When I was a kid I used to love to go camping. I would get together with my friends and family and hike out into the woods, start small fires for cooking and roasting marshmallows sing songs and tell ghost stories besides the fire and just enjoy the call and scent of nature.
When I was younger I would go camping in a tent or if we went with my sisters we would go and rent a cabin in the woods. No, there were not psycho killers or any of that nonsense; it was just a good old time where we could go out and bond as a family.
As I grew up, however, I enjoyed going camping by myself. I love the peace and quiet and the ability to go and do at my own pace. As a result, I no longer take a tent into the woods or rent a cabin. What I do now is I go out and use a hammock.
Now, I am sure that you have all seen those drawings in cartoons or in movies where the guy is sleeping in a hammock and someone comes by and startles them, the hammock goes spinning around and the person falls on the ground with their head spinning. Well, this is all cartoons and works of fiction. In fact camping in a hammock can be fun and relaxing at the same time.
In this guide, we are going to have to take a unique look at camping and how you can take a hammock and get yourself a good night sleep. We are going to go into some camping basics and give you some tips and tricks that you can use to get the most out of your camping experience.
So, if you are a novice or even someone who has a lot of experience in wilderness survival or just like to get away from the buzzing cell phones and Internet e-mail this guide will give you the foundation that you need to have a fun and safe time camping in a hammock.
Hammock Camping 101
When it is time to go out and be one with nature there is nothing better than going out for a camping trip. When people generally go camping they will bring a tent, sleeping bag, and their essentials.
This, however, is a limiting form of camping and for those who really want to get back to nature will stop and take a look at hammock camping.
Why hammock camping over traditional camping?
To start with traditional tent camping is limiting. What I mean by this is that when we go camping with a tent we are working off of the ground. The ground can be uneven, have lots of rocks, insects, can become wet as well as be an overall unenjoyably experience.
When we opt to go hammock camping we increase our options as to where we can sleep as well as give us as camper a more comfortable sleeping experience as well as protection from nature.
When we choose to go camping with a hammock we are also increasing the setup and teardown time it takes to setup camp.
I don’t know about you but the l last thing that I really want to do when I go camping is to fight with metal poles, spikes, clearing land and rolling over in the middle of the night to only discover a surprise rock, stick or another object in my sleep. With hammock camping, you are working with the air around you and nothing else.
What do you need to hammock camp?
When it comes to hammock camping you only need to have two strong trees or another strong structure that you can tie your lies too. In many cases, you can improvise with what nature has to offer or you can bring your own metal poles or structures that you can assemble and tie your hammock to.
When it comes to setting up your hammock there are a few things that you want to consider. First of all, you want to find the most scenic view that you can. With hammock camping, you are only limited by your imagination as well as have the additional advantage of height.
When we set up our hammocks we want to have a distance of between four and six paces. A pace is the walking distance between two objects; in this case trees. When scouting out your area you want to find the base of one tree or structure and walk a minimum of four paces. If you need an additional two paces then this will be fine but you don’t want to have much more than that if any.
When we go larger than six paces while setting up the distance between positions for our hammock we will increase the drag on the hammock which in turn decreases our level of overall comfort and stability.
Tying your hammock to the tree
Before we get into the specifics of what you want to do to attack your hammock to the tree I wanted to give you a little point. The one thing that you don’t ever want to do when hammock camping or any form of camping for that matter is destroyed or damage nature.
One of the biggest mistakes that people make when starting to hammock camp is they use paracord or some form of rope to attach their hammock to the trees. This is not the ideal way to do this. First of all, there are stronger and lighter materials that you can use to attach your hammock.
Second, many hammocks will come with a dedicated piece of equipment that will allow you to attach your hammock to the tree without doing damage. When we improvise on the items to use to set up our hammocks we may select an option that does not fully support our weight. The final reason to use what is supplied is that it will not damage the tree.
