A marvelous and delightful night of sleep in the woods is within reach with our list of hammock camping tips.
While they’ve been around for thousands of years, hammocks have been making a comeback recently. Made popular through brands like Eno and TrekLight, nylon and polyester camping hammocks are all the rage. However, without proper setup and use, you might be wondering how they got so popular. Having the wrong angle or forgetting a key accessory can quickly ruin a night. So, we’ve put together the best hammock camping tips for a great night in the woods. Whether it’s your first time trying it out or you’re an old pro, hopefully, there is at least one nugget in here that will help you sleep even better the next time you’re out camping in your hammock.
1. Let That Hammock Droop
You might be tempted to make your hammock straps as tight as possible to reduce any sag in your hammock. However, this puts a lot of stress on your straps and won’t make for a comfortable night of sleep. So, the first and foremost of our hammock camping tips is to create a thirty-degree angle, unweighted, between the tree and the webbing. But, we also don’t expect you to bring your protractor out into the woods to figure out this perfect angle. So, hold out your thumb and pointer finger in the shape of an “L”. From tip to tip, measuring against your hand, is approximately a thirty-degree angle. Hold that up to the tree when figuring out where to hook your hammock on. This angle will create just enough sag in the hammock to hug you perfectly inside without putting too much pressure on your webbing. If you need some help figuring out just how far apart and off the ground you need to place your straps, check out this hammock hanging calculator.
2. Protect Yourself From Mother Nature
Credit: Seuss / Flickr
Unless you’re posting up on a bugless beach somewhere, you’re most likely going to want a bug net and rain fly. As far as bug nets go, you will have to buy one made specifically for a hammock. Made with no-see-um mesh, it will keep the air flowing but the mosquitoes and other pests out. This is essential to getting a good night’s sleep. The next one of our hammock camping tips is to have some type of rain fly. While you can most likely purchase one from your hammock company, learning to rig up a rain fly from a tarp can be simple and cost less. A ten by ten tarp should cover most hammocks. Put paracord from tree to tree above your hammock webbing attachments. Then, lay the tarp over that and stake out the corners with guy lines. You’ll have a quick and easy rain fly for a dry nights sleep.
Part three of this most important of our hammock camping tips is making a drip line. If it is raining quite a bit, rain can collect and run down your rain fly and webbing into your cozy home. To avoid this, tie a few inches of paracord onto the webbing close to where it attaches to your hammock. The water will collect and run down this rather than onto you. So, make sure you know how to set up your bug net, rain tarp or fly, and drip lines before you get out in the woods.
3. Use a Sleeping Pad for Support & Warmth
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You might be trying out hammock sleeping because it can relieve pressure off your back. In fact, many people find this style of sleeping outside much more comfortable than the hard ground. How do they make it so comfortable, you ask? Use a sleeping bag, such as closed cell foam or an inflatable option, in the bottom of your hammock. This will provide you with enough structure so that your back muscles can relax rather than try and hold you together all night. In addition, the quickest way to lose warmth in a hammock is through the underside of the hammock. Sleeping bags keep you warm because of their fluff. So, if you’re squishing all the fluff below you, you are virtually not insulated at all. If you’re going to be out where it will drop below seventy degrees at night, this is the most essential of our hammock camping tips. Staying warm means a happy camper. On that note, make sure to have brought the right clothes, like some warm wool socks.
4. Use Webbing Straps to Protect the Trees
For many of us, you sleep better if you are in a good headspace. So, if you know you’re doing everything you can to love on nature you’re spending time in, that will help relax you. One of the best parts about hammock camping is that you don’t squish all the foliage trying to bud on the forest floor. So, nice work for not putting up a tent! However, if you’re not careful, your straps can do quite a bit of damage to a tree’s bark, which is their protection. So, here are a few specific hammock camping tips to protect the trees. Rather than stretchy nylon rope straps, grab some webbing straps or make your own. By wrapping the webbing flat around the tree multiple times, you will make an extremely strong anchor. It will also spread out the weight nicely on all of the webbing, rather than putting all your weight at one point and breaking off the bark.
If your webbing straps aren’t long enough to wind around multiple times, that’s okay. There are other hammock camping tips to still provide protection. Bring along just a little bit of closed cell foam, like an old camping mat. Use that as a layer of protection between the tree and webbing and you’re all set. Whatever way you choose to protect the trees, you’ll be thankful you did. After all, they are the thing that allows you to have a wonderful hammock camping trip in the first place.
5. Size Up Even If You’re Solo
Unless you’re counting every ounce you lug on your next backpacking trip, the next item on our list of hammock camping tips will provide you with extra comfort. Camping hammocks usually come in both single and double nest sizes. This would mean it can fit one or two people accordingly. While you will probably only be sleeping one person per hammock, having the extra room to maneuver can be quite nice. If the difference is only in a few ounces, we would highly recommend you size up. Then, if you ever do need some snuggles, you don’t have to get a bigger hammock anyway.
On this note, a double nest hammock also makes for a more comfortable chair. By folding over the edge of the hammock about two feet, you can sit on this doubled up fabric while leaning back. It will give you just enough support to not feel like you’re being consumed while trying to sit up. So, sizing up to a double nester and using it as a chair are definitely two of our favorite hammock camping tips.
6. Position Yourself Correctly Inside
The final, but potentially most important, of our hammock camping tips is to sleep on the diagonal. It might make sense to lay perfectly straight between the trees, but this will push you into the middle of the hammock and have you sag quite a bit in the middle. If you prefer a more flat spot to sleep, put your feet and head just off center on different sides, and move your sleeping pad to do the same. This will allow you a little more room to maneuver and a better nights sleep. If you find yourself sliding down towards your feet, there is another one of our hammock camping tips to know. Try raising the webbing anchor at your feet eight to twelve inches above the other one. As most people are heaviest at their core, this will balance out the weight and keep you from sliding down. Adjust as you see fit. Overall, it’s the little things like this that quickly add up to make or break your night in the woods.
Each of these hammock camping tips will contribute leaps and bounds to having the perfect night out in the woods.
So, if you’re ready to dive into the world of tentless camping, then grab a camping hammock today. If you’re not quite ready to take it into the woods, test it out on your porch or backyard first. You can try out each of these hammock camping tips before you’re miles away from civilization. It will be much less stressful if you feel confident about these before you go. But, either way, we are so excited that you’re planning out new ways to get and stay, outside. So, get that hammock packed and ready to go because you’re all set for your next camping adventure.
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