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Tent Hammocks
© 2006

There are a growing number of campers who choose to sleep in hammocks. The problem with most hammocks is that you are exposed to the elements, both rain and bugs. Now, new gear has been developed to take that problem away. The Tent-Hammock is a combination of both the tent (with bug screens) and a hammock.

No more sleeping on the ground, no more rain problems. The only thing you can't do is invite a friend to stay the night, unless they too have a tent hammock. Most dogs will not jump into a hammock.

If you keep your food out of these hammocks there is no reason to be bothered by any animals, and small animals will walk right under you. Rain runoff flows under you also.

Some manufacturers have their own warm inner liners to use in addition to a sleeping bag.

If you've never tried to sleep in a hammock, try it first before you invest in this type of shelter. Waking up in the morning with a aching back and tired from lack of sleep is not a good survival technique. Don't just give it the "nap test". Try sleeping in a hammock overnight. Then, if you can't walk in the morning, you know that the hammock is not for you.

The hammock tents have terrific stealth qualities. They can be hidden in much smaller areas in-between trees or rocks. They can be covered with debris to break up their outline. The can be strung up on the sides of steep slopes where searchers may not look.

The tent hammock is a combination of tent and sleeping quarters. I have spent several nights in a tent hammock, and my only complaint was that I got cold from the bottom, up. I added an air mattress under my sleeping bag and the problem went away. The canvas I used to make my rig was the old-time WWII heavy canvas that I got from a Army/Navy surplus store. It worked great, but it was HEAVY. The new outfits are much lighter, and won't smell like a 50-year-old pair of sox. (Ask any WWII vet and they will tell you, using much stronger language, what this fabric smelled like.)

When I made my tent hammock, back in the early 1960's, none of these light weight, super strong fabrics existed. It took a great deal of hand sewing because the heavy weight fabric broke every needle I tried to use on my mother's sewing machine. You could make your own, if you've got any skills in this area. But I strongly advise that you actually see one and get into it to determine how its made.

The biggest limitation I see with these tents is cost. With only 1 adult per tent hammock, each adult must have their own. I also have a problem with how to sleep small or infant children. I know I wouldn't trust my own little kids in one alone all night in the dark. The screaming would keep you awake all night when the first bug hits the tent...or the first twig falls on the roof.

If your survival group is all wealthy adults, go for it. There's a lot to be said for everyone having their own shelter. Unfortunately, snuggling at night is not one of the advantages. But, if something should happen to the communal tent, then everyone sleeps on the ground that night.

Weigh the pros and cons: What is right for you? If you have small children, it's a no-brainer. You will need one shelter for the whole family. Adults, you're on your own.

Here are some samples of what's on the market today:

Blue Ridge Camping Hammocks

Total weight with stuff sack: 4.25 lbs.
Length: 90 inches
Width: 36 inches
Packs to: 22" x 6"
Weight Limit: 225 lbs.
Colors: Forrest Green or Purple

Price: $169.99 from Lawson

Blue Ridge camping hammocks are designed specifically for backpacking in hard terrain. Anywhere a tent can't go the blue ridge camping hammock is there - mountain side, jungle, wilderness, along river beds, etc... It's for people who are on the move, need to set up fast and go. It can be used either as a tent hammock or on the ground as a bivouac tent.

  • Large no-see-um net canopy.
  • Hammock body made of coated nylon pack cloth.
  • Waterproof nylon rain tarp.
  • Waterproof nylon border on the canopy protects against water blowing up under tarp.
  • Strong aluminum-alloy poles and shock corded aluminum arch poles for the canopy.
  • Double coil nylon zipper.
  • Large net bag inside hammock.
  • Nylon rope.
  • Heavy duty nickel-plated steel rings.
  • Brass-plated grommets reinforced with nylon webbing.
  • Stuff sack

    These are heavy duty polypropylene webbing support straps. Just wrap the straps around any tree or post, connect the hammock to the S Hooks and your in business. Protects trees and is environmentally friendly. Fast setup.

    Two Tree Hugger straps per pack Price $21.95

    Hennessy Expedition Jungle Hammock

    Hammock dimensions: 9' x 4'
    Capacity: 250 lbs. Weight: 2.5 lbs. Colors: Forest green hammock with forest green fly and royal blue trim or Woodland camouflage hammock with woodland camouflage fly & trim.
    Canopy dimensions: 10' x 6'

    Price: $216.97 - $284.99 from

    Easy Entry Through The Bottom:
    Walk in to the middle of the hammock, turn around and sit down. Lay back and lift your feet inside.

