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Hammock Camping Tips & Tricks

Hammock

My Boy Scout Unit Commissioner once told me “the best night’s sleep I ever got on a campout was in a hammock”. Naturally this piqued my curiosity so I picked one up for our next campout. Since this was my first time sleeping in a hammock, at least not overnight; I probably didn’t sleep as well as I could have. My only regret is that I didn’t adhere to #5 below. If I had an underquilt or a camp pad, I would have been much warmer and therefore slept better. Besides that, I am hooked.

Hammock Tips
Kids love hammocks too!

Hammocks are super easy to set up and if you get the right straps, you don’t even have to be able to tie any knots. They are also the ultimate in Leave No Trace, when hung properly you leave zero impact on the campsite. I now take my hammock on every campout just in case there’s an opportunity to use it.

 

We have compiled some tips and tricks to make your next hammock campout even more comfortable.

  1. Hang your hammock with a good sag.  Too many people try to string up their hammock tightly between two anchor points. Heck, I even used to. Stringing too tightly between anchors causes a cocoon effect and put pressure on your shoulders and back. Putting a good sag in your hammock lowers the center of gravity making it more stable and harder to fall out of. You want to have your hammock look like a smile. For the techies, a 30 degree angle at each end will be the most comfortable.

2. Lay on the diagonal.  This is actually how hammocks were designed to work. Once you have your “good sag”, laying across the diagonal is very comfortable. If you start to feel some pressure behind your knees laying like this, use a small pillow under them and sleep like a baby!

3. Raise your feet slightly higher. Sometimes your body can slide to the middle of the hammock and be uncomfortable. Raising your feet 8″ – 10″ will keep your torso from sliding into the middle and be more comfortable.

4. Keep the bugs at bay. Some “jungle hammocks” come with a built in bug net. If yours doesn’t, it is an inexpensive addition to help keep the bugs outside where they should be.

5. Use a sleeping pad or under quilt. Sleeping pads aren’t just for sleeping on the ground comfortably. They also keep you warmer by insulating you from the cold ground. Many people think all you need to stay warm in a hammock is a sleeping bag. When you lay on the sleeping bag in your hammock, you compress the filling which is what helps insulate you. Sure, you will be warmer than if you had nothing, but a sleeping pad or under quilt will be much warmer.

Hammock Drip Line

6. Use a drip line. A simple drip line on your suspension system (see above) can help keep you dry. Water can seep down the suspension line and right onto you. Be sure to place this drip line under your tarp for the best effect.  You can make a drip line with a small piece of para cord on the suspension.

7. Fold in the edge for a more comfortable chair.  Sitting in a hammock is like sitting in a big comfy seat. If you don’t wan the circulation cut off at your knees, fold the edge in and sit on the nice flat area.

8. Check local regulations. There are some local areas that do not allow hammock use. This usually has to do with the potential damage to trees (See # 9).

Hammock Webbing

9. Use webbing straps. Webbing straps are designed to evenly distribute the weight when anchored to a tree. Webbing straps won’t cut into a tree the same way rope will. These straps also make hanging your hammock a breeze. No knots to tie, just loop the webbing around a tree and hang!

10. Hang your floor mat. If you use a mat on the ground. Hang it up when not in use like when you’re out hiking or sitting around the campfire. There is less impact to the environment this way.

11. Be an advocate. Campers are great people. We certainly didn’t just magically come into all this camping knowledge, we were taught. Help others. Guide them, be friendly about it and people will usually accept the help. Share this site with them, we are happy to help others too!

12. Use a sleeping bag. When you’re hanging in your hammock and the breeze starts to blow, it can cool you off quickly. What I like to do is have a camp pad or underquilt in the hammock and use the sleeping bag as a comforter. I unzip my bag about 3/4 down and stick my feet inside and cover myself with the rest of the unzipped bag. This will help keep you warmer at night.

Hammock safety

As fun as camping in a hammock is, there are some things to consider to stay safe.

  1. Don’t hang your hammock over 3 feet off the ground to prevent dangerous falls.
  2. Hanging over sharp objects or water is never a good idea.
  3. Don’t stack hammocks (where multiple hammocks are stacked vertically).
  4. Don’t keep food in your hammock, just like a tent.
  5. Inspect your anchor points and look for dead limbs above or anything that can fall on you.

Shop our offering of hammocks here

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How to Tie a Trucker’s Hitch

trucker's hitch

Before we had ratchet straps, we had to tie things down with rope. A trucker’s hitch will help you cinch down a load as secure as any strap. This hitch uses a pulley effect in a loop tied in the middle of the rope. The trucker’s hitch is excellent for tying canoes to the roofs of cars or anything that you really want secure. I use this hitch all the time. It was actually even taught to me by a trucker!

How to tie it

Trucker's hitch

Tie one end of rope to fixed object such as car bumper. About mid way on the rope tie a slippery half hitch to form a loop in the middle of the line. Be sure the loop part is formed with the slack part of the rope or it will tighten down on itself under pressure.

Make a wrap around another fixed point opposite the tie-in point and feed free end through the loop.

Using the loop as a pulley, pull down with the free end as tight as you can and secure the knot with two half hitches around one or both lines.

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How to Tie a Clove Hitch

clove hitch

The clove hitch is a simple all-purpose hitch which is easy to tie and untie. As with most hitches, the clove hitch can come loose or undone if you don’t have constant maintained pressure. The clove hitch is an excellent start to any lashing.

The difference between a knot and a hitch is that a knot is used to join two ropes together or a rope to itself. A hitch is used to fix a rope to another object such as a tree limb, pole, or carabiner and uses that object to hold.

how to tie it

clove hitch

First, Wrap the free end of a rope around a post.

Crossover itself and around the post again.

Finally, slip working end under last wrap.

Pull tight

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How to Tie a Sheet Bend

sheet bend

The sheet bend is an essential knot to know. It is used to join 2 ropes together (even if they are different thicknesses). For additional security, a double sheet bend knot is a better option. This knot is an old “sailor’s knot” when they used to tie ropes to sails (sheets). This knot is one of the most important ones to know because having a little bit longer rope is never a bad thing.

how to tie it

sheet bend

Form a loop in the end of one rope.

Pass the free end of the rope to be joined under the opening of the loop, around both parts of the first rope and back under itself.

Pull all four ends to tighten.

double sheet bendTwo wraps around both parts of the first rope make a double sheet bend.

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How to Tie a Bowline Knot

The bowline knot is an ancient and simple knot used to form a fixed loop at the end of a rope. The great thing about the bowline is it is both easy to tie and untie. The bowline knot is also easy to untie after being subjected to a load and having been tightened even more. The bowline is sometimes referred as King of the knots because of its importance.

How to tie a bowline Knot

bowline knor

Lay the rope across your left hand with the free end hanging down. Form a small loop in the line in your hand (over the top of itself). This is the “hole”

Bring the free end up to and pass through the eye from the under side (the rabbit comes out of the hole).

Wrap the line around the standing line and back down through the loop (the rabbit goes around the tree and back down the hole).

Tighten the knot by pulling on free end while holding standing line

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How to tie Taut Line Hitch

The taut line hitch is an adjustable loop-type knot for lines under tension. This knot is perfect for tying guy lines to pegs or any place you need to adjust the tension. A fairly easy knot to tie and a very handy one to know.

 

How to tie the taut line

taut line hitch

Make a turn around a post or other object several feet from the free end.

Coil the free end twice around the standing line working back toward the post.

Make one additional coil around the standing line on the outside of the coils just made.

Tighten the knot and slide it on the standing line to adjust tension.