Hammock Camping Shakedown #1
The trials and tribulations of my first attempt at hammock camping and what I think went wrong/right. This was my third semi-shakedown hike since I only camped and didn’t hike a lot. My camping experience has been extensively tent for about ten years but I have been an avid hammock lounger for the past few years and think the idea of hammock camping sounds awesome.
During my Christmas break I went on a trip with a group of people to an old boy scout camp in North Carolina. As soon as we started getting close to the area we were camping I knew it was going to be the perfect spot to try hammock camping in my newly acquired Hennessy Hyperlight Hammock. I picked a nice spot for my hammock, see cover picture(rain fly setup needs work) ,and set in for the night. I wrote this post to share some of the things I learned that may help you if you are still struggling with the choice of hammock vs. tent.
Things that went wrong
Sleeping position in the hammock
For my entire life I have been a stomach sleeper, this is not ideal for a hammock which you can either be a side sleeper or back sleeper from what I have read. It took me a very long time to fall asleep. I am going try to learn to back/side sleep prior to my hike in case the hammock wins out but I doubt I can adjust that quickly.
Apparently when I set my hammock up it was in direct view of one of those lights that are super bright and stay on all night. While this wont be an issue on most camp setups since there shouldn’t be any outrageously bright lights in the woods, it was very effective at hindering my sleep. Another author on this site wrote a very interesting post on hostel etiquette that mention sleep masks so I am going to investigate one before my thru hike to remedy this issue. (article)
Angle of sleeping pad
According to much more versed hammock campers the most comfy way to sleep in a hammock is at about 15-20 degrees from being in line with the middle of the hammock, don’t ask how they know the angle, I tried a protractor but it didn’t work well. It seemed like the pad really wanted to be in line with the middle of the hammock but from youtube it seems that its possible to use a normal sleeping pad in a hammock so I am going to keep trying and possibly try using a foam pad.
Things that went right
I stayed warm and dry in my hammock. I expected to get cold since the temperature got down to around 40F and I only had my 20F quilt laying over me while I was laying on my thermo rest neo air but this setup worked very well for me.
Similar to what others have experienced even though it seemed like I only got 45 minutes of sleep the whole night I woke up with no sore muscles and was able to put in a whole days work roofing with no pains or aches from sleeping in the hammock.
Not particular to hammock camping but this time as with the past several camping trips I went on I used earplugs. Even though its fun to hear the noise of the woods while you are awake it can get annoying at least for me trying to fall asleep with the symphony of crickets and other things that go bump in the night around me. Several people on this site have mentioned them and I plan on taking them on all my ~180 camping trips in my near thru hike future.
As of now the jury is still out on hammock versus tent for me but I have both and will continue to experiment as much as I can since I believe there are benefits to hammock camping and I aim to find them.
As of today there will be less than 70 days until I quit my job and head out on one long unpaid vacation a.k.a. the adventure of a lifetime with some of you fine folks and I can’t wait!
Feel free to tell me why hammock camping is awesome and the error of my rookie ways below.
This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!
To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.