Hammock camping in simple terms is where a camper sleeps in a hammock tied to trees. It is an unconventional type of camping where a camper uses a hammock in place of a conventional tent. Hammocks are very lightweight, and they do not require a lot of space. These are some of the reasons why this type of camping is common amongst backpackers.
When you hear the word camping, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? It’s quite obvious that most people will say a tent. Sleeping in a tent is closely tied to most people’s camping experience.
Seeing people set up their tents on a camping site is very common. If you’re one of those people who love going out on a camping trip frequently, you probably know the nitty-gritty of setting up a tent in perfect condition. For many decades, tents have been the most popular shelter for campers. In fact, we are so used to linking the two words ‘camping’ and ‘tent,’ that when we hear one of these words, the other comes into the mind automatically.
Hammocks have been in use for thousands of years. But it’s only been a few years since it started to attract the attention of the campers. In the last couple of years, hammocks have been used by people as an alternative to tents. And it looks like hammock camping is gaining a lot of popularity in many countries around the world.
Some might think that people are switching to hammocks just to reduce the overall camping cost, but it’s not true. Hammocks are a lot easier to set up, and it offers more comfort.
In this article, you will find everything you need to know about hammock camping and why it is worth giving a try.
What Makes Hammock Camping Special?
More and more people realize the fact that along with the fast-growing economies and rapid population growth, the climate is also changing. This has led the responsible citizens of the world to adapt to new and efficient means of production, transport, and have even started practicing a minimal way of living which utilities minimal resources.
In some countries, there is a growing popularity of people building and living in small houses, switching to electric cars, and there is no exception even when it comes to recreational activities such as camping. This is where hammock camping comes in. It does not require a lot of gear or resources. And it does not damage or harm the environment in any way. Trying to detect a hammock camping site is extremely difficult, and this is why hammock camping is perfectly in line with the philosophy of ‘Leave no trace camping.’
Advantages of Hammocks vs Tents
Below are some of the reasons why hammocks can be much better than typical tents.
- They offer more comfort, which means you’ll sleep a lot better.
You may find it strange or unusual at first if you have not slept in a hammock before. To be able to sleep in it comfortably may take you some time. But as you gradually ease into it, you will get the best outdoor sleeping experience you’ve ever had. Unlike the conditions in a conventional tent where you have to sleep uncomfortably on unlevel ground, with rocks and mud, hammocks will allow you to have a sound sleep.
The ground has a lot of conditions that can keep you awake all night. Maybe you’ve had a sleepless night in a tent just because of a single poorly positioned rock, or a tree root which you did not notice while you were setting up your tent. On the other hand, sleeping in a hammock will have no such discomforts.
It’s quite common to see campers exhausted and tired after a night’s sleep in a tent. You may have also heard of campers who think of their bed at home when it’s time to sleep, but this is not the case when it comes to hammocks.
In addition to avoiding sleeping upon rocks and uneven surfaces, you’ll also get to stay away from ground insects, which can be very annoying. Also, even when it rains, you can sleep peacefully without worrying about the water flowing into the tent, and that’s something which every camper desires.
- Hammocks have more versatility.
Hammocks do not require you to consider the ground conditions in order to set them up. You need a couple of strong and sturdy trees, and you’re ready to go. The best thing about hammock camping is that you can camp anywhere, as long as you can find a suitable anchor point, you need not care about what is on the ground.
This means you can even camp on hills, mountains, beside a waterfall, or over a stream. You can hammock camp in places where it is simply not possible to setup a tent. So, in a way, you get access to a new adventure and a fantastic experience.
If you’re camping with your friends, you can set up your hammock long before they find a soft patch of ground to set up their tent. You get to enjoy the freedom of location if you’re going hammock camping.
- They’re multi-purpose.
Well, you may be wondering what it means by saying its multi-purpose. Let us It’s a fact that tents are no match for hammocks when it comes to versatility. Tents have a very limited purpose, you use it as a shelter from the sun and the rain, you use it for changing your clothes, and you sleep in it. After finding the perfect spot, you set it up, and that is it, fixed to a place until it is time to go home. It is rarely used during the day.
On the other hand, you have a whole lot of wonderful things you can do with hammocks. It is portable, and you can set it up high on the hills and use it as a lounge or a chair. Even at night, you can set it up near the campfire and laugh with your friends, enjoy a drink, or tell stories.
