Hammock camping is when the traditional tent used for camping is swapped out for a hammock instead. It’s similar to cowboy camping, in that the hammock isn’t a covered piece of equipment and it mimics the positive effects of cowboy camping. Hammock camping, however, isn’t suited for all camping holidays due to the specific conditions which need to be met to allow for a hammock to be set up. Instead, it can take some practice and planning to get it right.
How to Set Up Your Hammock
Hammock camping is a perfect alternative to traditional camping if the area in which you’re camping can accommodate a hammock. If you’re planning to sleep in a hammock whilst camping, there are a collection of things to be aware of and consider when you begin to set your hammock up in the camping site.
Consider Which Trees You’re Using
Using two healthy, sturdy trees to hold your hammock up will be more beneficial than using trees that look potentially weak or dead. Avoid trees that have any signs of bug infestations or bird nests.
The trees you’re using should be at least six inches in diameter, and your straps should be at least 0.75 inches wide.
If you’re hanging your hammock from another structure, these rules still apply, and some campsites even mandate the size of the straps your hammock should be using so always make sure to do some research before heading off.
Figure Out What Angle’s Most Comfortable For You
A hammock typically dips in the center and is held up by two straps which are angled upwards at at least 30 degree angles. It should be easy to climb in and out of, and shouldn’t cause any damage if fallen out of by accident.
Benefits of Hammock Camping
Hammock camping has a lot of benefits, both physically and mentally. These benefits could outweigh some of the downsides, depending on what you’re camping specifically for.
It Keeps you off the Floor
Being elevated when camping can keep you safe from critters. Creatures such as tarantulas and snakes are unwelcome when camping on the floor, and especially so when you’re without cover. In a hammock, you’re less likely to encounter them as you aren’t on the floor specifically.
Staying off the floor can also keep you from laying on wet or uncomfortable terrain. Moisture from the ground can seep into ground blankets or other equipment laid out to sleep on. This can make for a very uncomfortable night if you’re wet and cold. Additionally, ground can be uneven and certain lumps and bumps can’t simply be covered by a couple of pieces of tarp and evened off by it.
Hammock camping is much easier to pack for as opposed to traditional camping. Hammocks are notably much more lightweight and easier to carry in comparison to tents, mostly due to the lack of material and tent poles. Lightweight camping is ideal if you’re planning on walking far to your campsite or planning to set up and pack away your equipment quickly.
Some people find sleeping in a hammock more comfortable than sleeping in a sleeping bag or a camping cot. Hammocks are great for people who require extra support for their back. If you’re unsure whether or not you find hammocks comfortable – set one up in the backyard before your camping trip to check!
Hammocks are durable and reliable, mostly because they don’t come into contact with the elements as much as a traditional tent does. Since a hammock doesn’t touch the floor, the ground is unlikely to cause any damage to it, and since they are usually utilized in dry or sunny weather, it’s less likely to be damaged by environmental factors as well. Hammock camping can sometimes require a little extra protection in the way of a tarpaulin over the hammock, as a means to keep rainwater out of the hammock in the event of rainy or stormy weather.
One of the main reasons people choose to hammock camp is because of the views and sights that can be seen from a hammock. One disadvantage to tent camping is that the lack of windows can lead to missed sunrises, sunsets and stargazing opportunities. Hammock camping can help you feel a lot more connected to nature due to the additional time spent outdoors.
Disadvantages of Hammock Camping
While hammock camping has a variety of advantages, it also comes with its own set of advantages. Luckily, some of these issues can be resolved or planned for.
Finding a Place to Set Up
Setting up with a hammock is significantly harder than setting up a tent. Not due to the technicalities involved, but due to the fact that you need two trees or two rocks at an appropriate distance from each other to tie your hammock around. This can limit your possibilities, as hammock camping can only be achieved in some certain terrains which contain the structures that can support your hammock. One way to overcome this difficulty is to pack a small tent, such as a bivy tent, to use in case you’re struggling to find somewhere to set up your hammock.
It Could Mean Longer Walks
Due to the limitations when trying to find a place to set up a hammock, it could lead to longer walks trying to find a space where it’s appropriate. Unless you have a tent packed as well, hammock camping can narrow down your options significantly due to the conditions needed to set the hammock up.
It Doesn’t Protect from Insects
Unlike traditional camping, hammock camping removes the need for a tent. Whilst not having a tent can be beneficial for stargazing and comfort, it can easily be turned into a nightmare if you find yourself being bothered by bugs. Bugs can be prevented by using bug spray, or you could buy a bivy bag to layer up inside.
The Weather Can Be a Problem
Hammock camping leaves you more vulnerable to the elements than traditional camping would. Some reasons for this is due to the lack of shelter which a hammock provides, and that they aren’t particularly wind resistant. A calm, dry environment is best for hammock camping during, and if you are unsure of the forecast or don’t believe those conditions will be maintained, it might be worth bringing a smaller tent along just in case.
Equipment for Hammock Camping
Part of hammock camping is making sure your hammock is as comfortable as it can be. The good thing is that there are additional items that you can consider bringing along to help you find extra comfort in your hammock.
Alongside your hammock, there is other equipment that can make the experience a lot better for you.
- Suspension Guylines – These are safe and useful alternatives to ropes which will keep your hammock securely attached to the trees which it’s hanging from. They’re usually sold separately from the hammock, but they’re adjustable and offer a more adequate level of safety than would be achieved with ropes.
- Sleeping Mat – Sleeping mats will help the bottom side of the hammock retain some cushioning and shape when it’s placed inside. A sleeping mat is a must regardless of whether you’re tent camping or hammock camping, as it evens off the ground on the floor and it can help you lay more comfortably in the hammock.
- Rain Tarp – A rain tarp or rain fly can be placed atop of a hammock to allow any rain to slide off the sides. Tarp is incredibly multifunctional, as discussed in Does my tent need a tarp under it? And can be used for a variety of purposes, including hammock camping.