Guide to Choosing the Best Camping Hammock
Most hammocks that are suitable for hikers and campers come in the form of one or two basic designs, and each one brings some inherent advantages and disadvantages to the table. Let's take a look at what sets these hammocks apart in order to help you decide which one is best for you.
Asymmetrical Gathered End Hammocks
These hammocks are probably the most common, and popular, among campers and backpackers due to their simple design. They are lightweight, can be stored in a small amount of space, and you can choose from different levels of strength to match the environment where you will be using the hammock.
The reason they are called asymmetrical is because they are cut into a special shape that allows for the user to lie on a diagonal angle with respect to the centerline. This provides for a wider berth and helps the user to spread out a little bit while sleeping without falling out. The ends are bunched together, which is why they are called gathered ends, and this helps to promote balance and even weight distribution.
Bridge hammocks resemble a barrel that has been placed on its side with the top half cut off. They also have a beam, frame or some form of rigging on each end to keep the hammock open and the bottom flatter than their gathered end counterparts. The main difference is that bridge hammocks provide a little bit more back and body support due to their rigidity. They can also be easier to set up and adjust as well. People often describe how sleeping in a bridge hammock feels more like sleeping in a cot.
They are also heavier and bulkier than gathered end hammocks, which is one reason that people tend to choose the latter when portability and mobility are important. Another drawback is the curved sides can make them a little bit more constricting and difficult to spread out. However, for taller individuals, those with back problems, or anyone who wants less-saggy sleep experience, these may be a better option.
No matter what design you choose, it's important that you first consider your height, weight and overall size when shopping for a hammock. You want one that provides a few extra feet at the end while being taut enough when you're laying down. Additionally, you want enough room to be able to spread around enough where you don't feel too constricted. Why this is important is hard to describe now, but you will understand exactly what we're saying once you start testing out hammocks.
That brings us to our final point, that you need to test hammocks out before you ever rely on one out in the field. If you don't feel comfortable and secure, then you're in the wrong hammock, plain and simple, and being in the wrong hammock can cancel out all of the benefits that you are hoping to experience. That being said, once you find the right one for your size and overall preferences, chances are that you'll never want to sleep on the ground again.