We’ve sung the praises of bivvy hammocks for a while, but we’re always on the look-out for the VERY best. The Amok Draumr is a favourite, but now we’ve found the afffordable Lawson hammock too. Read on…
We love bivvy camping and it’s especially good when you’re off the ground, safe from mosquitos and midges…and without the ‘banana’ slump of a traditional hammock. These bivvy hammocks all come with stuffsacks, fold down to around the same size, have a zipped mosquito net and claim to let you lie flat. But there are differences, so read on.
Remember that in wet weather, you’re also need a tarp. The Amok has a matching tarp as as add-on extra. You’ll find videos of each of these bivvy hammocks at the end of the article. You might also want to read our article on bivvying, with tips and suggestions.
Choosing the right sleeping bag is important. We’ve found that slippy material can send you sliding into an uncomfortable position, so would prefer cotton or something with a bit of ‘drag’. For preference, we’d choose a duvet-style bag (or even a duvet) because it’s easier to wrap around once you’re in the hammock and you can pad the area around you to prevent sliding. Obviously, a bulky bag won’t be suitable if you’re backpacking or have a lot of other kit to carry. Remember too that it gets colder in a bivvy hammock, so you’ll need a warmer bag than you would in a tent.
The Sky Bed comes in an attached stuffsack and opens up easily to hang from two ropes. Nothing fancy there – just a couple of strong ropes to tie around your trees. Inside the zip-around mosquito net, the hammock has a ‘sheath’ sewn in at a diagonal. The idea is that the slumpiness of a hammock comes from lying in a straight line from tree to tree. You may already have found that you get a flatter position if you shuffle sideways a bit in a traditional hammock, and the Sky Bed helps you with that because your camping mattress slots into this sheath to give you an insulated ‘platform’. There are also a couple of handy pockets inside.
- Weight – around 875g (without tarp)
- Price – around £50
- Cheaper than the others
- Simple to set up and take down
- Comfier to sleep in than an ordinary hammock
- Great head clearance for the mosquito net
- Larger or wider mattresses won’t fit into the sheath
- You’re not really flat. Even the company’s own promo pictures don’t show complete flatness. Sky Bed’s Dov Fraser tells us that it can be made flatter by adjusting the hanging tension, however.
Before you even open up the pack, you know you have something special – from the classy stuffsack to the packaging that dares to be funny (instructions to turn it into a hat) rather than just functional.
The quality of the fabric, ropes and carabiners is immediately obvious. The Amok Draumr is a truly innovative design and did exactly what they promised – a flat, hanging bed and the option to pull a couple of straps and have a chair or recliner. We loved it.
It takes a couple of tries to get the hang of the hanging, and there are quite a few straps and strings to get used to. Getting into it requires some good bum positioning, but then…well, the comfort is fantastic. Utterly flat in any sleeping position, plus pull on two straps and you’re sitting up ready for a cup of tea.
- Weight: 1430g
- Around £300 with tarp. £220 without.
- Totally flat and you can sleep on your side as well as your back
- Jaw-droppingly well-designed and well-made
- Option to use as a chair or recliner
- A thing of beauty
- Won’t work without a mat, unless you want slumpy slumber
- May be too short for some. One of our testers, who’s 6’2″, found he only just fitted
- Expensive, especially if you add on the matching tarp
Our latest test, and now a definite favourite. We loved it for its simplicity, roominess and the fact this hammock can be used on the ground as well as in the trees.
The Lawson has an arched pole and spreader bar system that means it’ll stay flattish and the built-in mosquito net won’t flop onto your face. There’s also a detachable, waterproof rainfly. It’s not as flat as the Amok, but the extra space makes a lot of difference.
There are internal storage pockets, a ring for hanging a lantern and a stuffsack. Weight is around 1.9kg.
Price is around £150, and no need to buy an extra tarp. You will need to buy tree straps, though, as it doesn’t come with a hanging kit. We were also underwhelmed by the bit of elastic that holds the arch clip and the coloured bit of rope that attaches to the tree straps. Small things, but they just showed a lack of attention to detail. However, don’t be put off – the versatility, space inside and ease of erecting (ground or trees) makes this a winner.
- Weight: around 1900g
- Price: Around £150
- A ground tent and a hammock in one
- Loads of space inside
- Easy to put up
- Rainfly included
- No hanging kit
- Not absolutely flat-bed
By the way, we’ve got recommendations for other ground-based bivvy tents too.
Another option is the Tentsile – a range of hammocks and tree tents that are strung at three corners to make them flat. They range in price from around £150 to over £500. They also do two three-corner hammocks – the Mini (around £130) and the Trillium (around £220). Tentsile take some amazing photos and then Photoshop them into temptation, but hold back – we haven’t been able to test these yet and some reviewers haven’t been overwhelmed. We’ll report back when we’ve tried one.
There are also lots of hammocks with mosquito nets for next-to-nothing. The downside, of course, is that you’ll sleep slumped. If that doesn’t bother you, have a look at the options in the link above, all well thought of, it seems.
Make your ordinary hammock extra comfortable with a Klymit hammock pad. We’ve recently discovered these and they’re brilliant. The extra sides keep the fabric from swallowing you and they give good insulation for backs and bums. More sleeping pads here too.
Finally, thanks to reader Steve Rundle for drawing our attention to a new option from Crua. It looks to be an interesting and versatile bivvy tent that can also be hung as a hammock. We’ll tell you more after testing it out. Follow us on Facebook to get an instant update as soon as we publish that review (and new articles), or subscribe for free.
The Exped Ergo – NO LONGER AVAILABLE
The Exped Ergo is (was!) built around a diagonal design, using a fiendish web of ropes. It’s light and easy to unpack, and a doddle to attach to your trees thanks to the cleverly made ropes. Every toggle and adjuster has been really well thought-out, a large mat fits perfectly into the sheath (zipped at the bottom of the hammock). There are pockets inside and an adjustment toggle for the net, which also has a carabiner to attach a light.
By the way, the hammock next to the Ergo in the second picture is a Ticket to the Moon one, ‘customised’ with a mat inside. It’s a cheaper, if less comfortable option. You might want to add the matching net, though. And you’ll definitely need a hammock pad