What to know about hammocks before setting up camp?

Before opting for hammock camping there are a few things to know first. This includes knowing when is ideal for hammock camping, when not to hammock camp, what features to look for in hammocks, styles of hammock camping, how to set up a hammock, accessories to improve your hammock camping experience, hammock-specific sleeping gear, and how to optimize your sleep in a hammock.

What is a camping hammock?

A camping hammock is a structure made from durable material suspended between two anchor points, typically trees, which creates a sleeping platform elevated off the ground for camping in.

Why use a hammock for camping?

A hammock is a more lightweight and portable gear option for camping than using a tent. Some campers find they get a more restful, comfortable sleep in a hammock due to the reduced pressure on the body. Whilst there is also less need for an insulating layer (aside from in winter) on the underside of the body than sleeping on the ground.

What are advantages of camping in a hammock?

Under the right circumstances, hammock camping has a number of advantages over traditional tent camping. Primarily the weight of a hammock is minimal compared to a tent, the elevated camping experience offers greater views of your surroundings, there is greater air circulation which is ideal for warmer camping trips, and a hammock is quick to set up.

Many also prefer the feeling of a hammock contoured to their body. This relieves pressure points, as compared with sleeping on the ground, and along with the gentle rocking motion of the hammock enhances comfort and relaxation for getting a good night’s sleep.

What are disadvantages of camping in a hammock?

There can also be drawbacks to hammock camping in certain terrain and seasons such as being more exposed to the elements, the extra air circulation under the hammock in winter, and the need for having two anchor points to hang a hammock from if none are available in the vicinity.

Furthermore, hammock setup is easy when you know how but there is a learning curve to get to knowing the correct angles and tensioning to setup at. Also, unless you have a hammock for each family or group member then hammock camping is more of a solo or couples camping game.

Are there different types of camping hammock?

There are a number of different camping hammock types including the following.

  • Parachute hammock
  • Flat lay hammock
  • Ridgeline hammock
  • Single layer hammock
  • Double layer hammock
  • Two person hammock
  • Hammock tent
  • Ultralight hammock
  • Modular hammock

What features to look for in a camp hammock?

Important features to look for in a hammock for camping include the following.

  • Weight capacity
  • Length 2 feet longer than user’s height
  • High-denier, quick-drying fabric
  • Integrated bug net
  • Adjustable suspension system
  • Rain fly attachment points
  • Insulation attachment points
  • Color-coded components for ease of setup
  • Additional features – built-in pockets, gear loops, spreader bar for flatter sleeping surfaces

Can standard camp sleeping gear be used in a hammock?

Standard sleeping bags, mats, and other gear can still be used in a hammock however adjustments may need to be made to adapt them due to the shape of the hammock. Extra insulation may be preferred in a sleeping bag due to the greater air circulation under your body. Alternatively, you may prefer to use a quilt in a hammock to allow for easier movement. A sleeping pad able to fit the shape of your hammock is ideal but you may need to adapt it so it can be secured down and won’t move from underneath you.

Where to hang a camping hammock?

To hang your hammock you’ll need two structures around 12 to 15 feet apart from each other. Typically trees are used but you can use vehicles, large rocks between 6 to 8 feet tall, buildings, or hammock stands. When using trees make sure they are healthy and sturdy so they can safely hold your weight and that they have a minimum diameter of 10 inches where you want to hang the hammock.

When to not use a camping hammock?

Evidently, if there are not suitable hanging points then a hammock is not feasible to camp in. If you are in unfamiliar terrain then knowing whether anchor points exist at that location is also unknown and a risk if you only have a hammock with you to sleep in. Furthermore, in extreme cold, or in high winds, sleeping in a hammock will be much more difficult than in a tent. Finally, some campsites don’t permit hammock camping so make sure to check first before you set off.

What styles of hammock camping are there?

There are a variety of hammock camping styles based on season, camping type, and the hammock gear you take. These include traditional hammock camping, four-season, winter, group, campsite, backpacking, ultralight, bivouacking, or tree tent camping.

