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How to Properly Setup a Hammock While Camping
Published: Jan 26, 2021
Weather conditions and prohibitions should be recalled when camping using a hammock. Even if you are an expert regarding the setup process, it will be useless if you can't apply these properly. Completeness of the gear and total preparation before you go are salient reminders.
To set up a hammock, you need to attach your hammock straps to a tree, then connect them to your hammock. Don't use ropes, as it can harm the trees. Tie your ridgeline for your tarp, and secure it with guylines. Follow the place's regulations, and check if you are allowed to use a hammock in the area.
We widely covered how to set up a hammock properly when camping. This includes the steps, tips, and common mistakes that are constantly been practiced. Also, we listed the proper materials that won't leave the trees damaged.
Can you hammock camp anywhere?
Generally speaking, no. Some state parks prohibit hammock camping due to the fact that it can damage the trees. However, we noticed that hammock straps can cause minimal damages on the barks. But if all campers used hammocks, then it would definitely impair the tree population.
On the other hand, you can still hammock camp in other places. The prohibition of most of the state parks can avoid people to join the bandwagon. Maybe a few people are okay, but seeing a lot of people using a hammock can indeed damage the trees.
If a certain state park allows you to hammock camp, they will probably forbid you to use ropes. Either way, we recommend you to use hammock straps. However, it is substantial that you ask them about the do's and don'ts.
Another thing to remember is the type of trees in the area where you will be camping. It is commonly recommended that you choose the tree you'll be hanging your hammock on to be hard and durable trees, and avoid those with soft trunks.
Steps on how to set up a camping hammock
Before going hammock camping, always consult the place first, and ask their rules. If you are in the setup process, choose a strong tree. Hang your hammock using a wide strap or tree saver straps. After that, tie a ridgeline, so that you can place your rainfly, and bug net.
- Consult the place to know if you are allowed to hammock camp
Like we said earlier, some state parks prohibit you to use hammocks. So, before you go on an adventure, ask them first. The Leave No Trace principle is also to be observed, which is why the usage of tents is often more suggested than the use of hammocks.
- Choose a strong tree
Some trees have soft parts, and you can carelessly injure their barks if you hang your hammocks on them. The worst is that they will be broken down by weight, which can cause harm to both the human and the tree. Also, avoid trees with dead branches, and use hammock straps, preferably 2” wide, depending on the rules.
- Hang the hammock
We suggest you don't hang it too tight. Give a bit of sag on the lying area to leave you enough room. Overly compressed hammocks look a bit stiff, which may result in your fall or discomfort when sleeping.
Looking for a camping hammock for your next adventures? Check out the Hennesy Hammock Ultralite Backpacker Zip on our Best Camping Hammock article. Whether it rained or was sunny at our campsite, we didn't have to worry, because the Hennesy Ultralite is both durable and comfortable to sleep on.
- Put a ridgeline
A ridgeline is important at this step. It gives you space to separate the rainfly from your tent. Ridgelines are ropes or cords that are tied on both ends of your hammock. Before you put a rainfly, estimate how tall your ridgeline would be.
- Install rainfly and bug nets
After the ridgeline, it is time for you to attach the nets and rainfly or tarp. Always pack these materials, as they serve as your protection from rain and insects. If you observe vividly, your set up looks like a tent, but not fully enclosed.
Common mistakes when setting up a hammock
A lot of newbies to hammock camping are mistakenly following the wrong steps. Some of these include hanging the hammock too high, ignoring the living things around, not using bug nets, rainfly, nor underquilts. Be vigilant, as a wrong move can cause accidents or harm the trees.
- Not doing research
It is always an important chore for newbies to get an idea of how to use a hammock. If you are clueless about everything, accidents and damages to the trees might happen. We included this mistake in this list, as this is the main difficulty that a beginner experiences.
To lessen the burden, do research beforehand, and read some reviews.
- Not exercising the drill
Another key point to remember. Learning all the basics during your camping trip is not advisable. This especially goes for the setup process. If you practice the steps mentioned in the previous category, it will be easier for you to apply them in the actual scene. Practice makes perfect.
