More than just a place to hang, hammocks are a game-changer when it comes to setting up camp in a flash and sleeping in comfort.
If you’re new to hammock camping, this a great place to start your new adventure so you can get properly geared up and out the door in no time at all!
Why is hammock camping so popular?
Hammock camping isn’t so much a change in camping style as it is a change in sleeping gear.
The only significant difference between traditional (tent) camping and hammock camping is that you’ll be suspended in the air while sleeping instead of sleeping on the ground.
You’ll still use most of the same gear (tarp, bug nets, sleeping bag), but the way you sleep will be worlds apart from what you were used to in a tent.
What are the benefits of hammock camping?
You might be wondering if switching from a tent to a hammock is worth it if the gear stays the same. The simple answer is yes! Compared to camping in a tent, hammock camping is lighter and more compact, and you won’t be sleeping on the hard ground.
Aside from being more comfortable, most people assume an orthopedically correct posture when they camp in hammocks. Sleeping in this position is actually beneficial for anyone with spinal, bone, or joint problems!
What are the drawbacks of hammock camping?
Like everything out there, hammock camping has its pros and cons. The first issue is weight. Hammocks are anywhere between a few ounces and a few pounds heavier than a standard tarp. In the winter months, you need to take extra measures to keep warm when hammock camping.
Hammock camping also isn’t the ideal setup for couples because you can’t share a hammock with your partner. No matter how much you love them, it’s just no fun sleeping on top of your partner (or having them sleep on top of you!).
What gear do I need to hammock camp?
We’ve already mentioned that you’ll need most of the gear you’d use for regular camping when you go camping in a hammock. Here’s a look at some other essentials you’ll need to make the most of your hammock adventures:
Your hammock and a pair of straps
These are the bare essentials to get your camp set up. You need a high-quality hammock and straps that will safely keep you suspended throughout the night.
If you’re camping during the summer months, it’s recommended to use a bug net to keep the critters away. When investing in a bug net, it’s essential to keep breathability in mind and how easy (or hard) it’ll be to get in and out of your hammock once the net is fitted.
Protection against rain
A rain tarp will help keep you and your gear dry. Make sure you pick something that’s water-resistant and comes with multiple attachment points so you can play around with setup options.
When the mercury starts dropping, you need to properly insulate your hammock to prevent heat loss. Underquilts are a great way of ensuring your hammock stays as warm as possible but using a combination of an underquilt and a sleeping pad is the way to go for optimal warmth levels.
What’s the best way to hang my hammock?
There is no such thing as “the best” way to hang a hammock. You’ve got plenty of options, and you’ll find a style that works for you once you’ve camped out in a hammock a few times. There are, however, a few basics that will ensure you get the perfect hang every time. Here’s what to keep in mind:
Find the right trees
The best trees are sturdy and alive, and they’re located 12-15 feet apart. Don’t use trees with dead branches and don’t use them if you suspect they might not be able to support your weight.
Put up the straps
Once you’ve found two sturdy trees, you need to attach your tree saver straps roughly 6 feet off the ground by pulling the narrow end of the strap through the last loop of the wide end.
Attach your hammock
Use carabiners to each end of your hammock and then hook them onto your straps. Your hammock should hang no more than 18 inches off the ground. This makes it safer and easier to get into and out of your hammock.
What should I do with my backpack when hammock camping?
Your best option for storing your gear is to suspend it above the ground by clipping it onto your straps or your hammock’s gear loops, which are located along the sides of the hammock. If you’ve got more than just a backpack, consider adding an overhead ridgeline to keep pocket knives, snacks, and headlamps close at hand.
Heavier gear should be stored in a gear sling that goes underneath your hammock. It’s almost like a mini hammock for your gear.
What are the different types of camping hammocks?
Like every other piece of gear you could own, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the choices in hammocks. And just like all other items you’ve considered for your hiking expeditions; each option has its own set of benefits and drawbacks. Here’s a look at the types of camping hammocks you might want to consider:
These are arguably the most popular camping hammocks you’ll find on the market. They’re generally made from slippery (yet durable) nylon fabric that offers great versatility too.
- Easy to set up
- Generally comes with an integrated suspension system
- The slippery fabric might not be the most comfortable option
If you’re a frequent backpacker, you’re probably already eyeing an ultralight camping hammock. Just like parachute models, these are also made from nylon materials, but they can pack down surprisingly small (think along the lines of the palm of your hand!).
- Easy to pack and store
- Not the best choice for hammock camping newbies
- Less comfortable than parachute models
- More expensive than parachute hammocks
Known for their durability and ruggedness, expedition hammocks can be used in all four seasons if you’ve got the right accessories. In most cases, these hammocks come with their own set of tent flies, big nets, underquilts and over quilts.
- Exceptionally durable
- Easy to accessorize with other gear
- Extremely comfortable
- Much heavier than other models
Hammock camping safety tips
Nobody wants to experience death-by-hammock, and you probably won’t, but just to keep things safe, here’s what to keep in mind when hammock camping:
Always inspect your gear before a trip.
Regardless of whether you have a brand spanking new hammock, or you picked up a second-hand model, you need to inspect your gear before heading out on your trip. The last thing you want is to arrive at your campsite and discover rips or tears in your hammock.
Survey your campsite surroundings to make sure it’s safe.
If there’s lots of deadfall or rotting trees in the area, move along and find a site that’s more alive. You don’t want to get killed by a falling branch at night.
Never hang your hammock too high.
If you’re climbing up the tree to hang your hammock, you’re aiming too high! The ideal height is 18 inches between the ground and your hammock when you’re in it.
Never dive into your hammock.
You want to move slowly and test your weight first. Don’t blindly trust your setup, it’s one of the most common camping hammock mistakes newbies make. Hospitals aren’t just around the corner in the backcountry. Keep that in mind and always err on the side of caution.
We’ve covered the basics of hammock camping and we hope we’ve given you a solid overview of what it is, how it’s done, and what to keep in mind when starting out in this alternative camping style. Hammocking is trending for a reason, and if you haven’t tried it yet, this post should have given you all the right pointers to finally give it a go!
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 Why is hammock camping so popular?
- 2 What are the benefits of hammock camping?
- 3 What are the drawbacks of hammock camping?
- 4 What gear do I need to hammock camp?
- 5 What’s the best way to hang my hammock?
- 6 What should I do with my backpack when hammock camping?
- 7 What are the different types of camping hammocks?
- 8 Hammock camping safety tips
- 9 Final thoughts