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Imagine swaying in the breeze under a star-filled sky. Does this sound like your idea of a perfect vacation? Then hammock camping may be right for you. Hammocks come in all shapes and sizes, but the kind equipped for camping tend to be made from thin fabric without any support beams. Light as they might be, hammocks provide incredible support and comfort, making them one of the best ways to get a good night’s sleep while traveling.

Still not convinced? This article will delve into the details behind hammock camping to help you understand why this innovative sleep method needs to become a staple for your next trip.

What is Hammock Camping?

Hammocks have been used as a bed in many traditions for thousands of years, especially in the tropical climates of Latin America. These swinging beds were also a staple for the Navy, as they took up less space than cots and lulled sailors comfortably to sleep. Today, hammocks are a popular recreational item and are the perfect accessory to take with you on a relaxing day outdoors.

When you picture a hammock, you probably think of a classic rope hammock with a big spreader bar on the top and bottom. While these hammocks are great for lounging on a tropical beach, they tend to be heavy and aren’t comfortable for sleeping, making them impractical for hammock camping.

While are spreader hammocks uncomfortable? The reason comes from their positioning. These hammocks disrupt the natural center of gravity in a hammock, meaning that all your weight will sink into the middle, making you sleep in a comfortable V. These hammocks are also unstable, meaning that getting in one too quickly can cause the entire hammock to tip over with you inside.

In contrast, camping hammocks are designed differently. Because they don’t contain a spreader bar, you won’t have to worry about where your center of gravity ends up inside it. In the same way, these hammocks won’t force you to lie directly in the middle. Instead, you can spread out diagonally and evenly displace your weight without any tension or tipping at certain parts of the hammock, ensuring that you can sleep comfortably for hours at a time.

To make this work, however, you need to hang your hammock a little loosely. Otherwise, the sides will curl up around you, and you’ll soon feel like a sausage in its casing. A loose hammock gives you plenty more space to stretch out, so work to get it right the first time!

13 Reasons You Should Start Hammock Camping

Hammock camping enthusiasts all agree, there is no better way to sleep outside. If you aren’t convinced, these 13 reasons for sleeping in a hammock might convince you of their benefits.

1. Lighter than a Tent

Let’s be real. No one likes lugging around a heavy backpack in the backcountry, which is why taking a hammock instead is a better idea for your back. Even with next gear like a bug net and tarp, you’ll still save the weight of the tent poles and stakes, making hammock camping the ideal choice for a minimalist who doesn’t want to be weighed down.

2. Surprisingly Comfortable

You might not think you could spend the whole night sleeping in a hammock, but it doesn’t take long to be so acclimated to this sleeping that you practically prefer it to your bed! If you don’t feel comfortable, the problem might be with the tightness of how you’re spreading yourself out. Keep experimenting, and you’re likely to find the position that best suits your body

3. Quick and Easy to Set Up

Are you sick of struggling with a tent? Hammocks require few parts, which makes them quick and easy to set up (so long as you have places to attach them available!). Simply secure the ends to a tree or other vertical surface and test out the tautness until you reach a position that’s comfortable.

4. Less Expensive Than a Tent

While it’s easy to go crazy with hammock camping and buy plenty of extra gear, you can also make hammock camping incredibly minimalist and get by with just a hammock and possibly a tarp. This will save you money on buying an ultra-lightweight tent and leave you with more money to splurge on fun camping gear like solar lanterns.

5. Easy to Find Camping Spots

If you’ve ever struggled to find a camping site because the ground was filled with rocks or too uneven, you know what a pain it can be. In contrast, hammock camping lets you set up anywhere with trees big enough to support you. Even water won’t be an issue, so spongy ground is perfectly suitable

6. Leave No Trace

Hammock camping is one of the least damaging ways to spend time in nature. You won’t need to worry about your tent crushing vegetation beyond repair, making it easy to leave your site exactly like you found it.

7. Ideal for Emergencies

The hope is that this never happens, but hammocks are ideal for facing an emergency situation. Their bright colors and big blocks of fabric make them suitable for use as a signaling flag to catch the attention of a rescue crew. In a pinch, it can also work as an emergency sleeping bag. Just fill your hammock with grass, leaves or other insulating material, and you’ll stay warmer throughout the night

8. You’ll Sleep Much Better

Believe it or not, hammocks are equipped to give you a significantly better night’s sleep than a tent. So long as you know how to set it up correctly, you’re likely to spend less of the night tossing and turning from rocks and roots underneath your sleeping pad

Hammocks in the forest

9. More Outdoorsy

The whole goal of going camping is spending more time outdoors, right? Hammock camping lets you sleep directly under the stars, getting you in touch with nature in a way that a can’t just can’t replicate. Don’t trap yourself into a tight storage unit of a tent each night; hammock camping will expand your world instead of shrinking it

10. Just as Secure as a Tent (With Accessories)

You might feel unstable knowing that you’re suspended above the ground, but hammock camping can keep you just as safe from the adverse weather as a tent. Depending on the accessories you bring with it, you can enjoy the benefits of a bug net, rain fly, and even warming pads. There’s no reason to claim your hammock is making you feel uncomfortable, so long as you know how to set it up for optimal enjoyment.

