When bugging out, your foremost consideration (after ensuring you do, indeed, have the essentials for survival) is weight – you can’t use what you can’t carry. Many times, it is gear for shelter and sleeping that tend to add the most bulk; this is where a bug-out hammock can provide a real advantage. Hammocks offer a versatile sleeping solution in a very compact package, allowing you to sleep comfortably almost anywhere.
If your thoughts turn to relaxing by the beach between palm trees when you hear the word ‘hammock,’ you are not far off. Hammocks are easy to set up, comfortable, and provide a sturdy, elevated place to sleep – there may not be any cocktails served, but a hammock can prove quite useful in survival situations.
The inspiration for this article was borne out of a recent backpacking trip where a friend of mine had brought several hammocks and continually raved about their comfort. Trying it out for myself, I found the setup simple and, yes, they were indeed quite comfortable. This got me thinking: Could hammocks make an excellent addition to a bug-out bag? I think the answer is a definite yes, and have written this article with the purpose of examining camping hammocks as they apply to survival, exploring key features to look for, and checking out the top-rated ones on the market.
Key Components Of Camping Hammocks
When it comes to hammocks, there are four main components you will want to pay attention to: Material, hardware, cordage, and optional add-ons.
Generally, most hammocks you find will be made from lightweight parachute material. Although this material is ultra-thin, rest assured that it is very strong and durable. A ripstop stitching pattern is desirable as it resists tears and prevents them from growing; it also dries very quickly.
Hammocks are typically stored in a pouch that is either sewn to the side or separate; this can double as a great stow-away area for gear you will need close at hand as you sleep, such as a flashlight or a multitool. While the full-size hammock may look impossible to fit back into its pouch, they are surprisingly easy to re-pack.
For the best hammock material, look for reinforced seams and triple stitching at the joints, as this makes for extra toughness required in a survival scenario.
The hardware on your hammock is a very important component as it affects setup and the type of straps that can be used. The best hammocks will have a carabiner at either end that can be clipped to rope or webbing. Carabiners are preferred to S-hooks, as they are less likely to become accidentally detached when shifting your weight in the hammock.
While most carabiners are made out of heavy-duty aluminum or steel, there are lightweight versions available. If your hammock doesn’t come with carabiners, it is more than worth it to purchase them separately as they not only make setup easier, but also are versatile tools with endless survival uses.
|Black Diamond Neutrino Carabiner
|Silishape Outdoors Carabiner
|Metolius Bravo Key Lock Carabiner
Certain hammocks do not come with a means for hanging; if this is the case with your hammock, you will need to purchase hanging cords separately. There are two basic options: Rope or webbing straps.
If using rope, you probably already have paracord in your bug-out bag that can be used, just ensure to use a heavy enough gauge to support your weight. However, tying rope may require some tinkering in order to get the tension right; if this not something you feel comfortable with, webbing straps may be a better choice.
If using webbing straps, the advantage is that there are multiple attachment points sewn in and therefore adapt easily to different trunk sizes and distances between trees. If you’re environmentally conscious, you can purchase ‘tree savers,’ which are cover sleeves that your straps can be threaded through to minimize damage to the tree bark when hanging your hammock.
|Eagles Nest Outfitters Atlas Strap
|Eagles Nest Outfitters Slap Strap
|OxStraps Hammock Straps
The first optional add-on you will want to consider is the size of your hammock. Camping hammocks generally come in single or double sizes; which you prefer is a matter of personal preference. Even when sleeping one person, some people feel more secure with the extra fabric provided by a double-wide hammock.
Additionally, while two adults can sleep in a double hammock, you need to be cognizant of the weight limit and always test out your hammock for comfort beforehand. In the case of a long-term sleeping arrangement, you may be better off using two single hammocks.
Protection is another consideration, with the main concerns being mosquitos and the elements. If you will be bugging out in an area where mosquitos will be a concern, choose a bug-out hammock with an integrated bug net. A bug net features a zipper closure as well as additional guy lines to keep the net suspended above you while you sleep.
If you want to use the hammock without the net, simply flip it over and it becomes a regular hammock. To prevent mosquitos biting through the bottom of the hammock, plan to line the bottom with a pad or blanket. To keep wind, rain, or other elements off your bug-out hammock, you can add a custom tarp.
|ENO ProFly Rain Tarp
|Kelty Noah's Tarp Shelter
|Ultimate Survival Technologies 1.0 BASE Tube Tarp
|Hammock Bliss Mosquito Net Cocoon
|ENO Guardian Bug Net
|Ohuhu Lightweight Sleeping Bag
How To Use A Camping Hammock
Sleeping in a hammock is actually quite comfortable – the fabric is supportive and generous enough to fully encase your body. The experience is preferable to sleeping on hard ground where stiff backs and sore hips can result. Aside from comfort, they are also very easy to set up as you don’t need to spend time scouting around for level ground or worrying about whether or not rocks will poke you as you sleep. To set up a hammock, all you need are two vertical supports (typically trees) spaced roughly 10 feet apart.
To secure your bug-out hammock for sleeping, make sure the end where your head will rest is only an inch or two higher than where your feet will be; this ensures a comfortable pitch but isn’t steep enough that you will slide down. You can hang your hammock anywhere that suits your needs, however keeping the center near waist height will make it easier to get in and out of.
If you’ve decided to use rope to hang your bug-out hammock, check out the YouTube video below that demonstrates how to tie strong knots that release quickly when you’re ready to take down the hammock.
If you’re using webbing straps, make sure to wrap them around the tree and pass the end through the loop at the other end. This way, the tension of your weight will tighten the strap around the tree and keep it firmly in place. To achieve your desired height, simply clip the carabiner onto one of the loops along the strap.
