camping hammock

HOW TO SETUP A CAMP HAMMOCK

Pulling up at a campsite with the car loaded up to the brim, I always feel like people are looking at me. It’s probably all in my head but I get the same sensation every time I arrive at a campsite.

But when I pull out that hammock and start assembling it while everyone else is messing around with tent poles, people really start looking. The tent and sleeping bag combo is so ingrained in the psyche of the camping community that anyone who pulls up with a hammock is treated like a creature from another planet.

The thing is with these modern camping hammocks, you don’t need a place to tie your hammock too. That is where the biggest misconception lies. There are plenty of gadgets with smart designs that allow you to set your hammock up anywhere. I think that is what throws everyone off because they are wondering where I am going to put it.

Since I discovered hammock camping, I am reluctant to go back to roll mats and sleeping bags. But why are the camping community reluctant to take up this liberating form of sleeping? Partly, it’s because most people’s idea of hammocks is the unstable, uncomfortable rope variety most people have in their garden. The kind where if, by some miracle, you managed to stay perfectly balanced for more than 5 minutes to get any sleep at all, you wake up torn to shreds by the thin ropes digging into your sleeping body.

Camping hammocks come in a variety of designs and materials. But unlike the garden hammocks, they offer stability, and comfort, allowing you to get a great night’s sleep.

STAYING WARM

In the rare occasion, when you are using your hammock in colder climates, you might have an issue keeping warm. Unlike in a tent where the air can’t pass under your body, in a hammock, the breathable fabric can allow cold air to pass through. If you are venturing to colder locations, use a sleeping pad under you to provide more insulation. A sleeping bag and sleeping pad together should provide enough warmth for hammock camping most of the year. Some hammocks have two bottom layers of material to hold your sleeping pad in place so it doesn’t come out from under you in the night.

The only issue using sleeping pads in a hammock is that they can cause condensation. Any air that gets through your pad becomes trapped and by the morning you might find that moisture has formed. It should keep you warm through the night though. Once you are sold on the merits of hammock camping, invest in an underquilt for the best protection from the cold, without the danger of condensation.

MOSQUITO NETS

Another issue for those making the transition from the tent to the hammock is dealing with insects. Tents offer respite from hungry mosquitos but with a hammock, you remain a little more exposed. I would recommend picking up a bug net to go with your hammock. There are specifically designed hammock nets, but an all-purpose net will do the trick if it is big enough and long enough to completely cover the hammock. Hammocks with built-in mosquito nets are also available.

PROTECTION FROM THE RAIN

A rain fly is essentially a lightweight material that protects from the rain made of the same material that tents are. You can get ultralight tarps that won’t even add much weight to your pack. Silnylon is a great, lightweight material to hang as a rain fly.

CHECK YOUR HANGING SPOT CAREFULLY

In the same way you look for a suitable place to set up your tent, you will need to be particularly aware of your surroundings before you set up your hammock. If you are like me, and like to the trees when they are available and you are allowed to use them, I go for a tree that has a trunk a little larger than I can wrap my arms around. Even if there is only one, I have my own hiking truss assembly and pole extensions that I can put in the ground and secure with tie-downs much in the same way you hold down a lightweight, portable gazebo. It’s all very easy and I am just so up for the comfort.

As always, you need to look around and above you, you don’t want to set up in a place where something could fall on your head and break your skull, now do you?

 


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Oli Ward
oli@dinga.com.au

Oli has camped and hiked his way around Australia and most of Europe. He also loves writing about his experiences and sharing his knowledge.