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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT HAMMOCK CAMPING

Hammock camping is a great lightweight alternative to carrying a tent while out backpacking or camping. However, there are a few things that you need to know before you invest the money in the gear or set out on your trip with only your hammock.

Photo: Lea Hart

 

What is "Hammock Camping"?


Hammock camping means that you have swapped out a standard tent for a hammock! Many hikers, backpackers, bikers, and outdoor connoisseurs use hammocks to lounge in, but with the right accessories, they can be used in place of a tent. This option can be a lightweight swap and give your back a break from the hard ground.


 

Tent VS Hammock


My Preference


I prefer camping in a tent. I feel more secure and protected from the elements. This is personal preference of course! I am on a tight gear budget and I decided to invest in the tent option. I typically adventure out in the wild with others, so I like the tent option because the weight of the gear can be split across two packs.


The Pros and Cons of Hammock Camping


Pros:

  • Hammocks can alleviate back pain.

  • Since you are off the ground, they can be much comfortable than lying on the ground.

  • With the right accessories, they can provide the same amount of protection as a tent.

  • They can be a lightweight option (however, with the widespread use of Dyneema Composite Fabric this has changed).

  • You're off the ground so no critters can enter your tent.

Cons:

  • Your gear will have to sit on the ground (as well, as any pet you may bring).

  • Lack of privacy (can you change your clothes in your hammock while suspended?).

  • You're reliant on trees and campsite that allow you to hang hammocks.

  • Only one person can sleep in the hammock.

  • You may spend more on gear if you already have a tent.


 

The essentials for hammock camping


Before you go camping overnight with a hammock you need to be sure to run through each of these points in your head! This is specific to camping and sleeping in a hammock, not to be confused with lounging in a hammock for funsies!


PSA: I am not an expert in hammock camping and don't hammock camp often anymore! Please go to the resources that I linked throughout this post.


 


No matter the season, you will need a hammock, hammock straps, a bug net, a tarp, an underbelly quilt, a sleeping bag/quilt/or liner, and a sleeping pad.


Summer

If you are hammock camping in the summer, the need for a sleeping bag is probably low, but you might want a down quilt or a sleeping bag liner to keep you warm in case of drops in temperature at night. However, you will want a bug net to keep those pesky out of your sleeping environment! You will also want to bring a tarp to hang over your hammock in case of rain.


In high school, when I used to sleep in my hammock (even in the summer), I would wake up freezing because the dew would soak into my clothes in the morning, making my core body temp drop below comfortable.


Spring/Fall

Depending on where you live, these seasons are typically the most comfortable for any type of outdoor adventuring, so you'll most likely need to pack the same type of gear!


For Spring and Fall, you will most likely want a 60 to 40 degree rated sleeping bag or quilt. This will make sure you are warm and toasty all night long (of that's what you prefer)!


Winter

Due to where I live, I tend to shy away from much outdoor adventuring in the winter months. However, if that's not you then make sure you are well prepared for the wintery conditions ahead for you. Check the weather and make sure you have a sleeping bag that is degree rated safely under the predicted low! You don't want to wake up freezing!


Top Product Recommendations


I would suggest Kammock Roo's over the popular ENO brand, but that's not to say that I oppose ENO. Kammock is committed to sustainability and I have personally interacted with the CEO and will endlessly recommend their brand! They have a ton of fun colored hammocks to choose from!


Price (Roo Single): $62.10

Weight: 10.2 oz

Photo: Kammock.com


If I were to purchase straps, I would suggest Kammock. Kammocks Python 10' straps are designed to be tree-friendly. Their statement is that "the variable width design offsets the pressure placed on trees by widening at the end of each strap. The hammock strap's secure suspension keeps them from slipping and rubbing the bark unnecessarily". Do right by the trees! :)


Price: $26.10

Weight: 8.2 oz

Photos: Kammock.com


For bug nets, make sure you buy a net that is compatible with your hammock. So, following my recent recommendations, I would recommend the Dragonfly bug net by Kammock.


Price: $79.00

Weight: 9.8 oz

Photos: Kammock.com


Hammock Tarps

Kammock and ENO have great versatile tarps that can be used for multiple purposes. The Kammock Kuhli is a great option if you can splurge. The budget option would be the ENO ProFly Hammock Rain Tarp.


Price (Kuhli tarp): $169.00

Weight: 20.5 oz

Photo: Kammock.com

Photo: REI.com


This will keep the bottom of your hammock from getting too cold! The wind will whip right under your hammock and will wick the heat away! This type of quilt will ensure you are warm.


Price: $109.95

Weight: 1lb 11 oz.

Photo: REI.com


Some individuals use what is called an underquilt to prevent the draft from under the hammock creating a cold sleeping climate. However, if you're looking for versatile pieces a sleeping bag will do! I think you may sense a trend in the gear that I recommend because no surprise my sleeping bag is from the brand Kammock! I own the Kammock Thylacine 40 degree synthetic sleeping bag. This sleeping bag is SO soft and I love that it has a hood and adjustable footbeds! Kammock also makes a sleeping bag liner to add 20 degrees of warmth rating to the sleeping bag!


Price: $160.30

Weight: 2lb 5oz

Photos: Kammock.com


Because I am on a tight budget as a college kid, I was not able to purchase the Kammock sleeping bag liner that is compatible with my pack, so I found a cheaper alternative. I have yet to order my liner for my sleeping bag, but I plan to order the Sea to Summit Thermolite Reactor Extreme Sleeping Bag Liner to add up to 25 degrees to my pack. This liner will allow me to camp comfortably in 15-degree weather!


