Which bivvy hammock? A head-to-head tree-tent test

expedWe’ve been singing the praises of the Exped Ergo bivvy hammock for a while now, so it was time to see how the competition was doing. Here’s what we thought of some of the best options for tree-tents out there.

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 three 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 Exped and Amok have matching tarps as add-on extras. 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 Hammock Bliss Sky Bed Bug-Free

Sky Bed 5Sky Bed 6

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

Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • 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.

The Exped Ergo

exped 2Exped Ergo HammockOur long-time favourite and an ingenious piece of kit. The Exped Ergo is 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.

  • Weight – around 865g (without tarp)
  • Price – around £200

Pros

  • Simple to set up and take down
  • Almost perfectly flat and very comfortable
  • Extremely well-made

Cons

  • Slippery material inside means you might slide around in the night – get a cotton sleeping bag, preferably a duvet-style one (see our article on sleeping bags) to give you more grip and padding, and to make it easier to manoeuvre yourself into position
  • Move too far to the left or right and you’ll tip the hammock, leaving you pushed against the side
  • Expensive, especially if you add on the matching tarp
  • May be too short if you’re over 6′ 1″

The Amok Draumr 3.0

Amok 2 Amok 3 Amok 2 AmokBefore 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’s not the easiest to put up, until you get the hang of it (pun absolutely intended), 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.

Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • Won’t work without a mat, whereas the other two are useable (though they won’t be flat)
  • 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

Tentsile

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. We’ll report back when we do.


Cheap hammocks with mosquito nets

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.

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.  Subscribe for free and get an instant update as soon as that review is live.

 

 

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2 Comments

  1. I like the look of the Amok Draumr – someone had one out at our Beech Estate Woodland Campsite a few weeks back – looked very snazzy hanging in our 600 acre woodland.

  2. There’s a new hybrid from Crua Outdoors in Ireland that’s worth a look as well. Seems very impressive and functional

    https://cruaoutdoors.com/product/crua-hybrid/

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