Thinking out of the box or non-traditionally is something that I’ve done for quite some time. I made the move from a tent to using a bivy sack years ago. Why? Simplicity and weight savings. Well, now that I’m older, it’s time to re-think things again. 25 years ago I had 2 lower back surgeries. This was the real push for me to go ultralight.
During my ultralight weight gear and bivy sack days I still opted for an upgraded sleeping pad. With my back, I just didn’t want to skimp in that area. Most carry some sort of luxury item, this was mine.
Last summer, on a spur of the moment, I bought a simple hammock. It was a basic setup that included everything I needed to “hang”. I read that to lay comfortably and flat you need to lay diagonally. WOW! It worked! Moments into my first time in the hammock I was hooked! I needed more gear to make the transition to the trees but it was soooo comfortable I was committed.
A huge benefit of moving to the trees is that level ground is no longer needed. Don’t under estimate this benefit. No more looking for a flat, root and rock free area to set up a tent. Just find some trees that are ~15 feet apart and you’re good.
What about the weight? Isn’t a hammock setup heavier than a bivy sack? Yes, but the sleep quality, in my opinion, is worth the slight weight increase. Below is a chart that compares the weights of using a hammock with a bivy sack or tent.
REI Quarter Dome
Integral Designs 5’x8′
NeoAir Xtherm Pad
Warbonnet 20 degree Wookie
Warbonnet Blackbird XLC
Bottom line. If you’ve got back problems I’d suggest giving a hammock a try. No joke, I sleep better in my hammock than I do in our high-end mattress at home. To wake up with no aches or pains is worth it to me.