By Phoebe Hodina.
Forget the heavy tent, a stick in your back, and the dirt tracked into your living space. Hammock camping gets you off the ground and into the trees! But, there are need-to-know elements to this trend. Learn insider information about how to get the most out of your experience.
The Gear: Camping hammocks take up about the same amount of space as a sweater, and are extremely lightweight. Hammock camping with a simple, gathered-end hammock can be more minimalistic than tent camping. However, there are more elaborate options available that can also be just as gear-intensive.
Gear startup costs are typically lower with simple hammock camping, compared with traditional tent expenditures. Make sure to pay attention to your climate and camping environment so you can adequate prepare. Depending on your situation, a tent and straps may be the only required purchases to get started.
Camping hammocks come in a variety of sizes, styles, colors, and brands. Most commonly gathered-end hammocks are made from woven nylon, which holds up extremely well for most outdoor activities. These hammocks usually come with two carabiners that are clipped to either end of the hammock, and attach to the straps to loft your hammock into suspension. Tent-hammocks are also an option, and are like small portable treehouses, but they are probably not the answer if you are looking to simplify your camping experience.
Straps come in a variety of sizes and styles, and the good ones are adjustable. Straps are used to wrap around structure to which you are are using to loft your hammock. Adjustable straps have multiple adjustment points, allowing the user to move the carabiners on the hammock up and down the straps, a useful feature. Purchasing adjustable straps gives you much more flexibility in your hammock setup.
Rain flys and tarps are good purchases if you are worried about the possibility of rain or morning dew. Most are made from polyurethane-treated nylon, which is durable and sheds water. Flys are easy to setup and take down, and only need mini ground stakes in addition to stay in place.
Under-hammock quilts can keep you cozy in colder temperatures, and are made from materials similar to your sleeping bag. You may be wondering “I have a sleeping bag that is rated for the Antarctic, why do I need this?”. The answer is simple: sleeping bags need to puff up to keep you warm, and a hammock will compress your sleeping bag on the bottom and sides. This can make for a chilly sleeping experience in temperatures below 50°F/10°C. In this case, an under-hammock quilt is highly recommended to stay comfortable.
Mosquito nets made especially for hammock campers are also a must if you plan on camping in mosquito-heavy areas. These are made to completely surround your hammock with 360° insect protections, while letting a cool breeze through.
The Terrain: When camping traditionally, finding a flat spot of clear terrain can be a challenge. Not the case with a hammock. While you do need some fairly sized trees somewhat nearby, they don’t need to even be perfectly spaced if you’ve purchased adjustable straps.
No trees? Not a problem. Hammocks can easily be affixed to nearby structures such as large boulders, cars, or fence posts. The specialized straps (when used properly), do not damage the structure. Your lofting possibilities are endless. The creativity demonstrated from fellow hammock campers is inspirational, and many people post their impressive setups on Instagram with various hammock-related hashtags. @Eno_nations and @hammockliving post examples creative setups.
Sleep Quality: Without a doubt, you will find yourself sleeping a lot better in a hammock. At first, the open air can take some adjustment when compared with a tent. A breeze can also make it chilly in lower temps, but the purchase of an under-hammock-quilt can help. However, being truly outdoors can bring outdoor camping to a new level when you can enjoy stargazing from your sleeping bag.
Be More Social: A hammock can be more than just a place to sleep. It has a great multi-use capability while camping, picnicking, or BBQing with company. It allows you and your friends to literally “hang out” in a comfortable place, while engaging in activities around you. If you decide that you still can’t leave your tent behind, try bringing a hammock along for a lightweight alternative to a camping chair.