However, a survival hammock is a good alternative.
Hammocks are way more comfortable than sleeping on the ground, easy to camouflage, and won’t weigh down your pack.
There’s a lot to consider before choosing a hammock as a survival shelter. Here’s what you need to know and how to pick the best one.
Best Survival Hammocks Comparison
|Product||Weight||Weight Rating||Straps||Rain Fly||Mosquito Net|
ENO Eagles Nest
Bear Butt Double
Sea to Summit Ultralight
Our Top Pick
Best For Camping or Bugging Out
Durable, light, comfortable and a cinch to set up the ENO Eagles Nest is our top choice.Check On Amazon
To figure out what the best survival hammock is, you first need to know the downsides of hammock camping. Then you can find a hammock or setup which solves these problems.
Problem 1: Cold Butt Syndrome
The biggest problem with hammocks is that they get really cold.
Even if you use a sleeping bag inside the hammock, your body weight will press down on the sleeping bag allowing cold air to circulate underneath you.
Solution #1: You could use an underquilt with your hammock (basically a sleeping bag that goes around your hammock), but these are really heavy so not suitable for bug out bags.
Solution #2: Put a sleeping pad inside your hammock.
The best sleeping pads for hammocks are going to be mummy shaped. Otherwise the pad won’t fit very well in the hammock and will slip around.
Problem 2: Rain
Hammocks don’t provide any protection against rain and storms.
You can use a tarp or rain fly for cover, but this is going to add extra weight. Even with the tarp, you can still get wet if the rain drips down your suspension straps.
Solution: Choose a lightweight rain fly AND learn how to set it up. Yes, you actually need to go out into the field and try setting up the rain fly!!!
As for the rain coming down your suspension straps, the easy solution is this: attach a drip cord.
This is basically just a piece of paracord hanging down from the straps. It will divert the rain down it instead of onto your hammock.
Here are some examples of tarp setups for hammocks.
Problem 3: Where to Keep Gear
When sleeping in a tent, you can put your gear inside. You won’t want to sleep with your gear in a hammock.
On good days, you can just put it on the ground beneath you. But, if it rains, your gear risks being on the wet ground and getting ruined.
Solution: One option is to get a good waterproof cover for your pack. Or, you could just use a waterproof backpack (which is an option worth considering for bug out backpacks anyway).
Some hammock campers will tie a ridgeline above their hammock and use this to hang gear off of.
It takes a bit of practice to tie a line tight enough to hold a heavy pack though. Or you can use the hammock suspension straps for suspending gear.
Problem 4: There Aren’t Always Trees
Even if the terrain isn’t ideal (rocky, sandy, sloping…), you can always pitch a tent. This is not the same with hammocks!
Solution: Plan where you will go before you pack your survival bag. If you will be going somewhere without a lot of trees, then don’t go with a hammock!
You will also want to make sure that you have enough length on your suspension straps.
If you only have short straps, then you are stuck looking for two trees that happen to be spaced at exactly the right distance.
Problem 5: Not the Best Solution for Multiple People
There are double hammocks, but I find these really uncomfortable. If each person has to carry their own hammock, then you might not save much weight in the end.
Solution: Actually do the math. Calculate how much a tent setup would weigh compared to a hammock setup for your group. Then consider where you are going and whether it makes sense to choose a hammock over a tent.
Problem 6: Mosquitoes
You don’t really have to worry about bears while using a survival hammock (any more than you’d worry in a tent, at least).
However, mosquitoes can be a HUGE problem.
Solution: Either bring along a mosquito net or get a hammock with a built-in mosquito net. Yes, this adds weight to your gear but is better than getting eaten alive!
What Type of Hammock Do You Need?
Once you start looking, you’ll be surprised how many different options are available.
They range from ultralight backpacking hammocks to advanced setups for winter hammock camping.
To make your decision, these are the key things you need to look at:
As a general rule, larger hammocks are a lot more comfortable than smaller ones. But the extra material will add weight and bulk to your pack.
Some are designed for holding two people (double hammocks). No matter how big the hammock, I find it incredibly uncomfortable to sleep two inside. Plus, you’ll wake up your partner if you have to get up at night to go to the bathroom.
I highly advise against double hammock sleeping! However, a double for one person means you have extra room and comfort.
You want a quality product made out of a fabric which won’t rip or puncture easily. Otherwise you will literally fall out of it.
Instead of trying to make sense of all of the different types of hammock materials, you could instead look at the weight rating. This will give you an idea about how sturdy the hammock is.
