Suspension and bug net included
Quick and easy setup
Comfy and easy to adjust
Features, baby, features!
Must buy carabiners and stakes separately
Can't remove bug net
The defending champion retains its title! For varied terrain and weather, we found that the best model for backcountry camping was, once again, the Warbonnet Blackbird
. It's combination of ultralight material, features, and comfort put it above the other products tested and secured its status as the Editors' Choice Award winner for the second time. While there are a few models we reviewed that are lighter, we felt that the Blackbird best balanced all aspects of a superior hammock-specific camping experience. With only the essentials, its weight can be as low as 20 ounces. Considering the integrated bug net, we feel that this weight is reasonable. Adding the easily adjusted whoopee sling suspension saves even more weight and makes getting the perfect hang that much easier. Warbonnet offers the Blackbird in two different fabric choices and with an optional double floor. We chose to test the Blackbird with a couple accessories: the Yeti underquilt and Mambajamba tarp. While these items upped the Blackbird's game, even without the add-ons, this is a superior setup. Everyone wants to stretch their legs at the end of a long day; if you need a little more room, look no further than the extended Blackbird XLC
Read full review: Warbonnet Blackbird
Best Bang for your Buck on a Tight Budget
Grand Trunk Ultralight Starter
Super low price
Lightweight and comfy
Less durable than more expensive models
Camping on a budget has never been easier, thanks to the affordable, lightweight Grand Trunk Ultralight Starter
. Weighing in at 12.6 ounces, this product is not only a great value at $20 but also a reasonable option for ultralight camping. You will need to either purchase or make a suspension system, but even with that added expense, this is a deal. We found other models to be more comfortable, and some features we prefer to have were missing, like durable and stretchy parachute nylon fabric, but for a camper looking not to break the bank, this is the best choice of the models tested.
Read full review: Grand Trunk Ultralight Starter
Top Pick for Side Sleeping
Designed for flatter sleeping surface
Bug net and double-layered bottom
Comes with suspension system
Must buy carabiners extra
Not for the lightweight crowd
More vulnerable to tipping
Hammocks are fantastic for back sleepers and can be decent for side sleepers. Many double models and asymmetrical models are fine for getting a flat-diagonal lay and facilitate a good side lay, at least on one side. But if you want to flip over to the other side, you might be met with a face full of fabric if you don't switch your diagonal to the other direction. And you can forget about sleeping on your stomach. Until now anyway. Enter the Warbonnet Ridgerunner
, our Top Pick for Side Sleeping. It has spreader bars that help create the flattest lay possible, so flat we were able to get comfortable on both sides and even on our stomachs. It's like laying in a floating cot made out of top-of-the-line materials. The Ridgerunner
also has an integrated bug net and includes a suspension system, so you're good to go right out of the bag.
Read full review: Warbonnet Ridgerunner
Top Pick for Ultralight Versatility
ENO SubLink Shelter System
Stuff sack functions as pillow
Suspension, net, and fly included
You will be light on your feet and ready for any scenario with the ENO SubLink Shelter System with Sub7
. The Sub7 is the lightest model tested, weighing in at 6.4 ounces. That is downright impressive and had to be rewarded. The SubLink Shelter System we added as an upgrade contains suspension, a bug net, and a rain fly. Altogether, it's not the lightest package, but each component individually is the lightest ENO offers, from the 4.1-ounce Helios Suspension System
to the 16-ounce ProFly Sil Rain Tarp
(the heaviest component). You can pick and choose what you need and leave the rest at home with this setup. Going out for just one summer night and trying to keep your weight down? Bring just the hammock and suspension. Going into inclement weather? Bring it all. This setup will allow you to customize your adventure, staying lightweight at the same time.
Read full review: ENO SubLink Shelter System
Analysis and Test Results
Hammocks are staples of relaxation. The mere mention of one conjures images of blissful swaying in the mountains, at the beach, or in your backyard. These creative hanging systems are not just enablers for lazy afternoons. Either on their own or with accessory systems, they can replace your tent and rainfly, making impromptu car-camping trips convenient, supporting your ultralight backpacking endeavors, and allowing you to sleep on sloped terrain that would be a nightmare for a tent. We've taken 11 of the most popular contenders into varied weather and terrain to help you decide what's best for you. We evaluated each product for comfort, weight, versatility, ease of set-up, and protection/durability. Based on the scores pulled from the individual reviews, we've calculated a score from 1-100. See the overall score in the table above.
