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

Sleeping off the ground and under a net means you’re safe from mosquitoes and mud, but the ‘banana’ slump of a traditional hammock doesn’t suit many backs.

Flat-bed bivvy hammocks use a variety of systems so that the fabric is taut enough to keep you flat. Here are our favourites…

Latest update: June 2020

What to look for in a bivvy hammock or tree tent

We’ve sung the praises of flat-bed bivvy hammocks for a while, but we’re always on the look-out for the VERY best.

We’ve found that many of our previous top picks are almost impossible to find in the UK. We do update our articles every couple of months or sooner, but apologies if something we recommend here proves elusive.

Hammock camping basics

Tip 1: You definitely want a mosquito net

 

Most hammocks designed for camping rather than lounging have a zipped-in mosquito net.

If you decide to use (or already have) a hammock without a net, get one of these easy-hang mosquito nets to keep yourself bite-free.

 

Tip 2: Choosing the right sleeping bag is important too

We’ve found that slippy material can send you sliding into an uncomfortable position, so we 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 wraparound 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.

 

Tip 3: Use a camping mattress inside your hammock

A self-inflating or blow-up camping mat can give  you more horizontal and comfortable sleep.

It doesn’t need to be a shaped one like this clever Klymit, but check whether the sizes match up. And remember that cold air LOVES the underside of hammocks (and your bum and back). Read on for ways to stay warm using special hammock quilts.

 

Tip 4: Get a rainfly or tarp

Lots of hammocks come with a rainfly or tarp either included or as an add-on extra. Unless you’re absolutely sure of good weather, you’ll need one! 

We like the Unigear tarp, made especially for over hammocks and available in three sizes. It’s a versatile bit of camping gear, so you can use it as a day shelter too, especially if you get yourself some folding poles to hold it up.

Best for versatility
4.7/5

The Lawson Blue Ridge

What makes the Lawson Blue Ridge special is that it’s both a ground bivvy and a hammock. However, they’re getting harder to find.

 

The clever spreader bar splits in two, so it’s not huge to pack away. You simply roll it out, peg it down with one peg at both ends and then insert the shock-corded aluminium hoops to give you head and foot room.

Lots of space, a couple of hanging loops and pockets inside, a mosquito net, zip door and a detachable rain cover. Weighs just under 2kg and packs to 56cm x 16cm. Cost? Around £220

A tip….practise at home first, though, as you need to get the tensioning right and make sure you have a non-slip mattress inside.

Pros

  • Can be used on the ground or as a hammock
  • Comes with a tarp
  • Hoops at both ends make it light and airy

Cons

  • Takes some practice to get comfortable
  • Not cheap
Best for packability
3.9/5

Eno Skyloft hammock

We were excited to find the Eno Skyloft. It’s not cheap, but it does have some nice features and the brand is reliable.

 

Use this hammock (almost flat-bed) or use in recline mode for relaxing. It comes with aluminium carabiner fixings, but you do need tree straps. Around 1.3kg and a pack size of 47 x 11cm. The stuff sack doubles as a pillow. 

Pros

  • Easy to set up
  • Strong and durable
  • Use for sleeping or relaxing, thanks to the recline feature

Cons

Best for wide range and durability
4.1/5

Hennessy Hammocks

While this wide range of hammocks isn’t absolutely flat-bed, they do use an asymmetrical design to let you sleep in a more natural position.

They come with a matching waterproof rainfly tarp and tightly woven mesh to keep even tiny mosquitos out. They’re a serious piece of expedition gear so you know you can rely on them for durability. All come with support ropes and a stuffsack.

Our pick is the Expedition Zip model that comes with mosquito net, real durability and packs to just 23x18x10cm.

Pros

  • Easy to set up with a ridgeline
  • Insulated options
  • Strong and durable
  • Lots of models, including jungle hammocks, double bottom hammocks, insulated winter hammocks, ultralights, and different lengths.

Cons

Best for design and uniqueness
4.6/5

Tentsile tree and ground tents

Tentsiles are unique. They hang from three trees so that the floor is kept absolutely flat and taut. There are sophisticated tents for one to six people, which can also be used on the ground. Plus there are hammocks and lots of add-on accessories.

