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Best Camping Hammocks--Sleeping Under the Stars

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Are you looking for the best camping hammocks?  You’ve come to the right place to find them!

We’ve done the research for you, including all the benefits and features of camp hammocks you’re looking for.

Don’t know if you want a camping hammock or not?  

We’ve included information about what people like and don’t like about “hanging” in the wilderness.

Whether you’re traveling ultra-light, want a little more luxury or you love all the gadgets and gizmos, there is a portable hammock for you.

No longer a passing craze, hammocks for camping are a sleep system of choice for outdoor lovers, including:  car campers, budget road trippers, motorcyclists, backpackers, bikepackers, kayakers, rafters, canoe enthusiasts, cross country skiers, backcountry horse or mule packers, ATV trekkers and survivalists.

Camp hammocks are used as emergency survival equipment in boats, small planes, line shacks, land vehicles and other wilderness trekking.

Scouts love them for campouts.  Overnight guests have been known to pack their own for use indoors.  The hammock has even been spotted in luggage at airports.

Who would have thought everyone’s backyard favorite would become one of this millennium’s go-to travel picks for sleeping under the stars?

Check out the guide below to find the best camping hammocks for your next adventure!


The Best Camping Hammocks are Amazingly Versatile!

Depending on the way you hang a hammock it can serve as a swing, a hammock chair, can be stacked bunk style 2 and 3 hammocks high, and can be hung between automobile roof racks and sturdy posts or any other object that will get the job done.

Can’t find trees or posts to hang from?  Make a tree hammock by anchoring to a sturdy limb.

In a pinch a hammock can be rigged as an emergency shelter, a bivvy, a rain fly or poncho, or used as a ground cloth for sleeping on.  Fill it with foliage and duff, crawl inside and you have an emergency sleeping bag that prevents exposure to harsh elements . . . you might not be toasty warm, but you will survive.

You can even fill it with your food and gear and hoist it out of reach of marauding wildlife.  Rig it as a makeshift backpack or sling.  Use it to collect rain water or make a stretcher to carry a wounded friend.

Are you lost and can’t find your way back to civilization?  Fly your colorful hammock as a flag to capture searchers attention.

Survival uses for a hammock are limited only by your imagination and ingenuity.



The Truth about Comfort

Avid “hangers” will tell you, sleeping in a hammock is not always comfortable.  A comfortable “hang” is subject to many conditions and circumstances.

The very nature of sleeping in a hammock suspended in the air is different than sleeping on a soft, flat stationary surface, such as your favorite mattress in your bedroom at home.

Tip


Look for the best camping hammocks compatible with your primary sleeping position.

A “flat” sleep in a hammock is not really flat at all.  Even when your body is situated at the optimum 30° angle for comfort (reduced pressure point stress) your head is still higher than the rest of your body and your backside sinks a little lower.

Distances between, and heights of, anchor points affect the shape and angle of the “lay” in a camping hammock. Height from the ground, wind, temperature and other weather conditions are also mitigating factors when it comes to hammock comfort.

While a comfortable sleep is the primary claim of hammock users, not all campers feel this way.

Back-sleepers find the claim true and side-sleepers who are able to adjust to camping hammocks, agree.

Still, stomach-sleepers and toss-and-turn-all-night-sleepers argue their quality of sleep and comfort suffers.  Many say their pain and stiffness upon awaking is worse than sleeping on hard, lumpy ground.


Fear of Falling 

To make matters worse, toss-and-turn-all-night-sleepers’ fear of falling is not unfounded; it’s very unpleasant being dumped from a dry cozy bed into a muddy puddle in the middle of the night because your hammock over-turned or your anchors failed.

Conquering fear of falling is all about hammock technique know-how.  The key to staying securely in a hammock is all in the "hang" and mastering the right knots.


Swaying Issues & Motion Sickness

Unlike heavy-sleepers, light-sleepers are especially sensitive to hammock movement.  They readily awaken to anything swinging the hammock whether rocked by the wind or swung by the mere act of turning over in their sleep.

If you’re prone to motion sickness, choose a hammock with side tie-outs to help prevent swaying.


Claustrophobia

If you’re claustrophobic, the cocoon-like hang draped in mosquito netting or shrouded in a rain fly will ruin your outdoor adventure.

Choose designs compatible with a mosquito tent or a tent style hammock shelter.


Shoulder Pressure, Calf Pressure, Leg & Ankle Strain

Many hammock users complain about shoulder and calf pressure, and strains in legs and ankles due to lack of support.

