Camping in a hammock is one of my absolute favorite ways to enjoy an overnight trip into the great outdoors.
Sure, tent camping is great as well, but few things beat the gentle, relaxing sway a hammock at night. Plus, sleeping in a hammock brings you up off the cold, wet ground (and away from any creepy crawly bugs!). Depending on your hammock model, it’s also one of the most lightweight ways to go camping!
Although you’ll be hard-pressed to have a bad hammock camping experience, the right gear and a little advanced know-how go a long way towards guaranteeing the trip of a lifetime.
Here are the top 21 hammock camping tips to ensure a good night’s sleep.
1. Assess Your Needs
Start by assessing your personal hammock camping needs. If you plan to go backpacking, you’ll need a much more lightweight hammock than if you primarily go car camping. Another consideration is weather. Winter hammock camping requires a much more robust setup than hammock camping in the summer.
2. Buy the Right Hammock
Not all hammocks work well for hammock camping. It’s important to buy a model specifically designed for overnight use in a camping environment. While the Mock One is an excellent choice for car camping thanks to its all-in-one design (including a portable stand), it’s much too heavy for backpacking. This is exactly why it’s essential to assess your personal needs before buying the right camping hammock for you.
3. Select the Right Accessories
Another thing that’s nice about the abovementioned Mock One is that a special version of it, the Mock One Samsara, comes with all the accessories you need for camping. This includes a bug net, rainfly, underquilt, and more. No matter the model of hammock you buy, it’s essential to also buy at least a bug net and a rainfly if you plan on camping in it. An underquilt is helpful for cold-weather camping, although many campers find themselves plenty warm with just a sleeping bag and sleeping pad.
4. Do a Test Run at Home
Most camping hammocks are relatively easy to set up and take down. However, doing so for the first time is often a little complicated. It’s much better to practice setting your hammock up at home at least once or twice before heading into the woods. You don’t want to be stuck fumbling with setup when it’s quickly starting to get dark!
5. Backpacking vs Camping
As mentioned above, hammock backpacking and hammock camping have very different gear requirements. Notably, you need to place much more emphasis on the packed size and weight of your equipment. Luckily, there are numerous high-quality options for backpacking hammocks specifically designed with weight-savings in mind. For car camping, on the other hand, there’s no reason not to bring additional gear that you might not even end up using!
6. Select the Right Campsite
Most hammocks require trees to hang. So, look for a campsite with at least two sturdy trees the right distance apart. Another option is to buy a hammock stand. Many companies offer lightweight models well suited for backpacking. However, this is yet another area where the Mock One shines. As an all-in-one portable folding hammock, it comes stock with a hammock stand that enables you to use it anywhere you please, trees or no trees.
7. Keep an Eye Out for Potential Dangers
Because hammock camping typically requires camping underneath trees, a major danger to look out for are large overhead branches that could break. Known as widow makers, these branches have the potential to break at any moment, especially in cold, wind, or snow. It’s important to never hang your hammock under trees with these precarious branches.
8. Protect the Environment
Camping in a hammock can be potentially hazardous to the environment – but it doesn’t have to be. Just make sure that you use the proper hammock tree straps to hang your hammock from a tree. Once again, the Mock One shines here since it doesn’t require trees to hang.
9. Hang for a Comfortable Lay
When it’s time to actually hang your hammock, take care to get a comfortable lay. This largely comes down to the angle at which you hang it. About a 30-degree hang angle is ideal, although you’ll find the perfect angle for you with a little practice. One thing I see is that too many beginners hang a hammock too slack. Remember your body weight will cause it to sag even more so a tighter, straighter hang is usually best. You must also remember to hang your hammock close enough to the ground that it’s easy to get in and out.
10. What If There Are No Trees?
Hanging a hammock without trees is flat out impossible unless you have a portable hammock stand or other sturdy objects (like a car roof rack or fence post). That said, it is possible to hang a hammock with one tree. Many camping hammocks can even be pitched into a tent-like shelter as a backup with a tree branch or hiking pole. If you tend to camp in areas without many trees, this is another situation when an all-in-one hammock with a stand comes in handy.
