Hammock camping has become a thing! It is not just popular in the Scouting community but in most outdoor circles. On my last backpacking trip, I’d estimate that close to half of the 350 hikers were using hammocks instead of tents.
In this form of camping, you ditch the traditional tent, and instead, stretch a hammock between two secure anchors – normally trees – for sleeping, sitting and relaxing. I personally love to camp like this because my pack gets lighter. I can hike longer and faster, camp setup and takedown is a breeze, and the sleeping is fantastic!
The Benefits of Hammock Camping
This form of camping has been used as the primary sleeping method for thousands of years in many cultures. And the application of hammocks and camping/backpacking brings many benefits.
How could a hammock be better than a tent, you might ask? Let’s think about it.
- It is a fraction of the weight and size of a tent
- Putting it up is significantly faster and simpler than putting up a tent
- There is a much lower impact on the environment – a great definition of ‘Leave No Trace’
- It can be used for both sleeping and sitting
- No need for a pillow, as the natural incline of the hammock supports your head
- They are great solutions in areas that are not possible to tent in
Even the scientific community is seeing the benefits, such as longer, deeper sleep, and even providing solutions for insomnia. If you’re new to this camping, you can learn where to buy affordable gear in the article “How to start hammock camping without spending tons of cash.”
The Obstacles of Using a Hammock
There are some things to consider before using a hammock. Depending on the trip, there may be some drawbacks to using a hammock. For example:
- You need either trees or other anchors to attach the hammock to
- Tip: Use a portable stand
- Changing clothes is pretty hard to do in a hammock
- Tip: Set up a tarp to provide a changing area
- Camping in the cold requires additional pieces to keep warm
- Tip: Use an underquilt
Many people equate camping hammocks to those on YouTube, which are often seen flipping people over when they try to get in. These are not camping hammocks – as they don’t flip you over! This problem is caused by those home rope hammocks that have wood spreaders at each end. Putting those spreaders on causes the instability and eliminates some of the benefits of hammock use.
You need to follow the basics of setting up, such as:
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for setup
- Hang it using secure locations
- Don’t “stack” hammocks over each other
- Do not put more weight in a hammock than the manufacturer recommends
For a more robust list of safety ideas, read this safety moment.
Hammock camping is not for everyone. In my opinion, it is only for those who have tried it once, because once you do it, you’ll never go back!