- They are lightweight and save space.
Most camping hammocks nowadays come with a rain fly and a mosquito net. What’s surprising is that the weight of all these things combined is usually less than 3 pounds.
Another cool thing about this new type of camping is that you don’t have to take each and every component into account. You can easily break them into separate parts and take with you only what is required. For instance, if your camping site is free from bugs and insects, and the weather is bright and warm, you can leave the mosquito net and rainfly at home to reduce weight and create more space for other things.
Difference Between Backyard and Backcountry Hammocks
Most people think that all hammocks are the same. You may even visualize a hammock hanging in the backyard when you hear the word. There is, however, a slight difference between camping hammocks and garden, or home-use hammocks. Generally speaking, models designed for camping or backpacking are made of higher-quality material that is much lighter, and they offer more durability than regular hammocks used at home.
Additionally, camping hammocks are designed to accommodate a rain tarp as well as a mosquito net to keep you dry and safe in the backcountry.
Guide to Choosing Your Camping Hammock and Gear
To start preparing for a hammock trip, the first thing you will need is a hammock and all the necessary accessories required to set it up.
As we already discussed above, do not make the mistake of assuming that camping hammocks and backyard or home hammocks are the same. Make sure you look out for models that are designed for camping. Such models weigh less, are more robust, more durable, and they offer maximum comfort.
Below are some valuable tips for choosing an ideal hammock for all of your recreational needs.
- Single or double.
You may have seen two people lying idly in a huge hammock. Traditionally, hammocks were designed for a single person only. However, nowadays, you can find double and even triple hammocks. Most models designed for a single person have a width measuring up to 4 or 5 feet, and they have weight limits ranging from 250 pounds to 400 pounds.
Double hammocks usually have 5 to 6-foot width and can support a maximum weight of 500 pounds. It can be nice to have a double hammock where you can have a good time with your loved one during the day. But when it comes to sleeping, especially when camping, singles offers the most comfort and convenience. Although doubles are spacious and much stronger, sharing a hammock with others during sleep time is not the best idea.
Note: If you’re a tall person who weighs over 300 pounds, it would be a good idea to choose a double hammock.
In terms of length, there is no need to make careful considerations because most hammocks can comfortably accommodate anyone people regardless of their height. So, unless you’re a very tall person, say 6 foot 5 inches or more, you should be able to find a good camping hammock with ease.
However, it wouldn’t make sense if you’re 5 foot 5 inches, and you use a hammock that is over 8 feet in length. To solve this problem, you need to look for one that is about 2 feet longer than your height. For example, if you’re 6 feet tall, buying an 8-foot hammock is an ideal choice.
- Straps – Hammocks that are manufactured recently come with almost all the accessories required to set it up. However, no all of them provide the essential gear and equipment, and you may be required to buy the straps separately. If you have to do this, please make sure that the straps you purchase are not just regular ones.
Hammock tree straps are much broader, and they do not damage the tree bark. You also have to check the compatibility, or else the straps you buy may not work with your hammock.
- Hammock rain tarp or rainfly – Whether it’s a sunny day or a rainy day, you do not want to forget this camping accessory. Much like the roof of a tent, a rainfly is designed to hang above the hammock. It shelters you from the scorching sun and the rain. When looking for a rain tarp, ensure that the tarp is big enough to cover the whole hammock. If the rainfly is smaller, you may get wet with droplets of water that get blown in with the wind.
- Bug net – Mosquitoes are probably a camper’s most hated insect. You need to have your bug net set up if you want any good sleep at all. Hammock bug nets must offer 360-degree protection. Some hammock models come with a built-in bug screen. This can be a great option for protection from bugs and it eliminates the need to buy a separate net.
- Hammock sleeping pad – Spending the night in a hammock without a sleeping pad is a bad idea. Whether you’re in a cold or a hot region, it’s essential that you use a sleeping pad because the temperature typically drops significantly just before dawn, and it can ruin your sleep.
A regular camping sleeping pad, however, cannot be used in a hammock. There are specially designed hammock sleeping pads that can be fitted correctly. They will definitely help you sleep more comfortably by providing the insulation needed to keep your body warm.
