Single Layer or Double Layer Hammock? How to Make a Choice

single vs double layer hammock

When you are going to choose a camping hammock, some vendors especially cottage manufacturers like Hennessy, Warbonnet and Dutchware provide a single layer or double layer for option. You might be confused about what are they, what are their differences and which one should I choose?

In the rest of this article, I’ll thoroughly introduce every aspect of hammock’s single and double layer, and factors you should consider when you need to make a choice between them.

What are the single layer and double layer hammocks?

Single layer, as its literal meaning, refers to the hammock has only one layer of fabric, it’s the basic module for most hammocks. One layer hammocks have one-piece and three-piece fabric two types, the former one means the hammock is made of one piece complete fabric, the latter one means the hammock is made of three pieces of fabric sewn together to form the body.

Double layer or dual layer, refers to the hammock that has two layers of fabric sewn together. The gathered end style backpacking hammock usually has a 30 inch opening (some may not have) between the inside and outside fabric for putting a sleeping pad in; bridge style hammock, like Warbonnet Ridgerunner, has the same width opening at both ends.

double layer gathered end hammock
Double layer gathered-end hammock
double layer brider hammock
Double layer bridge hammock (source from theultimatehang.com)

Single and double layer are both used for gathered and bridge hammocks, the biggest differences between layers are total thickness of fabric and whether have slits for insulation sleeping pad.

But do not confuse them with single size hammock or double size hammock, they are names that vendors use for referring hammock’s width.

Single or double layer, which one should I choose?

The factors you should consider when making a choice:

1. User weight & comfort level

This is one of the most two important factors should consider (the other one is bottom insulation, I’ll talk about below). Since using different fabrics, the single and double layer fabric have different weight capacities.

Normally, single-layer hammocks use nylon or polyester, thickness range from 20D/1.0 oz – 70D/1.9 oz, weight limit range from 250lbs to 400lbs. Double layer hammocks usually use different fabrics for two layers, high denier outside layer fabric for resisting abrasion, low denier inside layer fabric for a soft touch. For example, Warbonnet Lightweight Double Blackbird XLC uses 40D Nylon Outer, 20d Nylon Inner. Double layer hammocks usually have 50-150lbs larger weight capacity than single layer hammocks.

So, when choosing a hammock, weight capacity is the first thing you should consider, especially for heavy people. You might ask me, that almost all hammocks’ weight limit is above my weight, should I choose anyone I like?

The answer is: Yes, but not totally correct.

You forget another thing: comfortable level. Everyone wants to have a comfortable lay in the hammock, it refers to how flat you could lie in the hammock, and it is determined by fabric stretchy level – stronger fabric has less stretch. Double layer hammocks offer less stretch, a firmer lay, and less shoulder squeeze than single layer hammocks.

For example, a 250lbs man can safely lie in a low denier (like 1.0oz/20D or 1.1oz/30D) single layer hammock, but the hammock will stretch a lot and have a deep sag which will make him super uncomfortable, but if he chooses a high denier single layer (like 1.6oz/40D or higher) or double layer hammock (even two 1.1oz layers), he will get a firmer and flatter lay.

But it doesn’t mean only heavyweight people can choose double layer hammocks, some people less than 200lbs also prefer dual-layer hammocks for a solid and flat lay. Everyone has different bodies and different flavors, at last, single or double layer it’s up to you.

2. Bottom insulation

Why bottom insulation is important in a hammock?

Underside warmth is critical when you sleep in a hammock, especially when the temperature is below 70°F or in a damp environment. Your body heat will be taken away with convective cooling, insulating yourself against cold air is important for comfortable hammocking.

Generally, there are two ways to keep you warm in the hammock, using an underquilt or a sleeping pad (closed-cell foam or inflatable air pad). An underquilt is suitable for both single and double layer hammocks, a sleeping pad is more suitable for double layer hammocks as they have an internal sleeve between two layers to put the pad in.

So, how many layers of the hammock to choose is much depending on which insulation method you are going with.

Which is better, an underquilt or a sleeping pad?

Pros of underquilts:

1. Comfortable and warm, especially a down underquit has superb warmth and improves comfort greatly than a sleeping pad.

2. The underquilt won’t move around in the hammock when you change a position or enter into, it’s a lot less hassle than using a sleeping pad.

