Richard Bucker


Posted at — Sep 5, 2018

Many months ago I built a spreadsheet to comparing about 30 different tarp manufacturers and models. The basic conclusion is that there is an unreasonable premium on some of the superlight materials as well as some brands consider themselves premium and exclusive so they charge extra just because they can.My new position is that I’d rather pay less, with a little extra weight and/or volume, but I have to be able to replace damaged gear in the time it take Amazon prime to deliver to anywhere in the US. One thing I like about Amazon is that I can order a complete wishlist so I do not have to bring anything with me.In the last week I have been experimenting with hammocks. Hammocks are no different from any other shelter system in stat there are extremes in prices depending on the materials although some materials have dropped in price.TARPS - hammock tarps seems to have different shapes. While flat tarps work the other tarps don’t always work for others… The Yukon hammock tarp is a diamond that only works for hammocks uless desperate.HAMMOCK - comes in different lengths, widths, capacities, and materials. No one seems to be able to agree on what ultralight means. Some are double layer and some have integrated bugnets.BUGNET - sock, bottom entry, zip,STRAPS - lots of technology here including some exotic cordage and Ti hardware. The seatosummit straps are 100% custom so if you need a hammock you also need straps. The straps are from a light materials… unfortunately they seem to slip and has an extra expense.RIDGELINE - I hate to explain this item… it supposed to be 83% of the length of the hammock. It;s supposed to create a consistent sag in the hammock material. Mine always seem to be taught like a piano string and the books say that’s wrong.PADS or Insulation depending on the weather.My gestimate is that an average and reasonably complete hammock system is going to cost about $200 and weigh about $2 pounds. Once you get to exotic insulation the model is broken. One nice thing about a hammock is that it can double as a camp chair offering some camp comfort. On the other hand if you are a hiker then one usually hikes to bed.By comparison my tarp, bivy, and pad cost $200 and weighed just under a pound. The problem here is that depending on the season this system has a 4-5 week lead time.By comparison I have a new tarp, bivy that cost $50 less and can be ordered overnight.One thing for sure, having both has a benefit. Here in FL when the ground is saturated then having a hammock is a benefit. Also, pads and bugnets are not always necessary but you probably need to carry them anyway. But to go light you have to commit to one or the other.