11 Hammock Camping Tips
If you plan on camping for a few days or even for a full week, you are going to need a place to sleep. Many people will elect to go with a tent, but this is not the only option.
Maybe you prefer to sleep in a suspended bed and under the stars without a roof over your head blocking that gorgeous view. For this reason, some people choose to sleep in hammocks on their camping trips.
However, hanging a hammock and being comfortable in it all night long is not as simple as just suspending it between two trees and calling it a day. If you plan on being comfortable and getting a good night’s sleep, these hammock camping tips will come in handy.
Hammock Camping Tips
- Check the Weather
When you sleep in a tent, you have walls and a roof to keep the wind and moisture out, and to help keep you warm. However, this is not the case with a hammock, where you are much more exposed to the elements.
Therefore, hammock camping is something that is really only feasible during the warm summer months; the days can be quite warm during late spring and early fall, but nighttime can still get quite chilly, which means that both spring and fall are not ideal for hammock camping. Of course, winter is a no-go as well.
If you don’t want to be cold at night, summer is the option for hammock camping. You will also want to pay attention to the weather in terms of precipitation. Sleeping in a hammock without overhead cover, if it is raining, is not going to be enjoyable.
- A Large Hammock
Generally speaking, you will find hammocks that come in two varieties: one- and two-person. Sure, a one-person hammock is going to save you some space in your pack, and it will cost less too, but you’ll also have much less space than in a two-person hammock.
If you plan on spending several days sleeping in that hammock, you may as well go for the larger and roomier two-person hammock.
Keep in mind that with two-person hammocks, you’ll rarely have enough room to actually fit two people. For long-term sleeping, such as for a full week of camping, you will want the extra space which two-person hammocks have to offer.
- Good Material
Hammocks are often made of nylon, more or less the same material which parachutes are made of. The strongest hammocks are generally made of something like 70D ripstop nylon, which is extremely durable and can easily support several hundred pounds.
Keep in mind that the longer you plan on using the hammock, the stronger and more durable it should be. Even if the hammock in question has a 225 pound weight limit, and you only weigh 200 pounds, a few weeks of sleeping in it will put it to the test.
Aim for a hammock made of durable materials, preferably one that is rated to support much more weight than just your own body, or else you might wake up to yourself crashing to the ground in the middle of the night.
- Tension — Not Too Much, Not Too Little
One mistake that people make when going hammock camping is setting up the hammock the wrong way, particularly in terms of tension. First off, find two trees that are well-spaced apart. To determine how far apart trees should be for hammock hanging, take a look at your specific hammock — you’re looking for the length of the hammock and the straps.
The mistake people make is to hang their hammocks with either too much or too little tension. Most will say that you want to hang the hammock as tight as possible, so there is absolutely no sag.
For the most part, this is true, but keep in mind that you want there to be just a little bit of sag when you lay on it; you don’t want to be laying on a stiff board. However, you really only want a little bit of sag; too much sag and you won’t be comfortable either.
Everybody is different in this regard, and what is just right for one person may not be for you. It might take a bit of trial and error to figure out what is most comfortable for you. As a rule of thumb, too much tension is better than too little, although both are not ideal.
- Bring a Tent … at Least the First Time
A good idea when you are going hammock camping, at least the first time, is to bring a tent along. Yes, the plan is to sleep in the hammock, but you never know. Maybe it’s raining, maybe it got too cold, or maybe you just are not comfortable in the hammock. It’s always a good idea to have a tent as a backup for the worst-case scenario.
- A Bug Screen
One of the biggest hammock camping tips to follow is to get a hammock with an insect net, or get an insect net on the side. There’s nothing worse than trying to sleep under the stars while being eaten alive by mosquitos and other bugs; you won’t get any sleep that way.
There are many hammocks that come with a bug net included, and it is strongly recommended to invest in one of these. Having an insect net covering you may not seem like the most comfortable thing in the world, but it’s more comfortable than being eaten alive all night long.
- Hanging a Tarp
If you plan on sleeping only in the hammock for a night or two, you can probably do without hanging an overhead tarp, particularly if it is supposed to be a warm night free of precipitation.
However, if you plan on hammock camping for many nights, and there is a potential for rain, you may want to consider hanging a plastic tarp overhead; if it rains, the tarp will help to keep you dry. Mother Nature can be fickle and unpredictable, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.
- Strong Trees and Potential Hazards
Something you want to check before hanging your hammock is that you are securing it to strong, live, and thick trees. It would not be the first time that somebody has secured their hammock to a thin or dead tree, just to have the whole tree snap as soon as some weight is put on the hammock.
Always make sure that the trees in question are alive, strong, thick, and able to handle lots of weight.
