How to improve hammock camping: all the tips and tricks

Last week, here on Madera Outdoor’s Blog, we talked about how to set up up a hammock like a pro.

But when it comes to hammock camping, setting up the hammock is just the tip of the iceberg. What’s underneath the surface is an incredible amount of opportunities, ideas, tips and gear that can help you to have an even better and more exciting time while hammock camping and exploring in general.

Let’s start with the other pieces of gear that revolve around the hammock and let’s see how to improve your hammock camping experience. As you will see, we are not talking about hammock-related gear only, but also about some gear that you wouldn’t necessarily think about when hammock camping but that can actually make a difference.

The hammock tarp

The hammock tarp is a piece of gear that is as much fundamental as the hammock itself, especially when you are hammock camping for multiple days and the risk of rain is a real one.

Of course, the main reason for setting up a hammock tarp is rain indeed. It will keep you well dry, acting as a tent above you, but still allowing the hammock experience by letting you sleep outside.

However, rain is not the only reason why you should set up a tarp. First of all, it will protect you from anything falling from above. This means that you will be able to set up your hammock even more easily, as insects, leaves and birds’ “precious gifts” won’t be a threat anymore. Also, it keeps humidity away and it helps to keep the hammock area dry and aired. Anything else?

As we said a few days ago, there are many ways to rig your hammock tarp: choose according to your needs and weather conditions.

The hammock bug net

Open air sleeping can have one, huge and rather unpleasant inconvenient: insects. Of all kinds. From small annoying bugs, to big and at times risky other visitors. How to keep bugs and insects away while hammock camping without renouncing to the pleasure of the open air?

A hammock bug net is the savior here! Easy to set up, it really acts like the perfect shield to keep annoying visitors away. In this case, there really is only one way to set it up, and it's a very important piece of gear if you want to improve your hammock camping experience and avoid stress and discomfort.

Of course, if you want to even more your hammock camping experience and be really sure no bugs or insects are going to bother you, then make sure to carry some insects repellant with you as well. It can be something you apply on your body, or it could be something that you spread in the air.

Regardless, make sure you use products that respect nature and leave no trace, don’t pollute and don’t harm anything around you. This is absolutely paramount. As we always say, it takes two trees to build a hammock, but we also need a healthy and protected Planet to have those two trees in the first place.

The right sleeping bag & co.

Another crucial way to improve your hammock camping time is the right gear in terms of sleep. Starting from your sleeping bag.

Your sleeping bag must resist low temperatures and assure you protection from the cold at night. Also, it should be 100% waterproof, not only to avoid getting wet because of the rain (which should not be a problem if you have your hammock tarp), but also to protect you from the moisture in the air, which can be very high at night or in bad weather conditions.

Two things can add extra-comfort: a cap on your sleeping bag, with which you can surround your head and use it as another protection from the cold, and the size/weight of your sleeping bag. The best option would be an extra-light one, which you can squeeze in a very small case and that will allow you to save space and weight during your backpacking experiences. Indeed, hammock camping is particularly suitable for those who want to keep their backpack light and it wouldn’t make any sense to take up all the space (and the weight) with a sleeping bag, as much warm as it may be.

Also what you wear is very important. Even if your sleeping bag has a comfort zone below 32ºF, cold can still be a problem. Wearing thermic clothing and a hat can help. But don’t exaggerate, or the next morning, when it will be time to get out of your cocoon, you’ll freeze.

Last but not least, the mat. A good sleeping mat will not just make your nights more comfortable, but it will also insulate your hammock from the cold. This is an ultimate hack, but you could make your hammock sleeping mat DIY by using the same insulating material people use to insulate their car windows when sleeping in. You can shape your mat so that it follows the hammock’s shape and you can even attach to it an inflatable cushion to get the ultimate sleeping asset when hammock camping.

However, remember that hammock camping in cold weather, or snowy conditions even, is an advanced skill, so give it some time before practicing it.

Sleep diagonally

Since we are talking about sleep, then here’s another important hammock camping hack you should know of: sleep diagonally in relation to your hammock. This will help you to make the sleeping surface flatter and release pressure from your shoulders and neck.

This way, you will sleep even more comfortably.

Bring utensils that you can use for more than one thing

At the very base of hammock camping, there’s the philosophy of keeping it light, simple and practical. So a good way to improve your hammock camping experience is to bring with you tools that can be used for many different purposes, making your backpack lighter but not less ready for all sorts of occasions.

Choose, for example, a mess kit for your meals, with which you can both cook and eat, or even use it as a cup if you want. Also, opt for a reusable water bottle and a water filter, which will allow you to bring with you less water and fill it more often (of course, always make sure you do have sources where to re-fill it).

Also, a single bladed knife can sound less useful than a swiss army one, but really it will turn out to be your best option. Strong and sharp, it will help you to cut anything, acting as an incredibly useful tool in many occasions.

Make sure you have something to start a fire

Let’s start from the premises that you should always avoid big fires and pay extracare when lighting one up. Beware of the risk of wildfire and try to live and camp by the premises of leaving no trace.

Nevertheless, fire is fundamental when it come to eating, warming up or attracting attention in case of emergency. So always make sure to have something that you can use to start a small fire in case you need it. Remember that boxes of matches can get wet if it rains and that they will be totally useless in that case.

Use your hammock straps to hang stuff

Of course, always try to keep your hammock and your hammock straps as much balanced as possible. However, this doesn’t prevent you from hanging stuff on your straps instead of leaving it on the ground. It can be a camping light, your backpack, something you need to dry out. These parts of the gear can turn out to be very useful too, so don’t ignore them.

Plan ahead

This is vital when it comes to any kind of activity. In the planning phase anything can happen: you can envision all sorts of scenarios and you still have time to find a way to solve them. This mans you will be ready to face any situation.

So plan ahead and ask yourself anything that comes to your mind. Scout the net to look for an answer and do share useful tricks and information with your hammocking community: you might find so many incredible and genius ideas that can solve you problems you didn’t even think of!

1 comment

  • Andrew Flintoff

    Wow mind blowing article on Sleeping Bag Hammock, I really appreciate it. Can you please also let me know where I can get Hammock Tent from ? I am thinking of buying it as it really looks cool, do tell me. More blogs share us thanks :)

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