How to Choose a Backpacking Hammock

Backpacking Hammock: Set up in the forest during the golden hour next to a lake

In this post, we'll take a look at:

Planning your upcoming adventure and considering a backpacking hammock as your primary shelter? That’s a great choice.

If you don’t have one yet, don’t worry. Whether you’re an experienced backpacker or new to outdoor exploration, this post will help you find the perfect one. Let’s begin.

Understanding Backpacking Hammocks

Backpacking hammocks provide a comfortable way to stay above the chilly ground. What’s even better, these complete hammock sets (also known as hammock tents) are much lighter than a typical medium-sized tent.

The most crucial part of this setup is, of course, the hammock itself. Before we explore the accessories that complete the setup, let’s first grasp the essential aspects of backpacking hammocks: their size and the materials they’re made of.

Hammock Types Explained

Choosing the right type for your backpacking hammock is crucial. There are two main options: single and double hammocks.

  • Single Hammocks: These are about 4 to 5 feet wide (1.2 to 1.5 meters), making them lightweight and compact. Ideal for solo adventurers, they save on weight and space in your backpack but offer less room for lounging. Weight limits for singles typically range from 300 to 400 pounds (136 to 181 kg), with ultralight versions around 250 pounds (113 kg).
  • Double Hammocks: Wider at 5 to 6 feet (1.5 to 1.8 meters), these hammocks provide more space for a comfy sleeping experience. Many solo backpackers prefer them for added room. Doubles support 400 to 500 pounds (181 to 227 kg), with ultralight models around 350 pounds (159 kg).

For both types, look for a hammock length at least 2 feet longer than your height.

Hammock Material Matters

The material of your backpacking hammock is crucial for weight and durability. Here’s what you need to know:

Material Options:

  • Nylon: Nylon hammocks are a favorite among backpackers and campers due to their lightweight and portability. They’re also tough against the elements, making them an excellent outdoor choice.
  • Polyester: Polyester hammocks are sturdy and less likely to stretch, though slightly heavier compared to nylon. They stand up to the elements well, resisting fading and deterioration. Additionally, they’re often more budget-friendly and easier to keep clean.

Denier Rating:

hen thinking about the material, focus on the ‘denier‘ rating, which is often mentioned in the product description.

Denier tells you about the thickness and weight of the fabric. Fabrics with higher denier numbers are tougher, which means they’re more durable, but they also add more weight to your gear.

For instance, a hammock might use 70-denier fabrics for robust models and 30-denier for lightweight versions. Keep in mind that while low-denier fabrics are lighter, they may wear out more quickly with rough use.

Hammock Accessories for Backpackers

The right accessories can improve your backpacking hammock experience and make your setup complete. Here are the must-haves:

  1. Suspension System (Straps): Most hammocks need separate straps for attachment. Look for wide, sturdy straps (0.75 inches (2 cm) or wider) to protect trees and the environment while ensuring a secure setup.
  2. Rain Tarp: Keep dry with a rain tarp that provides shelter above your hammock. Opt for larger tarps and use guylines for a secure pitch.
  3. Bug Net: Stay bug-free with a 360-degree bug net, preferably with “no-see-um” netting. It shields you from insects both above and below your hammock.
  4. Underquilt: Stay warm in cold weather with an underquilt, which offers superior insulation beneath your hammock.
  5. Additional Add-ons: Explore extras like hammock stands, drip straps to prevent rain from reaching your hammock straps, or hanging pockets for convenience.

Choosing the Right Backpacking Hammock

Backpacking Hammock: Set up in a sparse forest

Congratulations on reaching this point. By now, you know about the two types of hammocks (single and double), the materials they’re made of, and the essential accessories for your hammock tent setup.

Now, when it comes to choosing the most important part, the backpacking hammock itself, there are two key factors to consider: weight and comfort.

Weight Matters:

Every ounce counts when you’re backpacking. If you prioritize carrying a lighter load to minimize the strain on your back, opt for ultralight hammocks. These hammocks are designed with lightweight materials and typically weigh around 6 ounces (170g).

If you prefer not to purchase a hammock and add the accessories separately to complete your setup, there are complete ultralight hammock tent sets available, weighing around 2-3 lbs (approximately 0.9-1.3 kg), and in some cases, even less.

Comfort is Key:

Many backpackers prefer double hammocks because they provide additional space for comfort and movement. These hammocks are wider, enabling a diagonal lay that reduces pressure on your back and enhances overall comfort.

However, your decision is influenced by your personal preference and your willingness to carry the additional weight if you choose a double hammock, which usually adds between 0.5-1 lbs (200-450 g) to your backpack.

The Bottom Line

Backpacking Hammocks in a sunny forest

Selecting the perfect hammock involves striking a balance between comfort and weight. Doubles offer more comfort but come with added weight, while singles are lighter but may compromise on comfort.

For beginners, we suggest starting with a complete ultralight hammock tent set to avoid any confusion as you delve into the world of hammocking.


In conclusion, selecting the right hammock for your backpacking adventure is a crucial decision that hinges on your preferences and priorities.

Whether you prioritize lightweight ease of travel or ultimate comfort, understanding factors like size, material, and accessories will guide you to the perfect choice.

Remember, the ideal hammock is the one that complements your backpacking style, ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable outdoor experience. Happy hammocking.

Interested in an ultralight hammock tent? Check out our TOP 5 guide for the lightest options available.


Are hammocks good for backpacking?

Hammocks can be a good option for backpacking, offering lightweight and compact shelter alternatives. They are especially suitable for areas with trees where you can hang them easily. However, it’s important to consider factors like weather conditions, comfort, and the availability of suitable hanging points when deciding if a hammock is a good choice for your backpacking trip.

Is sleeping in a hammock colder than a tent?

Sleeping in a hammock can be colder than sleeping in a tent, as hammocks expose more surface area to the surrounding air, making it easier for cold air to reach you. However, you can mitigate the cold by using insulation such as an underquilt or sleeping pad in the hammock, which helps retain warmth and provides a comfortable sleeping experience.

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