Something else to keep in mind is to always take a good look at what is above the hammock. Are there dead branches and bird’s nests that might come crashing down on you if the tree shakes a little bit? Always select trees where the canopies and branches look strong and stable.
- Stay Away From Water
A general rule of thumb when camping is that tents and hammocks alike should not be set up within 200 feet of water. Water, especially larger bodies of water, can cause some pretty strong and cool winds, especially during the night.
A cool wind is not ideal for sleeping in an open and suspended hammock. Moreover, if you can set the hammock up behind a wind break, such as behind some thick foliage and shrubs, you’ll be better off.
10.Blankets and Sleeping Bags
Unless there is absolutely no wind and the air temperature is super-hot, you will want to use a blanket and/or sleeping bag to sleep in the hammock. Wind can circulate freely under an open hammock, and that is going to sap your body heat.
To ensure that you have a warm base to sleep on, as well as a soft surface, you might want to consider lying on a blanket, or on top of a sleeping bag. At the very least, you’ll have a soft sleeping surface, and if worse comes to worst, you can get inside it in case you get cold.
- Storing Your Gear
If you go camping with a tent, storing your gear is easy; just put it inside of the tent. However, if you are hammock camping, you will need a way to keep your gear safe — you need a way to keep your food away from animals.
This means that you should use a rope or a guy line to suspend your gear, particularly your food, up in a tree. Make sure the gear is suspended well away from the trunk of a tree, well under a branch, and well above the ground. This will prevent your gear from being ravaged by a hungry animal.
How to Hang a Hammock from A Tree
There are 3 methods you can use to hang a hammock from a tree when camping, plus an extra one (that doesn’t involve a tree). Each method has its own specific benefits and drawbacks. Let’s take a closer look at each hanging method.
Method 1: Tree Hardware
The first hanging method is to use hammock hanging hardware designed for trees. Generally speaking, this involves using 3 main pieces of equipment, which include the J-hook wall anchors, chains, and S hooks.
The good part about doing it this way is that you can use virtually any tree as long as it is strong enough, and if you insert the screws right, it’s going to be the most secure method to use, because you are screwing a couple of inches into a tree, so it’s not just going to come out.
All you have to do here is screw the anchors into the tree, attach the chains, and then attach the S-hooks to the other end of the chain, and finally the hammock’s rings to the S-hooks. Sounds easy right? It’s also really easy to adjust the tension this way.
The downside is that this is not a mobile setup and it takes quite a bit of work if you are moving from one spot to another. Of course, there is also the fact that you just drilled holes into trees, which is obviously harmful to them.
Method 2: Using Tree Straps
The next way to hang a hammock from a tree, which is perhaps one of the easiest ways to do it, is by using hammock straps. These are simple straps that feature loops at both ends.
All you have to do to hang a hammock in this way is to wrap the strap around a tree, pass one end through the loop of the other end, wrap it around the tree again, and tighten it as good as you can. Then with the loop on the other end, insert your hardware such as a chain with S hooks, and then attach the hammock to the other end (usually using carabiners). You will need to repeat this for both sides.
This is a really easy method, and affordable too, which is why people like it. That said, you need to find the right trees for the job, as you don’t want the straps slipping down the tree. As long as that loop you made is tight, you shouldn’t have any problems. The only downside is that you can’t use these straps on walls, plus you want to get high-quality straps. Weak straps may not be able to hold all of your weight, which will be an issue.
Method 3: Using Rope
One of the most popular and cost effective ways of hanging a hammock on trees is by using rope. Now, this is a very cheap method because all you need is some decent rope, maybe 40 feet of it just to be on the safe side. You want to go for durable rope, maybe something like nylon, just to ensure that it won’t fray and snap on you.
However, there is nothing else you need. People like using this rope hanging method because it does not harm the trees in any way. There is also the fact that this is a very mobile option. All you have to do to move your hammock is to untie the rope, move it, and tie it back up.
Yet, this method can also be challenging, mainly because you need to know how to tie a good knot. The most highly recommended knot for hammock hanging is the falconer’s knot, so get familiar with it and practice. Once you have the knot down, all you need to do is to tie one end of the rope to a tree, get the right amount of rope for good suspension, and then tie the other end to the hammock, and then of course, repeat the whole process for the other end of the hammock.
Method 4: Using a Stand
The fourth and final method to hang your hammock, which admittedly does not involve a tree, is to use a hammock stand. Some hammocks come with stands and others require you to purchase them separately. Although costly, and although they take up lots of space, stands are one of the easiest ways to get your hammock airborne.
If you follow the above 11 hammock camping tips, you should have no problems being comfortable and getting a good night’s sleep in your awesome new hammock. Sleeping under the stars is always a great way to go about it.