Our full test suite this time around included 11 hammocks plus accessories. Shown off to the right here is the Mambajamba tarp and Yeti underquilt for the Blackbird as well as the spreader bars for the Ridgerunner.
Comfort is the most important quality we scored because models that sleep uncomfortably are obviously not ideal for camping. Roomier models tend to sleep a bit better, while the lighter designs sacrifice comfort for gossamer materials and a compact size that feel great in the pack but can often affect your quality of sleep. Each model was tested with a sleeping pad and sleeping bag. See our reviews for the best sleeping bags and pads for high quality, lightweight options that will pair well.
While comfort is personal, extra space and features that lend themselves to comfiness are never a bad thing to have. Ultralight models, like our Top Pick, the ENO Sub7
, sacrifice extra space for a lighter weight and smaller packed size, which is why we only awarded that model a 6 out of 10 for comfort. At the end of a long day, a tired summer camper can nap reasonably well in even the most minimalist design. Winter and car campers, though, may prefer the added weight of a foot box, like the one found in the Warbonnet Blackbird
, or a double-layered floor for an insulation pad, as we get with the ENO Reactor
or the Warbonnet Ridgerunner
. These extra features made for a more comfortable hang, which is why all three of those models scored a 9 out of 10 for comfort.
The Blackbird offered a really comfortable lay with a lot of great features. Here you can see how the bug net conveniently ties out of the way and also the superior insulation provided with the addition of the Yeti underquilt.
An additional component of comfort that is often overlooked or difficult to decide on when internet shopping is fabric type. The models with the softest, most supple fabric were the ENO Reactor
, Kammok Roo
, and Grand Trunk OneMade Double Trunktech
. The Grand Trunk Ultralight Starter
had the stiffest fabric of all the models we tested, which is part of why we gave it a 6 out of 10 in this category. Not a huge surprise when you're only spending $20. If you plan to be wrapped up in a sleeping bag, this isn't a big deal, but it's something to keep in mind if you will be napping in your short shorts.
If an expedition model suits your needs and body type, you will probably be able to get a good night's sleep for many nights in a row, regardless of the weather or terrain. All of the Hennessy
models tested are geared toward this. Conversely, some of the smaller, lightweight models, like the Grand Trunk Nano 7
or ENO Sub7
, may not be the most preferable to camp in for more than a night or two. However, if you're taking on something like the Appalachian or Pacific Crest Trail, this might be a worthwhile tradeoff. Sleep is among the more personal things we do and comfort is subjective, so this is a difficult metric to assess. Much like choosing a mattress, pillow, or sleeping bag, remember that we each have very particular criteria for getting our ZZZs, so take our ratings here with a bit of healthy skepticism and spend time thinking about what aspects of a rejuvenating rest are the most critical for you.
Overall, smaller campers will find that more models fit them and larger campers will prefer roomier designs. We felt that there were no double models that slept a pair comfortably, though larger doubles fit two loungers better than a single, and slept one very comfortably. All of that considered, we still had to pick some winners and losers from the perspective of our astute testers. The hangs that we found the most comfortable were the Warbonnet Blackbird
, Warbonnet Ridgerunner
, and the ENO Reactor
, though all for different reasons.
The Warbonnet Blackbird
sports an asymmetrical design, an interior side shelf, and a foot box — a winning combination that allows for a roomy diagonal lay. We tested the Blackbird
along with an underquilt and tarp that allowed us to feel protected and warm. The Warbonnet Ridgerunner
is the only model tested that came with spreader bars, allowing you to widen it into more of a cot shape. This feature made it the best model for side or stomach sleeping, so we awarded it a Top Pick just for that! The Reactor
is an open design with soft fabric and cozy double-thickness floor, which creates a sleeve for your sleeping pad. Depending on the environment you are planning to camp in, all of these models are roomy and comfortable for spending the night outside. The model we found the least comfortable was the **Grand Trunk Nano 7*. Just slightly more comfortable were the Sub7
and the Grand Trunk Ultralight Starter
. You might notice a running theme with the competitors we deemed less comfortable: They are all ultralight models. Not surprisingly, models with thin fabric and narrow dimensions aren't as cozy as their heavier, roomier counterparts.
