View Full Version : hammock on the PCT?

12-07-2003, 17:17
I'm in the market for a lighter shelter and im thinking of buying a HH over a tarp. I figured the Hammock would be good for my upcoming Long Trail hike. Should be many trees. However, how feasible is it to use a hammock for shelter on the PCT? I don't wanna bother buying a hammock if i can't really use it on the PCT, which I plan to hike in 06. What do you guys think? Thanks

12-07-2003, 17:43

I already have the hammock and have been asking the same questions to PCT hikers. What I have found out so far is this.....

It sounds like most nights on the PCT will be spent laying out underneath the stars. A PCT hike should have much fewer days/nights of precipitation than the AT does. Chances of rain increase as you spend your last days in Washington as winter approaches. You are correct about the PCT having plenty of trees, I had asked the same thing already.

I already own a hammock, but I am looking into tarps or tarptents, just because it is something I want to try. If I can't find a good deal on either then I will definitely stick with my hammock. If I do take the hammock next summer then I can let you know how it turns out.

Im sure there are folks here that can answer the question better than I can, but I hope this helps.

12-09-2003, 10:05
I knew one person who had a hammock on the PCT this summer, and heard of another one. You'll be able to get it rigged up except in a few areas in SoCal and through most of the SIerra, unless you choose to camp down in the valleys with the bears. I set up my tarp maybe a dozen times, and needed it only 4 times. Almost every night I just through out a groundcloth.

12-09-2003, 12:23
I knew one person who had a hammock on the PCT this summer, and heard of another one. You'll be able to get it rigged up except in a few areas in SoCal and through most of the SIerra, unless you choose to camp down in the valleys with the bears. I set up my tarp maybe a dozen times, and needed it only 4 times. Almost every night I just through out a groundcloth.


THats cool that you were able to cowboy camp so much. Were the bugs a problem? And would a tarp solve this? What were the reasons for the few times you did tarp? rain? weather? bugs?
I know very little about the PCT so nothing is obvious to me

12-09-2003, 15:40
Bugs were not a problem for most of the trip, although they were ferocious in places. There were a couple of spots in SoCal where they were out, but they not terribly so. The Sierras were supposed to be a nightmare, but I was high up so much that they were a non-issue. When you drop below, say, 8000 ft. you'll feel them. But, the trail doesn't get much below 8000 ft for any extended period in the Sierras. Really, the worst part is Oregon. Lots of murky, swampy land (although not directly on the PCT) and a fair number of small lakes provide ideal breeding grounds for the skeeters. My tarp has no netting on it. Instead, I carried a small sleep net by DancingLight. I like it and recommend it for people who will spend a lot of time sleeping out. Once I cleared central Oregon, bugs were no problem, except for a strange, 20 mile length of trail near Mount Hood where there were lots and lots of slow, dumb, biting flies. Easy to kill. No other bug issues, although gnats are in the desert and can swarm you, trying to get at the liquid in your eye balls.

You can get a tarp with netting and people seem to enjoy this. I like sleeping out, and don't want to have to sleep under a tarp to use the netting. I don't think I save any weight this way, but I do have more sleeping options. Henry Shires' tarptents come with netting and they are an option on DancingLight's tarps.

I set my tarp up the first two nights because my sister was out with me and she didn't want to throw out. The rest of the time, I set it up when I thought there were ominous clouds or was in a meadow and wanted something to protect me from condensation. A couple of times I put the tarp up just for kicks, to do something different. Once I set it up to shelter me from a cold wind at a rather scenic lake at 10,000 ft in the Sierra.

I needed the tarp on four occasions. The first time was on June 23 (keeping in mind that I started on May 9), when 2.5 inches of snow fell on me as I was heading towards an 11,000 ft. pass in Yosemite. I put up my tarp with the snow falling and spent a dry, if cold, night under it.

The second time I needed the tarp was in southern Oregon, just before Crater Lake (July 24th, a month later). It rained softly for 30 minutes, then really hard for 30, then softly for 10. I did get wet, as the deluge turned the hard, dry Oregon ground into a river. It was warm out, though.

The third time was in central Washington around August 12, when it sprinkled very lightly on me one night, not even strong enough to wake me up. The fourth time was in northern Washington on the flanks of Glacier Peak, when a big misty system came in. Although it dropped very little actual rain, there was enough liquid in the air to get things wet if I was completely exposed to the air.

Southern California is very dry, but there are also some big mountains. The main pack this year got tossed around in the San Jacinto Mountains (180 miles north of Mexico) by a late season storm. Lots of snow and wind and rain. If I were to hike again, I'd take a double wide sheet of Tyvek or silnylon as a ground cloth. If there was some freakish storm, I'd just roll up in it like a burrito. I had great weather in the Sierras, but others have gotten stormed on. Once you clear the Sierras (around mile 1300), the land gets fairly dry and the chances are that you won't have any precip until central or northern Oregon (miles 2000-2150). I had fantastic weather in Washington, but was well ahead of the pack then. They got dumped on hard. Enough so that I would probably bring a tent (not a tarp) into Washington if I was going to be hiking much later than early September.

