Sleeping and resting is one of the most important things in life, especially during physically and mentally challenging activities. So the question is: which type of shelter is appropriate in the tropical rainforest, particularly when one is on the move? Tents are quite bulky and heavy, and require relatively much flat area on the ground and can be be flooded easily during a tropical downpour. No wonder that the indigenous peoples from tropical rainforests invented hammocks. They are light, packing volume is quite small and they can be mounted everywhere as long as there are at least two trunks, even above water. Until now I (Wito) have tried four different hammocks, which I present here so you can get an idea of what might be suitable for you. See also the table with the relevant specifications at the bottom and the video on YouTube.
1. My very first hammock was the Amazonas Moskito-Traveller. It is very light and has an integrated mosquito net on a separate line. There is only one zip fastener so you can enter the hammock only from one side. Due to the stretchy fabric it tends to squeeze the shoulders together and the portion where the heaviest body part is (the core and butt) may sink down, often the butt even touching the ground. However, since I bought the item more than 10 years ago it well may be that the newer models are less stretchy. The many lines at both ends may get entangled in each other. So, if you are not very tall and heavy and need a hammock for only short trips or you have at all costs save equipment weight, than it is still ok.
2. Amazonas Traveller Thermo XXL: the basic bauplan is the same as in the above mentioned hammock. However, the fabric is not stretchy so it does not squeeze the shoulders together and the middle part does not sink while sleeping in it. XXL means that the sleeping area is very big so that it is suited for taller people as well and it allows even more to lay diagonally, and hence more comfortably, in the hammock. Thermo means that there is a double layer that allows the use of a sleeping pad in order to insulate from below in cold nights. The mosquito net can be spread out so its side parts are less likely to touch you thus avoiding being stung by mosquitos while you are sleeping. It is very comfortable but due to its size and more robust double layered fabric it is also a little bit heavier than the above mentioned hammock, but still considerably below 1 kg.
3. ENO Skyloft Hammock: it does not have an integrated mosquito net so it is necessary to purchase it extra. In Germany I did not find a suitable hammock mozzi that would fit the dimensions of the Skyloft and attempts to use normal cubic mozzis usually used over beds resulted in prolonged installation of the entire shelter. Additionally, the mozzi got holes already during the first installation attempt because it got caught by sticks and undergrowth in the forest and it is not closed so bugs that are already among the undergrowth can molest you from inside. I have seen suitable mozzis for such hammocks on the internet posted from South American countries, so basically it should be possible to get a suitable mosquito net. However, if a mozzi is not needed at all, the Skyloft is very comfortable due to the sturdy fabric and the transverse aluminum poles at both ends.
4. Warbonnet Blackbird XLC Heavyweigth Double Layer: It has a sturdy fabric and a double layer so that the use of a sleeping pad or other insulating material is possible. The mosquito net can opened from both sides and thus can also be rolled upward and fastened to its line so sleeping under the stars is possible. In contrast to the Amazonas Traveller hammocks the mozzi here is attached to an integrated line, so if you install the hammock, you simultaneously are installing the mozzi, this saves time and effort. It can be especially useful when you want to use it in the canopy or above water. However, when you are in the hammock there is less height available than in the Amazonas Traveller hammocks. The best features of the Warbonnet Blackbird hammocks are
a) the shelf where you can store important small equipment like head lamp, knife, pistol, book etc. and
b) the asymmetrical area of the hammock with a “pouch” for the feet. This keeps the feet lower than in usual hammocks and thus allows for even more straight and comfortable sleeping posture.
The table shows the specifications of the hammocks presented here.
|Brand and model name||weight, kg||area, cm x cm||maximum load, kg|
|ENO Skyloft Hammock||1.320||210 x 100||113|
|Amazonas Moskito-Traveller||0.450||220 x 140||100|
|Amazonas Traveller Thermo XXL||0.780||305 x 160||200|
|Warbonnet Blackbird XLC Heavyweight Double Layer||1.134||335 x 155||180|
So in summary a good hammock should meet your needs for comfort and at the same time should be easily installed and removed. If a mosquito net is needed, it should be integrated; this saves effort during installation, packing volume and weight since there is no excess material below the hammock.
There are plenty of different brands and models on the market. Since a tarp does not have to be “comfortable” it is less difficult to choose a tarp. However, the material should be robust, light and the tarp area should be big enough to cover your hammock and equipment completely. There are three different bauplans on the market:
- with wings, so the tarp can be closed at both ends preventing the wind to blow rain under the tarp. So it resembles a tent.
To me the rectangular type and the winged type seem to be the most reliable types with respect to rain protection in regions with heavy and frequent rains, if you plan to camp in windy areas I would opt for a winged tarp. For camping in forests, I prefer slightly oversized rectangular tarps so you I have room for a rucksack and other equipment and can still sit, eat or cook comfortably under the tarp if it rains. The hexagonal type usually covers slightly more than the hammock and does not leave much space for other activities or equipment, but it looks “cool” and is very light. Due to the fact that the ends converge toward the middle the hexagonal type is not suited for hammocks like the ENO Skyloft Hammock because it does not cover the entire hammock.