    Snap Tight Zipperless Closure:
    Your weight tensions the entrance which automatically snaps closed behind you.

    Perfect Set Comfort Curve:
    Integral ridgeline maintains the same comfortable shape to keep your back straight and level when resting on the diagonal.

    Never-Tip Center Balance Design:
    Eliminates instability. This is the first hammock that does not cause you to lose your balance while entering the hammock.

    Has 18 square feet of No-See-Um Tropical Netting provides excellent protection and ventilation.

    The No-See-Um Tropical Netting will deflect wind to provide a calm space inside. For the tropics, where maximum ventilation is necessary, the No-See-UmTropical Netting allows the hammock to breathe.

    The canopy may be tilted to any angle, rolled up above or removed.

    Clark Jungle Hammock

    Weight (advertised): 38.5 oz
    Weight (tested): 38.3 oz
    Price: $169

    Weight limit: 250 lb.

    From: Hiking and

    This hammock, as the name implies, is designed for warm, tropical climates. It is ultra-light which is a huge plus when you wear it on your back. If you watch the BBC, you will see this hammock featured in an adventure survival series called "Beyond Boundaries". This is set in the rain forests of the Mosquito coast.

    North American

    Not to snub the cold weather enthusiasts, the North American model is designed for cold climates.

    The Clark North American, the first four-season hammock, is among the most versatile tents ever built. Whether you are expecting six feet of snow or tropical conditions, the North American will serve you well. The deployable WeatherShield, which transforms the hammock into an enclosed tent, comes standard on this model.

    Deploy it every night. Don't wake up WET. The dew alone will soak you on high humidity days. RT


    Dimensions: 82 x 34 x 48"
    Stuff Sack: 23 x 8 x 8"
    Weight: 6.5 pounds

    Price: $350.00
    from Terre

  • Nylon Slings urethane
  • 4mm nylon suspension cord
  • No-see-um mesh
  • Anodized aluminum tubes
  • Nylon strap (underneath rain-fly)
  • 420 Denier waterproof nylon
  • 70 Denier taffeta waterproof rain-fly (seam sealed)
  • Fastex buckles to secure the rain-fly
  • Toggles for holding up the rain-fly

    Charcoal Gray (rain fly)
    Navy Blue (base)

    No weight limit published.

  • This hammock-tent is more like a suspended bed than a hammock. Note the position of the person sleeping in the above photo. No severe arch to the back. While expensive, and a little heavy, this may be (sleep-wise) the best buy around for back-packers backs.

    Crazy Crib LEX with Tarp

    Crib: 44" x 98"
    Tarp: 77" x 104"
    Packed Weight: 70 oz

    Cost: $125.00 from Crazy

    The Ideal Portable Hammock
    Convenient Top Entry
    Simple To Set-Up
    Resists Unsteady Rolling
    Provides Off-Ground Gear Storage During The Day
    1" Wide Suspension Webbing For Excellent Weight Distribution
    Double-Stitched Seams And Reinforced Corners For Durability
    Can Be Used As A Ground Bivy
    Fits Into A Small Stuff Sack
    300 lb. Weight Capacity

    The LEX features a fully enclosed, zippered mosquito netting-enhanced canopy with Easton 7075-T9 aluminum poles and an internal sleeve that accepts a sleeping pad for added comfort. Nylon jersey-mesh pole sleeves are positioned on the exterior for convenient set-up and easy zipper use. 70D coated rip-stop nylon. 210D coated nylon bottom for extra durability. No-see-um netting. Two inside accessory pockets. Waterproof taped tarp seams. Includes guy lines, stakes and stuff sack.

    I present this short section to offer up yet another alternative to hacking up trees and bushes to make a shelter. Whatever you purchase or make, remember that you will have to carry it when the family bus runs out of gas. Lighter is better, as long as it meets your needs...all your needs.

    The same general rules for tents should apply to a tent hammock. If it looks flimsy, it probably is. If it doesn't meet ALL your needs, keep shopping.

    K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple, Stupid. A military term freely used to discuss military planners. In this case, it means that the more complicated a tent hammock is to set up, the more things that can go wrong with it. The fewer straps, bells, whistles, and buzzers, the better. My personal rule. "If it takes more than 3 ropes to put it up, I don't want it." But, I'm lazy...