When we go into nature there is a single rule that we must follow. Leave what we find the way we found it. What this means is that you don’t want to leave your trash, damage nature in any way and leave what we find intact so that others who follow behind you can have the same enjoyable camping experience.
When setting up out hammock we want to do it in such a way that one end of the hammock is slightly higher than the other. For those who have never gone camping with a hammock before may believe that they need to have the hammock perfectly flat and even. This is not the way to have the perfect hammock experience.
What you want to do is have one end of the hammock tied up at eye level and the other side of the hammock slightly higher than eye level. When it comes to hanging your hammock it is said that the optimal positioning will be at forty-five degrees. This again is just an estimate and your own personal experience and situations may vary. But start with a forty-five degrees angle and adjust from there.
When we set up our hammocks in this manner we help to stabilize the movement of the hammock in such a way that we don’t go spinning or falling off. One of the greatest fears people have when it comes to camping with a hammock is falling out. If you take these measures you will have a stronger and more secure hammock setup.
Using a Toggle
When it comes to setting up your hammock there needs to be a separator between the strap that you use to tie to the tree and your hammock itself. This item is called a toggle. When it comes to toggles they can be anything that you want. In general, people will use an old stick or twig.
What a toggle will do is give extra support and substance to the knot that you use to tie your hammock to the tree. When attaching your hammock to the strap, however, you will want to make sure that you attach everything to the knot and not the toggle. If you attach the hammock to the toggle itself it will break.
Getting Into the Hammock
Now that we have our hammock setup it is time to get in and see how it feels. To get into your hammock the first thing that you want to do is relax. Many people fear that they will go falling off and as a result are apprehensive of climbing in.
To get into your hammock is very simple. The first thing that you do is sit in the middle of the hammock as if you were getting into a chair. Next, you will bunch up the hammock material under your butt until you have approximately half of the hammock under you.
Next, grab onto the hammock that is behind you and pulls your legs. Next, adjust yourself so that the material that was under your butt is now going to your side. Once your legs are safely in the hammock lay back and get yourself comfortable.
When it comes to getting into the hammock it is very simple and once you do it a few times it will become second nature. If however you begin to struggle, feel that you are falling out or just not having a natural experience I strongly suggest that you just stop what you are doing, regroup and try again. The more difficult that you make this process the harder it will be to do.
Staying Warm in your Hammock
When it comes to hammock camping compared to traditional tent camping you have different challenges for keeping warm. When it comes to tent camping you will have the cold wet ground to contend with. With hammock camping, you have the wind and cold air to contend with.
With traditional tent camping, you will be able to get away with having ground padding and inflatable mattresses. With hammock camping, you need to find ways to keep warm without increasing the weight.
Many hammocks today will come with a padding layer. This padding layer will help to keep you warm as well as comfortable in your hammock. The problem with this layer is that it increases the weight of your hammock and depending on your size may not give you fill support.
To keep bugs out of your hammock you will want to install a mosquito net. These nets come standard with some hammock setups but can also be purchased separately. When purchasing a mosquito net you want one that is longer than your hammock.
This is because in some regions of the world the mosquitos will actually try to eat through the netting. When you have a larger net the mosquitos will focus on this netting and will also be extra material that you can use to repair any holes that are created.
When hammock camping you will want to install a ridgeline and several ridgelines. The first ridgeline will be to help hold your gear. This can be lamps and other small items that will hang above you. The second ridgeline will be one that you can use to hang your tarp or over tent.
This tarp or over tent will be used to help protect you from the elements such as rain and wind. This ridgeline should be approximately three feet above you and give you enough space to move around stay dry.
Choosing the perfect hammock setup
When it comes to hammock camping as well as traditional tent camping there are many different options that you can choose from. Depending on the camping environment that you plan to enter you will have different needs. As someone starting out, however, you will want to find the perfect setup that you can afford and upgrade from there as your experience goes.
The first thing that you want to look at is the weight of your hammock. The one thing that all campers will agree upon whether you are new to the experience or just starting out is that you want to travel as light as possible. You may to check out the best hammock stands for better composition.
