Here’s the deal:
Hammock camping is awesome. Yep, no doubts about it.
But if you don’t have a basic setup with the right equipment, you’ll be in for a bad time.
Hammock camping is a great pastime that gets people outdoors and enjoying the wilderness. Many prefer hammock camping to conventional tent camping for greater sleep comfort and portability.
Instead of carrying around a bulky tent, each person can carry their own hammock and supplies for sleeping in near any conditions.
If you’ve never been hammock camping before, there’s a few essentials you’ll want to carry with you.
These items can turn what would be a cold, uncomfortable hammock camping experience into an activity that will turn you into a hammock camping junkie for life! I believe that everyone should have these items on standby for any future hammock camping trips.
That’s why I wrote this essential list of hammock camping items you need for an awesome hammock camping experience.
Hammock Camping Essentials – Quick Reference Guide
Proper Camping Hammock
One of the biggest deal breakers for hammock camping is having the right kind of hammock. A great camping hammock will make all the difference in getting a good nights’ sleep. Once you experience a proper night of hammock camping, you’ll never want to sleep on the ground in a tent again.
My first piece of advice to you is to pick up any 10’+ cheap hammock that has great reviews on Amazon. My personal recommendation is the single size hammock sold by Honest Outfitters that comes with straps in both single and double sizes, depending on whether you want to sleep alone or with a partner.
|HONEST OUTFITTERS Single Camping Hammock With Basic Hammock Tree Straps,Portable Parachute Nylon...||1,539 Reviews||$21.99||More Details|
You can pick up this quality hammock for a bargain price on Amazon. Picking up a great hammock for this cheap means you can spend your money where it counts for making your hammock camping experience better.
Hammock straps allow you to anchor your hammock between trees and adjust the length for your best fit. Straps also won’t hurt the tree, such as screws, anchor, or wire that can cause damage and death to tree wood.
|XL Hammock Straps Set, with 2 Premium Carabiners, 1400 LBS+ Heavy Duty, Lightweight, Easy Setup,...||56 Reviews||$14.95||More Details|
If you buy the Honest Outfitters Hammock above, you need not worry about bringing along hammock straps.
If you already own a hammock but don’t have straps, I highly encourage you pick up some cheap but high-quality universal hammock straps off Amazon.
Adjusting Your Hang Height
Having hammock straps allows you to adjust your hang height, giving you the most comfort and the best night’s sleep.
When you’re hanging your hammock, you should aim to anchor your straps about 5 feet up the tree trunk, with a strap length of roughly 42-inches and a final hang height of roughly 18-inches from ground to your hammock’s sag when you’re laying in it.
This picture does a great job of showing the ideal setup, and is from this very handy hammock hang calculator.
You’ll have to adjust a little depending on the distance between your anchor points and your weight, but so long as you reach approximately a 30-degree hang angle with about 14” to 20” of clearance on the bottom, you’ll be the most comfortable.
Hanging higher or lower and at more extreme or acute angle will likely cause you back pain, neck pain, and a terrible nights’ sleep. Done right, however, and you will never look back to sleeping in a tent again.
Bug nets are essential for hammock camping in the spring, summer, and fall. You wouldn’t want to wake up covered in mosquito bites, no see ums, or any other night time creepy crawlies trying to hustle up to you.
You can keep them all out with a good hammock bug net that offers 360-degree protection from all insects.
|Chill Gorilla Defender 11' Hammock Bug Net Stops Mosquitos, No See Ums & Repels Insects. Compact,...||223 Reviews||$34.99||More Details|
There’s many choices on the market, but I’d recommend you pick up Chill Gorilla’s universal bug net on Amazon since it’s easy to install, relatively cheap, and portable.
It’s a good idea to take a rain fly with you, even if you don’t anticipate any rain and the weather looks clear. Rainstorms could sneak up on your and soak you during the night time, leaving you cold and exposed to the wind. Additionally, a rain fly will prevent you from becoming moist with morning dew.
|Bear Butt Rain Fly Easy Set Up Portable Hammock Tarp Shelter - Made of Quality Lightweight...||279 Reviews||from $20.00||More Details|
There’s some good inexpensive and universal rain flies available to choose from. My personal recommendation would be the Bear Butt Rain Fly on Amazon, since it’s low priced, lightweight, and easy to carry. You can hang it over your bug net and keep dry through the night.
One very essential piece of equipment to take hammock camping no matter the conditions is an underquilt. Underquilts add a bottom layer of insulation to your hammock and protect you from wind.
Hammock camping can be much colder than camping on the ground, since there’s no bottom layer of insulation. Underquilts help give you more bottom and side insulation from the chill and wind.
Even in warm weather conditions, I’d still recommend you take an underquilt with you. It’s easy to overestimate how warm you’ll be in a hammock without an underquilt.
A little bit of wind can turn your uninsulated hammock into a suspended refrigerator for your body. Keeping an underquilt handy and packed for every environment will give you a better sleep every time.
|Chill Gorilla 40°F Hammock Underquilt Blanket. Lightweight Fits All Camping Hammocks. Under Quilt...||55 Reviews||$58.99||More Details|
My personal recommendation for an underquilt would be the Chill Gorilla Universal Underquilt on Amazon. It’s made with premium materials that insulate you from wind, while still being lightweight and portable.