- Neglecting the use of underquilts
Without proper insulation of your hammock set up, it can get colder when you sleep at night. Underquilts are used to layer the bottom area of the hammock. Also, pack some thick outfit or double it, so that you can ensure the warmth consistency.
- Forgetting to use a rainfly
…or a rain tarp. Include these items on your checklist, so that you can avoid forgetting them. A rainfly can protect you from the rain and wind. Without it, you'll get soaked while sleeping in case of a sudden rainfall.
- Not using a bug net
If you noticed, this is included in the steps we previously discussed. Pack these nets to shield yourself from the insects. Although you are elevated, flying insects, like mosquitoes, can still bite you.
- Not being armed against bad weather
Just like for a rainfly, you can't ensure the weather conditions of a specific place. Therefore, always pack the complete gear to shelter yourself in case of possible rainfall or cold temperatures. In the end, you will be the one to suffer if you don't have any of these.
Some people just don't position their bodies at the right angle. Either their head or their feet are too high. So, before you go to sleep, feel where you can appropriately put your weight, or just elevate your feet a bit compared to your head.
- Hanging the hammock super tight
Always provide space or sag on the hammock when you hang it. Having a comfortable lying area can help you relax. If your hammock is too tight, the surface can be hard.
- Making the wrong choice of tree
We have to remind you to prioritize this. Always check the thickness of the tree, or better, know its name. Some trees have soft parts and cannot withstand a hanging hammock. You could break those accidentally, which is against the tree conservation fundamentals.
- Being ignorance about your surroundings
Okay, so you followed the other rules, but by the time you sway your hammock, you can hit some plants and other bodies. Be attentive to your surroundings. Make sure the area has enough room for you to swing your hammock.
- Hanging the hammock too high
You know what'll happen: you will fall. Hang your hammock at a moderate high, about 18 inches from the ground. But, check if the hammock is scratching some rocks under. Make sure that it won't impair your equipment, and also won't be the cause of your fall.
- Tying the knots wrong
Everyone can tie a knot, but not all of them are secured. Learn how to tie a knot before you go on your trip. It can save you from accidents, as your hammock will be properly tied.
- Ignoring faults
Especially to the tying of hammock straps. If you feel that there is something wrong, stand up and check, as it could put you in danger and cause injuries. Make sure to secure everything before going to sleep.
- Forgetting your gears
That is a common problem that campers experience, regardless of the type of camping they are involved in. For example, you plan to hammock camp, but at your arrival at the place, you realize you forgot the straps. Then, how can you hang your hammock? To avoid such things, we advise you to create a checklist before you pack everything.
- Using ropes
We would like to stress this, as some people may not be informed that they can greatly injure the trees. Don't be too complacent because you'll only do it once. You never know if it can completely destroy the tree. Thus, use tree saver straps instead, as they are the most suggested material to hang a hammock around trees.
- Lacking driplines
Your hammock straps are elevated down to your hammock. If the rain falls, they become the bridge or pipe where water can flow directly into your hammock. Therefore, tie a cord in between the straps and hammock ends. Water flow will stop there, and will drop on the ground.
How to loosen up a hammock?
When using the proper equipment intended for hammocks, loosening your own hammock is easy. You just have to remove the carabiner hook from the hammock strap loops. Straps have loops where you can fasten the carabiner hooks. If you are going to remove the straps, unattached the straps that are tied around the tree.
Since we don't encourage the use of ropes, using a hammock strap is easy for adjustments. In the setup process, you just need to tie the strap around the tree. After that, insert the tip to the other part with the loop ends.
If you already tied the strap around the tree, hook the carabiner onto the loops of the strap. Hammock straps are the best choice to use in this equipment. The loops of the straps are used to adjust the height of your hammock.
As far as we know, there are no other steps to follow when loosening your hammocks. By adjusting the carabiner hooks on the lower loops of the straps, you can already loosen or modify them.
How to prepare for a rain when hammock camping?
To prepare, pack all the needed gears, like hammocks, rain tarps, underquilts, sleeping pads, and sleeping bags. Wear multiple layers of clothes to keep you warm, and pitch the tarp. Always remember to stay dry to avoid freezing in cold temperatures, and don't over insulate your body.