You absolutely do NOT want a hammock with a spreader bar. Aside from being very impractical to carry in a bug out bag, spreader bar hammocks aren’t safe to sleep in. You will fall out!
But sleeping in a curve isn’t very comfortable, especially for people with bad backs.
The solution is to sleep at an angle. This position helps you achieve a flat lay.
Some better quality camping hammocks are made with an asymmetrical shape.
This helps you achieve a flat lay without having to sleep at an angle.
If you are unsure how to sleep in a hammock, check out the video below.
Double layer hammocks have a pocket where you can insert a sleeping pad. This makes them much better suited for cold weather use.
Another important (yet often overlooked) benefit of double layer hammocks is that they stop mosquitos from getting to you from underneath.
Yes, mosquitoes can bite through the thin fabric used in most lightweight hammocks!
You’ll need a method of suspending the hammock (such as straps or whoopie slings). You could hang your hammock with rope, but it’s harder than you might think.
Unfortunately, you usually have to buy hammock straps separately.
You will probably also want a mosquito net and a tarp/rain fly cover for your hammock.
Paying $20 for a hammock might be fine if you just want to hang out in it.
If you are looking for a survival hammock though, plan on spending much more.
You want a hammock from a reputable brand and one that will hold up through inclement situations.
Best All-rounder: ENO Eagles Nest
The ENO Eagles Nest isn’t the best hammock available, but it performs well in almost every aspect.
It is very durable, not too heavy, comfortable, and not too hard to set up.
For an all-around good quality survival hammock, the ENO Eagles Nest is priced right.
Do note that there are no straps, mosquito net, or rain fly included in the price. Even when you add in these costs, the Eagles Nest is still a good value.
Most Comfortable : Hennessy Expedition
Hennessy is one of the best brands for camping hammocks, and the Expedition is their most popular model. It has an asymmetrical design which helps you get a flat lay and sleep more comfortably.
The only real downside to this hammock is that it is heavy for its size. The weight does not include the rainfly or mosquito net, so the total setup will weigh you down more.
However, the extra weight is because the Expedition holds up so well against adverse weather and abuse.
With double-stitched seams and heavy-duty nylon, this is one of the most durable hammocks available.
Note that the Hennessy is slightly complicated to set up. If you are new to hammock sleeping, you will want to test it out at home before you take it into the field.
Best Double Hammock: Everest Double
There are a lot of things that I love about the Everest Double Hammock. The main feature is that it has an integrated bug net, which saves you from having to hang up a net.
As it is now, the net can hang on your face. Not only is that annoying, but mosquitoes could get to your face.
The hammock advertises itself as reversible, which is a cool feature. Unfortunately, the zippers are one sided so this feature is a bit useless.
Even with these flaws, the Everest is still a great hammock and an even greater value since it comes with straps.
Best Budget Hammock: Bear Butt Double
Even though this survival hammock is priced low, it is still a great choice.
It is very comfy and large, doesn’t weigh too much, durable, and easy to set up.
The Bear Butt does come with rope for suspending the hammock. However, these ropes are hard to use and not very reliable.
You’ll want to buy a pair of suspension straps. This does add to the cost but is well worth it.
Best Lightweight Survival Hammock: Sea to Summit Ultralight
When it comes to ultralight hammocks, I don’t think you can get any lighter than this. The manufacturer even used a special carabineer on the hammock to shed ounces! It even packs down incredibly small – smaller than a soda can.
Of course, a hammock this light is going to have its flaws. You will feel the wind coming through the material.
The featherlite nylon isn’t very durable either, so beware of thorns and sharp tree branches.
To save weight, the hammock is smaller than most others. A 6 foot person isn’t going to be very comfortable in this hammock. Even shorter people will have a hard time getting a diagonal lay.
But, if we are talking about survival over comfort, this is a great hammock for ultralight packing.
Do you have a survival hammock? What do you love/hate about hammock camping? Let us know in the comments below!
“First hammock hang on the A.T.” (CC BY 2.0) by Gronkca,
“DSC_7209” (CC BY-NC 2.0) by tjdatsrt,
“IMG_20150104_085807” (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) by NordiTico,
“Me in a Hammock” (CC BY-NC 2.0) by anaxolotl,
“Sleeping Gear” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by jchapiewsky
Diane Vukovic spent her childhood roaming the woods of upstate NY, making brush shelters, backpacking and orienteering.
Now she is the proud mother of two adventurous girls whom she takes wild camping and teaches survival skills and self-defense. Learn more about Diane here.