Hammocks, unlike your home bedding, can be somewhat confining and unusual for new campers.
Just like many new campers, I was also skeptical about a comfortable sleep in a hammock as all I could see was a banana-shaped swinging cloth tied to the trees.
But my experience was different when I tried my first ever hammock a few years ago.
So, is hammock camping comfortable? Yes. Hammock camping is quite comfortable. Hammock, when hanged properly with suitable gears, can provide the best sleeping experience during camping. Unlike the hard ground of a tent, a hammock hangs in the air and conforms to the natural curvature of your body to provide the ultimate comfort and good night’s sleep.
Being comfortable in a hammock is not as easy as you might think. It always takes a few wrong trials to reach a good one. You need to experiment with your sleep position, optimum temperature, hammock height, hang angle, suspension sag, and a couple of other things to find the best possible combination.
However, once you get used to it, It will take your camping experience to another level. Here are a few tips to make your hammock camping far more comfortable than a traditional tent.
#1 Hang your hammock the right way
Hanging the hammock may seem like a two-minute job, but the way you hang it can highly effect your comfort level.
You may have questions like, how much sag is okay? or how necessary is levelling? Or how much height is appropriate?
When I went hammock camping for the first time, I had these questions in my mind too. Tough, after a few trials, you know exactly what to do to be comfortable, but for starters, some pre-set set-ups work for everyone!
The appropriate height of a hammock should be equal to the height of a chair. Because the higher the hammock, the more difficult you’ll face in getting in and coming out. The average chair height s usually 18 inches high from the ground and is comfortable to sit.
The sag and tightness of a hammock depend upon your comfort. Too much sag can cause back pain, and too much tightness can make the hammock too hard to sleep on. You can experiment with different sag angles to find your sweet spot.
Levelling of Hammock
Again a personal preference but some experienced hammokers (including me) prefer to tie the foot end of the hammock a little higher (about a foot higher) than the head-end.
Your body weight is not distributed evenly along with your height. Your torso is heavier and hence will slide down towards the food-end during the night if the hammock is hanged with both ends at the same level.
By hanging the foot-end a little higher, we are creating a more comfortable sleeping position where the unbalanced body weight is balanced by the unbalanced hammock (did I confuse ya??)
#2 Go for the hammock that suits you best
Hammocks come in a lot of different designs, materials, and construction. After a few trips, campers generally know exactly what they want. But if you don’t know what suits you well then, the below-given advice can save you from spending money on the wrong type of hammock.
The variation can be of material, design, size, strength and durability of a hammock.
Single vs. double hammock
As far as the size of the hammock is concerned, the bigger, the better.
A single-sized hammock is usually 4 ft. wide and can take up to 250 pounds of weight, whereas the double hammock is approx. 6 ft. wide and can handle up to 350-450 pounds.
Wider hammocks allow you to be more comfortable and are also great for sleeping diagonally. They have stronger fabric which is around 70 deniers but can vary in different hammocks depending upon the manufacturer.
Hammock design and material
Hammocks come in many different styles and materials, but every design serves a different purpose.
Cotton and polyester hammocks are generally considered comfortable in every style because they have a softer feel to them.
Nylon ripstop is more durable but has a stiffer feel, whereas taffeta has a softer feel and is used by a larger majority. Nylon hammocks are also easy to wash (Read our detailed guide on washing your hammock properly)
The most common hammock styles are gathered-end hammocks, rope hammocks, and spreader-bar hammocks.
Ropes hammocks are the most gorgeous-looking hammocks. They are good for hanging out on the sunny beach for a couple of hours but are very uncomfortable to sleep in for a longer period.
Gathered-end traveling hammocks are the most used hammock hammocks for camping and are fairly comfortable but can cause body pain and strain issues if not hang correctly.
#3 Try being bone dry in a hammock
Weather in the wilderness can be pretty unpredictable at times. Waking up soaked in water can cause a lot of discomfort while camping
In a hammock, if you are not covered enough, or prepared for sudden rains, the end results can be terrible.
To avoid being drenched like that, make sure you use rainfly and tarps to keep yourself dry during a rainy night.
Tarp configuration also plays a primary part in keeping you dry. Asymmetrical tarps are good for shade but are not very effective with rains.
Symmetrical tarps like HEX tarps are usually the best for rain protection because of the coverage they provide. It is also, important to tie your hammock as close to the ridgeline as possible at no more than 3 to 5 inches.
Even after you protect your hammock from all sides, the accumulated raindrops from tree stems can still make it to your hammock through the suspension ropes.
For that, drip lines are your savior. They are just little knots of ropes with free ends hanging in the air to collect and dispel rainwater running through the suspension rope.
Read our detailed guide about hammock camping in the rain.
#4 Use a hammock pillow to support your neck
A lot of you might think why am I suggesting a neck pillow when hammock natural sag elevates your head?
Well, that a valid question.
Pillows are not only comfortable for the upper part of the body, but also makes provides you a feeling of your normal sleeping way at home.
If you lie in a hammock correctly, you may not even need it, but in 6-8 hours of sleep, you tend to toss and turn and wake up in a different position. And that’s where the pillow helps with your posture and blood circulation.
Pillow are also necessary for people who sleep sideways diagonally, because they tend to sleep flat with minimum sag, which makes it necessary for them to have a pillow.
My personal favorite are the horse-show pillows, because they are comfy and tend to move less while you sleep. Other than that, Rei hammock pillows are made up of compressible material which makes it super soft and portable.
#5 Use a bug net for uninterrupted sleep
So, is a bug-net really that necessary to use? This depends on a lot of factors, like the area you camp in, the weather condition and, the ‘bug reputation’ of that area.
In summers, most of the campers tend to sleep in the lightest possible sleep-wear because of humidity and moisture in the air. So, it is impossible to be comfortable in the hammock during summer nights because of bug attacks if you are not covered from all sides.
So, unless you are okay with waking up full of rashes and mosquito bite, it is better to carry a bug net.
Your hammock can have an integrated attached bug net or you can buy one separately and hang it over your ridgeline and tuck in the loose ends below the hammock.
The attached bug net prevent bugs completely but can be uncomfortable for claustrophobic campers. Also, the hustle of unzipping the hammock every time you go out in the night is there.
Ridgeline bug-net is quite easy to use as you can go out and get in quickly. Another benefit is that you can adjust the height according to your comfort, so you don’t feel trapped inside a very closed space.
Is hammock camping comfortable? – Conclusion
Hammocks are very comfortable sleeping option during long camping trips if you take care of a few basic things.
Select a suitable hammock, hang it properly, use rain protection and mosquito net to make your night’s sleep the best one out there.
Apart from comfort, hammocks are awesome in more ways. They don’t need a special hanging place as you can hang almost anywhere even without trees, they are light on your back as well as on your pocket and give you a good view of the surroundings compared to a close tent.
This blog post is part of our comprehensive hammock camping guide. If you are new to hammock camping, read the complete guide to get ready for your next camping trip.