12-13-2003, 03:41
I wouldn't even consider a hammock on the PCT. As a previous post already noted there are some areas where the bugs are bastards, your elevation change on a daily basis gives much relief to the insect. Try not to camp in a meadow - even with a hammock - you would spend the whole time in it. It seems to my recollection we only had really annoying bugs a couple of times, for us in CA. I cannot recollect a bad problem in Oregon. Different years have different weather patterns, just ask the Weather Carrot. Even with a tent we left our door open for the ultimate bedroom window effects and/or never put the fly on until Washington for the most part. I wouldn't hammock the PCT and I plan on hiking it again. Perhaps a tarp and in areas with possible insects some sort of netting

09-30-2004, 17:02
I'm trying out a HH Backpacker here in Berkeley,CA. Why not use one on the PCT? Not enough trees, or what? Also, what about a little lower down, like on the John Muir Trail (where I go more often)?

09-30-2004, 17:57
A hammock just really isn't necessary. The weather is usually so sweet (although some years the hikers get hammered in September) that it is rare to need any shelter at all. So, most people just sleep out and save themselves the weight of a hammock or tent. Also, the most spectacular campsites on the PCT rarely have trees sufficient for hanging. If you want to hamock, you'll have to settle for AT like campsites with lots of tree, which are usually of a low grade in comparison with what is available on the PCT.

09-30-2004, 20:10
I'm checking out hammocks for a softer sleep, not for overhead shelter. I've always slept out under the stars, with a plastic tarp as back up. The ground is getting harder as I get older, so that's why I got a hammock. If I don't like it, or I find there aren't enough trees to hang it on, I'll look into better ground padding.

Anyone out there used a hammock in the Sierras? Did you find enough trees?

10-04-2004, 10:01
There are plenty of valleys in the Sierra in which you can hang a hammock with no problem. The central drawback of this is that you will be in the valleys. So, you'll have a general lack of views (in comparison with what is up near the passes) and you'll have all the Sierra bears to yourself. In the early season, when alot of PCT hikers move through, the bears are in the valleys where there is more food. If you do decide to camp low, I would make sure to have a bear cannister. Sleeping with your food would be foolish, outdone only by hanging it. There are some bear boxes in the area, but there are rumors every year that the forest service is taking them out.

10-04-2004, 15:07
Thanks for the bear facts.
I'm starting to think a hammock in the Sierras isn't going to work for me.

Anyone else used a hammock in the Sierras? Found enough trees along the John Muir Trail?

Spirit Walker
10-04-2004, 16:45
We had mostly good weather, but every time we tried to sleep out we would get soaked by dew. This happened several times when we were far from any water source. Since we used down bags, we tended to put up the tent rather than risk sleeping wet for a few days.

Bugs were a problem for us from the Sierras into northern California. In Oregon they didn't bother us much. But we were lucky. Some years they can be pestilential all the way to Washington.

If you have a tent you have more options as to where you can camp - out in the desert, out on a rocky overlook, in an open meadow, etc. Any place that is 3 feet wide by six feet long is home.

It's kinda like carrying a bear can - you aren't restricted to busy areas that have bear boxes. With a hammock you have to be in trees, and some of the best camp sites are out in the open.

12-23-2004, 07:15
The p.c.t. (and c.d.t.) is definetly hammockable. Even in so.Ca you can find groves of trees evry 20 miles at most, as long as you guess/learn where they are from the maps (forested area is marked on the p.c.t guide maps) .

True, you cant hammock over tree line in the sierra's, but thats o.k. as the above tree line sections are never more than a few mile long at most, and you shouldnt camp there anyway due to the fragile alpine vegetation (and because these exposed areas are real cold at night).
You usualy don't have to put on the tarp at night, as your unlikly to hit rain befor washington, but the mosquitoes will make sleeping without a shelter\head net a real torture in some sections. You will not be sorry you carried a hammock in any section of the p.c.t.

As for bears - I always put my food inside my hammock under my legs at night and never had a problem. The chances of you being hit by lightening are a hundred times higher than being attacked by a black bear. Humens kill black bear and not the other way around

Roni (in Israel)

12-23-2004, 14:53
There are some bear boxes in the area, but there are rumors every year that the forest service is taking them out.
i'm not picking on Chris when i say this, but i hear these rumours occasionally myself and i really doubt the boxes will get removed. this would require a horse crew to disassemble them and pack them out. plus the boxes are successful, popular, and good at concentrating use where the NPS/FS wants it. i don't think they're going anywhere.

that said, this is a handly little link i like to share with people - maps of the locations of most every bear box in the Sierra Nevada. i've marked all my Sierra maps with the locations of them and they're a handy way to string together trips that require more food than my bear canister can hold. some PCT hikers might like this info as well.