The unique addition of spreader bars on the Ridgerunner creates a wider, flatter sleeping surface that allows for more a more comfortable side lay.
There was a wide variation in weight between the heaviest and lightest setup we tested. Our value for the weight metric includes the hammocks themselves and anything attached to them (such as carabiners), and a stuff sack (if included). Suspension systems, such as tree straps, were not included in the weight unless the manufacturer specifically included the suspension in the same stuff sack. Many of the models tested did not come with a suspension system, and the weight of your final setup is therefore contingent on the system you choose to implement.
The heaviest contender by itself was the Hennessy Expedition Asym Zip
, weighing just over two pounds (32.9 ounces). This is definitely on the heavy side, but also consider that this includes an attached bug net and suspension system. Because this model includes these features, we didn't dock its score too severely and rated it a 6 out of 10. In comparison, the ENO Reactor
weighs a smidge under 27 ounces, and it's only the hammock — no suspension, no bug net — so we scored it a 5. It's cozy and insulated with a double layer of fabric to create a sleeve for your sleeping pad, but if you end up needing a tarp or bug net, be prepared to carry as much or more weight as a backpacking tent.
The lightest model tested, the ENO SubLink Shelter System
, clocked in at a featherweight 6.4 ounces. To put that in perspective, it's about half the weight of a full can of soda, and we thought that deserved a 10 rating. Granted, we tested the Sub7
as part of a shelter system (a package upgrade that ENO offers for all of its hammocks), and that system weighed in at the high end of the pack at 44.3 ounces. But the beauty of getting the Sub7
as part of the SubLink Shelter System
is that you can take what you need and leave the rest. Going out in the middle of the summer for just one night? Grab the Sub7
and the 4.1-ounce Helios Suspension System
that comes with the system, and you're good to go. Heading to a buggy area? Bring the 13 ounce Guardian SL Bug Net
and ditch the tarp (the heaviest component, at 16 ounces). You get the idea. The customizable nature of this setup together with the fact that it was the lightest contender tested by a full ounce (the Grand Trunk Nano 7
was the runner-up, at 7.5 ounces), is why we awarded the SubLink Shelter System with the Sub7
our Top Pick for Ultralight Versatility.
The Sub7 was the clear winner in the weight category. It was also surprisingly comfortable for how little fabric it offers.
As for complete expedition setups, the heaviest was, again, the Expedition Asym Zip
at 49.2 ounces, and the Blackbird
, along with the accessories we decided to add on. The Blackbird
with the Mambajamba Tarp
and Yeti Underquilt
weighs in at 49.7 ounces. The lightest expedition setup tested was, by far, the Hennessy Ultralite Backpacker Asym Zip
, at 33.6 ounces, and we gave it an 8 out of 10. However, if you consider the Blackbird 1.1 Single Layer
without the accessories, it's 20-ounce weight is very competitive. It doesn't include a tarp like the Hennessy
models do, but it does have an integrated bug net.
We placed a decent amount of importance on this metric because many people want to purchase one as a lightweight option for sleeping out while backpacking or traveling. However, if your motivation for owning one is based more on wanting to relax in your backyard or take a nap a short distance from your car, then take this section with a grain of salt. If you aren't overly concerned with weight, then by all means, go for more fabric and a roomier design. We don't think you'll be sorry with that decision.
Ease of Setup
For this metric, we evaluated the overall ease and efficiency of setup, both for the very first time and after we had a few tries under our belts. Some of the models required more of a learning curve than others.
First and foremost, hanging requires a suspension system, and many models don't come with this essential component. We saw a clear divide here between expedition and non-expedition models. All of the expedition models tested, the Blackbird
, the Ultralite Backpacker
, and the ENO SubLink Shelter System with Sub7
, came with suspension systems (though the Sub7 does not if you buy it on its own). The rest of the models tested, all open designs, did not include suspension. These open-design models were all the easiest to set up once the suspension issue was figured out, requiring only clipping the included carabiners or S-hooks to your anchor. The Kammok Roo
came with the burliest carabiners, along with Dyneema slings, climbing-grade components that, while perhaps overkill, can pad your climbing rack in a pinch!
