My top hammock camping tips will ensure that your next trip is one for the record books.
Though we’ve already discussed hammock camping in depth, most thoroughly in our Hammock Camping Beginner’s Guide, I wanted to list the top ways you can make the experience even better.
So, here are my top 20 hammock camping tips that everyone needs to know.
1. Buy the Right Hammock
The first of my hammock camping tips is to buy the right hammock.
Make sure to buy a model specifically designed for camping. Avoid cheap knock-offs. As hammock camping becomes more popular, the number of low-quality hammocks go up.
I look for a model that uses high-strength, durable materials (like triple-stitched 70-denier nylon taffeta) and is rated for well over my weight (I’m around 170 pounds and prefer a hammock that supports around 400 pounds). A reputable brand name never hurts either.
2. Try It Out Before You Camp
One of my best hammock camping tips is to try out your hammock before you go camping with it!
Don’t just head out into the wilderness without using it at home first. Open up the package, set the hammock up (in your backyard or a park), and make sure you’re comfortable in it.
This will ensure that you know how to set it up when you get to your campsite. It also ensures that you can make the necessary adjustments until you’re comfortable with it.
If possible, I recommend spending a night sleeping in your new camping hammock in your backyard before you camp in the wilderness.
3. Choose the Right Spot
Don’t just pitch your hammock anywhere. Finding the right spot not only makes hammock camping more enjoyable, but it also makes it far safer.
Of course, the most important requirement is two places to anchor the hammock straps (usually trees). These should be sturdy enough to support your weight in the hammock.
Make sure that the trees are solid higher up too. Don’t camp underneath any loose branches or branches that are likely to break in cold, wet, or windy weather. The danger of widow makers is all too real.
Finally, I prefer to pitch my hammock somewhere with a natural wind block and away from areas where cold pools.
Examples of good wind blocks are boulders or dense thickets of trees. Cold air pools in basins and other low-lying areas, so I stick to higher ground (without going too high where the wind is stronger!).
4. Pitch Your Hammock Correctly
The biggest hammock camping mistake I see is improperly pitched hammocks.
Take some time before you go to learn how to pitch your hammock the right way. The most important tip is to let your hammock hang loose. Too many beginners pitch their hammock with way too little slack.
A 30-degree angle to the trees the hammock is attached to is a good starting point. Adjust from here to find the most comfortable position.
You must also avoid hanging your hammock too high. Pitch it low to the ground (but not so low you’ll touch!), so that it’s easy to get in and out of your hammock.
This article from Gear-Report is a great resource for pitching your camping hammock correctly.
5. Lay in Your Hammock Correctly
Just as important as pitching your hammock correctly is learning to lay in it correctly.
Adhering to this and other hammock camping tips will greatly improve your sleep. The key is to lay in your hammock at an angle.
If you pitch your hammock with enough slack, you’ll easily be able to lay angled. The angled position is the most comfortable sleeping position in my opinion. It also prevents the sides of the hammock from bunching up during the night.
Play around with your sleeping position until you find the one that works for you.
6. Know Your Hammock’s Features
The best camping hammocks come with a number of additional features.
My favorite is the gear pocket. Basically, the gear pocket is an attached stuff sack. It’s what your hammock balls down into during transport and storage.
When you’re using the hammock, the gear pocket is the perfect place to stash all of your important belongings.
I keep my phone, wallet, and keys in the gear pocket as well as a flashlight, a water bottle, and a snack. Basically, I stash anything I’ll need during the night in there.
The Legit Camping Hammock is an example of a model with an included gear pocket.
7. Use Your Hammock as a Chair
Another reason I like to pitch my hammock fairly low to the ground is so that it doubles as a chair.
Pitch your hammock so that it hangs at about waist height with the right amount of slack. Now you can sit in it like a camping chair.
This is one of the hammock camping tips I use the most when I’m backpacking. (I’m trying to save weight so I obviously don’t want to bring a chair along.) But the method is so comfortable that it’s also my go to when car camping!
8. Stay Warm in Your Hammock
One of the most important hammock camping tips is to learn how to stay warm in your hammock.
Cold air will circulate underneath since you’re hanging above the ground. This leads to the dreaded “cold butt” even during warmer nights.
The best way to stop this is to add insulation. A warm sleeping bag (one of my favorites is the Kelty Tuck 22 Degree Sleeping Bag) is a must.
Add a hammock underquilt (I like the ENO Ember 2 Underquilt) for bottom insulation. A hammock top quilt is essential for especially cold nights.
Even an air pad (EcoTek Outdoors Sleeping Pad is my favorite, but Klymit Hammock V Sleeping Pad is designed specifically for hammocks) will help contribute a lot of extra warmth plus a little more comfort.
Our post on hammock camping in winter has even more great tips.
9. Stay Dry in Your Hammock
A rainfly or tarp is a must whenever the forecast calls for rain. I always bring mine with me just in case. Plus, a rainfly adds a little extra insulation.
Our hammock camping gear setup outlines exactly how to pitch your rainfly so that it protects your entire hammock from rain, snow, and other moisture.
The key takeaway is to pitch it that so that ends extend well past each side of your hammock. At least a foot on both sides is my personal preference.
Make sure that your rainfly also extends well over the ends of your hammock. You don’t want to wake up with a wet head or feet.
