option for many people. Not having to worry about what is under foot or finding a root underneath your ground pad in the middle of the night is a big advantage that hammock campers have. Hammocks themselves tend to weigh less than most other shelters, but when you start adding in accessories like straps, rain flies, and under-quilts, they can be just as cumbersome as a lot of double wall shelters. Also, side-sleepers may not find hammocks to be the most comfortable option.
The following are some of the Suspended Shelters I’ve used and liked (or not) on the trail:
Packed Weight: 1 lbs 15 oz / 879 g
Packed Size: 4″ x 7″ x 9″
Bottom Fabric Dimensions: 118″ x 59″
Rain fly Dimensions: Parallelogram long side 92″, short side 65″ Long diagonal 132″, Short Diagonal 105″
Height Limit: 6′ tall / 183 cm; Weight Limit: 200 lbs / 91 kg
Material: Hammock Fabric: 70D nylon taffeta, 160 x 90 high count; Webbing Straps: 1″ wide black polyester
I am a side sleeper, so I typically find it difficult to get good restful sleep in a hammock. However, in order to be prepared for situations where the ground is not suitable for a ground style shelter, I picked up this unique design from Hennessy Hammocks.
Originally designed for adventure racing in the Amazon jungle, these hammocks are fully enclosed; a layer of no-see-um mesh encloses the top opening and you enter through the bottom. This provides complete bug protection without having to bring along a separate bug net or enclosure.
A slit in the hammock bottom is held together with Velcro. You open it, slide your body in, turn around, and sit down. Your body’s weight causes the slit to automatically close again, fastening the Velcro too.
A super strong ridge line supports your weight and ties directly to the included tree straps.
An asymmetrical (hence the name) diamond rain fly is attached to the ridge line but you can choose not to deploy it in fair weather.
At almost 2 pounds, this is hammock is not really considered ultralight, but remember that in a hammock, you will not necessarily need a sleeping pad, ground cloth, or poles, which can add up to more than a pound.
Remember though, if you are hammock camping in cold weather, you will need to bring an under quilt to attach to the bottom of your set up. When there is absolute compression, such as your body against the fabric of a hammock, there is no way to provide insulation or retain body heat; you might as well have your skin exposed to the elements.
To alleviate this problem, hammockers bring along an under quilt, essentially a second sleeping bag, that insulates the outside of the hammock, where the back of your body makes contact. Including an under quilt in your winter camping set up will easily add a pound or two to your base weight.
The true weight savings of a hammock set up continue to be a hot topic between hammockers and tenters.
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