How to winter camp in a hammock?

Camping in a hammock in winter requires a little extra planning and choosing cold temperature-rated gear. As with winter tent camping, extra insulation is important in sleeping gear but keep in mind your hammock will be even more exposed to the elements and adjust accordingly. Insulation in the form of a sleeping pad and/or an under quilt hung under your hammock is important, as is having a winter tarp above you. 

Additional liabilities when hammocking in winter relate to snow and ice. It is always a good idea to set up camp in a sheltered area if possible, however in winter be aware of potential avalanches or branches above breaking under the weight of snow. There are also hammocks that are designed with extra features specifically to keep you warm when winter camping

What features to look for in a winter camping hammock?

Hammocks designed specifically for winter camping have features such as in-built insulation, integrated underquilts, a double-layer construction, durable weather-resistant fabrics, draft collars, snow flaps, reinforced suspension systems, integrated tarps, and are rated for cold temperatures.

Can you camp in a hammock with a dog?

Sharing your camping hammock with a dog mainly depends on the size and personality/behaviour of your pup. Evidently, sharing a hammock with a St. Bernard or a dog that is anxious or moves around a lot is not going to be feasible. 

If your dog isn’t in any of those categories then you will need to familiarise them to your hammock setup to check they are comfortable with being and sleeping in a hammock before setting out to camp for real. Take your lead from your dog, if they are uncomfortable or stressed then you will have to find a different sleeping arrangement for them.

How to prepare a dog for hammock camping?

There are a number of things to do to prepare your dog for sleeping in a hammock. Firstly, introduce your dog to the hammock in a familiar environment, either inside or outside, and let them sniff and explore it. Make positive associations for your dog with the hammock by praising them when they interact with it, lining it with your dogs blankets for familiar scents in there, or leaving toys or treats in the hammock. 

Gradually increase the amount of time your dog interacts with the hammock and eventually start raising it off the ground. It is also helpful to add extra supports to stop it from swinging too much at first. Before heading out camping for real try a trial run camping out overnight in the yard or in a park. Throughout the process monitor the behaviour of your dog to watch out for signs of stress or discomfort to decide if hammock camping is going to be suitable for your dog.

What to know about setting up a camping hammock?

Before you head off to your camping spot there are a few things to know about hanging a camping hammock. Namely, how to choose the ideal spot, how to hang your hammock with or without trees, what you need to hang a hammock, and how to calculate the right measurements for the most comfortable hammock hanging.

Where to hang a camping hammock?

There are several important factors to consider when deciding where to hammock camp. Firstly, make sure the area you want to set up in allows for hammocks to be hung. Once confirmed its OK to camp there find two strong anchor points such as healthy trees, posts, or tall rocks, that are roughly 12 to 15 feet apart. This is the ideal distance for a comfortable hang without touching the ground. Ideally, your hammock will hang perpendicular to any prevailing winds to minimize drafts and have no hazards underneath such as rocky terrain or steep slopes. Other things to consider for choosing where to hang your hammock are privacy, views, wildlife, and overall safety.

How to measure up for your camping hammock setup?

To measure up for the ideal camping hammock setup firstly you need to know the distance between your two anchors. As a general rule you then want to attach your suspension straps to your anchor points at a height approximately half of the distance between your two anchor points. Once attached you want the strap tension to have an angle of around 30-degrees from the ground for maximum comfort.

What are camping hammock straps?

Camping hammock straps, also called suspension or tree straps, are wrapped around the anchor object by a loop and carabiner system. These straps are typically made from nylon webbing with loops or attachment points along the length so you can easily attach and adjust carabiners or tension in the suspension system.

What features to look for in camping hammock straps?

Important features to look for in camping hammock straps include the following.

