Hammock camping is a really good way to enjoy nature because you are not constrained by terrain and the environment. A hammock requires only two trees and doesn’t care if it is a rocky floor, uneven ground, or no place for a camp. You can camp pretty much anywhere you want. There are so many misconceptions regarding hammock camping and it can be scary for first-timers.
Here we will uncover these misconceptions about hammock camping for beginners. Our Guide will cover how to set up a hammock in a simple way, set up your tarp and ridgeline, and choose the best sleep gears, do’s, and don’ts of hammock camping.
Hammock Camping Gears Tips For Beginners
Beginners have the misconception about Hammock camping that all you need is a hammock which is not true. A hammock might do in an ideal conditions like summer without rain. You may get away with the hammock only in perfectly dry weather conditions but in most cases, you need more than a hammock.
- Use a Good Quality Hammock-
- Always buy a good quality hammock that is thicker, wider in size, easy to set up, and lightweight. Most entry-level hammocks are made up of nylon fabric which is paper-thin. When cold breezes blow below or around you it absorbs your body heat. So choose a hammock that is thicker and may be of high-quality fiber parachute nylon(thicker with few layers of material).
- The weight load capacity of a hammock should also be considered while buying one. The average weight load capacity of a single and medium-size hammock should be 400 lbs and 500 lbs for a double-size hammock.
- The size of the hammock is another important feature to be considered. The problem with a single-size hammock is that you will be crushed in it. So choose a medium size hammock if you are camping alone. The ideal size of a single hammock is 4.5 feet wide and 6.5 feet for a double-size hammock.
- Choose a hammock that is at least 9 feet tall for single-size hammocks and 10 feet for a double-size hammock.
- Bugs can be a nightmare out in the wild but a hammock with a breathable bug net will protect you from mosquitoes, flies, and other insects.
- Use Hammock Straps or Tree Straps– Use tree straps to attach your hammock carabiners to the trees. They easily wrap around the tree and they have different loops so that you can adjust the height of your hammock accordingly. They are made of tough materials and prevent hammocks from sagging.
- A Sleeping Bag/Top Quilt– You may not require a sleeping bag or top quilt if you are sleeping warm but if you are sleeping cold (winter) then you definitely need a sleeping bag/top quilt. It will save you from the cold air blowing above and around your hammock.
- Use a Sleeping Pad– A nice and thick sleeping pad will give the insulation required beneath your body. Without a sleeping pad, the cold air will soak all body heat making sleeping uncomfortable.
- Use an Underquilt– An underquilt is an absolute necessity if you are camping in a cold area or in winter. This underquilt goes under your hammock and will protect you from all the gusts of cold wind blowing below your hammock.
- Use a Tarp– A good tarp is set above your hammock separately and it protects you from rainwater, snowfall, and falling debris from the trees. Setting up the tarp close to the hammock is critical as it also gives you insulation from the blowing cold breeze. You can choose between an octagonal or four-sided tarp according to your setup.
- Learn to Choose a campsite– Choosing a campsite is vital because you need to protect your hammock from the cold breezes during winter. Look for a natural shelter like a pile of rocks, cedar trees, or thick bushes they act as a windbreaker and protect your camp. Find two trees that are at a distance of 10 feet or more.
- Learn How To Set up The Hammock Camp– Hammock camping is different than a tent set up and there is a bit of a learning curve associated with this. The whole process of setting up a hammock can be overwhelming for a beginner who is just starting out. Setting up a hammock requires finding a good place for hammock camping, tieing your hammock to trees, setting up the underquilt, tarp, and much more. So for beginners, it is advised to practice setting up a hammock in their backyards. When you set up a hammock in summer and warm conditions you don’t need anything except the hammock but setting up a hammock in winter, in sub-zero temperatures, or in rainy weather is a complicated process and requires much more precision.
- Packing for the Hammock camping– Packing the right gear is critical to your hammock camping success. Your pack should be light and must contain all the necessary items needed for your survival. A hammock camping packing is mostly about the sleeping gear like a Hammock, an Underquilt, a top quilt, a sleeping bag, a sleeping pad, a pillow, and a tarp. Some other gears required are tree straps, carabiners, ax, knives, water bottles, and more.
- A hammock Set Up can be Psychologically Challenging– Unlike a tent, a hammock does not have an enclosed space. A hammock camp is vulnerable to animals or bugs. So this feeling of something brushing underneath or coming at you might freak out some people.
- Don’t Sleep Like a Banana– Most beginners sleep like a banana in a hammock but that is not the correct way to sleep. The correct way to sleep in a hammock is to sleep diagonally or at an angle. Keep your legs to the extreme right side and your head towards the extreme left side. This way your body weight will be distributed evenly;y and you will sleep much more comfortably.
- Tightness of your Hammock– You always need to set up the hammock properly. The key to it lies in keeping a proper sag in the hammock, you don’t want it to be too much or too little. The ropes or tree straps should be at a 30° angle. To measure this create an angle with your thumb and your index finger. This is a natural 30° angle and you can adjust your straps accordingly.
- Setting Up the Tarp Right– A lot of first-timers set up the tarp 7-8 feet above the ground. The tarp is to protect you from rain, and snow and also insulate you. Keep it as close to the hammock as possible. This will trap the heat inside and will protect your hammock from all the cold wind blowing above and around your hammock. This works as insulation from the cold weather.
- No Boots in the Hammock– Always take your boots/shoes off before getting into the hammock. Because both ends of the hammock look the same and you will forget which side was up and which side was down after a while.
- No Personal Space– You don’t get a personal space while hammock camping so protecting your gear like backpack, shoes, and other stuff can be a nightmare. Spiders and snakes can crawl into your boots, backpacks so take care of your gear before going into your hammock. Hang your gear on the trees or wrap your shoes with plastic/paper to stop any insects from getting inside or use a rain fly to protect your backpack from rain, condensation, or moisture.
- Setting the Underquilt Properly– Setting up the underquilt is the key to your survival in winter hammocking. Don’t set your underquilt too tight to the hammock there should be a gap between the bottom of the hammock and the underquilt. This air gap will work as insulation. Setting up the underquilt too tight to the hammock will kill this loft and you will lose the insulation.
- Tarp– Tarp can protect you from rainwater falling right above the hammock but it can also flow down from the tree to your hammock through the ropes. Tie-down an extra rope or stick to the tree straps to let the water drip down instead of getting into your hammock.
- Use Fasteners– Use fasteners to set up your tarp/rainfly. Wrap it around the tree and take the clip and hook it onto your rainfly, adjust the excess to make it tight. The setup becomes really simple with these tarp clips or fasteners.
- A layer of Clothes– Hammock camping can be challenging especially in winter and your clothes play a vital role in keeping you warm. Always wear a heavy layer of clothes when hammocking in a cold area.
- Check for any Dead Branches-One of the biggest dangers of setting up the hammock between trees is the falling of dead branches. You may never know if a dead branch is hanging when the trees are taller. Spot for any such hazards and try to set up your hammock as far as possible from the branches.
Hammock camping is an increasingly popular outdoor activity that can be enjoyed by anyone. As with all outdoor activities, there are some beginner issues that need to be considered. These tips will make the experience more enjoyable if you know about them in advance.