Backpacking is one of the most common outdoor activities. This is because it can be mixed and matched with other outdoor adventures and sports, such as climbing, hiking, fishing and really any other fun endeavor you can think of.
When it comes to backpacking, the benefits that a hammock can bring to it are many. In general, it allows a completely different experience and it really revolutionizes the concept of backpacking.
So in order to improve your backpacking experience with a hammock, we at Madera Outdoor thought of giving you some tips and ideas for your backpacking trip and how to backpack with a hammock.
Benefits of backpacking with a hammock
The advantages of backpacking with a hammock are mainly two.
First of all, hammocks make your backpacking lighter. Indeed, the difference in weight between a tent and a hammock, including its hammock tarp or bug net, it’s at least 40 oz, if not more according to the kind of tent and hammock we are looking at.
This means that hammocks are perfect for ultralight backpacking.
The second benefit is that you are much freer to stop wherever you want for the night, without having to look for specific terrain conditions. Hammocks are so easy to set up and dismantle and they take up such few space, that you can decide to set camp pretty much anywhere as far as there are two trees - or whichever other structure - that can provide you with two points to fix your hammock.
So really, in many ways, hammock camping is much more suitable for a backpacking trip than any other kind of sleeping solution.
If you are not planning to sleep in a tent and do some open-air sleeping instead, then you have even more reasons to consider hammock camping as an option.
Indeed, hammock camping not only keeps your backpacking trip light and easy, but it improves your sleeping condition by a million percent. If set up properly, hammocks can be incredibly comfortable beds, which actually operate some stretching on your spine too.
Also, they insulate you from the ground, preventing moisture to cause you pain and act negatively on your joints, bones and muscles. The amount and quality of rest that you will get by hammock camping instead of open-air sleeping is truly significative.
Plus, a hammock only adds 20ish oz to your backpack and the camping mat that you would use to sleep on the ground goes perfectly well with it too. So you might as well add a hammock to your backpacking gear checklist to increase your sleeping options.
This way, when the environment allows it you can comfortably sleep in your hammock and enjoy the benefits of hammock camping. When the place where you are makes it difficult to pitch a hammock, then you can sleep on the ground, like in the good ol’ days.
By adding one single piece of gear to your backpack, you add so many new possibilities and comforts you can’t even imagine until you try.
Now that we made clear how much a hammock can improve your backpacking experience, let’s see some tricks to improve your backpacking trip from all points of view.
Tips for a better backpacking experience
So if you want the ultimate backpacking trip, what should you have with you and what should you do in order to be ready for all sorts of situations? Here’s a guide to backpacking and a few ideas that you could use when adventuring out there.
Plan ahead and have a map
This is the most important thing when it comes to any outdoor activity. When you are out there, not everything will be under control. You might not have (and we hope you won't!) phone coverage, weather conditions can change quickly and unexpectedly and all sorts of detours and off-tracks can happen.
As much as a hammock will help you to solve a lot of sleeping situations that might just be way too uncomfortable otherwise, you still have to be ready for the daytime and, in general, you must know where you are going.
If you are one of those explorers who doesn't like to have it all figured out, then you must have at least a backup plan, guide or map where you can look for information if something unpredictable happens. Guides are always the best solution. You can keep them far from your eyes for as long as you want, but in case something happens you will know where to find help and directions.
If a guide doesn’t exist, then even just a map of the surrounding area and a compass will do. This way, you will know what’s around you and where to go if you need help.
Be ready for all sorts of weather conditions
When backpacking, we normally cross many different environments and, in general, we stay outside for many days. Regardless of the kind of backpacking you intend to face, but especially if we are talking about outdoor backpacking, all sorts of weather conditions can catch you off guards if you don’t have everything you need on your shoulders.
Generally, layers are the best solution. Make sure you have at least one of each clothing item, from a tank top to a warm jacket, including a hat, a neck warmer, and a rain poncho. Normally, the best advice is to really have all these components divided. Instead of having a waterproof stuffed jacket or an attached fleece jacket, have many different components that you can combine according to your needs. What if it rains, but it’s also incredibly hot? What if it’s cold, but you are doing a very sweaty activity, such as walking for miles and miles with a heavy backpack on your shoulders?
Of course, we are talking about sleeping too. Have a hammock tarp on you, which can be incredibly helpful even if you are sleeping on the ground, as it will still protect you from the rain. Also, make sure that the materials you choose when it comes to your sleeping bag and camping mat are waterproof and help to keep moisture away. Even if it doesn’t rain, you can still wake up soaked in water if you don’t prevent it properly.
Go with someone - or at least don’t go alone
Same thing? Not really.
True, backpacking solo can be an amazing adventure and a true journey of self-discovery, however, it’s always better to go with someone. Of course, don’t look at big groups: they work for short hikes, but when it comes to backpacking you want to be with a backpacking partner who shares your pace, moral and intentions. And even with them, it can be hard at times!
But if you really don’t want to backpack with someone, then at least let someone know where you are and what your plans are.
Don’t venture outside all by yourself, without sharing information about your backpacking trip with at least one friend or one member of the family. This is a matter of safety: if something happens to you and you don’t know how to look for help, they will know where to look for you. If they know when you are supposed to be back, then they will notice if you are not and, in general, they can help you with all sorts of necessities.
Indeed, there’s a big difference between adventuring and getting lost without knowing what’s going on or how to solve the problem. Which leads to our last point.
Sometimes, safety sounds lame or not-so-much-adventurous. That’s why so many people, especially those who are new to an outdoor activity, don’t take it into consideration when venturing outdoors. Anything can happen to anyone. It doesn’t matter how much trained, strong, or experienced you are. It doesn’t matter how much trained, strong and experienced are those who are with you. You should never depend on someone else and you should never underestimate the incredible strength of nature.
Sometimes, the worst accidents happen because of approximation or over consideration of one’s own potential.
A first aid kit and an emergency number saved on your phone, together with a power bank, a water filter, a bush knife, a fire source and a light, as well as knowing how to use them, can truly save your life.