We go to the woods to kick back, to nourish our souls, and… to test our gear. The gear we are going to discuss today is the tried and true hammock and tarp setup.
When it comes to spending time in the outdoors, one of the most important aspects is where you sleep. If you are reading this blog, you have likely purchased and employed various sleeping and shelter setups, each with its own set of pros and cons. But, perhaps you have not tried the combination of a hammock and tarp.
Trying this combination means you have already debated the tarp vs tent debate and settled on a tarp for you, or at least for some situations.
This setup can be especially beneficial for women due to its lightness. If you have ever been backpacking, you know how crucial it is to weigh everything you carry and ensure you are not exceeding what your body can handle. As a petite woman, I can attest to the importance of this. I want to be able to move with dexterity while hiking, not encumbered by too much weight.
That said, if you have been on the fence about giving the hammock and tarp system a try, let me see if I can’t convince you with my personal story. Just remember, the following observations are written from a female perspective and, thus, largely intended for a female audience.
Packing Light and Sleeping Soundly
“[…] The more you know, the less you carry […]”– Mors Kochanski
I will be the first to admit that I only recently began adhering to this valuable principle. In keeping with that point of view, though, it makes sense that our personal experiences would play a huge role in determining the proper gear to stuff in our backpacks.
Some years ago I used to carry a lot of gear I didn’t use. But who hasn’t committed this mistake at least once in their life? Beginners often get into backpacking and outdoor survival thinking they have it all figured out. They have read all the books and blogs and bought all the best gear from REI. Then they heave their bulbous pack on their back for the first time and wonder if this is the right lifestyle for them.
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I would venture to say that most of us walked into the outdoors for the first time thinking we needed to carry our entire home on our backs. And, I bet it took most of us more than one trip to figure out and let go of everything we didn’t need. Going through a checklist of what gear is essential and what isn’t is a discussion for another day, however. Today, we are focusing solely on your sleep setup.
A good night’s sleep is arguably the most essential part of spending quality time in the great outdoors. That said, what you sleep on or in is no less important.
As Mors Kochanski underscored: “[…] The quality of a survival kit is determined by how much it can help you when you need to sleep. If you can sleep well at night, you have it made.[…]”
The better and more comfortable we sleep during the night, the better choices we can make throughout the day. A mind well-rested can tackle harder tasks and make quick decisions. You never know when you might be required to do this in the outdoors.
To get a good night’s sleep, you must have proper shelter from the elements. If you have never slept in a hammock before, these thoughts may seem contradictory. How can a hammock be a good option when it leaves you so exposed? Well, this is where a good tarp or covering comes in. When sleeping in a hammock, coverage is all you really have to think about. The rest is easy.
The Path that Lead Me to the Hammock
“[…] Knowledge is Power, and it’s very lightweight.[…]”– Cody Lundin
To be honest, I regret to say I discovered hammocks too late. Due to some issues connected to sciatica on the right side of my spine, I would never even consider a hammock for the longest time. I was told to sleep in a horizontal position, so a hammock seemed like the last thing that would be good for my back.
I was skeptical until my friend Susanne Williams, an experienced Bushcrafter, invited me to test one. She was partial to hammocks, as she underlined the fact that they are the perfect solution for any kind of activity in the great outdoors. Until you reach high altitudes, that is.
Despite the pain I was suffering from back in those days I gave it a try and I was shocked by the outcome. I felt a tremendous amount of relaxation in my back, which had benefits on my mind too.
A few months later, a British Outdoor Company called NapSack Hammocks sent me two pieces of gear to test and review. Coincidently, the two pieces of gear just happened to be a hammock and tarp. It was now my chance to give hammocks a systematic try in the forests of the alps.
What follows are my discoveries about this particular brand.
NapSack Ultralight Pocket Hammock
The NapSack Ultralight Pocket Hammock, designed with 2D Nylon, is incredibly light, weighing only 0.485 lbs (220g). This includes the hammock, stuff sack, and carabiners.
In addition, the NapSack comes complete with two 16 loop Daisy Chain Tree Huggers. These are made of maximum strength polyester and are also extremely lightweight. Each daisy chain measures 8.2 feet x 0,7 inches in length (2.50m x 2cm). The combined weight equals 0,37 lbs (170g).
- Total size = 106,3 inches x 57 inches (270cm x 145cm).
The 16 Loop Daisy Chain system makes hanging this hammock up and taking it back down super simple. It can be done within a matter of seconds.