  • Length to accommodate varying anchor points
  • High quality nylon-webbing or other durable material
  • Weight capacity, 300 to 400 pounds is the usual
  • Multiple attachment loop points or daisy chains
  • Wider webbing to reduce potential tree damage
  • Compatibility with your hammocks attachment system

What knots do you need for hammock camping?

There are many knots that hammock campers should know including the girth hitch, overhand on a bight, figure 8 on a bight, clove hitch knot, bowline knot, taut line hitch knot, double fisherman’s knot, water knot, and square knot.

How to hang a camping hammock with tree straps?

It is simple to use tree straps to hang your hammock using the following steps.

  1. Wrap one end of the strap around a tree
  2. Feed the length of strap with attachment points on it through the loop on the other end
  3. Pull the length through the loop until strap tightened around the tree
  4. Repeat steps 1 to 3 with the second strap on the other tree
  5. Clip the hammocks carabiner to the attachment loops on the strap wrapped round the tree and repeat for the other side

What are popular models of camping hammock tree straps?

Some popular models of tree straps for camping hammocks include the following.

  • Kammock Python 10 straps
  • ENO Atlas Hammock suspension system
  • Hummingbird tree straps
  • Grand Trunk tree straps

Can you hang a camping hammock without trees?

Trees making hanging a hammock much simpler but if there aren’t any around you can still hammock camp without trees in certain circumstances using other secure, tall objects.

What to pack to hang a camping hammock without a tree?

If you know there are no trees where you want to camp then packing the following will help to hang your hammock.

  • Portable hammock stand
  • Posts or poles to stake out into the ground
  • Car roof racks or bars

What is a hammock ridgeline?

A taut cord attached to each end of the hammock can be strung above the hammocks center line and is called the hammock ridgeline. This ridgeline provides structural support for the hammock and assists with getting a consistent tension and hang angles. It can also be used for hanging accessories such as bug nets, rain tarps, and gear lofts.

How to setup a hammock ridgeline?

To setup your ridgeline use a piece of non-stretchy cord such as utility cord or dyneema. Tie a bowline knot to create a fixed loop at one end of the cord, then use a prusnik knot to attach the loop to your suspension just above where it attaches to the gathered end of the fabric. Finally, use a taut-line hitch knot to secure the ridgeline to the suspension at the other end of the hammock and tweak to see what works best for you. 

What additional gear is there for camping hammocks?

Aside from the basics there are additional hammock accessories that will make your camping trip more comfortable including mosquito nets, hammock tarps, and hammock stands.

Do camping hammocks have built-in mosquito nets?

Not all, but many camping hammocks have built-in mosquito nets, also called no-see-um nets. If you are always camping in areas prone to bugs then this can be a worthy addition. If not, then it may just be adding extra weight and packing space to your hammock sleep system.

What features to look for in a bug net camping hammock?

Important features to look for in a camping hammock with a bug net include the following.

  • Quality of mesh, small enough to keep bugs out yet also provide good visibility and airflow
  • Tight seal
  • Full coverage, including over hammock ends
  • Integrated attachment system
  • Ease of exit and entry while keeping bug net in place
  • Storage sack for when not in use

How to attach a bug net to a camping hammock?

If your hammock doesn’t have an integrated bug net you can still attach a separate net onto it. The easiest way to do this is to setup a ridgeline above the centerline of your hammock. Now attach the clips on the bug net onto the ridgeline. Detach one end of the hammock from the suspension strap, feed it through the hole in the end of the bug net, and then cinch. Repeat with the other end of the hammock.

What are popular models of camping hammock bug nets?

Some popular models of bug nets for camping hammocks include the following.

  • ENO Guardian Bug Net
  • Sea to Summit Bug Net with Insect Shield
  • Grand Trunk Skeeter Beeter Pro Hammock Bug Net
  • Chill Gorilla Defender
  • Kammock Dragonfly

What is a camping hammock tarp used for?

A tarp can have multiple functions when used for hammock camping including protection from the sun, wind, and rain, it can be used to create extra sheltered storage space, or it can be used to create some privacy in a hammock.

