(Back) Breaking into the Hammock World

I have camped out ever since I was a kid in the Cub Scouts some 40 years ago. And each and every time, I slept in a tent. If you have ever slept in a tent, it provides a feeling of safety and comfort. It’s like hiding under the blankets when you were a kid. You think, if the boogeyman can’t see me, he can’t get me. The tent gives you this same feeling. If the bear can’t see you, how can it eat you. The only downside to the tent, now that I am getting older, is waking up each morning and having to take 20 minutes to stretch out my back before I can do anything else.

So as an older and more wiser (?) version of my younger self, I decided to use the internet for something other than finding lighter gear I can’t afford and porn. I looked into fighting the backbreaking tent sleep. And you know what I found? Hammocks!

But with new info comes hundreds of so-called experts to offer opinions. So after more research and YouTube videos than you can shake a stick at, I bought a hammock and slept in it.

So how was it? In a word, horrible! The asymmetrical design, and my inexperience with the hammock, left me sliding down to the foot end all night and sticking out from under the tarp to enjoy a brief and unexpected rain shower. But even after laying in it all night without sleeping, I got out of it in the morning without a sore back.

So as someone who learns from his mistakes, usually after making it more than once, I decided to try it again with a different, more traditional (heavier) hammock. And you know what? I had all the same problems, but again I woke up ready to go without a sore back.

So what lessons have I learned? Well, for one, I have learned that I can’t hang a hammock correctly. But I have also learned that if you are of a certain age or have back problems or if you want a better night sleep, then you may want to give the hammock a try.

Now I just need to learn to hang it.

Happy trails,


P.S. I didn’t feel like a human bear burrito in the hammock either 🙂


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Comments 7

  • Ross : Jan 29th

    Chad, if I may say so, hang in there. I am 64 and sleep more comfortably in my hammock than in bed. In fact I keep my hammock strung up in my basement and enjoy an afternoon nap every day. It took a while to get the hang just right, but it is so worth it.

    • Chad Sanborn : Feb 3rd

      Thank you I will. I got a master class in hammock hanging by a friend this past weekend. I was able to make a very comfy hang and hopefully I can keep that trend up onto the trail.

  • TBR : Jan 29th

    So, hammock sleepers … how does one prevent the sore knees?

    When I stretch out, I feel downward pressure on my knees.

    I can put a pillow under my legs, and that works. Great for a nap in the backyard, but not practical when out in the woods.

    • Michelle : Jan 30th

      It takes a bit of getting used to..over time your back will thank you! Also, it is tough to get a symmetrical sleep, but keep adjusting the hanging straps and you’ll find the right balance! 🙂

      • Chad Sanborn : Feb 3rd

        Thats my problem exactly! I don’t adjust enough. I practiced this weekend and found the sweet spot I hope.

    • Ross : Jan 30th

      I’m no expert, but I think hyperextension of the knees is caused by lying at an insufficient angle. Most hammocks, I believe, are shaped so you lie with your shoulders to the left of the centerline, and your feet to the right of it. This puts your feet slightly lower than your knees, which is ideal.

      • Chad Sanborn : Feb 3rd

        Indeed this is the ideal situation. And I hope that after this past weekends practice, I can get a ‘perfect hang’ through various tree situations.


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