Step #1: Choose a tarp
There are five types of rain tarps for camping, and these are the following:
- Asymmetrical tarp
Lightweight, and has small coverage. Good for occasional use. Perfect for outdoor activities, like family recreation and leisure. The only downside is that it cannot protect you from hard rain.
- Diamond-shaped tarp
Bears considerable coverage compared to asymmetrical tarp.
- Hex tarp or cat cut tarp
This is like the lower version of the full-coverage tarp. The size is just good to cover your hammock.
- Rectangle-shaped tarp
Similar to full-coverage, but no tent flaps and doors. Particularly, the upper part is the only coverage.
- Full-coverage or 4-season tarp
For effective protection under the rain, you should choose this. Usually, some versions look like tents with walls and doors. The best option for rainy weather.
Step #2: Bring important gears for rainy weather
These are the rainfly, underquilts, pillows, a asleeping bag, and a sleeping pad. Rain is not your only enemy, so prepare yourself for cold temperatures as well. Wind can also possibly make you cool, so using some of these layers can alleviate such situations.
Step #3: Wear multiple layers of clothes
Wear moisture-wicking to protect yourself from cold temperatures. If your body gets moist, it could possibly contribute to the feeling of coolness.
This is where you wear thick fabric. Insulation is the role of this layer, and most of the suggestions that were tested and proven to be effective are microfleece fabric.
The last layer is exposed to wind and rain. So, go for waterproof or water-resistant jackets.
You won't go without shoes, right? Wear a complete outfit, including a beanie, socks, gloves, a scarf, and anything that can help you maintain your body at a warm temperature.
Step #4: Pitch the tarp
Guarantee that everything is secured and positioned in proper places. The following are the materials that can help you pitch the tarp:
- Ridgeline - commonly tied on both ends of the hammock to support the rain tarp. This acts as the ceiling to shape up the tarp like a roof.
- Guylines - use this to secure the tarp. You can either nail it to the ground, or tie it on the trees.
- Drip lines. To avoid the water from flowing into the straps to your hammocks, tie a rope or cord around the strap that is connected to the hammock. This way, the water will directly drip on the ground, instead of flowing into your hammock.
Step #5: Tips to stay warm and dry
- Stay dry
There is no better step to stay warm than to stay dry. Avoid wearing an overly insulated outfit that can make you sweat, as sweat can make cold weather feel even colder. Similarly to water, sweat forms into ice when it gets too cold.
- Cover yourself
Sleeping bags can maintain warmth during your sleep. Ensure that you cover your body properly, so that you won't feel cold because of the bare areas.
- Use blankets
Thermal or foil blankets are known to sustain warm temperatures. By using this at night, you can sleep properly with a preserved moderate heat on your body.
- Determine where the wind comes from
Rain can enter your hammock even with a tarp if the direction of the wind is open on your area. However, if you set up your tarp against the wind, you can probably prevent this from happening.
- Prevent the collection of water in your tarp
Make sure that you tightened it. Identify if the area of your tarp that is possibly too sag, and could collect rain. If this occurs, your tarp will change its position. The negative thing is that it might uncover you and you will get wet.
- Make sure you dry your wet clothes
If you went on an adventure and soaked your clothes, hang them as soon as you can. You'll never know if the rain will suddenly pour. Having them dry before the rain comes is better than wearing them wet.
- Look for an ideal area
So, you were able to find two trees where you can hang your hammock. Now, you should observe if it is also a fitting place when it rains. Analyze if you could stake the guylines around. You shouldn't touch growing plants around. The spot should be harmless and spacious for your movements.
Setting up a hammock for camping requires numerous factors to be considered. You can't just pack and immediately go to the place you want, because not all places allow you to do so. When in the midst of preparation, think about the weather, the prohibitions, rules, your backpacking checklist, and the steps to set up the hammock.
We consistently remind our readers to read some reviews online, so that they can get an idea from the perspective of those who already experienced the products and/or experiences. It is better to have a piece of information before you go to the battlefield. Lastly, practice the setup process, so that you won't be confused about the actual process.
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