What are popular models of camping hammock tarp?

Some popular models of tarps for camping hammocks include the following.

  • ENO Eagles Nest Outfitters ProFly Rain Tarp
  • Hennessy Hammock Hex Rainfly
  • Kammok Kuhli Pro Shelter
  • REDCAMP Lightweight Camping Tarp
  • Pro Venture Waterproof Hammock Rain Fly

What shaped tarp is best for a camping hammock setup?

Typically a camping hammock tarp will be square or rectangular however a hexagonal shaped tarp can offer greater versatility. With six sides the coverage a hexagonal tarp can provide is better than the traditional rectangular shape and it also allows for a greater number of configurations and pitching angles to be made.

How do you setup a camping hammock tarp?

The most common way to setup a camping tarp is to construct a ridgeline above the centerline of your hammock. Hang the tarp over the top of the ridgeline, fasten with any attachment points on the tarp and then peg out the tarp using guy lines.

Do you get hammock stands for camping?

Yes, there are portable hammock stands on the market that are suitable for taking camping. Due to the additional pack size and weight, however, they generally won’t be suitable for anything other than car camping.

Are camp hammock stands easy to setup?

Camping hammock stands are designed to be easy to set up. This typically involves assembling components of the frame by snapping or sliding pieces together until securely in place. Then attach your hammock to the attachment points on the stand frame via suspension straps.

What features to look for in a hammock stand?

Important features to look for in a camping hammock stand include the following.

  • Weight capacity
  • Ease of assembly with minimal, if any, tools needed
  • Portability
  • Durable frame of steel, aluminum, or heavy-duty metal
  • Adjustability of height and tension settings
  • Compatibility with your hammock
  • Wide base stands/anti-slip feet
  • Attachment point types
  • Accessories such as storage pockets, cup holders, etc.

What sleeping gear is available for hammock camping?

Basically any sleeping gear for tent camping has been adapted to better suit hammock camping as well. This includes hammock adapted sleeping bags, top quilts, and sleeping pads. As well as under quilts which are designed specifically for attaching under the hammock.

What features to look for in a hammock sleeping bag?

The main features to look for in a hammock sleeping bag include the following.

  • Insulation
  • Shape – a semi-rectangular or quilt style suits hammocks best
  • Integrated footbox
  • Attachment points
  • Zippers designed to fit round hammock straps
  • Hood and collar
  • Temperature rating (remember air circulating under your body)
  • Durable materials such as ripstop nylon
  • Compatibility with your hammock

What are popular models of hammock compatible sleeping bags?

Some popular models of hammock compatible sleeping bags include the following.

  • Enlightened Equipment Revelation
  • Outdoor Vitals MummyPod
  • Eagles Nest Outfitters Spark TopQuilt
  • Kammok Bobcat Trail Quilt
  • Eno Blaze
  • Warbonnet Outdoors Yeti

What is an underquilt for hammock camping?

An underquilt for hammock camping is a specialized piece of sleeping gear tailored for use with a hammock. Underquilts hang beneath the hammock, creating an insulating layer between the hammock and the outside air. Since they are not compressed under body weight they therefore help prevent heat loss from the hammock. 

What features to look for in camping hammock underquilts?

The important features to look for in a hammock underquilt include the following.

  • Temperature rating
  • Insulation type – down or synthetic
  • Length and coverage
  • Compatible attachment system to your hammock
  • Adjustability of fit and tension
  • Durable materials

What features does a hammock sleeping pad have?

The important features to look for in a hammock sleeping pad include the following.

  • Size and fit to match the dimensions of the hammock
  • Compatible attachment points
  • Thickness to suit hammock size
  • An R-value higher than you would choose for tent camping

What are popular models of hammock camping sleeping pad?

Some popular models of hammock-compatible sleeping pads include the following.