11. It’s A Hammock!

Need more be said? Spending time in a hammock has a novelty factor that a tent just can’t match, and your friends will soon be jealous by your innovative sleep strategy. After a night or two, you might convince them to try hammock camping for themselves!

12. More than Just Sleeping

Are you looking for a lightweight camp chair or just a place to sit while you make dinner? Your hammock is the perfect addition to camp life and will keep you comfortable throughout the day, especially when you just need to relax.

13. Easier to Camp Next to a Water Source

Camping next to a source of fresh water is one of the primary rules for being successful in the backcountry, but streambeds don’t always provide great camping conditions. You can avoid the stress of camping in muddy conditions or uneven ground by sleeping above ground in your hammock instead. Practical AND comfortable!

Hammock Camping in Cold Weather

A significant question that hammock camping enthusiasts get asked frequently is how they stay warm in cold weather, and for a good reason. Without the insulating confines of a tent, it’s easy to have cold winds come underneath you and freeze your backside. Without taking appropriate measures for hammock camping in cold weather, your hammock experience is likely to be miserable.

Unless you’re lucky enough to spend your days camping in the tropics, it’s essential that you take precautions to ensure that you can stay warm enough. A significant factor is bringing a warm enough sleeping bag, but you will also want a sleeping pad. This prevents cold winds from coming at you from below and can keep you comfortably situated in the hammock as well. While an inexpensive foam pad will go far towards keeping you comfortable, an inflatable pad tends to be the warmest.

Another way to stay your warmest while hammock camping in cold weather is to use a rain fly as a windbreaker. You can set it up so snuggly around your hammock that it works like a tent to keep cold air from cutting into you.

For a genuinely cozy (though bulky) way to stay warm while sleeping in a hammock, you can attach a quilt to the underside, or even sleep inside it to use it like a sleeping bag that goes around the hammock. Having the quilt under the hammock is crucial though, as your body weight would otherwise compress it and reduce its ability to insulate.

Top 10 Best Hammocks for Hammock Camping

Choosing the right hammock can be tricky, but these ten options are the perfect place to start.

1. Winner Outfitters Double Camping Hammock

This supportive and stable hammock is big enough for two people and can support up to 500 pounds. Thanks to its use of 201T nylon parachute fabric, it’s a lightweight option for taking on your next camping trip, beach vacation, or international travel. To make things easier for you, the hammock comes with tree straps, a .3 inch rope, and strong carabiners that shouldn’t rust after years of use.

2. Wise Owl Outfitters Hammock for Camping

Never worry about falling out of a hammock again! This super soft, yet surprisingly durable nylon material comes with a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee, ensuring that you won’t regret your purchase. You can choose between a ‘Single Owl’ or ‘Double Owl’ size, depending on how many people you want to fit in your sleeping space. This hammock also comes with carabiners and hanging straps- no extra purchasing necessary.

3. COVACURE Lightweight Portable Double Parachute Hammocks

With a capacity of 440 pounds and at almost nine feet long, this hammock is guaranteed to be comfortable for everyone. Each hammock comes with straps and carabiners to keep you secure, and the included mosquito net makes it easy for you to stay unbitten throughout the night. Know worries about experiencing buyer’s remorse; this hammock comes with a 6-month guarantee.

4. Newdora Camping Hammocks

Looking to stay comfortable throughout the night? This hammock boasts a softer and stronger knit than others on the market, and it’s rated for over 600 pounds. At just 17 ounces, this hammock is simple to toss into your backpack, ensuring you can enjoy some hammock camping anywhere at a moment’s notice.

5. Honest Outfitters Single & Double Camping Hammock with Hammock Tree Straps

Don’t compromise on size or quality by committing to either the single or double model from Honest Outfitters. This hammock is made from 210T nylon fabric and will support up to 500 pounds, a shocking amount when you see how light and thin this hammock is. You get the complete package with your purchase (hanging straps included!), which makes it the perfect gift for graduates and outdoor enthusiasts.

