How Long Should a Backpacking Hammock Be?

How Long Should a Hammock Be

The longer the hammock, the more comfortable you’ll be. Sleeping comfort in a hammock is often equated with being able to lie flat at night instead of sleeping in a curved position like a banana. One way to accomplish this is by positioning yourself diagonally in a 20-degree or 30-degree angle in a gathered end hammock rather than lying in the middle. You can also achieve a comparable result by sleeping in the middle of a longer-length gathered-end hammock since it has more slack fabric to stretch into. Most people do a combination of the two because hammock fabrics are somewhat slick, sleepers thrash around at night, and end up sliding toward the middle even if they went to sleep on a diagonal.

The best length for a gathered hammock is generally 10 feet (120 inches). You can go somewhat shorter if you’re under 5′ 6″ and up to 11 feet  (132 inches) in length if you’re taller than 6′. The problem with getting a hammock longer than 11 feet is that it becomes increasingly difficult to find a tarp to cover the length of the hammock when it’s hung and give you enough of a buffer at the ends to prevent rain from blowing in on your head or feet. Longer hammocks also require more a greater distance between two trees to hang, which can be harder to find without other trees getting in the way.

Here’s a comparison of different hammock lengths to help you zero in on a comfortable gathered-end hammock. The availability of longer hammock lengths is why many veteran hammockers prefer purchasing hammock from smaller companies that make them on a semi-custom basis with your choice of colors, different features like pockets,  zip-off insect netting, or different suspension systems.

Make / ModelInsect NetLengthWidthWeightPrice
ENO SingleNestNo9' 4 "55"16 oz$50
ENO DoubleNestNo9' 4"74"19 oz$70
ENO Sub6No8' 9"47"5.8 oz$70
ENO SuperSubNo9'78"9.8 oz$85
Kammock Roo Single ULNo8' 4"50"5.6 oz$89
Kammok Roo SingleNo8' 4"50"10.1 oz$69
Kammok Roo DoubleNo10'68"18 oz$79
Hammock Gear StandardNo11'58"13.36 oz$60
Hammock Gear Zippered Bug NetYes11'58"19.85 oz$130
Warbonnet BlackbirdYes10'62"15.75 oz$155
Warbonnet TravelerNo10'62"10.2 oz$55
Warbonnet Traveler XLNo11'62"12.5 oz$60
Dream Hammock FreebirdNo10',11',12'VariesVaries$40
Dream Hammock DarianYes10', 11'VariesVaries$110
Dutchware The 12 FooterNo12'68"14.4 oz$45
Dutchware 11' NetlessNo11'58"Varies$42

What about hammock widths? Most single hammocks will be in the neighborhood of 55″, plus or more by a couple of inches,  which is a comfortable width. Wider hammocks also make it possible to sleep at a greater angle to the midline than narrower hammocks, so you can sleep flatter. They can also be more comfortable for larger individuals.

But don’t longer hammocks or wider weigh more than shorter ones. Absolutely. Many people sleep in hammocks for the comfort they provide, not the weight savings. For them, “light-weight” doesn’t always make right. Where you draw the weight/comfort line is just one of those decisions you have to make on your own.

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3 comments

  1. How exactly is hammock length measured? The actual body of the hammock where you rest, or to the end of the triangular suspension where the tree straps attach? Thanks for any clarification.

    • The length refers to the length of the fabric portion of the hammock body. In the case of a 10ft hammock, the fabric will measure 10ft and the ridgeline should measure approx 100″.

    • Just to clarify (defer to Phillip’s answer first though, I’m no expert), I think length refers to if you pulled the hammock taught between both ends and measured the length of the fabric in-between the two gathered portions.
      Another point of clarification: typically hammock ridgelines are 83% of the length of the hammock body, so a 10ft hammock (120in) has a ridgeline of 120in*0.83=99.6~100in.

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