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Santa Barbara, Ca

I'm a full-time rambler and contract designer with as many skill sets in my quiver as there are plane tickets in my passbook. I've worked in ornamental iron, jigsaw puzzle design, bookmaking, glass engraving, and a variety of other mediums. I'm currently living out of a backpack as I trek my way around the world.

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Travel Gear Essential: Treehugger Hammocks

Zak Erving

Ocean, beach, and palm trees. With a hammock strung between. How cliché of me (photo courtesy of Joshua T. Holm)

Ocean, beach, and palm trees. With a hammock strung between. How cliché of me (photo courtesy of Joshua T. Holm)

Ask any backpacker to list their top priorities while traveling, and you'll likely end up with something that resembles the bottom layer on the pyramid of Maslow's hierarchy of needs: food, drink, sleep, and security. And while comfort is also somewhere near the top of the list, it's sometimes sacrificed in the name of the traveler's budget.

But wouldn't it be great if one could stay comfortable and save money? Only a few travel items so perfectly blend budget and leisure so well, and they usually require an additional backpack for carrying. Last I checked, few people carry an 8-person tent with them on a jaunt through the great cities of Europe.

If you're traveling the world and plan on spending a lot of time outside, it'd be well worth your while to invest in a backpacker's hammock from Treehugger. In warmer climates, the positives for bringing a hammock along far outweigh the negatives:

  • A hammock can be spanned across any two fixed points, from palm trees to fenceposts
  • Hostel fees, while not always expensive, tend to add up. Spending a night or two vagabonding (or at a campground) can help alleviate budget stress
  • Staying the night in an airport or train station won't require an uncomfortable surface for trying to get a few winks in
  • It's a great conversation starter
  • Few things are better than napping in a hammock on a remote beach
  • If you're traveling with that special someone, two-person hammocks are also available (wink!)
  • Coupled with a sleeping pad, the added insulation will allow the user to sleep in cooler climates

A word of caution, however: some people forego the hammock option because it lacks the security that a room with lock and key might offer. Choose your spots carefully, and always use discretion when sleeping outside.

On the off chance that a hammock is packed for a trip and never used, not to worry: they usually weigh less than two pounds, and they're about the size of a one-liter water bottle. If your travels are taking you camping, near a beach, or towards an improvised itinerary, having a backpacker's hammock could mean the difference between fitful rest and a good night's sleep…with more money saved.