Hammock camping is a booming trend for adventure lovers and serial relaxers alike. The comfort, ease of use and portability makes a hammock superior to a traditional ground shelters in many situations. If you’re new to the world of hammock camping, here are a few hammock camping essentials to get you started. Even if you’re a hammock aficionado, these hammock camping tips will teach you something new.
Hammock Tip #1 – Cold Butt Syndrome (CBS) and How To Battle it
On a hot summer day, serac hammocks will keep you in a state of bliss. You’ll be swaying slowly in the shade while the cool breeze blows around you.
But as temperatures drop, you’ll be feeling a slight chill on the underside of the hammock. To insulate yourself, especially overnight, you’ll want use a sleeping pad. In a hammock, the wider the sleeping pad, the better. A 40inch wide pad will give you more space to toss and turn than a 24 inch foam pad.
You’ll also have the option of a 3/4 length pad or a full length pad. I personally go with the 3/4 pad to insulate my torso and upper body while using my pack or clothes to insulate my legs. It saves me a ton of space and weight which really adds up on multi day journeys.
But my favorite option is hammock underquilt – especially from the guys at Hammock Gear. From a weight to warmth ratio perspective, there’s no beating a down underquilt. I find that the incubator 20 isn’t too warm for autumn nights and is actually rated conservatively. I’ve taken it down into the teens before. But that will also depend from person to person. The one downside to an underquilt is if you get stuck without trees, you can’t use it for bottom insulation. By laying directly on the underquilt on the ground, you compress the down and that takes away any insulation.
If underquilts are a bit too much check out these options for insulation that won’t blow your budget.
Some people think using an underquilt during the summer is overkill. But as long as you’re not using a 0 degree rated quilt, you should be ok using that in the summer. As a huge bonus, you might not even need a sleeping bag or top quilt! In warmer temperatures, the micro climate your underquilt creates can be enough to keep you warm through the night. Learn how to make an inexpensive summer underquilt.
Hammock Tip #2 – Keep the Bugs out
The #1 most common reaction I get from people when I tell them I use a hammock instead of a tent is “What about the bugs??”. Fair question. But the solution is simple – bug nets!
There are 2 types of bug nets or bug socks for hammocks. The first kind is the modular mosquito net. These types of mosquito nets encase the hammock within the net, preventing pesky mosquitos and other bugs from biting you in your sleep.
The other type of bug nets are attached to the hammock. And I actually prefer these. I find the modular bug nets a bit of a hassle to set up. But some people dislike feeling enclosed in the attached bug net, especially if there are no bugs out.
Bonus Tip: Flip the mosquito net hammock upside down so the net is underneath. You can then use the hammock like any regular hammock without the net obscuring your views. Also if you get lazy and don’t want to leave the hammock (as people often do), you can use the now underneath net to store clothes and other light gear. Unfortunately, this tip doesn’t apply for the Hennessy Hammock systems because of their design.
Hammock Tip #3 – Stuff Sack Storage
Serac hammocks come with the attached stuff sack. A great bonus for storing your camping hammock and compacting it down. It keeps the hammock small and the drawstring even allows you to clip it onto your backpack. But aside from the obvious, the attached stuff sack makes a great easy access pocket for when you’re lounging around on your hammock. I always love to empty my pocket of my keys or phone when I lay down. It’s much more comfortable, and I can make sure I have nothing sharp that might rip my hammock. The stuff sack is perfectly situated for you to store your belongings while you relax. You can even keep a cold beer in there. Don’t swing too wildly though or you’ll risk spilling your beer 😉
Before heading to sleep, the stuff sack even makes a great night stand for your glasses, headlamp, or even a kindle if you enjoy a good read before bed.
Hammock Tip #4 – Tree Hugger Straps
Our tree hugger straps are a game changer. Before I used straps, I would spend about 15 minutes setting up my hammock – tying knots, taking them down, adjusting tension, making sure they won’t undo in the middle of the night… and repeat because the hammock was too taught. That was a nightmare. Not to mention terrible for the trees.
With tree straps, you can sleep safe and sound. Plus, set up is so quick and easy. Just wrap the straps around the trees and clip the carabiners in. Because there are 10 anchor points on each strap, you can easily adjust the tension to your liking.
Best of all, the straps keep our trees safe. Because of the wider surface area, the force of you and the hammock is spread out. This way, you won’t tear through the bark, damaging the tree. Learn more about how hammocks are great for follow Leave No Trace Principles.
Hammock Tip #5 – Level your hammock
Sometimes you’ll find yourself sliding to one end of the hammock. This is because your hammock isn’t level. You’ll want to make sure your hammock is level to prevent you from sliding throughout the night. The first thing to do is to check your straps. Are both straps of equal length? If not, you’ll want to even them out as best as you can. With all materials, the straps may stretch a tiny bit throughout the night. This can throw off your hammock level. By making sure both straps are the same length, they’ll stretch at the same rate. The next thing to check is the strap height. Make sure the straps are level and at the same height. Once you’ve taken care of those 2 steps, your hammock should be perfectly balanced. If you find yourself still sliding to one side, move the straps up an inch or two on that side.
Hammock Tip #6 – Clothes Line
These straps come in handy in so many ways. I like to keep my clothes and gear off the ground when I camp. The straps can easily be used to hang wet clothes from to dry off. If you’re a camera guy like me, you want to protect your baby. Hang your DSLR from the straps instead of having it sit in the dirt. If it’s raining and you’re really worried about your clothes or camera you can use your hammock tarp ridgeline as an alternative. By hanging your damp clothes right under the tarp, you can guarantee they won’t get soaked. Just make sure they’re not dripping wet before you hang them above you!
Hammock Tip #7 – Settle In
I know it’s super comfy to jump in your hammock. And after a long day of trekking you probably want to pass out the second you lay down. But take a second and make sure everything is set up to your liking. Adjust your sleeping pad or quilt. Get your perfect angle. Make sure the hammock is level. The last thing you want to do is wake up in the middle of the night uncomfortable. Then you’ll have to make adjustments in the dark while you’re tired and groggy. So make sure everything is just to your liking before you call it a day. And don’t forget to keep your headlamp in the stuff sack – just in case you need to get up while it’s still dark out.
If you have any more tips and tricks, feel free to chime in on the comments below.