 

With rainfly and insect mesh, they’re the all-in-one option for sleeping in the trees. Prices start at around £150 and rise to nearly £1,900 for the soon-to-be-launched (literally) Three Elements, which works on the ground, as a hanging tent AND as a floating shelter on a lake. Wow!

Pros

  • Super-sophisticated and like no other
  • Completely flat floor
  • Comfier to sleep in than an ordinary hammock
  • Full range of sizes of tent and hammock, plus all the accessories you could ever want
  • Tentsile plant 20 trees for every tent sold, and they’re a member of the 1% for the Planet scheme.

Cons

  • The price! But check the reductions at Wild Bounds.
  • Three trees aren’t always that easy to find. Fortunately, the tents work on the floor too.

 

Most unusual design
3.7/5

The Klymit Lay-Flat hammock pad

We love Klymit’s specially designed hammock pad. It can turn an ordinary hammock into a comfortable camping bed. 

 

There’s a standard and an insulated version too. From around £125

Pros

  • Easy to set up
  • Very light at just a tad over 1.3kg
  • Small pack size: 30.5 x 22.9 x 10.2 cm

Cons

  • Not absolutely flat
  • The insulated version is VERY expensive. Use a hammock quilt with the standard version instead.

Decathlon’s hammock and tent combo

The Qaou (yep!) is a multifunction tent and hammock for around £80.

 

It transforms into a hammock, tarp, beach shelter and tent with porch, and is lightweight thanks to its single aluminium poles. The tent size is 220 X 125 x 110H cm bedroom.

Pros

  • Sun protection to 30+ and waterproof
  • Mosquito net
  • Just 2.8kg and packs to 48 x 14 x 14cm

Cons

  • Not a flat-bed hammock
  • More for leisure than serious wild camping
  • Two-person tent but only one hammock!

Hammock quilts for cold weather camping

You can brave it out with the cold numbing your back, or you can invest £30-40 and be comfortable. Hammock quilts make all the difference to whether you’ll sleep well or not.

Snugpak hammock insulation 

This Snugpak hammock insulation goes underneath the hammock to keep cold air our and warm air in.

You can use your sleeping bag as normal, but Snugpak also sell a matching hammock quilt with flaps to keep it tucked in. Quilts are a good idea, we’ve found, because they give you more freedom of movement and make it easier to get in and out of the hammock.

The underblanket insulator costs around £45 and the quilt around £35.

Underquilt hammock insulation

A simple but effective underblanket that hooks onto your straps with bungee cords and fits most standard hammocks.

The Geertop underquilt costs around £60.

 

Reliable tree straps for your hammock

We use the Ticket to the Moon hammock straps. Three types to choose from but all quick and easy, don’t damage the trees and make setting up your hammock really easy. Holds up to 800kg. Around £20.

Multi-use tree straps

Each Ekkong strap can hold 500kg and the carabiners hold 350kg. They also make goo straps for roofracks, hammock chairs, swings and so on.

Like the TTTM ones, the loop system means it’s quick to balance or alter the height of your hammock. Around £20.

 

 

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2 Comments

  1. There’s a new hybrid from Crua Outdoors in Ireland that’s worth a look as well. Seems very impressive and functional
    ED: Thanks for the tip, Steve. We did try the Crua Hybrid, but sadly there seemed to be a design flaw with it. The spreader bars for the two ends had been made too long, so that they wouldn’t fit into the hammock fabric. Hopefully, Crua have sorted this out now as it seems a basic manufacturing error. We’ll report back if we hear more.

  2. How durable is the airmat for the Amok? From what I gather, it is absolutely necessary for use in the Amok. What happens if it develops a leak, as most airmats are prone to do. On a beach in California, not much of a problem, but in Alaska in 20 degrees below zero? Big problem!ED: That’s an interesting question, Bob. It’s true that the Amok won’t work without the stability of an airmat inside. It takes most standard airmats, so you can certainly choose one that you have faith in. Have a look at our article on camping mats. In our experience, decent mats are very durable and they always come with a repair kit just in case an Alaskan bear sinks a claw through the fabric. Cheap mats tend to develop leaks at the valve, which is why we’d avoid those for a serious trip. If it’s a real worry for you, the best bet is the Lawson Blue Ridge, which can be used on the floor and as a hammock – the best of both worlds.

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