When you set up your hammock and jump in for the night your backpack must be as secure and dry as you are. There are a number of ways that you can hang or store your backpack when you are hammock camping.
We will explore a number of methods in this article. You will be surprised at what you can pull off with a carabiner and some cordage.
Where to Store Your Backpack During the Day and Night
When your backpack is not on your back it needs a home. Depending on where you are and the conditions, where you store your backpack may be especially important. Daytime storage of the backpack is for a shorter duration than nighttime storage.
Night storage should be more consistent and fortified. This is important because your backpack may come off at 6pm and does not go back on till later the next morning. Be sure you keep the pack safe and dry during the night hours.
Day time hours you will have eyes on your bag, in most cases. If the weather turns bad or if you leave camp without the backpack you should store it in your hammock covered by a tarp.
There are a number of ways that you can hang a backpack to keep it off the ground. Hanging is a simple method that can be used to keep it our of harms way and dry when experiencing bad weather.
Because you do not have a tent to stick your bag in, you will need to identify a place for your backpack, or a couple places, that are safe and keep its contents protected.
Simply by tying a length of cordage around a tree and using a carabiner, you can hang your backpack from a tree and have a place to keep it off the ground. This is a great way to hang your pack during the day.
Just leave the carabiner on the length of cordage that is tied around the tree at an effective height. Then when you return to camp or you desire to hang up your backpack, simply attach the carabiner to your pack and you will be good to go!
If you do not have a carabiner you can trim a stick into a straight line with a hook at the bottom. This is not an intricate carving task. In fact, you might find that a stick has that kind of natural “hanger” in its design already. Once you have your stick wrap about 5 lengths of cordage around the stick and the trunk of a small tree. Make sure these wraps are very tight.
Tie off the cordage and you will have yourself a means of hanging your bag without a carabiner. Simply slip the drag handle over the hook and rest easy.
If the weather is bad, you can hang your bag directly underneath your hammock by attaching it to the carabiner that attaches your straps to your hammock. This will allow you to keep it close by but also underneath your tarp and out of the rain.
This is one of our favorite methods of hanging a backpack at night.
If you have a nice sturdy ridgeline you might find that it can provide the perfect place to hang a backpack at night. The ridgeline is a great place to hang carabiners, lanterns, and other things for convenience.
Having your pack hanging from the ridgeline can also be very convenient. Use the same carabiner concept you used with the tree hanging method.
Inside the Hammock
Sometimes it helps to just bring the backpack inside the tarp with you. There are some benefits to managing your backpack storage this way.
You can literally use your pack as a pillow in your hammock. If you don’t pack a lot of hard gear or wear a framed pack, you might find that your backpack is perfect to snuggle up against.
In the cold, your backpack can add another layer of insulating material between your legs. If it is very heavy it can be trouble, but a lightweight backpack can be very effective covering your feet, legs or even between your legs in the cold.
Outside on the Ground Nearby
You cannot get too fancy when it comes to storing a backpack outside on the ground. It’s pretty straight forward. You have to first understand what the terrain is like and how that will affect the placement of your bag.
You will need a dry bag to cover your pack. You will also want it to be kept somewhere close by so you can reach it easily in the night, should you need to.
Its also best to store the pack on top of a small tarp, the cover for your tarp, or something that keeps it away from direct content with the ground. Direct contact will invite things like bugs and moisture. All of which you do not want on your backpack.
Protecting Your Backpack When Hammock Camping
Your backpack is most often your lifeline in a backwoods hammock camping situation. It might contain precious maps or water purification options. The items in your backpack are important and require a degree of protection.
Weather & Elements
The quality of the average backpack has really gone up over the years. The highly competitive market has pushed producers to create bags that are hyper efficient, durable, and creatively designed. Much of this adds up to a bag that will fair well on its own in the weather or elements.
However, there are circumstances where a backpack is just overwhelmed. If you find yourself on a long hike and encounter a downpour that could ruin everything in your bag and soak the bag itself, you must be prepared.
When it comes to being ready for weather and the ailments, you will find that 99% of your problems with your pack can be solved by keeping a dry bag on you.
This dry bag should fit your pack snuggly and cover it completely. Whether the bag is on your back, hanging or sitting somewhere else, it will be safe from moisture in the air and moisture that has collected on the ground.
Wildlife & Bugs
Of course, the most important in all of this has to be bears. There are some precautions that you need to take when concerning bugs, but bears are by far the most terrifying. Irresponsible campers draw hungry bears to their camp every year.
Bears have a tremendous nose and can smell foods from miles away. Food should be packed separately to protect your pack, you can use a bear cannister to keep your food in. These limit the smell so as not to attract animals.
Alternatively you can hang your bag up in a tree. Of course, this is different than the tree hanging method we talked about earlier. Your bag will need to be hung at least 10 ft in the air and far enough away from the tree so that a bear cannot simply climb up and take it.
Bears are hardly the only thing to concern yourself with. Even an inquisitive racoon can do some serious damage to a backpack that holds potential treats. If you don’t keep the backpack close to you and store it on the floor it is basically up for grabs.
Bugs are another issue entirely. While wildlife want what is inside your bag, bugs might cling to your bag because they want what is inside of YOU! If you are going to be hiking through tall grasses or fields or even dense woods, you should spray your backpack, and everything else, with an effective bug spray.
Ticks and chiggers will cling to any surface and will invade your body at a moments notice. The bug spray will also keep things like spiders and mosquitos from driving you insane, too! It only takes one night with chiggers to take this very seriously!
Of course, there are always people.
People can be a big enough issue. It would take a very powerful motivation to have someone sneak onto a campsite and steal a backpack, however, searching a backpack for money is something that could happen easily.
This will be most common in well populated campsites. However, these sites also lend themselves to leaving your backpack more often to go to seek out amenities like showers or small hiking trails.
Some camping backpacks have antitheft pockets and compartments that will keep your most important items safe. Hiding your bag in the hammock while you are gone is a good way to keep your items safe, too. The best advice is to keep your most precious items, like cash and ID on your person at all times.
Hanging a backpack when you are hammock camping is not a tough thing to figure out. You might want to brush up on your knot tying skills. Whether you hang your bag on a tree or under your hammock, it is by far the best method to keep your bag out of the elements, bug free and safe.
It also really helps to pack a nice light bag. The more hammock camping you do the more you will understand just how little you need to pack for a comfortable night out. With experience comes efficiency.
Probably the most important thing to have around is a couple good carabiners so that you can turn any bit of cordage into a place to hang a backpack.