RE: [Hammock Camping] What to look for when trying a hammock
Have a look at Risk's Test Hammock page:
For a pittance in material expenses and a pleasant hour some afternoon, you can make yourself a perfectly serviceable Speer-type hammock. You can use this to see how you like sleeping in a hammock in general.
You might also consider purchasing Ed's excellent book, which will give you another approach to making a hammock, and will provide many valuable tips that are applicable to using any make or model of hammock successfully.
I have home-made hammocks, Hennessey hammocks, and several different brands of simple hammocks. I honestly prefer the top-loading (Speer-type) varieties over the HH for most situations. With the HH you're either inside it or outside of it (unless you cut the ridgeline). With the top-loaders, you can be both inside and outside the hammock at the same time. The HH DOES really shine if your situation requires a light, tightly-integrated, complete shelter system.
Of all the hammocks I've tried, my favorite is the Mosquito Hammock, Expedition model:
It's reasonably priced and has everything except the tarp.
By all means, try out the HH with your foam pad and sleeping bag. You may experience what I experience, namely that it's no simple matter to get everything arranged correctly from inside the hammock.
Some users claim that the design of the HH allows you to lie flatter, with less compression of your shoulders, and this may be true. I have no personal experience of multiple-night trips with an HH. On one- or two-night trips, I notice no difference in comfort in this regard.
One advantage to top-loading hammocks is having a two-layer body. Your pads can go between the layers and will stay put.
I cannot imagine anything that would make you hate hammock camping in the long run if you like it in the short run. Lazing or sleeping in a hammock is a very emotionally-moving kinetic experience. The way the fabric rises up to support you is nothing short of miraculous as far as I'm concerned.
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