10. Try Out a Mummy Bag
In my opinion, the warmest, most comfortable type of sleeping bag for hammock camping is a mummy bag.
A mummy bag tapers at the feet for more heat retention and a lower profile. The shape also perfectly fits into a camping hammock.
Most mummy bags include a hood for even more insulation. Scrunch it up tight in cold weather conditions to stay warm while hammock camping.
Our sleeping bag buying guide discusses both mummy bags and other types of sleeping bags in more detail.
11. Keep Bugs Away
Few things ruin an otherwise good camping trip quicker than being pestered by mosquitos and other bugs all night long.
That’s why it’s important to invest in some form of bug protection for your hammock. The obvious answer is a mosquito net like Outdoor Vitals Hammock Bug Net.
A great alternative is a mosquito head net. Your body is already protected inside your sleeping bag, so slip a mosquito head net on for total protection on a budget.
Want another way to keep the mosquitos away? Check out our review on the Thermacell Mosquito Repeller here.
12. Try a Pillow
One of the hammock camping tips that I recommend for everyone is to try a pillow.
The fact is that sleeping in a hammock can take some getting used to. Using a pillow makes it more similar to sleeping in a tent or even in your own bed. A pillow can also help you find the right sleeping angle in your hammock.
I prefer a pillow that’s lightweight and soft. My favorite camping pillow is the Therm-a-Rest Compressible Travel Pillow.
Another hammock camping tip is to simply use a balled-up sweatshirt or jacket as a pillow, so you don’t have to carry any extra equipment.
13. Bring Some Carabiners
Carabiners are, in my opinion, one of the most useful pieces of camping equipment.
Like paracord, they can be used in dozens of different ways. One of my favorites while hammock camping is as clips to hang extra gear from your hammock at night.
Clip them to the straps or underside of your hammock so that you can hang gear (like your backpack) up off the ground.
Extra carabiners are also great in a pinch. If the carabiners on your hammock break, you can use the extras to properly pitch it, so you don’t have to spend a cold night on the ground.
Someday I’ll Learn shows you 30 ways to use carabiners on your next camping trip.
14. Consider a Two-Person Hammock
The number one reason to buy a two-person camping hammock is if you plan to hammock camp with another person.
Of course, you must be close to your camping partner if you plan to go this route. Sleeping in a two-person camping hammock with another person is awfully cozy.
That said, they’re a great option for camping with a significant other. I sometimes like using mine when I’m camping alone for a more spacious experience. I’ve even used my two-person hammock while camping with my dog.
15. Bring the Right Clothing
Wearing the right clothing is essential anytime you venture out into the great outdoors.
Yet for hammock camping, it can mean the difference between a cold, miserable night and a warm, cozy one.
Warm clothing adds another layer of insulation while sleeping. When I’m camping in cold weather, I like to wear three layers of clothing.
This includes an inner layer (long underwear), a middle layer (fleece, and an outer layer (waterproof jacket and pants).
The inner layer wicks moisture away from your body, the middle layer keeps you warm, and the outer layer keeps you dry. Be sure to remove the outer layer before getting into your hammock at night!
16. Keep Your Kit Lightweight
One of my favorite things about the top camping hammocks like the Hennessy Hammock Expedition Series is that they’re so lightweight.
Their light weight and small size make them perfect for backpacking. But even the lightest camping hammock can’t offset other heavy camping gear.
So go lightweight. Our complete guide to backpacking shows you exactly how to select the lightest backpacking gear and equipment.
17. Bring a Tent the First Time
To echo one of the above hammock camping tips, bring a tent on your first hammock camping outing.
The reason is so that you can switch to a tent if you find your hammock uncomfortable. Once again, hammock camping isn’t for everyone. It’s better to be prepared with a backup plan than being forced to suffer a night of fitful sleep.
(I doubt you’ll switch to the tent though – camping hammocks are super comfortable when used correctly!)
Check out our complete tent buyer’s guide for more information!
18. Beginners, Avoid the Cold!
Hammock camping beginners should always take their first couple of trips in warm weather conditions.
Cold weather can be tough to handle in a hammock. The reason is that the cold air is able to circulate underneath you during the night. This makes insulation super important.
So avoid the cold and try hammock camping in nice weather. This will ensure that your first taste of it is pleasant and enjoyable.
19. Plan Ahead
Take the time to adequately prepare and organize for your hammock camping trip.
I start planning several days ahead of my departure date (at a minimum). This allows for time to buy any additional gear, stock up on food and supplies, and get everything packed up.
20. Practice Makes Perfect
One thing that I’ve learned over the years is that Murphy’s Law (“Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong”) almost always holds true.
Of course, proper planning reduces the risk of mistakes greatly, you should know that your first hammock camping probably trip won’t go perfectly. Maybe you forget an important item. Maybe you struggle to set up your hammock. Maybe you don’t pack enough insulation.
The key is to learn from these mistakes. Practice makes perfect in hammock camping as it does in life.
Hammock camping is a lot more fun when you come prepared.
So, use our top 20 hammock camping tips so that you buy the right hammock, bring the right gear, set everything up properly, and sleep comfortably through the night.
And be sure to check out our post Everything You Need to Know Before Trying Hammock Camping if you’re heading out for the first time.