Gone are the days when hammocks were used for naps only. More and more folks are realizing that sleeping in a hammock is awesome. Hammock camping is becoming a “thing” and we love it. Why are more people choosing hammocks for their adventure sleeping method of choice? Let’s dig into that first, then we’ll talk about how.
Benefits of Hammock Camping
1. You can get off the ground! Remember all those times you had to clear the perfect spot for your tent? No one can sleep if a rock or root is stabbing them in the back. You’ve probably spent hours moving rocks, sticks, and dirt to make the perfect, even, stab-free tent placement. Forget all that with a hammock, which will cradle you comfortably in the air. If it rains, there will be no worry about water leaking in from the ground. You also won’t have to share the ground with bugs, snakes, or other critters.
2. It’s good for your back. There is something about the shape of a hammock — the cradle, the elevated head placement, the gentle traction on your spine, the lack of pressure points — that make it incredibly comfortable. Search the hammock forums and you’ll find hundreds of anecdotes from people claiming they healed their back pain by switching to hammocks. If you are out in the wilderness backpacking, climbing, biking, or hunting for days at a time, you know how important restful sleep is. Hammock camping is restorative because it allows you to get a good night’s rest without tossing and turning on a mat. And doesn’t camp coffee just taste better when you’ve slept well? (This is in no way medical advice, only anecdotal AND personal experience that we believe in.)
3. Your campsite options open up BIG TIME. If you’re sleeping in a tent, you need flat ground. Even the tiniest slope will make sleeping difficult if not impossible. We’ve all made the mistake of settling for a less-than-flat spot and regretted it when we woke up in a ball in the corner of our tent. Well, once you’re in the air, that’s obviously a non-issue. When you’re hammock camping, you’re not at the mercy of flat ground any longer.
Thinking you might want to try it? Read on to discover how.
How to go hammock camping
Preparing to hammock camp is not all that different from preparing to regular camp.
The first thing to do is pick your spot.
Will you be in the mountains? On the prairie? Your own backyard? Near water? At a campground? You’ll want to know what the ground and tree situation is like so you can choose the right gear. (More on that in a minute). You may need a site reservation or a trails pass, depending on where you go, so make sure to research the requirements of the area. You’ll also want to know what the weather will be like because that will also affect what you bring along.
Now it’s time to decide on your gear.
Will you be carrying it on your back for miles or pulling it out of the back of your SUV? This will affect how much weight you’ll want to pack. Here is a list of suggestions for your trip:
Hammock and suspension. For camping, you’ll definitely want a hammock with a bug net that you can zip closed. (Unless you want to wear a bug net on your face all night!) What hammock to buy? There are TONS of choices out there, and that would be a whole separate blog post (or series). A few minutes with your search engine should help you pick a good hammock to start with.
If you aren’t planning on using trees, see below. If you are, you’ll need a good pair of tree straps. They are lightweight, strong, pack easily, and won’t do damage to the bark of the trees.
Hammock stand. Many hammock campers choose not to depend on trees. This is smart because sometimes you may not be able to find two strong trees just the right distance apart. Also, more and more camping areas are restricting hanging hammocks from trees. You may also want to camp at a place where there are no trees! Hammock on the beach anyone? So if you’re not using trees, you’ll probably need a hammock stand!
At YOBOgear, we’ve got ya covered for hammock stands. ALL of our stands are lightweight and ALL of them can be set up on uneven ground. Our Cricket Stand doesn’t require any staking and weighs less than eight pounds. For a friendlier price range and lighter weight, try Freedom Stand – Two Sides. She needs to be staked out so there is a slight learning curve to using her. She is worth it, we promise! If you’re confident you’ll have a tree, post, or vehicle to suspend one side of your hammock from, try the Freedom Stand – One Side for an ultra lightweight setup.
Stakes. This is where you’ll need to know your ground type. If you are using our Freedom Stand or another staked hammock stand, using the right stakes is crucial. You can find stakes at your local outdoor gear store or sometimes even your hardware store. You may have to try out a few different kinds to figure out what works best for you. I can tell you right now that tiny little tent stakes WON’T DO! For easy fail-safe options, we do sell hammock-stand rated stakes on our website. For grass or hard ground, we recommend straight stakes like our 12″ aluminum stakes. They can be pounded in an “X” shape for an extra strong hold. For soft ground or sand, we have the YOBOgear Spade Anchor. There may be a little trial and error to find the right stakes, but you’ll figure it out in no time.
Hammock Tarp. Even if it’s not supposed to rain, we highly recommend bringing along a tarp for your hammock. Not only will it provide shelter from unexpected weather or wind, it is also nice to have shade in the middle of the day! Additionally, you can put your gear underneath it to keep it safe and dry.
Warmth. Some folks bring their sleeping bags right into their hammock. There is nothing wrong with this, but it isn’t ideal for a couple of reasons. First, it’s just too dang hard to move. Imagine trying to roll over to your other side while simultaneously being in a sleeping bag AND a hammock? It’s funny until you’re in the forest at 2am and can’t get comfortable. Also, it’s not very warm. The sleeping bag gets compressed against the hammock so you lose a lot of insulation that way. The solution? Hammock under quilts and over quilts. Under quilts clip onto the bottom of your hammock to keep your booty warm. Over quilts go over the top. We’ve also been known to use a Rumpl blanket in our hammock.
Ready to try it?
Now that we’ve switched to hammock camping, we won’t go back to the old way. The peaceful nights, ease of setup, and comfort make us look forward to being in nature as much as possible. I guess you could call us happy campers. 😁