One of the main things that you will be doing when camping is hiking. During this hiking process, you will be taking all of your belongings with you. Check out how to plan and pack for your hiking trip. In many cases, you will be going up hills, over rocks and crossing rivers and other hazards. With this in mind, the last thing that you want to do is carry more weight than you actually need to. So, determining everything that you need to carry is critical.
When working with your hammock itself you don’t want it to exceed four pounds. Now, for many this sounds like a lie and it is. On top of these four pounds, you will also have your clothing and other gear. So, picking the right hammock for you and your travels is very important.
When it comes to your gear here is a list that you will want to ensure to follow. You can feel free to play with specific manufacturers of materials but this is what you want to have.
A Pack – A lightweight backpack or pack as it is referred to is the main item that you will use to carry your stuff. Your pack should be large enough to fit your back comfortably as well a store all of your gear. One of the most important things that you want to do when choosing your pack is to have it fitted.
To get your pack fitted you will want to go to a specialty hunting and camping store. There you can see a wide assortment of different packs for different needs. You will want to go with a friend or ask a helpful store employee who has experience and has actually used the equipment that they are selling to assist you. If you just go and pick the first pack that you see the odds are that you will not get what you want and have a terrible experience.
A pad will be used to give you support and extra warmth in your hammock. Some people may prefer not to use a pad since it adds additional weight and does not really fit their needs but you will want to explore all of the options available and see what works best for you.
Sleeping bags are very important. For one they will give you extra warmth against the wind as well as keep your entire body isolated while in the hammock. When selecting a sleeping bag you want to choose one that is rated for the environment that you will be traveling.
A Rain Fly will help protect you and your gear from the rain. When camping it is critical to keep all of your gear safe and dry. When traveling in cold, wet environments it is also critical to ensure that nothing happens to your stuff. One bad day or mistake can mean the difference between being cold and wet to getting sick.
When it comes to setting up your hammock there are not special rules or regulations when it comes to tying knots. To start will you will want to do a basic knot. This will allow you to secure the rope to the tree. Where the hammock gets its strength is from the toggle.
What you will want to do is first wrap the rope around the circumference of the tree. Next take both ends of the rope and wrap them around your fingers extended with palm out. You want to do this about three times.
Next, you will take the rope and slide one end in from the left side and then repeat the process from the right side. Now you will move the toggle into position and tighten the rope around the toggle. Let the ends of the rope go and tighten.
When you put pressure on the rope you will see that it is secure to the tree and will support your weight. Do the same process to the other end of the hammock. Once this is completed you will be able to attach your clip from the hammock to the ropes and do a test. If the hammock is too lose you can go back and easily adjust the tension on the hammock from the connections to the rope.
Food and cooking utensils
When it comes to camping one of the main things that people don’t think about is the food and what they will use to cook that food. Many people think that going out camping involves just starting a fire and roasting marshmallows on the fire.
This may be okay if you are going camping in the backyard or if you are within earshot of home. For those who really go out into the wilderness and experience nature bring home with them is very important.
Listed below are some of the main items that you will need when it comes to camping.
- I keep a small first aid kit, along with a toothbrush/paste, toilet paper, and 3 baby wipes.
- A protective covering for your gear. This will be some form of plastic bag that will keep your clothes and other items dry from the elements.
- A Mora Blade knife, which is incredibly durable and very light.
- A small plastic bottle, A prescription pill bottle will work. This can be used to hold small items such as a Bic lighter, some kindling such as cotton balls or old rag pieces as well as an oily substance like Vaseline that can be used as a stimulant for your fire.
- Trekking Poles
- Some form of water filtration device. You can use a coffee filter for small jobs if needed but look into water filtering devices that you can bring. A small Brita filter will work as well.
- Hydration Bag
- Extra Paracord
Some form of digging device. This can be a plastic toy shovel, trowel or if you are in a bind you could cut off the handle of a water jug and make your own. There are many patterns online for different tools you can create out of water jugs.