Sleep across the diagonal.  This makes for the flattest possible sleeping area with the least pressure across your body and reduces the possibility of shoulder squeeze.

Cross your legs to avoid calf pressure and leg strains or place a roll pillow beneath your knees (a small stuff sack filled with clothes will work, too).  Some hammocks are designed with a foot pocket to help alleviate such strains.

The Warbonnet Blackbird hammock is specially designed to alleviate these kinds of complaints.


“Cold Butt Syndrome”

When it comes to the biggest comfort complaint of all, “Cold Butt Syndrome”, having the right equipment for the weather conditions you will face, and using the equipment properly, will mitigate this discomfort in any season of the year.

The Hennessy Hammock Deep Jungle Zip used with the SuperShelter™ 4-Season Insulation System (Zip, #1) is designed to prevent this syndrome.  

Some hammock campers place a reflective emergency blanket or a foam-backed corrugated Mylar covered windshield protector in the bottom of their hammock to block cold air, but these can produce condensation.  The moisture leaves some campers even more chilled in the morning, especially when cold weather camping.

Some campers mitigate the condensation issue by sandwiching the mylar blanket between a foam pad and a sleeping pad.

Whatever tweaks you do to your camp hammock, a good sleeping pad that protects your upper arms and shoulders should be part of your cold weather gear.

The best camping hammocks for cold weather utilize full length insulation to protect campers from freezing, like Eagles Nest Outfitters' Blaze Underquilt.The best camping hammocks for cold weather utilize full length insulation to protect campers from freezing, like Eagles Nest Outfitters' Blaze Underquilt.

A better solution is to use a good hammock sleeping pad combined with an under quilt made to specifications for the conditions you will be camping in.


Cold Feet

It is natural for the body to seek its center of gravity in a hammock.  Sometimes this leads to conditions like cold feet when the body slips down while sleeping.

Experienced hammock campers suggest raising the foot end anchor higher as a solution to this problem.

In cold weather, wear a pair of thick wool hiking socks over a pair of cotton socks to help keep your feet warm.  Another good solution is to wear polar fleece booties.

Tip


Turn your sleeping bag into a top quilt.

Zip it down, leaving a box for your feet and use it as you would any top quilt, tucking the edges around and under your body.  Moisture escapes so you stay drier and warmer. 

In winter, fill a waterproof naglene bottle with boiling water, slide it inside a wool sock and place it in the bottom of your sleeping bag,  PeaPod™ or top quilt next to your feet.  

Your feet will stay nice and toasty all night!


Insects!

No matter where you are in the outdoors, or in what kind of weather, biting insects are the bane of all outdoor enthusiasts.  It’s the one reason tent camping continues to win out over any other outdoor sleep system when we’re talking about “sleeping under the stars”.

When you don’t want to fuss with mosquito or bug netting, or with a sleeping pad or sleeping bag, then the best way to get seasonal protection is to spray your hammock with Permethrin.

The best camping hammocks address the problem of protection from biting insects.

Remember the Hennessy Hammock Deep Jungle Zip?  It wins our approval for best protection against bugs because of it's double bottom, preventing insects from biting through the hammock, and it's innovative "bottom entry" design option.

Our second choice is Hammock Bliss Sky Bed Bug Free, again for it's double bottom.  The netting on this hammock provides some gear storage, too.


Best Camping Hammocks--Bottom Line
(no pun intended)

When using the right equipment, when hung at the perfect pitch, and perhaps with some coaching on techniques, all hammock related discomforts can be mitigated, often turning reluctant users into hammock aficionados!


What are the Best Camping Hammocks?


Professionals suggest purchasing the best camping hammocks designed and configured to meet your sleeping and comfort needs, and for the outdoor conditions you will be facing.

When choosing a camp hammock, take into consideration your height and weight.  The best camping hammocks fit the camper.

Then, evaluate the specifications and other parameters that are important to you:

  • Accessories
  • Capacity
  • Comfort
  • Compatibility
  • Connectors
  • Construction
  • Customer support
  • Durability
  • Ease of set up
  • Materials
  • Price
  • Quality
  • Reputation
  • Size
  • Value
  • Versatility
  • Warranty
  • Weight



Master the Art of the “Hang”

Learning to consistently achieve the perfect hang requires practice . . . lots of practice.  Hammock professionals suggest practicing in your backyard under a variety of conditions until you master the art of the “hang”.

Tip


For the best logistics use a hammock hang calculator.