The expedition models all required more know how when setting up, for a number of reasons. Not only are there various suspension systems to contend with, but full setup also requires putting up a tarp and, in some cases, an extra ridgeline. None of the Warbonnet models come with carabiners, and both the Warbonnet
models lack stakes, so some forethought is needed before heading out. The SubLink Shelter System with the Sub7
also requires setting up the bug net, which isn't attached to the hammock body as it is with the Warbonnet
Overall, we found the Hennessy
models the most complicated to set up, which is why we only gave them a 4 out of 10 for this category. The suspension system requires a special Hennessy tie-off that, while easy to do once you've learned it, is a bit complicated at first. It's also tricky to get the right tensioning with these models, and you have to make sure that the asymmetrical tarp and hammock are properly aligned. There is no color-coding, as many tents have, to help you with this. All of the instructions are printed right on the bag, but it reads a bit like a Dr. Bronner's label. You will want to practice setting these models up before going out into the backcountry. If you were setting one of these up for the first time at the end of a long day or in the dark, chances are you would be frustrated or overwhelmed.
The Hennessy lashing technique is a smart tie-off system that, once you've learned it, is quick and protects your rope. There is a bit of a learning curve up front to learn it though.
The presence or absence of a suspension system is an important thing to consider when looking at the price of these models. All the manufacturers offer at least one option for suspension sold separately, starting at $20-30. While we gave the Grand Trunk Ultralight Starter
our Best Buy Award for being a great beginners model for only $20, consider that you will need to double that price if you want a ready-to-go system from the manufacturer. If you're willing to put in a little research, however, you can create a suspension system yourself with rope or webbing that will cost less. This makes the initial learning curve a bit more involved, though. If you take this route, we ask that you know how to create a safe system and also how to properly protect the trees you plan to use.
Bottom line, the models that didn't come with suspension were all easy to set up once you've dealt with that issue, and the models that did come with suspension required a bit more practice and tweaking for us to feel efficient and competent. Most of the manufacturers have helpful videos and advice on their websites, and YouTube is also a great resource.
Protection and Durability
Having a safe and fun time out in the wilderness is dependent on the quality of your gear. A backpack or pair of boots failing far from the trailhead can be a major problem, and your shelter system is no different. If you are planning to sleep in one, the protection it provides and the durability of its construction are of extreme importance. A rip in the fabric can be as bad as having no tent poles and may leave you laying on the cold ground stringing your shelter up in some haphazard fashion or laying it over you like a blanket. Not fun.
As you can probably guess, the ultralight models offered the least protection and durability. While hanging in the Grand Trunk Nano 7
we could feel even the slightest breeze moving underneath us, hence the 3 out of 10 rating. The Grand Trunk Ultralight Starter
was marginally better, but not by much. The Sub7
fits into this group as well, but we tested it as part of the SubLink Shelter System
, which provided us with a tarp and bug net, so we gave it an 8. You would still need a sleeping pad or underquilt for cold nights, but at least we were protected from the basic elements. Some of the double models we tested, like the ENO DoubleNest
and the Kammok Roo
, while still open designs lacking bug nets and offering just a single layer floor, gave us enough fabric to cocoon ourselves inside and get a bit of protection from light rain or bugs, so we awarded those models a middle-of-the-road 5.
The Nano 7 was the second lightest hammock we tested, just an ounce heavier than the Sub7. Here you can see by the sun shining through the fabric how thin it is.
The best protection from the elements was offered by the Warbonnet Blackbird
with accessories, so we awarded it a 9. The design provides an integrated bug net and deep floor to cut the wind from flowing into it. When paired with a tarp and underquilt, you have a functional and protective setup. This system isn't cheap though, running $170 for the single layer hammock by itself and $485 when you add the tarp and underquilt.
Our other top choice for this metric was the Hennessy Expedition Asym Zip
, also scoring a 9. The fabric feels burlier to the touch and for $180 you get both the hammock with integrated bug net and a tarp. The tarp isn't as wide as the Mambajamba
so you may have to get crafty in certain weather situations, but it's adequate.
