When you think of camping, it might bring to mind images of being in a cold, wet tent and lying on the hard floor. A camping hammock can quickly and easily change all that…
While camping has lots of great things going for it, comfort is not traditionally one of them. The problem with camping is that it will usually mean lying on the hard floor, in the cold and listening to the wind and rain howl outdoors. It also means wrestling with a tent for ages to get it up and then struggling to carry around with it on your back the rest of the time.
But a camping hammock offers an intriguing alternative: why not carry a small piece of fabric that you can use anywhere to erect a comfortable and free-hanging place to sleep?
In this guide, we’ll go into detail examining exactly what a camping hammock is, how it works, how to choose them and even how to put them up. By the end, you’ll know everything there is to know about using a camping hammock and you’ll be ready to take one on your next adventure!
If you’ve read our complete guide to hammocks, then you should have a good idea as to how a hammock works in general and how to use a camping hammock.
To recap though, a hammock is basically a piece of material that can be held aloft by two anchor points, thereby creating a comfortable place to sleep or even just to sit and relax while dinner crackles over the fire!
Hammocks were originally brought back to Europe owing to their ability to help people avoid insect bites or damp from the ground. In this regard, being suspended is a big advantage. This holds true when it comes to camping but it also keeps you more comfortable and it helps to make your load much lighter.
A camping hammock will very often be a made from a light but durable material that can fold easily into a small ball that will then be placed into a bag. This in turn means that it can be carried in a backpack or even in a pocket!
This then means you can carry it easily but then bring it out just as quickly whenever you need somewhere to sleep!
When choosing your camping hammock, there are numerous things you need to consider.
The first is the size and the weight. Here, it is very important to find a hammock that will be easy to transport and that means that you need a hammock that doesn’t have a spreader-bar.
A spreader-bar is essentially a piece of plastic, metal or wood that goes at the end of a hammock and keeps it flat. This is not as good for sleeping on (as it’s easier to roll off) and it of course means you can’t roll it up as small.
Also important is to look at the material that is used and how durable and sturdy the hammock will be. A good camping hammock should be able to hold up to 400lbs and should be quite large: you want enough space to sleep on!
Note that it is also possible to find a 2 person camping hammock which is great if you’re camping with a partner and you want to make it a romantic trip! It’s also great if you just want to reduce your load by carrying one portable camping hammock instead of two! Check out one of our favorite double camping hammocks here.
Ideally, a camping hammock should be made of a material that will dry quickly, rather than absorbing rain to become heavy and wet in your bag. This may mean that you choose something porous but then you have to think about the risk of cold air coming up from underneath.
For this reason, you should probably consider the climate that you will be camping in before you choose your hammock!
Finally, you also need to think about your attachments. This is important because it will affect how high you can hang your hammock and how far the distance between the two trees need to be.
As well as the hammock itself, you should also look for additional extra features that might come in handy.
For example, some hammocks can come with pockets and this can be very helpful if you want to store snacks, drinks and other things for easy access. If you plan on spending the evening chilling in your camping hammock, then this is a good choice!
You may also want to looking for a camping hammock with mosquito net. This is ideal for travelling to countries where mosquitos are a problem and of course means you can protect yourself from mosquitos and other pests while you sleep – preventing yourself from waking up covered in bites! We’ve reviewed one of these here.
For your tree straps, looking for tree webbing attachments. These are straps that are designed to protect the bark of the trees you’re using them on – and it’s a great way to be more eco conscious in the way you camp and use hammocks.
This is generally something that’s very important to keep in mind whenever you go camping – the effect you’re having on the environment. A good camper should only ever give to the environment and never leave negative traces. Living in accord with nature is actually one of the fun challenges of camping and hamocking!
Of course a camping hammock will help you sleep and keep you off the ground… but it won’t keep you dry in a storm. Nor will it help to keep you particularly warm (though of course you can bring blankets!).
This is where the camping hammock tent comes in. That’s exactly what it sounds like: a tent that you can hang from the trees that will be able to keep you completely dry!
These don’t fold up quite so small of course but they can be incredibly useful and worth the extra effort. What’s more is that they look great and could almost qualify as ‘glamping’ thanks to the added luxury they provide!
Or how about you go a little more extreme? A bat hammock is a hammock that has you entirely cocooned as you hang, which keeps you completely warm and dry and makes you look like a hanging bat in the process – hence the name!
It’s a very cool option that favors practicality over comfort but it’s certainly something worth considering if you want to camp out in the rain and you’re trying to travel light!
Another more advanced option is to choose a camping hammock and a camping hammock stand. This of course means that you won’t need to find two appropriate trees that are situated just the right distance apart. Instead, you can erect the stand and then relax wherever you see fit.
Hammocking is something that is becoming more and more in vogue, with more inventive types of hammocks and attachments. Sites like Tentsile show just how inventive some of this more ‘extreme’ hammocking is becoming and things like camping hammock tents make it possible!
Of course it also means you’re now carrying much more and so this is for a more luxury style of travel rather than hardcore hiking and camping. If you will be staying at a camp site – and especially if you’re caravanning – then having a camping hammock stand is a great option. It’s just a fun way to relax with friends while enjoying a BBQ or watching some Frisbee!
So you’ve read this far, you’ve checked our reviews and you’ve bought yourself a great camping hammock. From there, you decided to set off into the woods and go exploring. Then the night falls and you need to find yourself somewhere warm and dry to unwind. Good thing you have your hammock!
Except… how do you put it up? There’s actually an art to this and getting it right is crucial if you want to ensure that you will be safe and comfortable (tip: you do!).
So what’s the secret?
Firstly, you need to think about distance between the two anchor points where you’ll be hanging your hammock. The tip here is to try stretching your hammock between them first just to see if it will hang correctly.
To spot whether or not it is, you’re looking for that banana shape. If the hammock has just about the same amount of dip as a banana, then you have gotten your hammock at just the right distance!
But what’s most important of all here, is that you ensure your anchor points are at a 30 degree angle to the tree. If they’re going parallel to the ground, then you have chosen a gap that is too wide.
This means that your hammock will now be stretched too taut which in turn means it’s much more likely to snap or come off the tree – it won’t be able to hold enough weight! There’s no need to bring a protractor but just know that 30 degrees is the optimum angle to hold the most weight. This will also keep you most secure within the hammock.
There are many health benefits to sleeping in a hammock but some people still find it can be hard on their back. If you feel that way, then a solution is to hang one end slightly lower than the other, so that your legs are lower than your head. This gives your back a little more support and some people find they sleep better as a result!
Otherwise, the aim is to let the hammock envelop you, which is what will prevent you from falling out (and why it’s important not to have a spread-bar).
When you’re just relaxing on the other hand, try lying at an angle rather than directly straight – this keeps the hammock flatter to prevent you rolling out and it also means you can see out of the hammock a little better! You can even hang one leg over the edge!
Camping hammocks are practical tools for hiking and sleeping but they can also be much more than that. Hammocks inherently create a feeling of relaxation and calm and will help you to feel at ease with a book, a camera or a cap over your face.
Better yet, hammocks allow you to sleep in some amazing places. Got a two person camping hammock or a camping hammock tent? Why not hang it over a stream? Imagine falling asleep with the sound of that stream babbling beneath you and waking up to dip your feet in it in the morning!
Or how about hanging on the beach? Or at the top of a mountain with a spectacular view? It all starts with the right camping hammock though, so why not check out our reviews?