BACKPACKING BASICS

Is Hammock Camping Safe?

Hammock mountain hat
Written by Keren Dinkin

Imagine taking a nap in a sleeping pod suspended in mid-air. Who wouldn’t want to be gently rocked to sleep while gazing at the stars? Is it any surprise then that the hammock market has been steadily expanding and is expected to grow by 45 percent? 

Hammock tents have become popular among campers and outdoor enthusiasts because of their ease of use and installation. But before you head off to buy a hammock, let’s explore the safety measures and other factors you need to consider for hammock camping.

What Is A Hammock Tent?

A hammock tent is a type of hammock that is specifically designed to replace a tent for those wishing to travel light.

As with traditional hammocks, they are suspended between two supports. However, hammock tents will tend to be designed to be more durable than standard hammocks.

A rain tarp can be set up over the hammock to mimic the overhead roof material.

Is Hammock Camping Bad For Your Back?

No. Some might argue that it is even better than a bed as hammocks provide zero-pressure sleep.

Some mattresses have pressure points. As a result, when you sleep on the bed, your body puts extra strain on your back and shoulders, which is why mattress shopping is so important. The muscles in your back are impacted when you toss and turn at night. Similarly, the way you hang a hammock and how you lay in it also impacts your back. 

One of the advantages of sleeping in a hammock is that it compels you to sleep on your back with your legs extended, which can help with insomnia. Sleeping in this position is also known to alleviate back pain, promote quality sleep, relax stiff muscles, and straighten the spine.

Choose A Safe Location To Hang Your Hammock Tent

Hammocks cannot be hung just anywhere; the only appropriate location is to suspend them between two sturdy trees. You must also make sure that the trees are ideal for the hammock. After all, you don’t want to tumble off or be jolted awake by a loose branch.

Pick A Safe Location To Camp

The first step is to choose a safe camping location. This means avoiding locations near rocky terrains, water bodies, and wildlife. Also, avoid going to places that are privately owned or off-limits. 

You should always be prepared for an emergency, so don’t choose a site in remote locations where medical help would be harder to reach. 

And, of course, the campground should have a family of trees because you’ll need to hang your hammock tent between two sturdy trees.

Inspect Before Set Up

After choosing a safe campground, always inspect the trees before you set up the hammock. The difference between a standard tent and a hammock is that one is grounded and the other is suspended. So, you must make sure that the trees you secure it to are strong and sturdy. 

Second, make sure they don’t have too many loose branches or are shedding too many leaves.

Since you’ll be lying in the hammock, make sure that the tent is set up at a safe distance from the ground in case of a fall. If you hang the hammock too high off the ground, you run the risk of an injury. Ideally, a hammock should be around 18 inches from the ground. 

Hammock tent
Source: https://pixabay.com/photos/hammock-camping-forest-river-4676942/

Can You Use A Hammock Tent In Winter?

Yes, you can use hammock tents during winter to, however as they are colder than traditional tents, you will need to take additional steps to ensure you stay adequately warm.

You can experience the thrill of hammock camping even in the dead of winter. You just have to take extra precautions to keep yourself warm and snug. 

Since the hammock is suspended in the air, there is airflow below you. This means hammock tents can get 5 to 10 degrees cooler than normal tents.

If you’re considering using a hammock tent in winter then you should definitely ensure that you’re bringing a sleeping bag that is rated for the level of cold that you will be experiencing.

Recommended Reading: We’ve written an article on gear that you should consider for winter hiking that you might be interested in.

Keep Your Gear Safe

When you’re tent camping, your gear will usually be in the tent with you. But with hammock camping, that isn’t the case. So you need to ensure that your gear is safe from rodents, bad weather, or any other unforeseen circumstances. Apart from the hammock, here are additional camping essentials you need to maintain your camping gear:

Gear Slings

Gear slings act as mini-hammocks for all of your belongings. They are usually attached beneath the hammock to keep your gear off the ground and out of reach of rodents and insects, as well as to allow you easy access to it from the hammock.

Storage Straps

Mounting your camping gear on a tree is another way to keep it off the ground. Storage straps are hanging equipment that have hooks or loops on them that allow you to latch your gear onto them.

Dry Bags

Dry bags are waterproof sacks that come in handy, especially if you need to cross a pond to get to your camping spot or if the area gets a lot of rain. They have handles that can be used to secure them to a branch or a storage strap.

Recommended Reading: We’ve written a list of our top picks for the best dry bags that you might be interested in.

Hammock Straps

If you don’t have a lot of heavy gear, you can use hammock straps to hang smaller items. Hammock straps keep your hammock attached between trees, and if you decide to bring small kits and tools, you can easily latch them to the strap rather than carrying extra luggage space.

Rain Tarp

A rain tarp is a waterproof fortress resembling a roof that is set up above the hammock to act as a barrier for rain, hail, or even sunlight. 

Bear bag
Source: “Bear Bag” by /\ltus is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/29220965726

Suspended Bear Bag

If you’re familiar with bear canisters then you may have also heard of bear bags then you may have seen some that you suspend from high branches. This is a great option for hammock camping as it easily allows you to keep your food away from bears and other animals without adding much more to carry.

While bear bags are intended for use of keeping food away from animals, you can also put other equipment in there. However, we would strongly recommend against putting anything you will need quick access to in there.

Recommended Reading: We’ve written a whole article on how best to hang a bear bag that you might be interested in.

Have Spares And Repair Kit

If a ground tent is damaged, you can still use it. But using a damaged hammock tent can be dangerous. Weather conditions can sometimes blow away small bolts, or you could slip and lose a few tools. 

That is why it is important to be prepared. Apart from essentials, you should always be carrying some important spares. Even if your bag has limited space, you can always come up with new ways to carry these spares and kits.

Here is a list of items you must have during your camping trip:

Spares

  • Knife, multi-tool, or scissors
  • Rain gear as a backup for a damaged rain tarp
  • Utility cords
  • Fishers plug
  • Extra batteries
  • Tent-pole repair sleeves
  • Ropes and coach bolts
  • Flashlights or lamps
  • Elastic stretch cords with hooks

Repair Tools And Kits

  • A first-aid kit
  • Stove-repair parts or kit
  • Sewing repair kit with safety pins
  • Rope repair kit
  • Replacement ring knot
  • Replacement hanging kit
  • Tarp repair kit

Conclusion

Hammock camping is safe, provided you follow the necessary measures. Before you plan your trip, do your research about setting up a hammock and how to use it. You can enjoy the thrill of soaking in nature from the comfort of a hammock.

Featured Image Source: https://unsplash.com/photos/FhT10errXX4

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Keren Dinkin