Wireless sensor networks (WSNs) emerge as underlying infrastructures for new classes of large-scale networked embedded systems. However, WSNs system designers must fulfill the quality-of-service (QoS) requirements imposed by the applications (and users). Very harsh and dynamic physical environments and extremely limited energy/computing/memory/communication node resources are major obstacles for satisfying QoS metrics such as reliability, timeliness, and system lifetime. The limited communication range of WSN nodes, link asymmetry, and the characteristics of the physical environment lead to a major source of QoS degradation in WSNs-the ldquohidden node problem.rdquo In wireless contention-based medium access control (MAC) protocols, when two nodes that are not visible to each other transmit to a third node that is visible to the former, there will be a collision-called hidden-node or blind collision. This problem greatly impacts network throughput, energy-efficiency and message transfer delays, and the problem dramatically increases with the number of nodes. This paper proposes H-NAMe, a very simple yet extremely efficient hidden-node avoidance mechanism for WSNs. H-NAMe relies on a grouping strategy that splits each cluster of a WSN into disjoint groups of non-hidden nodes that scales to multiple clusters via a cluster grouping strategy that guarantees no interference between overlapping clusters. Importantly, H-NAMe is instantiated in IEEE 802.15.4/ZigBee, which currently are the most widespread communication technologies for WSNs, with only minor add-ons and ensuring backward compatibility with their protocols standards. H-NAMe was implemented and exhaustively tested using an experimental test-bed based on ldquooff-the-shelfrdquo technology, showing that it increases network throughput and transmission success probability up to twice the values obtained without H-NAMe. H-NAMe effectiveness was also demonstrated in a target tracking application with mobile robots - over a WSN deployment.