Bored of your tent? We’ve got a lodging remedy for your next trip, if you don’t mind giving up contact with the ground.
Camping methods come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, but one practice we’re particularly keen on lately is hammock camping. The variability, variety and compact nature of hammock camping has a couple of obvious benefits, such as lightening your pack, but also some less-than-obvious factors to consider, like avoiding inclement weather.
I recently took a hammock-camping course at the Camelbak Pursuit Series, in the hills of Saratoga, California, where Eagles Nest Outfitters (eno) taught my classmates and me the basics of the endeavor as well as some insider tips and tricks that will keep hammock camping enjoyable.
First of all, some basics: Hammock camping is a great way to ditch the tent and find new perspectives, but make sure you’re hanging your shelter somewhere appropriate. Never choose the tallest tree in the vicinity; in the event of a thunderstorm, lighting will strike it first, putting quite the damper on your trip.
On the subject of trees: Please pick a live one. Stringing your hammock to a dead tree may result in some unintended contact with the ground, especially if you and a friend decide to anchor to the same dead tree. Bad news.
While stacked hammocks certainly makes for a great Instagram post, in the interest of safety, we don’t recommend doing it. First of all, to get to that top hammock, you’re climbing up multiple unsteady surfaces, which isn’t an ideal scenario when you factor in height and campfire beers. Also, imagine being the top hammock in a stack and having to use the restroom in the middle of the night. For this reason and many more, we don’t think this is a great configuration.
Thinking about bringing only one hammock for two people? While a few minutes or hours sharing a hammock is enjoyable, we do not recommend sharing one overnight. First of all, you are not doing your back any favors, and it will not be pleased with you in the morning. We can guarantee that. Second of all, if either one of you tends to move around in your sleep, the chances of tipping out of the hammock are significantly raised.
Eagles Nest Outfitters recommends staying in your own hammock for camping adventures, and we concur.
Dog owners (and dog fans in general) understand the joy that comes from bringing man’s best friend out into the backcountry for a camping adventure. However, if you’re trying out hammock camping, we suggest leaving furry friends at home.
From a logistics point of view, if you take your dog out with you on a trip and discover just before bedtime that your dog hates being in a hammock, things might get complicated. Also, dogs’ nails are the perfect tool to rip right through your hammock … not an ideal scenario when it’s your only form of shelter.
If you insist upon bringing your pup out into the wild, set the hammock up in the backyard prior to your trip and get them used to how the feeling of being suspended in the air feels. That way, you at least know what his reaction is going to be before hitting the wilderness.
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