Price: $69.65

Weight: 14 oz

Photo: REI.com


Sleeping Pads

I personally choose closed-cell foam for my first sleeping pad. I choose closed-cell foam because unlike the air-inflating and self-inflating these sleeping pads will never get punctured. I have the Therm-a-Rest RidgeRest SOLite Sleeping Pad. I knew that I could store it outside of my pack and that I could depend on its durability. They are typically on the more uncomfortable side, so I will most likely upgrade soon.


Price: $29.95

Weight: 14 oz

Photo: REI.com


I will be posting some amazing gear guides in a Gettin' Gear series the week, so make sure you're subscribed to stay up to date! Subscribe here!


Articles to Read about Hammock Camping




 

know how to set up your hammock before you are out on the trail


1. Make sure the trees are properly spaced


2. Make sure the angles on your hammock are just perfect! Your hammock should be at least 18 inches from the ground and at approximately a thirty-degree angle (strap to the edge of the hammock).


3. Lie slightly off-kilter. Make sure that your body is angled. At no point should your head be lower than your feet!


YouTube Videos to Watch







 

Before you leave


1) Make sure the area you are traveling to has trees

This might seem like a no brainer, but assuming there are trees at your specific campsite or even the general area you're traveling to can be a big mistake! If you type into Google something along the lines of "*insert where you're traveling* scenery" you will be able to determine what the area looks like and the likelihood of there being any trees.


I recently traveled to Southern Utah and the campsites my friend and I booked rarely had trees. Had I relied on hammock camping, I would have been in big trouble. However, if you're traveling to a forest dense location, like the Pacific North West then you're most likely in luck. Below is a photo of some of the scenery in Utah. Not many options for hanging a hammock

To be double sure, you might even call the campsite to request a campsite with tress or to double-check that your reserved campsite does indeed have trees.


2) Make sure that hammocks are allowed at the campsite that you are choosing to stay at.


When you are booking your campsites be sure to check if there are any restrictions on where hammocks can be hung. This is a quick and easy way to avoid fines if a park ranger catches you and to protect the environment that you are there to enjoy! If you don't happen to see anything about hammocks, then call the campsite and ask them specifically if hammocks are allowed in the campgrounds.


There are several campsites that allow you to hang your hammock from trees within the campsite, but there are also several campsites that don't permit hammocks to be hung from trees. Certain hammock straps can be abrasive to the bark on the trees that your hammock is hanging from.


Resources


This is a great compiled list of National Parks and their policies on hammock camping! This article has links to most of the National Park Services pages!


Similar to the first list, but a great cross-reference!



Top Product Recommendations


Hammock Straps

If I were to purchase straps, I would suggest Kammock. Kammocks Python 10' straps are designed to be tree-friendly. Their statement is that "the variable width design offsets the pressure placed on trees by widening at the end of each strap. The hammock strap's secure suspension keeps them from slipping and rubbing the bark unnecessarily". Do right by the trees! :)

Photos: Kammock.com


3) Make Sure you have packed all your gear


Checklist:

  • Hammock

  • Hammock Straps

  • Bug Net

  • Sleeping Pad

  • Sleeping Bag/Quilt/ or Sleeping Bag Liner

  • Daypack

I have a post explain everything that you would need for a Two Day, One Night trip coming soon. Subscribe to stay in the loop!


 

Tent VS Hammock | Weight and Price analysis


Is hammock camping really more lightweight?

Tent

For comparison sake, I am going to use an REI 2 person tent. I choose a tent that was on the pricier side of the tents they offer, coming in at $159.00. I chose this tent to compare weight wise because it is not specifically designed to be ultralight. There are definitely more lightweight tents than this out there, but I also know that there are more lightweight hammocks out there as well.


Price: $159.00

Weight: 4lb 2oz


Final Analysis


tent final Weight and Price


Tent: $159.00 | 4lb 2 oz

Sleeping Pad: $29.95 | 14 oz

Sleeping Bag: $160.30 | 2lb 5 oz

Sleeping Bag Liner: $69.65 | 14 oz


Weight Total: 8.18 lbs OR 131 oz

Price Total: $418.90

hammock final Weight and Price


Hammock: $62.10 | 10.2 oz

Hammock Straps: $26.10 | 8.2 oz

Bug Net: $79.00 | 9.8 oz

Tarp: $169.00 | 20.5 oz

Underbelly Quilt: $109.95 | 1lb 11 oz.

Sleeping Pad: $29.95 | 14 oz

Sleeping Bag: $160.30 | 2lb 5 oz

Sleeping Bag Liner: $69.65 | 14 oz


Weight Total: 8.79 lbs OR 140.70 oz

Price Total: $706.05


My VERDICT


So, from the breakdown above, you can tell that collecting all the pieces that you may need for hammocking can rack up quickly. However, most of what you need to camp in a tent can also be used to camp in a hammock! I am sure that there are more lightweight alternatives for each of the products that I presented.


I still choose a tent over the hammock option. I may change my mind later in the backpacking game, but for now, I am pretty set.


 

Have you found hammock camping to be your favorite mode of camping? Let me know below!


Best,


Lea Hart

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