The focus of this article is on hammock systems which are meant for staying overnight and are geared to be used pretty much all year round. Please do not read this with a casual "hangmat" in mind. For this "day" use you find all sorts of hammocks starting at a few "bucks". The only requirement for those is to support your weight. A "proper" over night 3 to 4 season hammock and/or tent needs to be sturdy, reliable, waterproof and offer good isolation against the cold. It needs to keep the bugs off too, of course. Many find that one needs to have the ability to change the sleeping position. Being locked up in one specific "hang" isn´t everybody's cup of tea (or banana shake for that matter).
Let’s have a look at my two favorites - the Lawson Blue Ridge Hammock and the Amok Draumr 3.0
The Lawson Blue Ridge Hammock is a very easy to use hammock which is also doubles as a ground tent. Bug net and rainfly are included. The construction of the Lawson allows for sleeping sideways, on your back and on your stomach. Isolation agains the cold is achieved by using an underquilt - aka a sort of sleeping mat hung under the hammock so it can insulate against the cold as it is not compressed by your bodyweight. I found this in combination with a synthetic sleeping bag works best in colder nights.
Relatively new on the market is the Amok Draumr 3.0. This Norwegian design takes a different approach and does not exactly follow the "hammock" idea in the classical sense. Thinking out of the box is nice and can result in brilliant products like the Draum 3.0. The Draumr is a bit more complicated to set up as it has more parts to it. The Draumr consits of several modules, the hammock itself, a rain tarp and an inflatable mattress. This matt is used to add structure to the system. It can be a third party product.
To both systems you´d need to add the cost of a good sleeping bag which I´d budget with at least 200$. I prefer synthetic over feather filled ones. The disadvantage is the bigger pack size, which is due to the lesser ability to compress. In this lies the advantage. Lesser compression means higher isolation under pressure (read ”under your butt”) Cost wise the systems run pretty much head to head. The Draumr without the tarp called “TAK” is a bit cheaper, but you do not have the rain protection. However, you can save that cost should you already own a tarp.
Of course there are cheaper systems out there, but you as so often in life - you get what you pay for. In the case of an outdoor sleeping systems the worst you pay is a cold and miserable nights sleep and in worst case the end of your holiday due to the cold you got.So what are the differences? The Lawson gains points in ease of of setup and the fact that one can use it as tent is a real plus. The Draumr is more comfortable in my experience as one lies truely flat. It can not be used on the ground as tent like the Lawson. However, when used with the tarp it has more of a "real estate" feeling to it, but you can of course add a tarp to your camp anyway.
There is no clear winner really. Both are head to head in terms of manufacturing quality, which is top notch in both cases. I think you should try both before you decide - heck maybe even own both. One thing is clear - these type of "proper" camping hammocks win over tents any time ...
(c) t.z. - 2018
on a side note - I'll be hosting a weeks fly fishing fun @Skålestrømmen in Norway. Sign up quickly, there's only 6 rods total - here's the link http://www.skalestrommen.no/?p=263&lang=en
Written by Thomas Züllich