Have you heard of a tippy canoe?  This is what happens when a hammock is strung too tight, causing a high center of gravity, which dumps sleepers into the muck in the middle of the night.  It also creates painful pressure points by morning.

The hammock should hang with deep sag so a comfortable diagonal (30°) sleeping position across the keel can be assumed.  The longer the hammock, the flatter the "lay" will be.

Secure hammock anchors no further than 15 feet apart, and at that distance, about 6 feet high.  The farther the distance between anchors, the higher the anchor must be in order to achieve a 30° sag, the perfect "lay".


Scout for a Good Location

Part of trip planning is checking to find a destination where it is legal to hammock camp.

Practice, “Leave No Trace in the Outdoors” camping.  Opt to use anchoring equipment designed to preserve tree bark, such a wide padded straps.

Never anchor a hammock under trees with heavy downfall or under trees with dead branches still hanging in the canopy.  You don't want tree limbs crashing your good night’s sleep.  Falling limbs have been known to kill campers.

Avoid anchoring a hammock across game trails, especially those leading to water.  Imagine waking up to deer leaping over you, or coming face to face with a thirsty moose or bear?

Don’t pitch a hammock in a bee line, near a bee tree or a wasp nest.  Also, avoid ant trails and colonies or any other indications of possible insect infestation.

Anchor a hammock far away from swamps, wetlands, lakes or other stagnant waters to avoid mosquitos.  For the same reason, locate a hammock well away from the damp shores of running water.  If you must camp near water or in a mosquito infest area, carry mosquito repellent and use mosquito netting.

In the outback, inclement weather and flash floods come without warning.  Be wilderness savvy.  Look for dry creek beds, washes, arroyos or any other water created trail; camp uphill with a route of escape and away from such areas.

Many uprooted and downed trees may indicate soggy ground or a high water table beneath dry duff, or areas of hurricane force winds.  Hang a hammock here at your own peril.

Wooded areas and forests offer the best trees to choose from for anchoring hammocks to.

Look for hardwood trees spaced 10 to 12 feet apart to get the best hang.  Tree trunks, 10 to 12 inches in circumference, make the best anchors.  Soft wood trees and smaller trunks are too supple and bend easily, besides being easily damaged.

While larger trunks are substantial, most anchor straps are not long enough to wrap around the generous girth of old growth trees.  Can you imagine trying to anchor a hammock to a Giant Sequoia or a Redwood?

One advantage camping hammocks have over tents is they can be hung over just about any kind of terrain, sloped, lumpy, rocky, water, high up in a tree . . .

. . . You might want to re-think “steep”, “rocky”  or "watery" terrains!

Occasionally, even a well anchored hammock will fall.  To prevent injury, don’t hang your hammock higher than you are willing to fall and do so only over terrain you’re ready to fall into!

It would be a terrible accident to knock yourself unconscious on a rock or to roll down a steep slope into a rushing river while bound up in your sleeping bag or twisted up in your hammock!


REMEMBER!  Hot Air Rises & Cold Air Sinks


To Stay Warm in Cold Weather

In winter, anchor your hammock on a slope opposite of the prevailing wind and storm pattern, above the frost line.  Mid-way up a hill or ridge are usually go choices.  Frost tends to seek lowest points, forming where temperatures are coldest.

South facing slopes get the most sunshine, are usually warmer in the winter and have less snow accumulation; consider pitching camp here.

Look for rocky outcroppings, thick shrubbery and other natural shelters where you can anchor your hammock in the lee of the prevailing winds and storms.

Make camp perpendicular to the wind and use a tarp for a wind block.

Avoid camping near water.  Temperatures near lakes, rivers and streams generally run 5° to 10° colder than locations 30 or more feet away and higher in elevation.


To Stay Cool in Hot Weather

On hot summer nights, anchor your hammock on a north facing slope where the shadows are long, even during the day, and cool breezes slip down the slope at night . . . nature’s air conditioner.

Look for spots exposed to the wind such as hilltops, tops of ridges and on the windy side of a slope.

Shaded valley locations are cold sinks at night and make for cool sleeping.

Make camp so it is set into the wind and use a tarp to funnel the wind over you.

Consider camping near lakes, rivers and streams.  Temperatures tend to run 5° to 10° cooler than areas 30 or more feet away and at higher elevations.



Not just a respite for napping in the backyard on lazy summer afternoons, hammocks have become a four season favorite, sheltering campers of all kinds.

Choose one of our "Best Camping Hammocks" picks for your next adventure and enjoy sleeping under the stars!


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