Camping

The Camping Hammock Overview

Picture of Camping Hammock hung in a tree with backpacker in it

THE CAMPING HAMMOCK

The use of a hammock is an age old method of comfortably sleeping outdoors. Hammocks where, in 16th Century times, the only means to making a bed in the wild outdoors. However, in modern times, the hammock has been redesigned, enhanced, and given versatility in a way that presents the modern day camper with a variety of options. The style, structure, size, and benefits become key factors in choosing the right hammock to suit you. Not to mention, because not every camper is fond of sleeping bags, hammocks provide a safe and easy to use alternative for a comfortable nights sleep during their outdoor adventure. Choosing the right hammock for your relaxing evenings outdoors depends greatly on the area where your camp site will be in addition to the features of the hammock itself.

TYPES OF HAMMOCKS
Suspended/Convertible
The classic idea of a hammock is a large suspended piece of fabric that is hung between two beautiful trees, allowing a unique and peaceful nights sleep. However many of the modern hammocks do not include the tree stakes required to setup a suspended hammock. Therefore, if this is a preference for your hammock choice these items will need to be purchased separately. Also, the weight of the stakes can add weight to your load if hiking, which is a factor that should be considered.

The convertible hammock is a more versatile option for using a hammock. These hammocks can be used as a unique fully enclosed tent system which is ventilated and single walled for comfort. Or, the convertible hammock can be used as a hexagonal tarp. These types of hammocks are ultralight, which makes them highly favored among backpackers, hikers, and frequent Trekkers. These hammocks to not require additional accessories for their functionality, as everything needed to setup the convertible hammock is included.

One Person/Two Person
A one person hammock is simply constructed to comfortably fit one average size person. These hammocks are durable, safe, and easy to setup. They provide a peaceful rest or dreamy nights sleep without weighing down a load if backpacking is your outdoor activity of choice. Additionally, with a one person hammock managing a consistent temperature is much easier with these hammocks. If planning to use a hammock during colder temperatures, this factor should be considered.

A two person hammock is perfect for couples who share a fondness for the outdoors and often spend nights out in the wilderness. These hammocks are slightly sturdier than the one person hammock, as they are manufactured to comfortably hold the weight of two individuals opposed to one. These hammocks are slightly heavier in weight, but can also be beneficial as loads can be evenly distributed among more than one person. Thus, preventing the full load from being on one person alone which makes carrying a two person hammock much easier. This factor should be considered if backpacking, hiking, or performing any other outdoor activities other than car camping.

Open/Enclosed
The obvious benefit of an open hammock is the ability to gaze up at the beautiful sky in the comfort of a hammock. Of course by keeping campers free from the unforgiving texture of the ground while admiring the sky is a major benefit. Also, this is great for warm summer days and nights when warmth is not necessary, only comfort and safety. These hammocks can be used on a winter night as well, but are most favored in warmer climates due to the air exposure.

The enclosed structure hammock has its own set of benefits as well. Because the manufacturing style is intended to encapsulate these hammocks feature some cool aspects such as integrated bug screens. This allows you to be free from the elements of nature that are not as pleasant, while remaining comfortable and safe in the hammock. The enclosed hammocks also have an option of tarp tops for some models, and can easily protect campers from exposure to rain, wind, and other harsh elements.

Spreader Bar/Unstructured
Hammocks are structured in a variety of ways, as you can see. A very common method of using a hammock is by incorporating spreader bars for additional stability and reinforcement of its setup. Spreader bars are typically made of wood and are used as a foundation for the cotton string, poly cord, or hemp strings that are attached in order to better form a sturdy hammock structure. These hammocks are great for a relaxing day in the outdoors or even a light nap. However because of the lack of barriers with these types of hammocks it is easy for one to slip off. Therefore they are not recommended for overnight sleeping, due to the structure and design.

Unstructured hammocks have the traditional look and feel of a hammock. These hammocks are manufactured with a very comfortable material and are hung in a cocoon like fashion and shape. If you happen to be a first time hammock user, getting into this type of hammock can be challenging. The structure is very forgiving, therefore one must hold it in the proper way to enter or it may swing. Thus, leading to the downside of this type of hammock. Because the unstructured hammock is easily swayed conditions that have high winds or harsh weather will not be the best place to use these type of hammocks. Although very safe and comfortable in calm conditions, adverse conditions can cause concern for stability with these models.

HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT HAMMOCK
Design
Because hammocks are available in various designs and styles, it is important to choose a hammock based on the design that best accommodated the area and weather conditions of where it will be setup. The design of a hammock reflects its stability or lack thereof, and it’s durability in adverse conditions or lack thereof.
Ease of Setup
Nature is unpredictable. Therefore, what could start out as a beautiful, calm, and sunny day could end in a stormy night. Therefore the ease of setup for your hammock is imperative. You may find yourself having to secure your hammock quickly before a storm or other intense form of weather. If so, that is not the time that you want to wrestle with a cumbersome hammock. Evaluate the time and process for setup with the hammock that you choose.
Adaptability
Know which hammocks are best for the area in which you plan to camp out and sleep. The tree density, terrain, climate, and weather conditions all play a major role in the adaptability of a hammock.
Comfort
After a long day of backpacking, mountaineering, or exploring the last thing one would want is to setup an uncomfortable hammock in attempt to get some rest. Therefore, evaluate the manufacturing of the hammock that you choose and the material that it is composed of in order to ensure maximum comfort.
Packability
If exploring the outdoors in any manner outside of car camping your hammocks ability to be easily and effectively stored is imperative. Ensure that your hammock is light enough to not weigh down your load, and not too complex to require multiple components. This will make toting your hammock much easier and more safe.