Been hanging for forty five years. I used one in Boy Scouts. It rains in Washington. After a couple of miserable trips I swore I wouldn't sleep on the ground again. I've slept well since.
A few things I've earned over the years:
I string a mesh hammock beneath for gear, pack at one end. It keeps everything off the ground, helps block wind. and gear dries off.
To keep crawlies off the hammock attach fly paper to a piece of cloth and wrap it around the rope at the ends sticky side out. Fold and keep in a ziplock. If you're careful there's no mess. Ben Gay works around stake lines, keeps ants off and it's waterproof.
The bigger the tarp the better. Mine's 12X12 (Tyvek). The extra tarp as compared with a 10X12 is about 4 ounces, the benefits far outweigh the extra weight. Like I said, I live in Washington. I tie up 4" off the ground 3' either side of center. That's 5' at the ridgeline. My hammock hangs 2' off the ground in the center in the lying position. It's the best balance for me.
12' length lets me pinch the ends with a clip to reduce air flow.
In really cold weather I draw one side under my setup to block air and trap heat.
I carry a half a shower curtain for a ground cloth. It's durable and keeps the dirt off my feet.
My under quilt is a lightweight sleeping bag (rated at 40 degrees but not really useful below 50 as a bag).
I'm good to about 15 F.
I cook with alcohol under the tarp before going to sleep to prewarm the enclosure a bit.
Site selection is probably the most important thing. A site protected from the wind is usually a plus unless it's warm out and/or the view takes precedence. If rain is forecast I always choose a site on a slight slope so water doesn't accumulate.
Last but not least more expensive doesn't necessarily equate to better. My son uses a window sheer knotted at the ends. It's worked well for years. My Tyvek tarp is well worn but still water repellent. My tree straps are webbing from Harbor Freight. We're not the REI crowd but we make out pretty well. It all depend on what you're trying to do and how you use what you have.
2 months ago (edited)
I took a bridge hammock (diy) for the first 815 miles or so of the Pacific Crest Trail (Part 1--I flew out due to altitude sickness) resuming with a gathered end hammock from Echo Summit to Canada (Part 2). Love both hammocks. Had to go to ground a few times on Part 1--my underside insulation: a Thermarest Neoair xtherm. The rest of the walk(Part 2), I had an Underquilt from Hammock Gear. I had a poly-cryo tarp for part 1, but due to neglect, it needed 10 ounces of duct tape to hold it together. For Part 2, my tarp was a Warbonnet Superfly (doors!) which really shone in some wind and rain whipped nights.
I camped in so many places that tent campers had to pass, including sides of hills and over rocks. I never had to push on past sunset to get to what the trail apps marked as campsites.
For a few really cold nights I'll swear by those mylar reflective emergency blankets--take one!
I often sleep in a hammock at home.
It's not a habit I want to break!