3. Doesn’t have condensation at the bottom when using an underquilt.

Cons of underquilts:

1. Much more expensive than a sleeping pad, the price of underquilt usually ranges from $100-$300, although some synthetic underquilt has price under $100, still a big money investment.

2. Takes more packing space, and heavier than the sleeping pad.

hammock underquilt
Hammock underquilt (the yellow one)

Pros of sleeping pads:

1. Cheaper than underquilts, closed-cell foam or air pad costs dozens of dollars, economic friendly.

2. Versatile use, can be used for ground sleeping if the environment doesn’t have a hanging condition.

Cons of sleeping pads:

1. Easy to slide out of place in the single-layer gathered end hammock, even in the double-layer hammock, it can still occur but much better (In double layer bridge hammock, it will almost not move anymore).

2. Normal size sleeping pads, 20″-25″ in width, are a bit narrow for people who have a wider shoulder.

3. Hammocks will have condensation when using a pad, the lower temperature, the more condensation.

hammock sleeping pad
“Klymit Hammock V” sleeping pad in a single layer hammock

Compared with the pros and cons above, the underquilt is more opted for the advanced camper, and can be used for single and double layer hammocks in both gathered end and bridge style. The sleeping pad is suitable for most normal-level campers, matches well with double-layer hammock in both gathered end and bridge style.

How to improve sleeping pad using experience in the hammock?

Although an underquilt is more effective and warmer than a sleeping pad, but due to its price, the sleeping pad is still the first choice for many campers, below are some tips for boosting sleeping pad experience in a hammock:

1. Apply some seam sealer or silicone dots on both sides of the pad, to create friction to mitigate moving around.

2. Use “Segmented Pad Extender” for closed-cell foam and inflated sleeping pads to effectively prevent sliding in the single layer hammock, you can DIY – use duct tape to attach the shoulder extender panel to your main pad, or buy one from manufacturers like ENO HotSpot Sleeping Pad Sleeve. You can also directly choose the sleeping pad with “wings”, like Klymit Hammock V.

ENO HotSpot Sleeping Pad Sleeve
ENO HotSpot Sleeping Pad Sleeve (the gray part)

3. If your shoulder feels cold with a 20″ narrow pad, use a wider one like 25″ or 30″ to avoid scooting off. Klymit Static V, Exped 9 or closed-cell foams are all good choices. The larger the pad is, the more comfortable will be.

Left: Klymit Static V, 23″ wide; Right: Exped 9, 25.6″ wide

4. Don’t fully inflate the air pad, 3/4 of the air is good to go.

3. Mosquito protection

If you often camping in summer, you must consider mosquitos or other insects bitting problems. A double layer hammock offers mosquito-proof protection, mosquitos are less likely to bite through the two layers. Also, equip your hammock with a bugnet for top protection.

Furthermore, you could spray Permethrin over your hammock to repel insects, super useful for both single and double layer hammocks.

Spray Permethrin
Spray Permethrin on the outdoor gear

So, choosing a double layer hammock for a warmer and damp place camping is advisable, and it still allows air flow and is breathable in hot weather.

4. Durability & abrasion

For a single layer hammock, if you accidentally cause a tear or snag the surface, you might end in sleeping on the ground. For a double layer hammock, the extra added layer is a relatively safe guarantee for such minor damage, it can help you get through the trip until back home. Besides, it is advisable to bring duct tape or other repair patches with you for temporary repairs.

Cloth duct tape
Cloth duct tape

A strong and durable double layer hammock can also alleviate abrasion and daily wear, extending the service years.

5. Package weight

A single layer hammock often weighs around 6 ounces lighter than the same size double layer hammock. For a gram weenie, it should be a concern for your choice.

But for most campers, you won’t notice too much about the added weight when taking a double layer hammock, and the benefits of the extra layer may help you a lot in the trip.

6. Budget concern

Of course, price is another most important factor to consider when choosing a hammock, but I still list it at the last.

The price of double layer hammock from cottage vendors is often $50 higher than single layer one, it’s really a big money to save if you choose a single layer hammock. It’s a tradeoff between price gap and double layer’s exclusive benefits, whether or not, it’s up to you.

Conclusion:

From the above 6 main factors, you might have properly known the main differences between single and double layer hammocks. When it comes to making a choice, considering more about your body weight, insulation method and price, it should not be difficult anymore.

Have a enjoy with your hammock camping!

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