Extras For Utility And Comfort
Oft times, sleeping in a hammock can be colder than on the ground as air flows freely all around you. When bugging-out in colder temperatures, it’s a good idea to use a sleeping bag or a mat, or even slip a mylar emergency blanket in the storage pouch. However, when bugging-out in extreme heat, a hammock provides an effective way to cool down as the parachute material is very breathable.
Having a bug-out hammock on hand also provides for a quick way to sit down and have a rest. The setup and takedown is so quick and easy that it can be used anytime, such as stopping for a water break or tuning into your emergency radio for updates. For those with kids, it also provides a great way to give them break after a long hike.
Additionally, hammocks can also double as an emergency blanket when sheltering from a storm and offer another rather unexpected advantage – they are great for toting bulky gear! I found this out haphazardly as I needed a means to carry sleeping bags and pillows over several miles back to my car after a backpacking trip. I piled the items into my hammock, crisscrossed the ends over my shoulders, and fastened the carabiners together around my waist; it worked fabulously and held up just fine.
Our Top Picks For Bug-Out Hammocks
Here are our tip picks for the best camping hammocks that can double as bug-out hammocks, along with their key features. For more details, please click the image to be taken to Amazon.
|Grand Trunk Skeeter Beeter Pro Hammock
|• Mosquito netting provides full protection when needed
• Flips over for use without netting
• Quality construction with triple stitched mesh and nylon
|Eagles Nest Outfitters SingleNest Hammock
|• Reinforced seams for durability
• Aluminum wiregate carabiners are lightweight and strong
• Packs down to the size of a softball in the attached stuff sack
|Neolite Trek Camping Hammock
|• Quick dry fabric is strong yet breathable and very lightweight
• Solid steel carabiners
• Includes two nautical grade hang ropes with protective tree sleeves
|• Breathable 210T nylon is comfortable and supportive
• Includes 0.31mm diameter braided nylon rope and stainless steel carabiners
• Mildew resistant fabric also dries quickly
|Kammok Roo Hammock
|• Specially engineered fabric is stronger, lighter and softer for better comfort
• Includes 2 Dyneema slings for suspension
• Water-resistant pouch
|Eagles Nest Outfitters DoubleNest Hammock - LNT Special Edition
|• Sturdy aluminum carabiners easily connect to any type of strap
• Triple interlocking stitching for strength and durability
• Compression stuff sack is attached for convenient storage
|Fox Outfitters Neolite Double Camping Hammock
|• Generously sized for two people
• Includes tree saver sleeves and two lengths of hang rope
• High quality reinforced construction is durable and ultra lightweight
|Trek Light Gear Double Hammock
|• Parachute nylon is rot- and mildew-resistant
• Over six feet wide, allowing for multiple sleep configurations
• No-flip design prevents accidental spills
|Eagles Nest Outfitters JungleNest Sleep System
|• Complete sleep system includes insect net, rain fly, straps, steel carabiners, and aluminum stakes
• Full length side zipper for ease of getting in and out
• Internal ridgeline adjustment
A Closer Look At Top-Rated Hammocks
Eagle Nest Outfitters DoubleNest Hammock
- Generously sized and very comfortable
- Enough fabric to wrap around yourself; can fit two adults or one adult and one child
- Rated for up to 400 pounds – fabric is very durable and has triple interlocking stitching
- Aluminum wiregate carabiners are lightweight but strong; makes for easy set-up
- Packs down to about a five inch ball
- Attached stuff sack has a belt with a side release buckle, allowing you to clip it onto the outside of your pack, MOLLE, or hang from a branch when not in use
- Only drawback: Tree straps need to be purchased separately
Grand Trunk Skeeter Beeter Pro Hammock
- The Skeeter Beeter offers a great solution to mosquitos (which are not only annoying, but also carry deadly diseases) – an integrated no-see-um mesh net
- The net is fully attached, with a zipper on one side for getting in and out
- Long ropes are included for holding the netting up and away from your body, affording freedom of movement
- Can be used without the net by flipping it upside down and laying on the bottom surface
- Made from durable parachute fabric with triple-interlocking stitching
- Carabiners and rope included.
Kammok Roo Hammock
- Has a maximum weight of 500 pounds, making it a super strong camping hammock
- The Lunar Wave ripstop nylon fabric is engineered to be even stronger, lighter, and softer than typical parachute fabric
- UV and mildew resistant
- There are several utility loops on the edge for clipping gear to
- Attached stuff sack provides additional storage close at hand
- The stuff sack is water-resistant; especially handy if it starts to rain when your hammock is clipped to the outside of your bug-out bag
- Included are two climbing rated carabiners and two Dyneema slings that are very easy to use
Fox Outfitters Neolite Double Camping Hammock
- Very breathable fabric with heavy duty triple interlocking stitching
- Supportive and comfortable, even for two people
- Includes two solid steel carabiners to attach to two 5’6” lengths of nautical grade rope
- Includes two tree sleeves to protect trees from rope damage
Hammocks are a lightweight alternative to traditional means of sleeping and shelter when camping and can be a valued addition to a bug-out bag due to their low weight and comfort. Camping hammocks can be used for a full night’s sleep or simply for a moment’s rest. Paired with a tarp, you can protect yourself from insects, wind and rain. Additionally, the fabric is versatile and durable and can be used for many other applications. Consider adding a bug-out hammock to your bug-out or get-home bag.
Would you trade in your tent for a hammock in your bug-out situation? Have you ever used a hammock while out camping? What was your experience? What advantages / disadvantages do hammocks have over traditional camping gear? Let us know in the Comments section below, thanks!