Gear ~ Hammocks
Swinging in the Rain
Just for the record, I love sleeping in a hammock – some of them, anyway. There are some damned uncomfortable ones, made of rope with stretcher bars that make an old canvas camp cot feel like a down feather bed. Others stretch canvas between sticks strung with rope; these are the ones that lead people to think you’re going to flip out and wake up on the floor. Or the ones that make people think hammocks will dislocate your spine. With those rigs, they may be right.
But a true string hammock is a completely different animal. Unlike rope and fabric hammocks, stringers, like Mayan, and Paraguayan hammocks, stretch in all directions in a way that supports your entire spine.You sink securely into them, bundled up on your back or curled on your side, and the next thing you know, you’re waking up from a deep, refreshing sleep. Of course these classic creations of “indigenuity” are generally cotton and therefore may not be quite the thing to lug up and over passes, but the designs have been reworked with modern fabrics to create some very lightweight berths, often with integrated bug netting and rain canopy.
There have been times when I’ve slept happily month after month in a hammock. I really like them. It’s where I do some of my “deepest thinking”. I’ve also met a few hikers and cyclists on the trails of France and Spain who were carrying small, lightweight hammocks in the hope of finding a quiet grove of trees on a clear, warm night. Still, hammocks remain a relatively uncommon form of sleep and shelter system, although there are new converts every day.
You have to sleep in the bed you make, and in trail life, you have to carry it too, so here are some resources to help decide if swinging from the trees makes sense, and which hammock might be right for your next long-distance trail adventure.
Please Note: The links on this page go directly to one of the lightest weight choices of the particular source, so be sure to poke around their sites for other information and choices… As always, we’d love to check out your suggestions and favorites, too.