Hammock camping is becoming more popular by the day, but when you switch from tenting to hammocking, there’s a learning curve involved.
If you’re a newbie to hammock camping, it might be wise to brush up on the most common camping hammock mistakes people make when they first get into the game, so you don’t follow suit.
Without further ado, let’s swing into it!
Not doing a test run before heading out into the wild
Hammock camping isn’t as simple as falling out of a tree. Well, it is if you don’t know what you’re doing! If you don’t do your research, you’re setting yourself up for a lot of uncomfortable nights.
Luckily, there’s a ton of great information that’ll take the guesswork out of the equation, but there’s a lot to learn and hammock camping isn’t something you can just fly by the seat of your pants.
When you’ve learned the basics on paper, you also need to practice setting up your hammock. At the very least, this is a way to ensure you check the integrity of your gear before your trip!
Camping without an insulation system
You need proper insulation for hammock camping, and it’s one of the most common camping hammock mistakes people tend to make. When you’re sleeping in a hammock, you’ll have 360 degrees of airflow around you, and that air steals your body heat.
Under-quilts and insulated sleeping pads are two great insulation options, but they aren’t the only ways to stay warm while you’re suspended in the air. Insulation is vital, and it shouldn’t be underestimated unless you’re okay with freezing your butt off.
Even if temperatures seem to be mild, it’s always best to be on the safe side and take insulation with you.
Not using a tarp
Stargazing is amazing, especially if you get to do it in the comfort of your hammock. But the weather can be quite unpredictable, and your stargazing can easily get rained out. That’s why you always need to have a tarp with you just in case it rains when it’s not supposed to.
Err on the safe side and always be prepared. Just like the insulation thing, it’s better to have a tarp and not use it than the other way around.
Using rope or paracord to hang your hammock
You absolutely must use straps. We don’t want to get dramatic or anything, but this one of the camping hammock mistakes you can’t afford to make. And this one ties all the way back to our first point – research and practice.
The best way to hang a hammock is with straps because it eliminates the risk of damaging the trees you use to hang your hammock. Straps distribute weight without causing harm to the trees, plus they’re easier to use than paracord in any case.
Stretching things out too tight
You really need some sag when it comes to hanging your hammock. If not, you’ll be in for a super uncomfortable night. Aim for a 30-degree angle on your straps so you can position yourself at an angle. Sag is good and key for a great night’s sleep.
Not scouting for the best trees
Spacing between trees is the first thing to consider. After you’ve established that your trees are far enough apart, you need to ensure that the trees are healthy and strong enough to support your weight.
You also want to look for what’s above you. Dead branches in the trees are a clear indication that you need to move along and find another tree.
Sleeping parallel to the trees
If you want to be as comfortable as possible, you need to sleep diagonally across the hammock. The magazine pictures that show people chilling parallel to the trees are deceiving and will cause agony. Sleeping at an angle will ensure you get a flatter lay and get a better night’s rest. Sleeping like a banana isn’t going to feel as comfy as it seems.
Not inspecting your campsite
This one also ties back to our first mistake: not doing your research. The last thing you want to do is use a tree that has a poisonous climbing vine on it. This mistake could cost you your health and safety, so it’s important to pay attention before you strap up your hammock.
Poison ivy and poison oak can turn any camping trip into a nightmare overnight, which is why you need to know what to be on the lookout for. Research the area you plan on visiting before your trip and make sure you’re clued up on the poisonous plants in the area.
Creating New Campsites
The goal of any kind of camping is to leave the woods the way you found then without disturbing the wildlife. With this in mind, many people switch to hammock camping to decrease their footprint out in the wild.
However, any new campsite is going to leave a mark. So, instead of building a site of your own, you should stick to using established campsites to help keep the woods as wild as possible.
Not using the right hang height
When it comes to hammock camping, never hang higher than you’re willing to fall. Those are words to live by! 17 inches off the ground is a good height for your hammock. This height ensures your feet can barely touch the ground when you’re sitting in your hammock.
Forgetting to set up drip lines
Your hammock is like a water bridge from one tree to the other, and water always follows the path of least resistance. Presuming your hammock is angled at the correct 30 degrees, your straps offer the path of least resistance for water drip.
If you don’t prevent it, you’ll get wet, so don’t forget about those drip lines. You can keep it simple by tying a lark’s head knot to the middle of the straps, so the water gets absorbed into the paracord and drips down onto the ground instead of your hammock.
Most of the camping hammock mistakes on this list are mishaps we’ve seen (and made) as hammock campers. We hope that this list has helped you learn about what not to do, and even if you’ve been making these mistakes, at least now you know better so you can do better!
Matt Green, is an avid hiker and lover of the great outdoors. He is always planning his next big trip or hitting the trails for a solo hike.
He’s traveled extensively to many remote regions and has plenty of experience exploring various terrains, and stories to tell.
- 1 Not doing a test run before heading out into the wild
- 2 Camping without an insulation system
- 3 Not using a tarp
- 4 Using rope or paracord to hang your hammock
- 5 Stretching things out too tight
- 6 Not scouting for the best trees
- 7 Sleeping parallel to the trees
- 8 Not inspecting your campsite
- 9 Creating New Campsites
- 10 Not using the right hang height
- 11 Forgetting to set up drip lines
- 12 Final thoughts