11. Create a Drip Line
A drip line is a simple water break that prevents water from seeping down into your hammock. Although they’re not really necessary in all but the rainiest weather, they are hugely convenient in very wet weather. What I’ve found to work best is a simple length of string tied to the suspension system, just outside of your rainfly. The water will run down the suspension system, hit the string, and most of it will drip down the string rather than continuing on into your sleeping quarters.
12. What to Do About Wind
Hammock camping in high winds can be difficult. The key is to find a campsite that is as sheltered as possible from the direction the wind is coming. Other than that, it’s essential to pitch your rainfly with one end facing the wind. This end should be pitched as snug to the ground as possible to prevent the wind from catching under it.
13. Adjust as Needed
Getting the perfect hammock hang takes practice. Don’t worry if you need to adjust your hammock several times on your first trip. It often takes a least a few outings before you’re completely comfortable with the hammock hang itself as well as the setup of the bug net and rainfly.
14. Set Up Your Sleeping System
Once you’re happy with your hammock hang, it’s time to set up your sleeping system. For me, this consists solely of a sleeping bag and a sleeping pad in most conditions. I prefer to use a mummy-style bag and a closed-cell foam pad. The sleeping pad isn’t so much to add comfort (my hammock is comfortable enough as is!) but more so to add an extra layer of insulation between myself and the cold air. In very cold winter conditions, I add an underquilt to my hammock camping gear list.
15. Storing Your Gear
The solution for gear storage while car camping with a hammock is simple – just throw your gear into your car overnight! Gear storage while backpacking, on the other hand, is slightly more difficult. Many hammocks have an interior storage pocket on the ridgeline, although this is generally only large enough for small essentials, like your phone, flashlight, and wallet. My go-to move for hammock backpacking is to bring a few extra carabiners along with me. I can then clip my hiking boots and backpack to the suspension straps, ensuring they’re well underneath my rainfly to keep them dry at night.
16. Use Your Hammock as a Chair
Pitch your hammock low to the ground and it doubles as a chair. I make sure that mine sits at about waist height when pitched so I can sit in it before bed. It’s quite a lot more comfortable than it might sound and it means I don’t have to bring a chair with me on backpacking trips!
17. Lay Diagonally
Once it’s time to crawl into your hammock for the night, one of the best hammock camping tips of all is to lay diagonally. Many hammock camping beginners attempt to lay straight. However, this contorts your body into a “banana” shape, placing stress on your shoulders, back, and neck. Laying diagonally in the hammock creates a much flatter, and thereby more comfortable, sleeping position.
18. Bring a Pillow
At first, it might seem more comfortable to sleep in your hammock without a pillow. However, I’ve personally found that I sleep much better with a pillow, even though using one took some getting used to. Although it’s all up to personal preference, I prefer a lightweight, soft camping pillow that compresses down small during use.
19. Don’t Forget the Basics
If it’s your first ever hammock camping trip, you might be so focused on bringing the right hammock equipment that you forget other important camping equipment! Don’t forget to go through your camping gear checklist before leaving. You don’t want to forget anything essential to an enjoyable camping trip!
20. Tweak Your Gear
There’s no set best hammock camping checklist. The gear and equipment you bring depends on your personal needs. As you go camping in a hammock more often, you’ll quickly learn what works for you and what doesn’t. For me, I’ve learned that I prefer a larger rainfly than typically comes stock (I use a DIY rainfly). I also like a lot more guy lines than most. These two simple gear adjustments enable me to sleep much more comfortably, no matter the weather conditions.
21. Bring a Tent the First Time
I always recommend you try sleeping in a hammock on a car camping trip (rather than backpacking) for the first time. Camping near your car enables you to bring plenty of extra gear, such as a tent. Having a tent on hand is important if you find that you just don’t enjoy hammock camping as much as you thought you would!
Do You Have Any Hammock Camping Tips to Add?
After years of camping in my hammock, these are the 21 best hammock camping tips that I’ve compiled.
But I know that they’re likely only the tip of the iceberg as far as tips and tricks go. That’s why I’m interested to hear from you. Do you have any additional tips to make hammock camping even more enjoyable than it already is that you’re willing to share with me?