Sometimes, hammock camping can seem like a solo affair. Most hammocks can only comfortably sleep one person. Instead of sharing a tent, every camper has to bring their own hammock. However, there are still ways to get that same group camping atmosphere with hammocks. Learn three easy ways to enhance your next hammock outing with friends as well as the pros and cons of each.
One of the things that makes camping great is spending time with your buddies out in the wild. While us hammockers can share a campfire story with the best of them, sometimes we miss the small things that come with tent camping. When you’re caught in bad weather, a couple of hours playing cards in the tent can make the rain pass quicker. When you can’t fall asleep, having a friend to talk life with can finally get you both to doze off. When you just can’t wake up to catch the sunrise, a nudge from your tent-mate may reward you with magical views.
Part of the hammock experience is having a little slice of comfort all for yourself. Everyone brings their own hammock and their own hammock rain fly. But just because everyone has their own shelter, it doesn’t mean that you can’t recreate some of the experiences that comes with sharing a tent.
Hang on adjacent trees
In a lot of places, it’s not too difficult to find trees that are positioned close enough to hang hammocks side-by-side. You’ll want the trees to be closer than normal if you’re expecting rain. Diamond rainflys might be too small for more than one person. A hexagon or a larger rectangular rainfly will cover enough area for two or more hammockers.
Hammocking together like this also confers some unexpected advantages. Not too long ago, I took a winter trip into the Sierra Nevadas with Wilson and our friend Brendan. During the hike to our first campsite, my sleeping pad slipped out of the backpack straps without any of us noticing. When we set up camp beside a frozen lake, I was dumbfounded when I didn’t see my sleeping pad strapped to my pack. It was my only form of bottom insulation and I had lost it somewhere on the trail. My sleeping bag didn’t have an insulated bottom. It only had a thin sheet of nylon with a pouch to insert sleeping pads into, so using the sleeping bag burrito trick was out of the question.
Neither Wilson nor Brendan had an extra pad with them. However, Wilson did have his under quilt. We came up with an idea so that I wouldn’t have to spend the night shivering. Setting up our hammocks close together, we attached the under quilt underneath both hammocks. It worked, and we both managed to get some sleep despite the subzero temperatures.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can consider stacking camping hammocks on the two trees. This method has its own advantages and drawbacks. On one hand you’ll only need to bring one rainfly and everyone will be able to stay dry. On the other hand, if the person at the top needs to go to the bathroom, it might be tough not to wake everyone up.
Stacking hammocks is a little bit difficult to do. For one, the hammocker at the top can’t be scared of heights. The hammockers that are higher up can use the first couple hammocks as a wobbly ladder. You and your friends should arrange themselves by weight. The heaviest should go on the bottom with the lightest at the top. You’ll want to find some extra sturdy trees as well, since the collective weight will be much higher. Don’t get too crazy with the height either. Serious injury can result if you try to hammock too high up so make sure you stay safe while hammocking.
Overall this method is not recommended for more than two people. It’s pretty difficult for the people at the top to get in and out of their hammocks. Plus you might wake up with your buddy’s butt hanging in front of your face.
Triangle (or other shape) Method
My favorite method. This technique is best used on clear nights with little chance of rain. Find three trees positioned like points on a triangle. Then throw on the tree straps and have everyone set up their hammocks to form the sides of the triangle. Bonus points if you’re to do this around a small campfire in the middle. Just make sure to keep the fire small so sparks don’t burn your hammock!
You can use the trees as points for any number of geometric shapes to suit your needs. Rhombuses, pentagons, rectangles with a diagonal going across it – the possibilities are endless.
This style of setting up your hammocks is a bit more tricky when hit with bad weather. Depending on the geometry of your campsite, adjacent campers might have find their rainflys overlapping. However, don’t be afraid to mix and match the various techniques to find the perfect fit for both the elements and your buddies. Part of the beauty of hammock camping is the versatility. Get creative and find the best setup for any situation!