- 4 Y-Stakes
- 2 Extra Light Weight Stuff Sacks
Again, these are only some suggestions and your own specific needs will vary but it will give you a basic proof of concept to move forward with.
When it comes to hammock camping there is the very little difference except for where you are sleeping. Hammock camping has many advantages over traditional camping and once you get used to it, you will wonder why you didn’t try it sooner.
Camping Tips, Tricks and Advice
Now that you have a basic understanding of hammock camping I thought I would switch gears a little and give you some general camping tips, tricks, and advice.
When it comes to hammock camping you do it pretty much the same way that you would any other camping trip. As such, here are some great tips, tricks and things that you can do to make your camping trip the best that it can be.
The easiest omelet in the world
When it comes to camping cooking may be a chore and the cleanup a total nightmare. One of the messiest things that you can make when cooking is omelets.
Omelets require a pan, cooking spray, a spatula and other utensils just to get the food cooked. Well, if you are someone who wants to have one of the best omelets in the world and stay away from the fuss and mess here is what you want to do.
First of all, you want to get a plastic bag and crack in your desired number of eggs. I personally like three or four eggs in my omelets. Next, you want to beat the eggs so they are combined with the yolk. Next, add in the desired ingredients such as ham, cheese, onions or cooked meats. Once this is completed take a pot and fill it with water.
Place the pot over boiling water and drop the bag into the egg mixture inside. Allow the egg to cook for twenty minutes before removing from the water. Once completed you can eat the omelet directly out of the bag or empty out onto a plate for easy consumption.
One of the greatest things to do is sit around the campfire telling stories. One of the greatest foods to eat when telling stories is popcorn. The only problem is that taking a microwave on a camping trip is not only difficult but impractical. Now, you can try to get a pot and try to pop the corn that way but this can lead to burnt popcorn and just a really big mess.
One way to do this is by using a beer can. Now, you can use a soda can or something along these lines as well, but with soda cans, you may have extra soda in the can. So wash out the can first and then fill the can about one-fourth of the way up with kernels. Next, add a little bit of popcorn oil to the can and place by the fire.
The heat from the fire will begin to pop the popcorn. While doing this you will want to make sure that the can doesn’t pop off of a rock or anything and land in the fire. After popping for a while the popping sound should slow down. It is at this point you want to remove the can from the fire and carefully open the can by slitting it down the side. Once the can is open pour into a bowl and enjoy.
Use old shower curtains as tarps for your hammocks
When it comes to camping with a hammock you will want to have a little protection from the wind. You can go out and purchase heavy tarps or you can go out and get a few shower curtains. You can string the curtains along your ridgeline for extra protection as well as a cheap and affordable solution.
Bring Frisbees as plates and entertainment
When it comes to traveling and camping you want to travel light. One of the best ways to do this is to have multiple purposes for your items. One of the neatest tricks that I have found is to take along a Frisbee or several of them.
With the Frisbee, you can use it during the day to play with the family and as a serving dish for your food. Make sure to clean the Frisbee before serving your food but this trick will help sure up space as well as give you something to do while dinner is cooking.
Increase your light range by shining through a jug of water.
When it comes to getting light in the dark forest you may not be able to take fire with you. So, what you can do is take a small jug of water and your brightest flashlight. Shine the light through the water to help increase the dispersion and range of your light.
When it comes to camping many of us are running around, enjoying nature and just taking in everything that nature has to offer. One of the biggest mistakes people make is sleeping in their regular clothes or changing into clothing that is meant for indoor sleeping.
When it comes to camping it is very important that you plan your clothing choices wisely. What you will want to do is have one set of clothes that you will dedicate for sleeping. These clothes are never to be work while hiking, boating or doing any other activity other than sleeping.
These clothes should be warm enough for the environment that you are in as well as light weight. When we have a dedicated set of clothing we will always have something to wear if we get wet or are washing clothes.
