Hammock camping is hands down one of my favorite ways to enjoy the great outdoors.
Not much beats lounging in your hammock as the forest quiets all around you and the stars come out overhead at night. But camping in a hammock can be a little intimidating, especially if you’ve never done so before.
Whether you’re a true beginner just getting started or a hammocking veteran looking for insider tips, my top 21 hammock camping tips will help you make the most of your camping hammock!
Top Hammock Camping Tips for 2020
Here are our top 21 hammock camping tips for 2020 in no particular order:
1. Select the Right Hammock
Buy a hammock specifically made for camping. Avoid cheap knock-offs. It’s usually best to buy from an established brand to avoid a low-quality product.
Select a model that uses high-strength, durable materials. Triple-stitched 70-denier nylon taffeta is a good bet. Look for a model with a maximum capacity rated for well over your total body weight and gear weight. The camping hammock you choose should be compatible with common hammock accessories, such as a rainfly and bug net. Lightweight models are available for backpacking.
The ENO SingleNest has long been one of my favorite camping hammocks. A two-person model, the ENO DoubleNest, is also available. For a camping hammock with all the accessories included, the Hennessy Explorer Deluxe Asym Zip can’t be beat.
2. Try It Out Before You Camp
Don’t just head out into the wilderness without first trying your hammock out at home. Set the hammock up in your backyard, a local park, or even inside your house. Make sure you’re comfortable both setting it up and sleeping in it before your camping trip.
If possible, spend a night sleeping in your new camping hammock in your backyard before you camp in the wilderness. This helps ensure you’ll get a good night sleep before you head out into the woods.
3. Choose the Right Spot
Don’t just hang your hammock anywhere. Selecting the right spot not only makes hammock camping more enjoyable, but it also makes it much safer.
Select two trees (or other anchor points) about 10 feet apart. They must be strong enough to support your weight in the hammock. Don’t camp underneath any dead or loose branches (known as widow makers).
Look for trees somewhere with a natural wind block and away from areas where cold pools. Examples of good wind blocks are boulders and 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 often stronger!).
4. Hang Your Hammock Correctly
It takes some time to learn how to hang a hammock correctly. The most important tip is to let your hammock hang a little loose. Many beginners try to hang their hammock too tight with too little slack.
A 30-degree angle is just about perfect. Although it might take some adjusting at first, you’ll quickly find the perfect hammock hang angle for you. Hang your hammock about waist high so that it sags to about 18 inches off the ground when you’re in it. This makes it easy to get in and out of safely.
5. Lay in Your Hammock Diagnolly
Perhaps my number one hammock camping tip is to lay in your hammock diagonally.
Many beginners attempt to lay straight with both their feet and head in a line. But laying in your hammock at an angle actually enables you to achieve a flatter lay rather than a banana-shaped lay.
If you pitch your hammock with enough slack, you’ll easily be able to lay at a diagonal angle. Not only is this angled position the most comfortable sleeping position, but it also prevents the sides of the hammock from bunching up during the night.
6. Know Your Hammock’s Features
Many of the best camping hammocks come with a number of additional features. Get to know these features – and what they’re best used for – before heading out on your trip.
My favorite hammock feature 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. It doubles as a stash pocket while you’re using the hammock. 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.
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 hammock chair. This is particularly beneficial for backpacking when you can’t bring a separate chair along.
8. Stay Warm in Your Hammock
Stay warm in your hammock by adding extra insulation. Of course, a warm winter sleeping bag is the number one method. You can add a hammock underquilt, top quilt, or even a sleeping pad for even more insulation.
9. Stay Dry in Your Hammock
A rainfly or tarp is a must whenever you go camping in the rain. I prefer an asymmetrical rainfly that covers not only my hammock but at least a few feet of surrounding space. This gives you a place to relax outside of your hammock without getting soaking wet. If you expect seriously wet weather, I recommend a two-layer setup. Use your rainfly over your hammock and hang a tarp over this to provide additional coverage.
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. This shape 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.
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. A bug net made specifically for your camping hammock is a good option. That said, some camping hammocks, like those from Hennessy Hammocks, already come with a built-in mosquito net straight out of the box. Another option is to use a mosquito head net, although this is the least effective method.
12. Try a Pillow
You don’t necessarily need a pillow for camping in a hammock but it does make it more comfortable. Remember to sleep at an angle in your hammock to achieve a flatter lay. Bring your normal pillow from home or try an inflatable camping pillow. A balled up sweatshirt or jacket works as a decent substitute in a pinch.
13. Bring Extra Carabiners
Carabiners are, in my opinion, one of the most useful pieces of camping equipment. Just like paracord, they can be used in dozens of different ways. One of my favorite carabiner uses while hammock camping is to use them clips to hang extra gear from my 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.
14. Consider a Two-Person Hammock
I’ll be honest with you – sleeping in a hammock with another person isn’t my idea of comfortable. Although it can be done, the real reason to buy a two-person hammock is to give yourself more room. I like sleeping in a double hammock alone not only because it’s more spacious, but also because the extra fabric lets me create a comfortable cocoon. A two-person hammock is also an excellent option if you want to go hammock camping with your 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 camping in cold weather, I like to wear three layers of clothing: an insulating inner layer (long underwear), a warm middle layer (fleece), and a waterproof outer layer (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 best camping hammocks is that they’re so lightweight. Their lightweight design and small packed size make them perfect for backpacking. But even the lightest camping hammock can’t offset other heavy camping gear. So go lightweight by investing in other lightweight camping gear, especially if you’re going hammock backpacking.
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. This way you can switch to a tent if you find your hammock uncomfortable. To reiterate, 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!)
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. 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 first. 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 (if not weeks) 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. Use our hammock camping checklist to make sure you have everything you need.
20. What About Hammock Backpacking?
Honestly, hammock backpacking is even more beneficial than hammock camping. When backpacking, every single ounce of extra weight matters, especially on multi-night trips. Many of the best backpacking hammocks weigh must less than the best backpacking tents. Not only do you save on weight, but hammocks pack down very small and are easy to set up just about anywhere. The exception is, of course, if you’re backpacking somewhere without trees.
Additionally, a backpacking tent is usually the better option if you’re traveling with a partner since one person can carry the tent body and the other can carry the poles. For hammock backpacking, each backpacker typically needs to bring their own hammock and hammock straps.
21. 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.
Our top 21 best hammock camping tips for 2020 will help ensure you and your family have the time of your life on your next family camping trip.
Do you have any additional hammocking tips to add to my list? Let me know in the comments below! And don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions about camping in a hammock for me!