The Blackbird with accessories provides a superior shelter. The Mambajamba tarp is a roomy 10 feet wide and the Yeti underquilt blocked the breeze, keeping us cozy warm.
A couple of other models worth mentioning here are the ENO Reactor
and the Warbonnet Ridgerunner
. The Reactor
offers two thick layers of fabric, which provide a sleeve for your sleeping pad. Even without a pad in place though, when the wind blew we barely felt it through the luxurious double layer of fabric. It's still an open model with no bug net or tarp though, so we gave it a 6. The Ridgerunner
also offers a double floor for a sleeping pad as well as an integrated bug net, which bumped it's score up to an 8.
Your setup should be versatile enough to accommodate all of your needs. This will obviously vary from person to person. For a lot of users, being able to hide from the weather and sleep well isn't quite enough — people are drawn to a hammock for reading, napping, and lounging around, both alone and with a buddy. For these users, a double model like the ENO DoubleNest
, ENO Reactor
, or Kammok Roo
is a great purchase. You can sit up or lay down, pile kiddos in, or pitch it under a tarp in crappy weather. And if you are indeed camping out, there are plenty of accessories — from top quilts to underquilts to bug nets — that can be purchased separately to diversify and enhance your setup. Sometimes you can even combine accessories across brands to construct a flexible campsite.
Specialty items, like tiny ultralight models made from super thin fabric, don't lounge or accommodate a friend very well, thus limiting their versatility. Expedition models with bulky infrastructures are great for backpacking but can also be difficult to share or sit up in due to bug nets and asymmetrical designs. We found that the features making the Hennessey
models comfortable and bug-proof also made them complex to set up and almost impossible to share with a friend. Be sure to consider what products have the features that are best for your intended use, and try to think outside the box. Is being able to sit up important for you? What about being able to share the space with another person? Keep in mind all aspects of what brings you the most pleasure when hanging around in the great outdoors.
The beauty of ENO's Shelter System package lies in the ability to customize your hang experience. With all the components separate you can take only what you need and leave the rest behind.
Our top pick in the versatility category was the **ENO SubLink Shelter System with Sub7*, which we gave a score of 9 out of 10. This package does come with a narrow ultralight hammock, but we loved how all the components are separate and can be used according to your needs. The stuff sack is also fleece-lined, giving it the awesome feature of doubling as a pillow when you turn it inside out! It is worth noting that if we had evaluated the Sub7
by itself without the shelter system, it would have scored at the bottom of this category, as our other ultralight models did (the Nano 7
and the Ultralight Starter
were both given a 4). With thin fabric and not much width, there's simply not much versatility to be had for these models by themselves.
also offers these shelter systems for any of their products, so if weight isn't an issue, you can get all of the same features with a heavier and larger model.
The components of the SubLink Shelter System with Sub7. From left to right we have: beer, the Sub7 hammock, ProFly Sil Tarp, Guardian SL Bug Net, and the Helios suspension system. The main stuff sack is also fleece-lined in order to double as a pillow!
Each manufacturer offers a plethora of fun and functional accessories depending on your needs and preferences. Once you've decided on your brand, it's worth it to take some time and peruse your options, keeping in mind that some accessories will be compatible across brands.
One of our personal favorites if you need to purchase a suspension system is the ENO Atlas Straps
. Well-constructed, daisy-chain style webbing offers the possibility for 30 combined adjustment points, making finding the perfect hang angle that much easier.
Accessories that may be essential for your setup are hammock-specific mattresses, which provide wings to keep your arms and shoulders warm, underquilts for even colder temperatures, top quilts for extra coziness, and different styles of bug nets and rain flys. Check out each individual review for more suggestions on accessories and alternate versions available from each manufacturer.
Hammocks are not for everyone, but they can provide the ultimate sleep and relaxation experience for many outdoor enthusiasts. In addition to the novelty of floating above the ground and not having to find a flat spot as you do with a tent, they are often the most compact and lightweight sleeping option and can negate the need for an expensive sleeping pad. We hope this review helped you narrow down the right choice for you. For more information on making the right purchase, check out our Buying Advice
Between the double layer of really soft fabric and the generous width, we were cozy as cozy can be in the Reactor.