The Complete Guide To Hammock Camping

If you’re tired of all the set-up that camping requires, it might be time to pitch the tent. (Pun intended.) In the past few years, people have been doing just that—forgoing complicated camping tents for hammocks. (In fact, since 2014, hammock sales have more than doubled.) Interested in learning how to hammock camp? We’ve got you covered with a quick how-to and the gear you’ll need.

Hammock camping is a new fad with a long history. According to historians, hammocks were first used more than 1,000 years ago by the Mayans and later spread to other parts of central America and the Caribbean. These early hammocks—made from woven plant materials—offered natural ventilation and provided people with a safe sleeping spot away from roaming insects and animals.

By the 16th century, hammocks became the standard bed for sailors—a practice that continued through World War II. By this time, the design had significantly changed and unlike early iterations, these shipboard hammocks—made from thick, damp canvas—were notoriously uncomfortable. The design changed little throughout the 20th century. In recent years, however, technology caught up to the humble hammock and turned it into the durable, portable, easy-to-use product we know today. (And it quickly became a hit with modern-day campers.)

How To Hammock Camp

Hammock camping is pretty straightforward but there are few things to keep in mind.

  1. Choose the right hammock for you and learn how to set it up properly without damaging trees. Check out our hammock reviews post and our how-to for hammock hanging.
  2. Make sure the place you’re camping allows hammocks. Some cities and parks have started to prohibit hammock use because of people not using them properly and damaging trees and plant life.
  3. Bring proper insulation. Hammocks are naturally cooler than tents since air is allowed to circulate around you. Sometimes, even in summer, this can make you too cold. Be sure to dress in layers and consider using a hammock underquilt. (See below for our recommendations.)
  4. Pack a bug net. To prevent yourself from becoming a feast for mosquitoes, make sure you have a bug net you can hang around your hammock. (If you’re camping in a drier climate with less mosquitoes, this might not be necessary.)
  5. Have a rain fly ready. Unless you plan to head to the car when it rains, you’ll also want a rain fly.

Here are a few more tips on how to sleep comfortably in a hammock:

  • Readjust the hammock. If a hammock is uncomfortable, sometimes it’s simply too tight. Check your hammock straps and create some slack. (A hammock should hang about 18 inches off the ground with no one in it.)
  • Use a pillow. A little neck support goes a long way.
  • Lie diagonally. Start by laying in the middle of the hammock. Then shift your feet and legs about 10-12 inches to the right. Next, shift your head and upper body 10-12 inches to the left. Now you should be laying in a flatter (and more comfy) position.

reading a kindle while hammock camping

Hammock Camping Accessories

If you’re looking for additional gear that will turn your hammock into the perfect tent-substitute, check out the following accessories.

For Bugs – Camping Hammocks With Mosquito Nets

For Wet Weather – Hammock Camping In The Rain

For Cool Weather – Winter Hammock Camping

Check out these CRAZY Hammock Lovers (Makes my legs weak)