Sleeping pads are a good way to boost your comfort level while hammock camping. Picking a great rounded sleeping pad that can inflate when needed to stay portable can significantly boost your quality of sleep.
This is what will add the cherry on top to the “sleeping on a cloud” experience associated with a good night of hammock camping.
I recommend you get one with rounded corners that inflates to stay portable. Spending a little extra money here will make your experience much more enjoyable.
|ECOTEK Outdoors Hybern8 Ultralight Inflatable Sleeping Pad Hiking Backpacking Camping - Contoured...||290 Reviews||$39.95||More Details|
My personal recommendation for this hammock camping essential would by the EcoTek Outdoors Sleeping Pad on Amazon.
It’s got rounded corners for fitting better in the hammock, a bag to carry while its deflated, and great padding to make you feel like you’re sleeping on a cloud. This is one area I’d recommend you invest in for a good night’s sleep.
Top quilts are only a necessity in colder environments where low temperatures will require extra insulation.
While you could take a sleeping bag and use it with your hammock, you’re better off using a combination of an underquilt and a quality top quilt. The underquilt will keep you insulated and protected from the wind underneath, while the top quilt will insulate you form above and leave heat pockets that will keep you warm.
Top quilts are better for camping hammocks because of these heat pockets formed from your body.
|SnugPak Hammock Quilt with Travelsoft Insulation, Olive||87 Reviews||$46.79||More Details|
Sleeping bags will compress you and make your sleep uncomfortable by restricting your movement and binding you. Top quilts seal you in a nice, warm cozy cocoon and gives a superior sleeping experience to sleeping bags.
My personal recommendation for a quality top quilt that’s worth every penny would be the SnugPak Hammock Top Quilt on Amazon.
It offers some of the best bang-for-your-bang in terms of warmth, comfort, and durability. I think it’s great at insulating you and keeping your warm on the nights where you’re really need it.
It’s not too expensive either, coming in relatively cheap on while offering the same quality as much more expensive brands while offering the same comfort and quality.
Scouting a Good Hang Site
Scouting a good hang site is essential and carries the same importance as knowing how to hang your hammock. If you’re lucky, you can find campsites where previous campers have already hung hammocks and found the best spots.
You should take advantage of any pre-existing campsites and avoid disturbing nature as much as possible. Additionally, there’s many hazards and factors you should look out for when scouting out your campsite.
Avoid Dead Trees
Before hanging your hammock between two perfect looking trees, you should be wary of any dead trees in the area, including the ones you’re planning to camp between.
Look above and around your chosen campsite to make sure there aren’t any dead branches or dead trees that could fall and injure somebody. If you see any worrisome branches or trees nearby, it’s best to try and find a different campsite.
Elevation plays a big part in determining what kind of weather you’ll experience during the night.
If you choose a spot with a relatively high elevation, you’ll likely be exposed to the wind and face much greater heat loss during your nightly slumber.
Even if you’ve come prepared with the right sleeping pad and underquilt, you may get a bit chilly if you didn’t come prepared with a quality top quilt. Even if the temperatures outside are warm, a high elevation campsite could leave you exposed to the wind and chilly.
On the other extreme of the spectrum, you’ll want to avoid low-elevation basins in the landscape.
During the nighttime, cold air can settle into basins and chill you to the bone. If you’re camping in a warm environment but setup camp in a basin, you’ll experience much lower temperatures than anticipated since all the cold air will settle around you.
The goldilocks zone is in areas with plenty of wind coverage that don’t lie in the extreme high or low elevations. Ample wind coverage means you won’t have to deal with the unbroken wind chilling you throughout the night.
So long as there is enough vegetation to break up the wind, you’ll be much better off and sleep much warmer.
Nearby Water Sources
Another hazard to be aware of is water sources. While it may be temping to setup camp right on the side of a river or lake, I highly recommend you avoid doing this.
You should aim to setup camp at least 200 feet away from any water source to avoid flash floods and water hazards during the night.
It’s best to prevent any accidents before they have a chance to happen by setting up camp safely away from water.
Hazardous Ground/Environmental Conditions
Different from dead trees and water sources, hazardous ground and environmental conditions means objects like sharp stones you could fall on, loose rocks on a mountainside above you, cliffs, or any generally hazardous environmental condition.
You’re smart enough to recognize what environmental conditions, and to not hang off a cliffside while sleeping.
Flashlights and Headlamps
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Following up the hazardous ground conditions, I’d recommend you keep a flashlight or headlamp easily accessible during the night.
If you need to get up to use the bathroom or need to check out a strange noise, having a method to illuminate any tripping hazards or dangerous conditions could save your life.
You can pick up some cheap and reliable headlamps over on Amazon.
I’ve covered all the essential for hammock camping that you should consider packing to get the most out of your hammock camping experience.
Take these tips into account and you’ll have one of the most enjoyable and fulfilling camping experiences of your life. You may not ever want to camp in a tent again!
If you’re more adventurous, you can even try hammock camping with your dog. Nothing better than hanging out with man’s best friend.
I hope you enjoyed this article, and that I helped you find something you didn’t know before.