There is a moment just before the sun breaks the horizon when the birds are chirping, and the mist is rising off the fields that is magic. Most of the world is still asleep and there is one way of taking that in that trumps all others. Its with a warm cup of coffee in hand sitting in your camping hammock.
The camping hammock has made lightweight camping a much more affordable undertaking for the average person. Like anything else, there are great ways to set up your hammock and there are terrible camping hammock mistakes.
Even if your hammock has been a huge success for many camping trips it can tear on your next one. Your straps could go, or maybe your carabiner stops working for some reason.
No matter how it plays out you are not going to be living as good as you would in that camping hammock. So be sure you have some items that you can use to care for and repair your camping hammock.
Simple Repair Kit:
- Darning Needle
- Waterproof Thread
- Extra Straps
- Fabric Protectant
Misreading or Judging the Weather
Bad weather can turn a perfectly planned camping trip into a serious nightmare! That is just the reality of weather. Many people head to higher elevations when they go to camp. That is pretty common. Most people don’t know how different things can be with the addition of elevation.
A cold week in October could mean the mountains a few hours out west are covered in snow and ice. This will radically change your camping situation. You could even find that camping is not even an option upon arrival.
Understanding the weather in your area is important but even more is understanding where you are headed!
Not Reading the Campsite
Choosing a campsite is a much bigger deal than you might think. For many, the allure of finding that perfect and hidden campsite is enough for people to go a little crazy. Because of our social media lifeblood, we can choose a campsite with a great view that might present serious threats and challenges.
- Safe Trees
- High Ground
- Animal Sign (don’t camp with the bears!)
- Stability of Ground
- Evacuation Potential
Pay close attention to your ability to get out of a campsite in the dark of night. If something goes wrong, you need to be able to get out of there in a hurry. This could be injury, illness or something else.
Read the campsite before setting up and be sure you are safe and prepared to have a nice campout.
Not Using Established Campsites
Backwoods primitive camping is extremely popular in the National Parks. You might want to get off the beaten path and find your own little spot to camp.
Remember, if you are not adept at finding a good campsite and setting one up, without disturbing the land, you should always look for established campsites.
Pretending to be a survival expert might have you setting up your hammock a hive of ground nesting bees! I have been there!
Camping Where Hammocks are Prohibited
The rules and regulations that govern you’re a certain piece of land become your bible during a camping session. You don’t get to decide what rules to obey and which ones to break.
This is the quickest way to seeing a piece of land shutdown to camping altogether.
Know the rules, know what’s prohibited and follow them!
Not Knowing Your Knots
There is a collection of knots that will make setting a hammock up a much better experience.
- The Truckers Hitch
- The Prusik Knot
- Half Hitch
- Figure 8
These are all knots that you should learn to tie if you are truly going to depend on your hammock as a means of sleeping and camping.
Setting Up Too Close to the Fire
This is a mistake that plagues those cold weather and winter campers. The heat from a campfire makes sleeping so GOOD!
However, your hammock is made of material that will melt almost instantly when by direct flame. The indirect heat can also affect the performance of your hammock.
Be sure you aren’t cooking and eating in the same place you are sleeping. That is a recipe for bear interaction!
Not Setting Proper Suspension
It’s easy to assume you need your tent to be as tight as possible. Setting the proper suspension is a lot about preference.
In fact, many aspects of hammock camping and sleeping are about preference. To get it just right, you need to try a few things.
A hammock that is set up too tight is almost always a problem. Keep that in mind. Play around with your tent when you practice setting it up and see what works best for you!
Not Checking the Health of Trees
The trees that you choose to setup on should be at least 12 inches in diameter.
Even more than that you should be sure those trees are healthy as can be! Here are some signs that you are dealing with a tree that could be dangerous to setup on.
- Trunk Covered in Vines
- Extensive Damage to the Bark
- No Foliage in Spring, Summer and Fall Months
Be sure your trees are strong and healthy before you start looping straps!
Hanging Your Tarp Incorrectly
There are several ways that you can mess up the hanging of your tarp. Be sure that you know what you are trying to get out of your campsite. There are two basic things you need to consider.
