Several years ago I injured my shoulder and arthritis moved in and made itself comfortable there. Afterward, sleeping on the ground became a debilitating prospect. I began looking into alternatives for camping and was fortunate enough to stumble upon the Hammock Forums where I learned all about the wonders of hammock camping.

I started with the Hennessy Explorer Ultralite Asym Zip and we’ve since added a Warbonnet Blackbird single 1.7 and a Warbonnet XLC. They are all wonderfully comfortable, and since they have an asymmetrical design, you can sleep on your side with a flat lay. The integrated bugnets help keep mosquitoes and other critters out of your sleep space, and are great for beginners who worry about falling out of the hammock at night.

We’ve made some adjustments to the standard setup since we started. Ubadion and I are now using Dutchware Whoopie Hook Suspension Kits to hang the hammocks, while Arbor sticks with buckles. These make setup fast and simple, and allow for length adjustments to be a breeze.

To keep the rain out, we use tarps designed for hammocks. Hennessy’s system includes a tarp, but it’s really very small and doesn’t provide enough coverage IMO. We switched to a MacCat Deluxe Tarp and got a Zpacks Cuben Fiber Standard Hammock Tarp for the XLC. Both tarps were found on the very wonderful Gear Trade site that sells used and discontinued equipment. Hammock accessories can become extremely expensive, so being able to find good deals is a blessing.

One of the distinct disadvantages of a hammock is the challenge of staying warm. You can’t just take a sleeping bag in with you. Primarily because any loft in a bag quickly gets compressed under your weight and is rendered ineffective, but also being cocooned in a bag while in a hammock is very confining! The solution is underquilts, which act like the underside of a sleeping bag but is attached to the outside of your hammock. I am a very very cold sleeper, so I will be taking a Jacks R Better Mt Washington 3 20 degree underquilt, even though temps will only get into the 60s at night. I also have the amazing Sierra Sniveller topquilt which has a velcro hole in the middle so I can use it like a sarape if the mornings are chilly! Ubadion will be sporting an Enlightened Equipment Revolt 800 40 degree underquilt and a fleece blanket, while Arbor will keep warm with my DIY JC Penny puffer jacket monstrosity underquilt and Enlightened Equipment Enigma 800 50 degree topquilt.

Whew! That’s a lot of technical jargon, which gives you a clue about the rabbit hole hammock camping can become. It’s a community that has taken on a life of its own and become a vibrant subculture full of innovation and camaraderie. I’m so glad I found them! Without their help this trip, and all of our outdoor adventures to come, would have been nothing more than wishful thinking.