I have mentioned it on the blog a couple of times before: I am an avid hammock camper. There is so much good to say about hammock camping and most people experience camping bliss and the first real good sleep outside their beds when they succeed to have their setup perfected. I am not exaggerating.
But there is no way around it: there is much tinkering involved and rules to keep in mind, when heading out for your first hammock overnighters. Now, I love that but I admit, there is a learning curve:
- You’ll need to find the right trees, set at the right distance
- You’ll need to figure out the right height and angle to you hang your hammock, so you can enter it comfortably, but not lay on the ground once inside
- Rigging the tarp is an art itself. Too high or too low? You want to stay dry but also have a bit of a view, how to shield for wind, what to do in winter time?
- Be watchful that water won’t drip down in your hammock by way of your hammock and tarp suspensions
- How to stay warm when it gets cold is a big challenge and believe me, it gets cold rather quickly if you have nothing but air under your butt.
- And much more
Even if you are an experienced outdoors person, hammock hiking is a complete new and different sport: ridgelines, top and underquilts, suspensions, Whoopie Slings, etc. If you are like me, you love to find out all about it!
Camp where no conventional camper can
With a little bit of practice a couple of the right accessories, hammock camping truly is a wonderful experience with many benefits. You don’t have to crawl into a tight tent, make due with uneven or wet ground to set up your shelter, be afraid of flooding when there is a lot of rain and share the same floor with many of the creepy insects outdoors.
Especially if you do wild camps in areas where you are not allowed to, a hammock camp can be very alluring. Last fall I went on a little 24h trip along our Rhine river valley not far from where I live. It’s a nice walk up and down the slopes of the Rhine river, beautiful sights left and right and wilder areas separating the vineyards from one and another. Venturing off in to the steeper passages along the way gives plenty of opportunities to hang a hammock, hidden from those that should not see and great open views for the hanger. It also would be almost impossible to find a flat spot for a tent there.
The Ultimate Hang
Now, if you’re thinking, “Geez, I’d love to go hammock camping and try this for myself, but I just don’t know where to start!”, I want to share a great new resource with you: The Ultimate Hang by Derek Hansen which is a lovingly illustrated guide to hammock camping.
I have read it cover to cover and have learned so many new things that I can’t wait to try out myself on my next hang. The book is full of tips about everything you need to know when heading outdoors with a hammock. Even if you are an experienced hanger, you’ll get value out of it, as it is really a beautiful piece of work and covers so many different areas of hammock camping, you’ll pick it up again to check for a knot to secure your tarp in a different way or to try out the Hug – Derek’s own minimalist bug net design.
The book contains plenty of illustrations explaining in detail how to set up a hammock and combine it with a tarp, or what’s the best way to protect yourself with an after market bug netting and a lot more.
The guide has a section that describes the kind of hammocking I did at the Rhine river valley. He calls it Stealth Hanging but Derek stresses this form of hammock camping doesn’t mean to camp illegally but to avoid overcrowded shelters and staying out of view of trails.
Sometimes picking the right location is about avoiding other campers and staying out of view. Leave No Trace principles recommend camping at least 200 ft. (60m.) away from trails, water sources, and other visitors. This is a great way to respect nearby campers, reduce impacting crowded sites, respect wildlife, and enjoy some solitude.
Setting up a hammock site like this is often called “stealth hanging.” This technique is part site selection and part gear choice. Look for a site that is well away from overused and highly impacted areas. Pick a site that would be inhospitable to tents.
For some, being “stealthy” also means using earth tones or camouflage colored fabrics that easily blend into the surrounding landscape.
The guide is a fun read and contains lots of information about hammock camping. Take it with you on your next hike, if you don’t own a hammock yet, or read it in your hammock and learn a few new tricks.
Win a copy!
For a chance to win The Ultimate Hang, leave a comment below and tell me what hammock system you are using or, if you don’t have one yet, which hammock you’d like to purchase. I’ll select a winner by random at the end of the month and will announce it here. Shipping is on me. Good luck!
Update: Winning entry of the raffle
Random.org says entry number 2 wins the The Ultimate Hang. Congrats LauraH. Please contact me with your shipping address and I’ll make sure the book finds the way to you!