When it comes to sleeping in a hammock many people will try to sleep in it as if it were a mattress or regular bed. The problem with this is that sleeping in this fashion will be uncomfortable as well as cause you to swing back and forth. The proper way to sleep and even lay in a hammock is to do it on a diagonal.
When we do this we conform better to the structure of the hammock as well as increase our stability. So, when getting into your hammock at night go ahead and turn diagonally. It may feel strange at first and you may fear that you will fall but trust me you will have the most comfortable sleep possible doing it this way.
Adjust your body to the perfect position
When it comes to sleeping in your hammock it will be a matter of finding that perfect sweet spot. When starting out may people may find that they are uncomfortable in the hammock and as a result not get a good night’s sleep. If however, you take the time to play with your adjustment you will get a better night sleep.
One of the best tips that I have found is that if you move yourself to a point in the hammock where your toes are elevated a few inches above your head and your entire body is straight you will get the best fit in the hammock.
If however you find yourself with your body shifting too much to the left or the right you might find that you are adding additional strain and pressure to your body.
This adjustment will take a little time to find the perfect spot and each time you setup your hammock it will be different. But if you take your time and really become one with your hammock you will love it more than tents.
Add additional support for under your knees
When in your hammock you may feel that you don’t have a lot of support on your body. One thing that you can do to help with this is to take a small towel or blanket and roll it up in such a way that it will give you some additional support. Take this blanket and place it under your knees so that you are gaining some additional support.
Use Bread bag clips
When camping one of the things that you will find is the need to hang clothing to dry after being washed or after getting wet from your daily adventures. Typically when we hang our clothes out to dry we will run a clothing line and drape our clothes over the line for them to hang.
Well, this is fine but will result in longer drying time and in some situations this may not be ideal. One way to solve this problem if you don’t have clothed pins is to use the little plastic clips from your bread bags.
What you will do is use the little hooks on these bags to connect your clothes to the line. This will be a fast and easy solution and will utilize a piece of equipment that you will have either thrown away or discarded at a later date.
Bring Frozen Water (ICE)
When it comes to camping you will never find a reason not to have ice. One of the best ways to do this is to carry some old plastic drinking bottle such as Gatorade or other larger containers.
This will help keep your food cold in your cooler and when the ice does melt you will have fresh drinking water or water that can be used for a wide range of other purposes.
Use Flat Rocks around your campfire
When it comes to camping you will want to have a safe and secure fire pit. One additional feature to this fire pit will be to have several flat-sided stones that you can use to place your items on. This will help to keep your pots and other items safe as well as close to the fire to remain warm.
Camping is not only a fun and enjoyable activity but it is one that is constantly evolving and getting better. In the past, the art of camping was limited to pitching a tent and sitting around a campfire. Today the sport is evolving and with the use of a hammock, we can now really sleep under the stars in such a way that we can both enjoy the view and stay away from bugs and other animals.
In this guide, I wanted to introduce you to the world of hammock camping. For many of you, this will be the first time that you are introduced to the concept and may have additional questions or concerns.
When starting out with camping in hammocks you want to start off slow. You may want to do a setup in your own yard to see how the process is done and what you can expect.
When starting out with camping in hammocks you may feel a little weird or disoriented at first since many who have gone camping with hammocks say that you are sleeping on a cloud.
For those of you reading this guide who have back problems, it is stated that sleeping in a hammock correctly has decreased the stress that they feel and as a result has turned to sleeping in a hammock on a regular basis.
No matter what you chose or how you decide to go camping the first thing is having fun and enjoying the outdoors. Finding that perfect sweet spot and getting that great night sleep is just an added bonus.
If you have found this guide useful please let others know about it. It would also be appreciated if you can leave an honest review of this guide so that others will know your experience with camping in a hammock.
When it comes to camping it is a passion of mine and hopefully yours. Thank you for taking this time to learn about hammock camping and as always, to your success.