It is important to keep in mind that, though the material is strong, it is not ripstop. You need to handle the Napsack Ultralight with care, especially when hanging and putting away. Try to avoid folding the hammock up with any sharp or abrasive materials inside. Even a sharp twig or small rock could cause a tear.
In the end, this hammock is absolutely a win-win for its size and weight. It packs down into a small stuff sack barely larger than your hand, saving you loads of space in your pack compared to other sleep setups. From a female perspective, the Napsack Ultralight is the way to go when you want to cut back on the weight of your pack.
NapSack Hammocks Tarp with Zip Closure Doors
I can attest that what NapSack claims about their tarp system is true. It is “A Tarp for all seasons“.
The best features of this tarp are its versatility and effectiveness. You can set it up in either open or sealed doors mode, depending on the weather you are expecting. When “sealed”, or zippered shut, it is extremely efficient at protecting you from heavy rain and strong winds. I found the zippers easy to use as well. They unzip quickly and smoothly. You don’t have to fumble around in poor lighting, wrestling to get out.
The NapSack tarp is made of 40D 260T Ripstop Nylon with one side PU Coated and the other Silicon. These features make it super durable and weatherproof. It is also simple to install.
Underneath the tarp is also quite spacious. The attached side pullouts can be extended to give you plenty of room, whether you want to kick back and relax in your hammock or need to bring your gear in out of the weather.
The following specs allow you to better get an idea of how this tarp is built:
- 3 Attachment Loops on Ridgeline
- 78,74 inches (2000mm) Water Column
- 12 Guy out points
- Two Way Branded Zippers
- Reflective guy line
- Total weight: 2, 15 lbs (975g)
- 10,8 ft (3.3m) Ridge-Line Length
- 8,8 ft (2.7m) Width at Widest Point
- 13,7 ft (4.2m) Bottom Length
- 7,8 ft (2.4m) Width at Cat Cut
The price of the hammock and tarp system combined is also hard to beat. The NapSack Ultralight Pocket Hammock costs $66 and the NapSack Tarp with Zip Closure Doors is $165, leaving you with a total of only $231. That is extremely reasonable when compared to the price of other camping gear, especially tents.
Hammock and Tarp: The Ultimate Setup
“[…] The vast majority of the population seems to look down their noses upon self-reliance as some quaint dusty relic, entertained only by the hyperparanoid or those hopelessly incapable of fitting into mainstream society.[…]”– Cody Lundin
- Comfortable: Whether you're relaxing by the fire, sleeping under the stars, or just lounging around this winter camping season, our camping hammock has everything you need to stay comfy and covered throughout the night for your next camping, hiking, or beach trip -- even just lounging in your backyard & patio on a hammock stand!
- Compact: Lightweight and convenient, our portable hammock weighs only 24oz and folds to the size of an eggplant. Single Hammock measures at 9 feet long by 4.5 feet wide for one person, and the Double Hammock measures 10 feet long by 6.5 feet wide for either two people or anyone who wants some extra space. Throw it in your backpack and go!
After testing my hammock and tarp in different seasons and on different terrains (from the woods of the Alps to more mountainous areas), I can truly say they are the perfect solution for anyone who wants to downsize their pack and cut out the larger hassle of using a tent. You get the combined benefits of ultralight gear and a quality shelter to protect you from the elements.
In addition, using a hammock elevates you off the cold and damp ground, ensuring you and your gear stay toasty and dry. You also never have to worry about finding a level spot to set up a tent in rough, rocky terrain.
There is plenty of storage space under the tarp for your gear, so you don’t have to leave it out in bad weather. My recommendation is to hang your pack on the Daisy Chain System of the hammock. Having a stockpile of various carabiners will make hanging your gear simple. Plus, it will be easy to reach if you need something in the middle of the night.
Never underestimate these simple things when alone in the great outdoors.
Packing your hammock and tarp back up is quick and easy. It usually requires me no more than 10 minutes, which is important when you want to move out fast for any reason.
Honestly, besides my Defcon 5 Bivy Tent (which you might have seen on my Instagram Page as Kyt Lyn Walken), the combination of tarp and hammock is my set up of choice these days. The weight of the two systems is quite comparable, with the NapSack system offering a bit more security.
I plan on enjoying my hammock and tarp system for years to come. I can tell you that it is much more comfortable than the hidden bushcraft shelters I’ve made. I hope I have convinced you to give it a try, too.