THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO HAMMOCK CAMPING
Whenever I go camping with my friends, I always get stares from others the moment I take out my hammock from my camping gear. While others are busy pitching up their camping tents, I'm tying my camping hammock tent to trees. It's no surprise that I'm always first to finish setting up.
Once we're all settled, people approach me asking if I'm ever worried about bears, bugs, or freezing to death to which I've already practiced my response.
I've always loved camping in a hammock, sleeping underneath the sky and stars. I like that I don't have to carry so much on my back and I'm not stifled by the cramp condition of sleeping inside tents.
History of Hammocks
Sleeping on hammocks has been part of the human sleeping culture for thousands of years. It first originated in Latin American culture where they weaved the flexible bark from the Hammock tree to create a sleeping platform. It was soon embraced by the rest of the continent and remains to be in use to this day.
Indigenous people prefer sleeping on hammocks because it keeps users cool amidst the humidity of the jungle. They also keep sleepers dry and away from critters on the jungle floor. They're also a lot more relaxing than napping indoors during the afternoon heat.
The Navy has also preferred the use of hammocks in their sea-faring vessels because they are easy to install and save space in the cramped conditions of a ship. Because of the contraption, hundreds of sailors can be packed into a tight space.
On dry land, the use of hammocks declined in favor of beds and mattresses. They were only ever used for leisure activities. The popularity of the hammocks for camping only started rising again in recent years.
Benefits of Sleeping in a Hammock
Not many know that sleeping in a hammock offers a lot of benefits. Here are a few examples.
1. Reduce stress
We deal with stress on a daily basis, that's normal. But too much stress can be harmful to our health. Sleeping in hammocks helps to relieve some of that stress.
2. Improve sleep
The natural rocking motion of a suspended hammock, as well as the breeze you get from sleeping outdoors, is enough to lull us into a restful and relaxing sleep.
3. Improve blood circulation
Walking and standing around all day can result in blood pooling in the lower extremities which can cause blood clots. Sleeping in a hammock not only elevates our legs but also improves circulation to the head.
4. Help with body aches
Sleeping in a hammock has no pressure points unlike sleeping on the ground or in a sleeping bag. The body can relax more sleeping in a hammock and helps with backaches and joint pains. Even chiropractors recommend people who suffer from muscle aches to occasional sleep in hammocks.
Camping with a Hammock
The first thing that people think when camping is mentioned is usually camping tents. Almost every one of us who enjoys camping began the hobby in tents. But there is a new player in town and many campers have made the switch. I am, of course, talking about hammock camping.
Camping in a hammock is a growing movement and there's a real reason why.
Camping using a hammock means a lighter pack to carry. Hammocks don't need poles or ground mats as most camping tents do. It also means not having to carry a bulky sleeping bag.
You'll also sleep a lot better on a hammock than being cooped up in a sleeping bag inside a tent. You'll get to enjoy the great outdoors and won't be sweating profusely inside a tent, especially when you're camping during the summer. Although hammock camping in the rain is going to require a different hammock camping set up, it's still a lot better than being stuck inside a tent.
Sleeping in camping tents also means you'll be close to the hard ground which leads to restless nights and aching backs. Hammock camping, on the other hand, means you'll be floating. No need to carry a lot of camping gear for sleeping. And you don't need to look for level ground to set up your tent.
If you're worried about winter hammock camping or hammock camping without trees, no need to fret, technology has got you covered. New hammock models these days have features similar to camping tents.
Many camping hammocks come with a mosquito net for those pesky bugs and insects. For rainy days, a rain fly comes in handy to keep you and your belongings dry as you swing freely while you sleep. There is also a hammock camping gear available for when you go camping in the cold season.
Hammock vs Tent Camping
The first time you go hammock camping can be a miserable experience. Whether it's because you're used to sleep in a sleeping bag or you're not used to being suspended like a cocoon a couple of feet off the ground, it’s going to take a while to get used to camping in a hammock.
There's always the chance it's going to rain in the middle of the night or the temperature suddenly drops. I must admit that on several occasions I emerged out of my hammock stiff, cold, and wet.
Then there is the fear of falling. If you're not used to sleeping suspended in the air, you'll have a hard time sleeping soundly. Your mind is always thinking about falling. It's something you'll have to get used to. Through countless times I've gone hammock camping, I've never fallen once in my sleep.
Using camping tents affords you the privacy that hammocks don't have. In my opinion, this is the toughest learning curve I had to overcome. But many hammock camping tips I found only helped me to address this. As part of my hammock camping basics, I always bring a large towel for changing. And it could double as a blanket during cold nights.
In the end, the moment I got comfortable camping in a hammock, I never went back to camping with my tent. For one thing, hammocks are more portable than a tent. I don't have to carry with me extra tent accessories that add to the weight of my pack. Hammocks are also lighter, not to mention a lot cheaper than a regular camping tent.
Types of Camping Hammock
The difference between camping in a hammock comfortably and one of misery comes down to the type of hammock camping gear you bring. There are different types of hammocks and each one has been designed for a specific purpose.
1. Lightweight hammocks
These are great for day-hikers, bikepackers, and adventure-lovers who travel light. They are easy and quick to set up and takedown. Its compact size doesn't sacrifice comfort.
2. Double hammocks
If you like camping with your girlfriend or boyfriend, then the double hammock is your best option. It can easily accommodate two people and will mean even a lighter load on both your packs.
3. Expedition hammocks
This type of hammock was designed to go where no tents dare venture. Hardcore adventurers take this hammock on cliff faces, jungles, forests, and ice fields. It comes with a built-in bug net and a double layer at the bottom of extra warmth. This is the preferred camping gear for camping hammock amazon.
4. Hammock tents
Campers seeking versatility will fall in love with the hammock tent. You can take this with you in any conditions and environments. It's waterproof and it can be pitched on the ground like a regular tent, or suspended in trees.
5. Brazilian hammocks
Last, on this list are the famous Brazilian hammocks that are commonly seen in backyards and in beachfront hotels. You don't normally bring this type of hammock camping but it's great for families and friends to hang out in.
Tips for Hammock Camping
I hope I've convinced you that hammock camping is worth giving a try. Before you go on your first ever hammock camping adventure, here are a few more tips to keep in mind.
1. Hang your hammock with good sag. The most common mistake that people make in hanging their hammocks is hanging it as tight as possible between its anchor points. This will result in a cocoon effect which can squeeze your shoulder and prevent you from moving. Instead, hang your hammock in a smiley face for more stability and a night of comfortable sleep.
2. Once you've achieved goodsag, lie down diagonally on the material. I find that this is the ideal position for a comfortable sleep in a hammock.
3. The foot end of your hammock should be higher. This is to prevent your body from sliding to the middle of the hammock which can be uncomfortable. Hang the foot side about 8 to 10 inches higher.
4. Choose one with a bug net. Camping in a hammock will mean exposing yourself to the great outdoors. Naturally, bugs and insects will want to cuddle in your warmth.
5. A sleeping pad will mean a warm and comfortable sleep. This is especially helpful when you're camping in winter. A sleeping bag will compress under your weight. Put the sleeping pad inside your sleeping bag to prevent it from slipping.