At RNGR, we have not always been hammock campers. It was not too long ago where we thought backpacking involved sleeping on the hard earth, hoping our sleeping pad didn't land on any rocks or lumps in the ground. Tents are easy right? A few tent stakes, the tent and a rain fly and you are good to go. Turns our we were none the wiser.
Hammocks are less common, and thus come with plenty of questions. How do I hang my hammock? Won't I fall from my hammock? Is it comfortable to sleep in a hammock all night?
There is a lot of common knowledge on hanging a hammock, but like everything else, they are suggestions to help you learn yourself how you prefer to have your hammock hang. It takes a lot of trial and error to find out what exactly is working well and what is not working so well. The diagram below give a few general pointers to consider when hanging your hammock. You want the distance between your trees or other anchors to be about 10 feet. Any longer any you will be touching the ground, any shorter and you will be folded in half like a taco. The degree at which you hammock hangs has a lot to do with personal preference. I have found that if strap my hammock at about 5.5 feet up on level ground, between two trees which are 10 feet apart from each other, I get the perfect degree of hang for the hammock, and a nice long night sleep to follow.
A good hammock is the first important step in a great hammock camping experience. We have found the Eno JungleNest hammock to be one of the best hammocks available for overnight camping. Eagle Nest Outfitters makes a fantastic, high quality product, which is something we really appreciate. Their carabiners, zippers, fabric and thoughtful design make their hammocks some of the best out there. The JungleNest hammock combines the hammock portion and a bug net into one item allowing for quick and easy setup, as well as a secure sleeping environment. No bugs are getting in this thing!
One other option we use is the Eno SingleNest or Eno DoubleNest combined with their Guardian Bug Net. This solution allows you a bit more flexibility to use the hammock during the day without a bug net. The Guardian Bug Net is a great option to allow you to use an existing hammock in your overnight hammock camping set up.
Eno hammocks do not come with the straps required to hang your hammock, so you must decide how you would like to go about doing this. Until recently we have always built our own straps using a few lengths of climbing rope, parachute chord and a couple handy knots. We found this to be a great inexpensive way of building custom hammock straps. We really like this method, because it offers a lot of flexibility in the types of trees and objects you can hang from. One of the best parts of the hammock camping experience is the puzzle which you must solve of where to sleep for the night. It takes some thought to plan out exactly where a great hanging spot will be, and building our own hammock straps was always a great part of being more intimately involved in this hammock hanging process.
However, recently we discovered the Eno Atlas Straps. We have found these straps to be the easiest and most convenient solution for how to hang a hammock. These straps are very sturdy, so there is no question you will be secure each night while you sleep. When you are out in the wilderness, every extra bit of time you can save while setting up your campsite is helpful and lends time to other camp duties, like cooking dinner and building a fire. For a first time hammock camper, these straps are a fantastic option.
No shelter is complete without a roof overhead. Our go-to hammock shelter is your typical industrial tarp. These tarps add a little extra weight during your journey, as compared with a higher quality rain fly from Eno or other camping gear brands. But at close to a $10 price point, they can save you a lot of money and provide superior rain and wind protection each night in the wilderness. We recommend an 8 foot x 10 foot tarp, it will be the perfect size to fit from head to toe in your hammock while between two trees.
Believe it or not, a sleeping pad is critical for over night hammock camping. While laying in a hammock, your body compresses against the fabric of the hammock, eliminating most of the air which would otherwise be insulating you. Immediately you will feel the cold air flowing across the outer fabric of the hammock. Even the warmest down sleeping bag will lose its insulating ability in the parts that are smashed between your body and the hammock. This is where a sleeping pad is critical. We prefer an air filled sleeping pad. These sleeping pads will be able to create a space of air between you and the hammock and add a nice layer of insulation to you hammock camping set up.
A few other items always helpful when camping or setting up a hammock. I make sure to always keep at least 100 feet of Parachute Cord in my pack each time I go camping. This stuff is inexpensive and is extremely useful throughout a camping trip.
List of Essential Items
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