We know everyone loves hanging out at the state parks, but have you ever wanted to literally hang out there? Wondering how it’s possible to literally hang out at a state park? Why, by hammock camping of course!
Perhaps you’re already up on the trend, or maybe you’re seeking a different way to enjoy an overnight stay in the parks. If you’re trying to decide if hammock camping is an adventure you’d like to try, this helpful guide may bring you some clarity and answer your most pressing questions.
You may be thinking, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! Why would I want to forgo a perfectly good tent?” Here’s why!
- Many campers find hammocks offer a much more comfortable night’s sleep than the ground.
- Hammock camping makes it easy to “Leave No Trace”. The presence of hammock camping is more difficult to detect than traditional camping, since the grass and topsoil are left unscathed.
- Using a hammock opens up more campsites. Sloping, stony, un-camp-on-able ground becomes fair game for a campsite when you’re not sleeping directly on it.
- Kiss rainwater runoff goodbye. Nothing ruins a good night’s sleep like waking up to water seeping into your tent. Not a problem when you’re in a hammock!
- You can forget about a curious critter crawling into your tent. Raising yourself up off the ground drastically lowers the chances of waking up with a raccoon curled up beside you.
- A hammock weighs much less than a tent, making it easier to lug around in your backpack. Sleep is much more satisfying without an aching back!
- Sticky summer weather is more manageable in a hammock, which allows a cooling air flow to surround you and keep you cool.
But there are also some drawbacks. Some things to keep in mind:
- Just as the surrounded-by-flowing-air quality of a hammock will keep you cool in the summer, it will also make it harder to stay warm in the winter. “Cold Back Syndrome” can result from the lack of insulation a hammock provides.
- Finding a perfect camping spot can be difficult. You can’t hammock camp without two trees the proper distance apart that are also strong enough to support your weight.
- If you don’t want to be drowning in calamine lotion the next day, you’ll need a bug net to shield yourself from insects.
Is hammock camping bad for the trees?
Many campers are understandably concerned that using two trees to rig up a hammock might not be the best thing for the trees’ wellbeing. However, keep in mind that most hammocks have removable webbing straps called “Tree Huggers” which allow them to attach to the trees without damaging the bark. Because of this, some people consider hammock camping more environmentally-friendly than the traditional method.
What kind of gear to choose?
- When it comes to picking the hammock itself, the main consideration is whether you want a symmetrical or asymmetrical design. A symmetrical hammock is the style you’re probably familiar with, in which you lie straight with your back curved. The fabric is more taut in an asymmetrical hammock, offering a flatter surface for your back. Whichever sleeping style you prefer is up to you!
- Unless you’re camping during the dog days of summer, you’ll also need to bring along insulation and a warm sleeping bag. Sleeping pads and under-quilts will keep you from getting the dreaded Cold Back Syndrome.
- The aforementioned bug net is also essential! Some hammocks come equipped with a bug net already in place, but if not, this is one key item you won’t want to skip. Nobody wants to spend the night as a bug snack!
- A tarp will come in handy if the forecast calls for a chance of rain, although surely you’ll use your Pocket Ranger® app to check the weather before heading out.
What are the mechanics of setting the darn thing up?
We think this amazing infographic illustrates this better than words ever could:
Do you think you want to give hammock camping a shot? Let us know how it goes by leaving us a comment!