Hammock camping can be one of the most relaxing ways to pass the night in the wild. Gently rocking to sleep as nature plays its free-admission symphony is tough to match.
That said, your blissful rest may be just the opposite if you fail to bring along all the hammock camping essentials. You’ll be eager to pack up and head back to civilization in that case. With a little preparation, however, you’ll be so comfy you won’t want to go back home anytime soon.
What are the must-brings to put on your hammock camping gear list? Here they are with a little extra explanation.
Hammocking Gear List
1. The Hammock
Ever do something remarkably dumb? Come on, we all have. You know, like when you meticulously pack your live bait, lures, fishing net, camera, chest waders, polarized glasses and arrive at the lake without your fishing poles. Or, like when you go to play basketball with your buddies and bring everything but the basketball.
Those highly obnoxious experiences serve as an important warning for all potential hammock users. Don’t get so wrapped up in packing all the hammock accessories listed below that you forget the hammock! It can and does happen every year to campers and with more regularity than anyone cares to admit.
Also, when purchasing a hammock, make sure it’ll get the job done given the conditions you plan to put it through. You definitely want to steer clear of yard hammocks. These aren’t designed for the combination of light packing, durability, and comfort essential for roughing it.
All camping hammocks have their unique strengths and weaknesses. It’s smart to research reviews and check out articles to see which hammock will suit you best. It all depends on your unique preferences and the type of hiking or camping trip you’ve planned.
2. Suspension System
Some beginner hammock users wrongly assume their hammock will come with a suspension system. Not all do.
Why is your suspension system important? If you don’t establish adequate support for your hammock, you may not get quite the view you’d hoped. More than that, just a slight difference in the angle of your hammock can be the difference between a restful night’s sleep and a chronically restless one.
Your suspension system works for you to ensure your sag and angle are exactly as you want them. Your suspension system in the form of hammock straps work best with a webbed design as opposed to ropes. Not only is this design stronger, but it causes less damage to trees. Added support is key when hammock camping and your suspension straps will make it happen.
3. Rain Fly
There are many exhilarating camping experiences to be had. Having a deluge dumped on you by a snot-knocking thunderstorm certainly isn’t one of them. For that reason, the rain fly is a must.
Forget what the weather forecaster said about clear skies. That forecaster is likely to change their tune by the time you head outdoors, and they probably aren’t sleeping outside like you are. Plus, that weatherman (or woman) gets paid whether they’re right or not. Pack the rain fly and never, ever look back.
Looking for some hammock rain fly ideas you can create yourself? Here are five DIY possibilities to consider trying. There are plenty of worthy rain fly options available for purchase as well.
4. Bug Net
“I hope I wake up with two-hundred mosquito bites on my face,” said no one ever. But failing to pack a bug net invites such mishaps. Plus, those bug nets keep out more than mosquitoes. They also work just as well for ants, spiders, bats and more. Unless you enjoy cozying up with arachnids, the bug net will be your best friend. If you find yourself in need of a hammock bug net, you have two options. Either you can purchase one or create your own.
5. Under Quilt
Believe it or not, your backside can get chilly when nighttime temperatures drop below just 70 degrees. And depending on where you plan to camp, a drop below that temp could easily happen even in the summer.
You might get the angle and sag of your hammock just perfect but if your rear is cold (also referred to as Cold Butt Syndrome or CBS), your hammock-hanging prowess won’t matter.
Although the ground can be cold in a tent, it also helps to insulate you, giving back a portion of the heat escaping your body. Just putting a blanket on top of you and expecting to be warm in a hammock is asking for trouble. All that chilly air underneath will come to visit. An underquilt helps to protect you from this unpleasant chill.
Now, if you wind up with hot weather, you’ll be happier in a hammock than in a tent because the air circulation keeps you cooler. But just in case there’s chilly weather, be sure to pack your under quilt.
6. Top Quilt
Now that you’ve remembered to pack your under quilt, don’t forget about its more common companion. Sure, you’ll have a warmer backside with the underquilt, but we’re going for full-body warmth here. Just like its name says, your top quilt will provide adequate warmth to the front side of your body. The underquilt and top quilt are the one-two punch to the hammock camping shivers.
7. Sleeping Pad
Sleeping pads can provide comfort and added warmth for your hammock camping ventures. The longer you plan to be in the elements, the more you’ll appreciate your sleeping pad.
Although sleeping pads aren’t stored as easily as other hammock gear, they’re perfect if your car will be nearby and you won’t be carrying your gear long distances. If you can swing bringing one, it’ll be well worth the effort. There are plenty of sleeping pad options out there if you’re interested.
No, “carabiners” is not another term for someone who lives in the Caribbean. They’re those handy camping clips you can use to secure just about anything. Smaller ones are commonly seen attached to water bottles.
You’ll definitely want the sturdiest ones you can buy. You’re not clipping a cute water bottle to your belt buckle in this scenario. Those carabiners are holding your hammock in place. If they gave way, you could be in for a fall or, worse yet, an injury in a remote area. For that reason, don’t skimp on these. Your comfort and safety deserve the best available carabiners.
It’s always smart to bring a few extras when hammock camping just in case. Paracord is one such item. It takes up precious little space in your pack but has virtually endless uses. You can repair or reinforce your gear with it and much more.
10. Guylines & Stakes
A too-often neglected hammock camping lifeline, guylines, and stakes are invaluable for setting up your tarps. Again, these don’t take up much space so it pays to bring a few extra ones along. You just never know when you’ll need something extra in a pinch. If you wind up needing extra guylines, and they’re not there, you’ll be kicking yourself.
11. Extra Tarp
If you have space available, bringing along an extra tarp is a good idea. If finances are tight, a tarp can make a decent rain fly substitute. They’re also quite durable and versatile if you need additional options for staying dry. You can get by with a plain old tarp. That said, tarps specifically designed for camping are available and make an even better choice.
Will your hammock-camping adventure be an epic success or an epic fail? That’s largely up to how well you plan. By bringing all the gear you see here and any other items important to you, you’ll greatly increase your chances for success.
Definitely get the best gear you can afford. That said, it’s not recommended taking that gear straight into the wild and figuring out how to use it there. Be sure to purchase your gear in plenty of time to try it all out at home. Preferably, you should spend at least one night outside in your hammock at home so you’re better prepared. The wilderness is certainly no place to practice “on-the-job training”.
Once you have all the hammock camping essentials and you’ve triple checked your hammock camping gear list, you’ll be ready to have the time of your life in the wilderness. All of that planning is always worth it!