- When it is hot you want airflow
- When it is cold you want walls to the ground and as little airflow as possible.
No matter how you set the tarp up you always want protection from the sun and the rain.
Not Staking Down the Tarp
Stakes weigh nothing. It’s that simple. No matter how minimalist you are trying to get just bring some aluminum stakes and you will be able to secure your tarp the way it should be secured.
If you don’t secure your tarp a light wind can turn a good night into a nightmare.
Once you settle on a design for your tarp setup be sure you secure that thing, with stakes, so it will stand up against the elements.
Sleeping at a Severe Angle
Whether you are head over hills or heels over head you do not want to sleep at an extreme angle. It mostly has to do with blood flow.
All the blood will rush to your head if your legs are too high. All the blood will pool in your feet if your head is too high. All that sounds terrible!
Prepare for some sag and give your legs just a slight incline over your head. This will put you in a great position for a good night sleep.
There are lots of hammocks for sale out there. Some of them will be reliable and some will not. There are several ways that you choose the best and most affordable hammocks on the market.
- You can check the reviews on the product you are considering
- You can use the hammocks that we recommend here
- You can go with the big names like ENO, Hennessey, Wild Owl Outfitters
You don’t have to be some kind of outdoor gear junkie or expert to find the best hammock but if you just buy the cheapest you might blow up an entire camping trip on a torn hammock, frayed strap or something else.
It only takes one night near the water or in a low-lying area, in the summer, to get riddled by mosquito bites. If you are going to camp regularly in a hammock than you must invest in a mosquito net. Or you can buy a camping hammock with an included mosquito net.
Not having a mosquito net for your hammock is a terrible mistake that many hammock campers make.
When you include a tarp to a camp setup and you don’t have a mosquito net, they will congregate the top of the tarp and dive bomb you throughout the night. Don’t make this mistake.
Bring a Tarp
In the same vein as the mosquito net, the tarp is essential to happy hammock camping and not having a tarp is a huge mistake.
Setting up a tent should be something you practice in several ways. If you can take your tent to a local park you can see all kinds of strange situations that might befall you when looking for two trees that are the right distance.
Set your hammock up in a variety of places and do it in a variety of ways to practice. Use a tarp, us a bug net, use paracord, Bankline and whatever else you might bring on an adventure.
One of the most important ways to practice setting up a tent is in cold weather. If you pan on doing some cold weather camping this will go a long way.
Setting a hammock up is just like staking down a tent. You are at risk from all the same things that a normal camper is. Most importantly the things that come from above. When you camp you have the option to do it in an open field but with a hammock you need the trees.
Setting up under a widow maker on a windy night might not just end your trip it could end your life. You should do a thorough daytime inspection of the area surrounding your potential campsite. Large limbs get hung up in tree branches and can fall a long way before smashing into your head while you sleep.
Head wounds bleed a lot, too! You don’t wanna manage a massive concussion and spurting blood when you are 10 miles from the trail head.
The hammock is an extremely comfortable sleep system but on its own there is no way for the hammock to keep you warm in cold conditions. There is a large expanse of air beneath you and through conduction you will lose your body heat to that air all night long.
Another big mistake is not packing something like a wool blanket or a sleeping bag if you are going to deal with cold or even cool conditions. Insulation can make the camping hammock experience even better!
Hang Low for Safety
While it might be alluring to pitch your hammock in some precarious position for a photo op or to hang it nice and high because you can. Just remember, if something goes wrong you will be falling from a higher position and that could happen in the middle of the night while you are sleeping.
When you are in the hammock you should be just hovering above the ground. This is not just about safety, but you will also have less air between you and the ground that will sap the warmth from your
We hope this article hasn’t put you off hammock camping. There are plenty of mistakes that one can make when setting up a hammock. The good news is, they are mostly fixed by tweaking things. A simple tweak of your system can eliminate many of the mistakes.
Give your hammock setup the time and effort it deserves, and it will pay you back in dividends. Not having to carry a tent or even set one up is a blessing and you feel it most on those long hikes where you really find something wild and free.
The camping hammock takes wilderness adventure to a new level. Get out there and wrap some trees! Spend the night and in not time you won’t be making any of these mistakes.