- Top quilt and under a quilt – These are highly recommended for those who live in cold regions. Also, if you’re planning hammock camping during cold winter seasons, you must include the under quilt and top quilt by any means.
- Paracord and stakes – If you’re camping in a windy season, or a rainy season, having a paracord and stakes can help you a lot. This will make setting up rainfly a breeze.
- Carabiners – Carabiners are one of the most useful items for campers, backpackers, and hikers. You can use these metal hoops to attach your hammock, a backpack, or anything else.
How to Properly Setup a Hammock
Before you begin your trek, ensure that you have all the essential gear. There are different hammock models, and there is a slight difference between how different models are set up.
However, regardless of the type of hammock you have, if you follow these instructions, you should be able to do it the right way.
- Find two sturdy trees as your anchor points.
Usually, most campers use two trees as anchor points for setting up their hammock. It does not matter where the trees are, as long as they’re not on the edge of a cliff. Just make sure that the trees you choose can support your body weight. The distance between your anchor points (in this case, the two selected trees) must be around 12 feet apart, depending on the length of your hammock. Make sure to clear branches that may be hanging directly under where you want to place your hammock.
Note: If you’re choosing trees as your anchor points, be sure that the trees’ diameter is at least 6 inches. Most trees this big should be able to support all average-sized men and women.
- Set up the straps to the anchor points.
Once you’ve chosen your anchor points and cleared any obstacles in your way, you can go ahead and attach the straps. Figuring out what type of straps you have and how it works should be easy.
Set the straps firmly on both sides so that your hammock hangs just above the height of your waist. This will ensure that you don’t touch the ground when you add your body weight to the hammock. While doing this, you need to consider that your hammock will drop a few feet when you climb in. You can make your adjustments depending on how high or low you want your hammock to hang above the ground.
- Attach your hammock.
Do not try to set up your hammock in a hurry; take time to make adjustments and correct the position of your straps. The ground where your anchor points stand may not be at the same level. This can result in your hammock hanging unevenly.
Double-check the straps to make sure they are firmly attached to the trees. Now you can connect your hammock to the straps. If you’re not sure how to do this, it would be an excellent time to make use of a carabiner.
- Setting up the rain tarp/rainfly.
You can choose not to set up your rainfly if the weather is good, and you want to enjoy the night sky. But if the weather conditions are bad, you need to set up the rain tarp.
Hammock rainflys use a ridgeline that runs through the center of the tarp. You will need an anchor point for setting up your rainfly, but there’s no need to worry because you can make use of the same anchor points you used for your hammock.
Attach and adjust the ridgelines so that the tarp hangs right on top of the hammock. Ensure that the rain tarp is set high enough so that you have enough room to get in and out of your hammock with ease.
You also need to consider that if the rainfly is set up too high, it will allow the wind to blow right into your hammock, and it can be worse with rain. Just make sure that the rain tarp is high enough to provide you sufficient space and low enough to offer you maximum protection.
Sleeping in a Hammock: Facts and Benefits.
Believe it or not, there are a good number of people who sleep in a hammock, even at home. In fact, millions of people living in central and South America still sleep in their hammocks every single night.
There are quite a lot of benefits you can get by sleeping in a hammock. According to some studies, sleeping in a hammock can help cure sleeping disorders and even insomnia.
Among the most significant benefits of sleeping in a hammock is that it provides a zero pressure point sleep; meaning, it does not add a lot of pressure to any body parts or joints. This does not disrupt the circulation, so you get a peaceful and relaxed sleep.
An important tip for enjoying your hammock camping
We already pointed out that it may take some time to get used to sleeping in a hammock for first-timers. If you’ve never slept in one before, it is recommended that you buy one, set it up in your backyard, and try relaxing in it for a couple of days. Going straight into the wild to experience a totally different way of sleeping may turn out to be disastrous.
When you step into your hammock, you should not lie down straight away. You need to sit down first, let your hammock come to a rest, then swing in your legs, and you can slowly lay your head down. Attempting to lie down before you sit may result in your head hitting the ground. The idea is to keep the hammock from swinging violently, and by sitting down first, you’re distributing the weight on the hammock carefully.
Switching to a hammock when you go camping the next time is a great way to experience a different type of camping. It is also a way to contribute to healing the environment. Be prepared to get a taste of the best camping experience you’ve ever had. You won’t regret it.