6. Bear Butt Double Hammock

The Bear Butt hammock is on the top of its class for awesome camping design. Made from top quality 75D Nylon Taffeta material with a 210 thread count, this hammock is advertised as being “as soft as the sheets at a 5-star hotel’. You’ll honestly feel like you can relax in comfort on your camping trip, and the set comes with all the hanging straps and carabiners you need to set it up securely. Best of all, Bear Butt boasts a “Way Too Easy Return Policy” that lets you request a refund or replacement for any reason.

7. Eclypse II Camping Hammock Professional Grade Ripstop Nylon Strength

‘Snug as a bug’ isn’t a bad thing when it comes to the Eclypse II hammock design. Not made from parachute nylon, this hammock instead boasts professional grade ripstop nylon and triple sticking to keep you secure. Though it’s designed with the needs of one person in mind, many customers found they can comfortably fit a friend inside as well. At just a pound (including all the straps) this hammock is simple to take on any hammock camping adventure.

8. Legit Camping – Double Hammock

Don’t commit to a hammock that runs out of space when you can use the Double Camping Hammock from Legit Camping instead. This portable hammock makes grab and go camping easy, allowing you to pack it into your bag before any adventure. The straps are designed to be easy on trees, ensuring you won’t need to worry about leaving a trace. Worried about your purchase? The company offers a lifetime guarantee.

9. Double Hammock – Everest

You get the full package with this hammock: top quality tree saver straps, aluminum lightweight carabiners and a double hammock weighted at over 400 pounds. Best of all, the hammock comes with heavy duty mosquito mesh, allowing you to keep the bugs far away from interrupting your nap. This hammock is also fully reversible, making setup easier because you don’t need to identify the “right” side to sleep in.

10. ENO Eagles Nest Outfitters – DoubleNest Hammock

Keep things cozy and comfortable with this leading hammock brand. ENO strives to reduce waste with each hammock they build, meaning you never quite know how the design turns out. Falling out will never be a risk though, as each single-sized hammock can support up to 400 pounds.

Additional Hammock Camping Gear You Might Need

For serious campers, merely having your hammock might not be enough. To truly be comfortable for days at a time, it’s essential to have some extra gear with you that’s designed to keep you warmer, dryer, and less bug bitten. Don’t worry! None of this gear is all that expensive OR bulky, meaning that it won’t take away from your low maintenance camping trip.

Mosquito Netting

Bugs might be inevitable when you spend time outside, but you don’t need to give them the power to bother you while you sleep. There are plenty of hammock bug net designs that will help you relax comfortably without any bugs getting close to you. Most of these nets are designed to be hung from the same trees as the hammock itself and allow for complete protection against them. Usually, there are two open ends for fitting the hammock inside that can be cinched tight through Velcro or a zipper to prevent any insect activity.

For a less involved option, you can also drape an all-purpose mosquito net over your hammock. Just be aware that it might not completely close around you, potentially letting bugs in.

Rain Fly

While hammocks are most cozy when you can sleep directly under the stars, sometimes the weather just won’t cooperate. However, your hammock camping experience won’t be ruined by less-than-stellar weather if you plan. Bringing a rain fly makes it easy to keep out of the elements, and there are some rain flies that are specifically designed for use in a hammock.  Most of these flies are ultra-lightweight, making them easy to take with you into the backcountry. They are also intended to be easy to attach to the support structure that you use for your hammock.

Hammock Straps

Some hammock brands come complete with hanging straps, and others require you to buy them separately. This is a crucial detail to clarify before going on a camping trip. Otherwise, you might be left with a hammock that won’t hang. Many hammock brands sell their brand of straps (like the ENO SlapStraps), but there usually isn’t any reason that certain straps need to be used for a certain hammock, so feel free to mix and match.

Some people also prefer to forgo hammock straps entirely in favor of using plain rope instead. This isn’t preferable, as rope puts all the pressure of your body weight on one particular section of the tree and can cause damage. In contrast, a strap displaces some of this weight so that you aren’t putting too much pressure on the tree.

Insulation

Cold, sleepless nights are one of the worst ways to spend your hammock camping experience, so it’s important to take precautions if the weather is expected to be chilly. Using a sleeping pad directly in the hammock will make a big difference, but the best thing that you can do is to attach an under quilt to the bottom. This provides a layer of insulation that you won’t crush, which prevents cold air from coming up to your backside all night long. Don’t want to pay the price for an under quilt? Threading your sleeping bag through the hammock can have the same effect, as it will prevent you from crushing the under insulation.

About Author

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Lydia Noyes is an Appalachian homesteader and writer that lives on a land trust deep in the mountains of West Virginia.