Weekend warriors and serious campers alike go camping for their love of nature, and what better way to savor the beauty of the great outdoors than sleeping in a camping hammock, with nothing but the sky over your head.
Now, there’s an important distinction to be made here – that between chilling hammocks and camping hammocks. While the names are pretty self-explanatory, we should still mention that the first type features a spread bar (a length of wood, more often than not), that, well… spreads the fabric, and makes the hammock unstable.
Hammocks are not supposed to be unstable! You’ll see them in thousands of backyards across the States, and they’re OK for a spat of lounging around, but anyone bringing that thing to the woods is just asking for it.
A real camping hammock, on the other hand, will have a single gather point at each end, and you’d be hard pressed to find a way of falling out of one of these.
There are two ways to go about camping – with a hammock or with a tent. Just so we’re clear, both have its advantages and disadvantages, the tent’s major selling point being the full enclosure. However, here are a few reasons why you should go for a hammock instead (not to mention the coolness factor).
One, it takes much less time to set up and take down. All you have to do is find two appropriate trees, tie a few simple knots, and you’re good to go (or stay, rather).
Secondly, you will fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly. A hammock has no pressure points, so it should be more forgiving on your anatomy, letting you relax in ways a bed could never do.
Moreover, not being in contact with the ground means less heat loss (through conduction). This means you’ll need less insulation in cold climates.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, choosing a hammock means less weight to lug around, which is always a pro if you have a lot of distance to cover.
Here are a few tips and tricks on how to choose and (ab)use your hammock.
Most hammocks start at 4 feet in terms of width but can go as wide as 8–8.5 feet. Anything over 6 feet is great for couples, but we wouldn’t put it past singles to use them. Still, hammocks between 4 and 6 feet are decidedly meant for single users. As far as length goes, the majority of them fall into the 9–11 feet range. The rule of thumb says that if you’re 6 feet and upwards, you need a 10-foot hammock or longer, and if you’re shorter, the other way round. Whatever you do, make sure you try how it feels before buying.
The weight can go as low as 7 ounces, but more luxurious hammocks will reach a couple of pounds. Still, together with the suspension system, most hammocks shouldn’t be more than 10 to 15 ounces, which is more than bearable (no pun intended).
As far as suspending a camping hammock goes, even a simple knot around the tree could do, but you should find something… more secure (not judging your knotting skills, just being precautionary). Most of the time, the suspension system comes with the hammock, and it’ll be calculated into the price, but sometimes it’s sold separately. When it does come with, the usual stock system is webbing.
Painting with a broad brush, we can divide camping hammock suspension systems like so:
Static weight, go between 150 and 500 lbs, keep in mind that the numbers on weight limits are rather conservative, so you can probably get away with 50ish pounds over the ceiling. Still, check the fabric regularly for signs of wear
Most camping hammocks are made from lightweight and breathable nylon to keep cool in summer. There are also cotton hammocks, though these are designed for at-home use and will usually have a spreader bar.
As far as insulation goes, you can add a sleeping pad or any blanket you have lying around. You can also buy an underquilt (attach it to the outside of the hammock to use its insulation qualities to the fullest) or topquilt (sort of like a pad), or even use your sleeping bag for extra insulation if you feel the need.
Camping hammocks will usually come without any accessories, but sometimes, manufacturers might throw in tarps for proofing against inclement weather and/or protection screens, meshes, permethrin-treated bug-proof fabric, add-on bug nets, the whole shebang.
When choosing a spot for your hammock, you should look for a couple of trees at least 6 inches in diameter and spaced about 3 to 5 yards apart. Attach the suspension system at head height and install the hammock making sure the bottom of it is at a chair height. Watch out for loose branches, and always have extra length of webbing (6 to 8 feet), just in case you can’t find any trees slim enough,
Many folks would hate to admit, but the main reason they don’t use camping hammocks is that they don’t trust them. Here are a few pointers on how to lie into a hammock without any risks.
Did you like reading my article? I do hope so! Do you want to share more from my list? I’m sure you will find more compelling ways to choose a budget-friendly campsite. Don’t hesitate to share your ideas with me in the comments section below. If you enjoyed reading my article, please share it with your friends who have plans of camping in the future.
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