Why do some people prefer using a hammock as a shelter instead of a bivy sack or lightweight tent when hiking?
Hammocks are being used more and more by backpacking and hiking enthusiasts. One of the main reasons is that a hammock is lightweight. It is also good for the environment because it leaves little or no evidence of use unlike a tent.
You may think that it would damage trees, but with proper “tree huggers” it does no damage at all. Tree huggers are the straps that go around the tree on each end of the hammock to hold it in place. The wider these straps are, the less damage is done to the tree. It may leave a mark, but this is mostly cosmetic and does no real damage to the bark. For more ideas on how to customize your tree huggers, see http://www.tothewoods.net/HomemadeGearHammockSupports.html
There are many accessories available for hammocks, like tarps to protect you from rain, mosquito nets to keep away the bugs and under quilts to provide insulation that will keep you warm.
In cold weather you can use a top quilt to keep you warm on top, but the problem is that cold air will cool you down from the bottom. Even if you use a warm sleeping bag, it gets compressed by your body weight and you lose the warming effect from the insulation of air trapped in the layers of your sleeping bag. This is where a bottom quilt comes in handy. You can buy various under pads that go beneath your hammock to keep you warm.
Depending on the season, your weight and weather conditions, your needs will differ. The Grand Trunk Air Bivy Extreme Shelter provides an ultralight hammock and tarp as well as a hanging kit, and has a weight capacity of 400 lbs, see http://www.backpackhaven.com/catalog/item/8621442/9526543.htm. The Grand Trunk Ultralight Skeeter Hammock includes a very fine mosquito net which keeps out all kinds of bugs, and has a weight capacity of 250 lbs, see http://www.backpackhaven.com/catalog/item/8621442/9526543.htm.
We hope that you will find a hammock to fit your needs and that you will soon be sharing your own hammock camping experiences.