Unlike your home bedding, Hammocks can be confining and unusual for new campers. 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.
Turned out Hammock camping is quite comfortable. When appropriately hung with suitable gear, a hammock 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 a 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 affect your comfort level.
You may have questions like, how much sag is okay? Or how necessary is leveling? Or how much height is appropriate?
When I went hammock camping for the first time, I had these questions in my mind too. Though, 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 difficulty you’ll face in getting in and coming out.
The average chair height s usually 18 inches high from the ground, and it is comfortable to sit.
Expert Tip: Hang your hammock no more than 18 inches above the ground so you can comfortably get in and out without risking a fall.
The sag and tightness of a hammock depend upon your comfort. Too much sag can cause back pain, and tightness can make the hammock too hard to sleep on.
You can experiment with different sag angles to find your sweet spot.
Expert Tip: The perfect sag angle for a hammock is at a 30-degree angle between the rope and the horizontal ground.
Leveling 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 foot end during the night if the hammock is hung 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??)
Expert Tip: Tie your foot end of the hammock about 8 – 10 inches higher than the head end for comfortable sleep.
2. Get a suitable hammock
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 advice can save you from spending money on the wrong type of hammock.
The variation can be in a hammock’s material, design, size, strength, and durability.
Single vs. double hammock
As far as the size of the hammock is concerned, the bigger, the better.
A single-sized hammock is usually four 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.
Double hammocks are more comfortable and are also great for sleeping diagonally.
They have a stronger fabric which is around 70 deniers but can vary in different hammocks depending upon the manufacturer. I have written a detailed guide comparing single & double hammocks if you want to read more.
If you are camping in sweaty summers and don’t have a camping air conditioner, a double hammock can be a really good place to sleep.
Expert Tip: If you are a big guy/girl, get yourself a double hammock for a more comfortable, better night’s sleep.
Hammock design and material
Hammocks come in 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.
Nylon ripstop is more durable but stiffer, 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 suitable for hanging out on the sunny beach for a couple of hours but uncomfortable sleeping in for extended periods.
Gathered-end traveling hammocks are the most used hammock hammocks for camping and are pretty comfortable but can cause body pain and strain issues if not hung correctly.
Expert Tip: Select a ripstop nylon hammock with a gathered-end design for long camping in the wilderness. They are the most used type among experienced campers.
3. Rainproof your hammock
Weather in the wilderness can be pretty unpredictable at times. Waking up soaked in water can be pretty unideal for a camping night.
In a hammock, if you are not covered enough or prepared for sudden rains, the results can be terrible.
To avoid being drenched like that, use rainfly and tarps to keep yourself dry during a rainy night.
Rainfly configuration also plays a primary part in keeping you dry. Asymmetrical Rainflies are suitable for shade but are not very effective with rain.
Symmetrical tarps like HEX tarps are usually the best for rain because they provide better coverage.
It is also important to tie your hammock as close to the ridgeline as possible at no more than 3 to 5 inches. Rain doesn’t always come straight down and wind can blow the shower sideways as well.
Expert Tip: Use a symmetrical hex-type tarp configuration for rain protection
Use Drip lines
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.
Expert Tip: Use driplines to avoid rainwater running through suspension lines to your hammock.
4. Use a hammock pillow to support your neck
A lot of you might think, why am I suggesting a neck pillow when natural hammock sag elevates your head?
Well, that is a valid question.
Pillows are comfortable for the upper part of the body and provide you with a feeling of the sleeping 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.
Hammock pillows are also necessary for people who sleep sideways diagonally because they tend to sleep flat with minimum sag, which makes it necessary to have a pillow.
My favorite is the horse-show pillows, which are comfy and tend to move less while you sleep.
Other than that, Rei hammock pillows are made up of compressible material, which makes them super soft and portable.
5. Use a bug net against mosquitoes
So, is a bug net necessary to use? This depends on many factors, like the area you camp in, the weather condition, and the ‘bug reputation’ of that area.
In summer, most campers tend to sleep in the lightest possible sleepwear because of the 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 bites, it is better to carry a bug net.
Your hammock can have an integrated attached bug net, or buy one separately, hang it over your ridgeline, and tuck in the loose ends below the hammock.
The attached bug net prevents bugs but can be uncomfortable for claustrophobic campers. Also, the hustle of unzipping the hammock every time you go out at night might also be inconvenient.
Ridgeline bug net is relatively 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 closed space.
Expert Tip: Always carry your bug net around. Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.
Is hammock camping comfortable? – Conclusion
Hammocks are a very comfortable sleeping option during long camping trips if you take care of a few basic things.
You should select a suitable hammock, hang it properly, and use rain protection and a mosquito net to make your night’s sleep the best.
Apart from comfort, hammocks are awesome in more than one 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 closed tent. If you are not convinced, read this detailed post about hammock vs. tent camping.
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.
Recommended Camping Gears: I have compiled a list of my favourite camping gear in one place. The selection is based on my own personal experience using them for many years camping as well as feedback from fellow campers. Check them out on my Recommended Camping Gears page