  • KLYMIT Hammock V
  • Pongo Sleeping Pad by Kammock
  • Radiant Double Bubble Pad by Hennessy Hammock
  • KLYMIT Insulated Static V
  • Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm

How can you get more out of going hammock camping?

To enhance your hammock camping experience there are a number of things you can do including optimizing the hang, your sleeping position, organizational tips, and maintaining your hammock setup.

What hacks make hammock camping more comfortable?

There are several things you can do to make sleeping in a camping hammock more comfortable. 

  • Getting the correct hang angle of the hammock, as well as the tension, are crucial factors for getting a good night’s rest. A 30-degree angle from horizontal is ideal with a sag akin to a banana bend no more than 18 inches off the ground at its lowest point.
  • Lying diagonally across the hammock rather than parallel to the central ridgeline. This is the most ergonomic way to lie in a hammock.
  • Hanging the foot end of the hammock around 10 inches higher than the head end will prevent your body from sagging into the middle.
  • For rainy days add a drip line. This is a small piece of cord tied onto your suspension strap near where the hammock is attached. Any water running down the line will then be directed down the drip line rather than toward your hammock.

What are organizational tips for hammock camping?

There are a number of methods to keep your gear organized when camping in a hammock including the following.

  • Pack similar items in separate stuff sacks ie. cooking gear, toiletries, clothing, etc.
  • Use a small mesh bag to hang from your ridgeline for things like your torch, cellphone, and other essential items.
  • Attach gear loops to the ridgeline to hang clothes or accessories.
  • Have separate stuff sacks for the rain fly and bug net to avoid getting damaged or tangled.

How to rest well in a camping hammock?

The most important factors for getting a good night’s sleep in a hammock are choosing the right size and temperature ratings of gear, making sure the hammock is set up to hold your body most ergonomically, lying diagonally, and using extra padding such as a pillow under your head or knees for extra comfort if need be.

What are benefits of sleeping in a camping hammock?

There are many benefits to sleeping in a hammock over traditional tent camping. Firstly, there is less gear to carry to your site, it is quicker to setup, and has minimal environmental impact. Many also find sleeping in a hammock more comfortable due to the fabric conforming to your body, leading to more even distribution of body weight and therefore reducing the number of pressure points. The elevated sleeping surface also alleviates any issues with uneven or rocky ground, allows for greater view opportunities, and creates a gentle rocking which is great for relaxing.

Will sleeping in a hammock make a bad back worse?

Depending on your back issue, sleeping in a hammock has the potential to make things feel worse or feel better. Issues such as a pinched spinal nerve or scoliosis are more likely to be exacerbated when sleeping in a hammock. A small percentage may also find lower back issues are worsened in a camping hammock. To know what is true for yourself it is best to speak to your physician first and then its a case of trail and error.

How to be comfy in a camping hammock with a sore back?

If you already have a sore back there are a few adjustments you can make to your camping hammock setup to make it more comfortable.

  • Choose a hammock with an adjustable suspension system
  • Experiment with different hang angles, a flatter lay can be more comfortable for a bad back
  • Add pillows under the knees or lower back to maintain a more neutral spine alignment
  • Cushioned sleeping pad
  • Stretch before sleeping
  • Consult a professional for tailored recommendations

Can a camping hammock be washed?

Yes, camping hammocks can be washed and many can be using a washing machine. Just make sure to check the manufacturers washing instruction label first.

How do you clean a camping hammock?

After checking the washing instructions here are the following steps to take for cleaning a camping hammock.

  • Remove any detachable attachments, such as carabiners or suspension straps
  • Spot clean any stains with mild soap, water and a soft brush, then rinse
  • Depending on the fabric either hand wash or machine wash. If machine washing, place the hammock in a pillowcase or mesh laundry bag for protection and wash on a gentle cycle with cold water
  • Use a mild detergent and avoid harsh chemicals, bleach, and fabric softeners
  • Rinse thoroughly after cleaning as soap residue can weaken the fabric over time
  • Hang the hammock to dry, preferably outside, never in a tumble dryer