Hey all you hammock campers! Would love to start a discussion around the pros and cons of “traditional” (gathered-end) hammocks vs. bridge hammocks.
What do you use? Why did you settle on it? What advice do you have to give?
My experience is varied. I own a few traditional parachute-style hammocks (eg. ENO), an asymmetrical Hennessy Hammock, and most recently, an REI bridge. (Quarterdome Air?)
What I’ve found is that most hammocks just aren’t great for tall campers. I’m a 6’3”, 220lb side-sleeper and I just cannot sleep comfortably in a gathered end hammock. I find that the general hammock sizes just aren’t designed for us taller folks. Try as I may, I just can’t get comfortable, even in my Hennessy (but the Hennessy is definitely better than a gathered-end). Honestly, I had just about given up on hammock camping and reserved the hammock to an afternoon-nap solution when I finally bought a bridge. I’m hooked!
For me, the bridge hammock presents a much flatter lay which allows me to sleep on my side with comfort and ease! I’m so glad to be back in the “hangin’ crowd!”
I must say though that a bridge hammock is a bit more of an inverstment than say, an ENO, because there’s just a lot more to it. Bridges take more time to setup and usually require more distance between trees, and they definitely require more space in a pack. But all in all, they are my new choice and I would definitely recommend a bridge hammock to any tall campers and/or anyone who wants a really flat lay or prefers side-sleeping.
So what are your thoughts? What style of hammock do you use and why would you choose one style over the other?
I use a Hennessy Hamock for overnights and backpacking trips. When I bought it I was a bigger guy so I got the XL. I'm 5' 8" and down to 165ish. Having said that I love the Hennessy. I'm a moving sleeper... side, back, front... I wouldn't be surprised if someone told me I slept standing on my head. The Hennessy is comfortable through it all (may not be room for the headstands, so milage may vary). I have recently been considering a downsize for weight purposes, but I'm nervous about the loss of the extra space due to the amount of tossing and turning I do.
I also use a Wilder & Sons hammock to nap/rest in on Craig days, and at the house as my permanent bed. Also a very comfy hammock if I don't need the bug net/rain fly.
I have not had a LOT of experience with "bridge hammocks, however I found them to be less stable. I feel like I'm about to flip on the ones I have tried out. It is important to note I have not tried a bridge hammock in several years, and I understand the new ones are less flip prone... just haven't tried them yet.
My brief experience with bridge hammocks was similar...it just felt more tippy to me.
I like gathered-end hammocks because I can often pull the extra fabric around me like a cocoon...perfect for taking naps in the backyard or the woods. I am a side-sleeper and haven't had too many issues in a gathered-end hammock, but I would like to try bridges again.
I've had a Hennessy Hammock for over ten years, and it was OK, and the hot item for backpacking in the White Mountains in NH, the Greens in VT and here in the Berkshires in Connecticut, because you never have to hunt around for a tent site. One can camp on a steep hillside or in an area not suited for tenting no problem. Sometimes with the Hennessy I'd find myself waking in a weird position and getting a bad nights sleep. This past year I did get the REI Quarter Dome bridge hammock (unfortunately discontinued) and it's more comfortable, requires less fiddling, and is very suitable to the restless side sleeper. The only issue I had was the fly that came with it was barely large enough, and I found another slightly longer wider fly. I find the bridge hammock much less constricting... and I found myself sleeping not just backpacking but also in the back yard frequently all summer, and well into the late fall, and NEVER had a bad night. It's a bit heavier, but totally worth the extra weight. If I didn't already have the REI Quarter Dome, I'd definitely get the Ridgerunner Hammock from Warbonnet. I don't think you could flip any bridge hammock (especially not the REI) no matter how much you thrashed around.
@Dice - Thanks for starting such a great topic! I love hearing what people have to say. I have used a Kammok Double since 2013 and slept in it a countless number of nights.
I move a lot while I sleep, so figuring out how to stay comfortable took some trial and error. The technique that ended up being a game changer for me is putting something with a bit of weight (usually my headlamp) in the side pocket, throwing that over the other side cocooning me in place, then tucking the hammock between my torso and arms so I can move around as much as I want without the hammock splaying open. Having a double is key here or I imagine I would get claustrophobic!
I tried a friend's bridged hammock on a kayak-packing trip once and learned how much I appreciated the versatility of my parachute-style one while packing. Being able to shove mine into tiny little corners of the boat is a big selling point for me!
I'm a hot sleeper, side sleeper and a bigger guy and tried hammock camping the first time last year. I ended up with an Outdoor Vitals hammock (11'*6') primarily because it was light enough (hammock, suspension, straps and bug net are just over a pound combined) that I could take it along with my tent in case I hated it. I ended up *loving* it for sleeping but still trying to figure out how to store my gear (with a tent, I kept everyhing inside the tent with me). Haven't tried a bridge hammock yet but, with some practice, found the gathered end hammock gave me some of the best nights sleep that I've had on a while.
@REI-CarterC - For the time being, I've put my hanging plans on hold (which is to say, I'm leaving myself hanging LOL).
Because there's a good chance that I'll get to do some backpacking in Colorado this year - and still hoping to the the rim to rim GC - I decided to get a free standing tent first. But I am fortunate in that, being 6', I still fit into most hammocks but I am definitely going to take a look at the Hennessy setup that @Dice is referencing.
Of course, that means I (cough)(cough) will "have to" buy a new under quilt. And I suppose I should get a hammock-specific sleeping pad. Hmmm... bunch of ridge line accessories are in my buying future, as well. Probably should get a color-coordinated outfit to match the new shelter system. 🤣
I have been tent camping my whole life, but began hammock camping about 6 years ago.... I will never sleep on the ground again (anchor points permitting)! My first hammock was a Father’s Day gift, which was a parachute type material doublenest. I soon upgraded to the 4 season Hennessy hammock and I love it. I am in the construction trade so I usually toss and turn at night due to neck pain. In my HH I can sleep comfortable on my back and my side which is great! I use a Nemo pillow for neck support, and hammock gear Econ burrow top quilt and hood to sleep with. Feels like sleeping in the clouds! I have Enjoyed my hammock so much I purchase one for my wife and three children for our family trips together.