Hammockers should keep in mind these principles so that the outdoors remain unspoiled for all. Having a hammock to camp in can reduce your ecological footprint. You won’t need to clear out space on the ground and disrupt undergrowth like you may have to with a tent. But you do need to be aware of the anchors you use so as to not cause unnecessary harm to the trees.
One of the slowest body parts to recover from body temperature is the foot. When you lie down in the SHEL hammock tent, it may take quite a while for your icy feet to heat up. If you put hot water in a warm bag such as a fashy, you can keep it warm for a long time. However, be careful not to let the hot water run out. Other products that can be useful during winter camping to keep you warm maybe hand or foot warmers.
I have my share of sleeping bags stuffed into forgotten corners of my garage. When I first got into hammock hanging to see if it would be something I would enjoy, I used those forgotten sleeping bags as insulation. I used them as "underquilts" and have used them in the hammock itself. The problem is that typically bags are thrown into the hammock with the hanger climbing in at night. A wrestling match ensues and, as too often is the case, the hanger winds up with tense muscles and cramps from having to contort like a circus performer!
Hi Derek – I really appreciate you putting out all this info about camping hammocks. I have not camped much before for all the reasons you point out about the problems of sleeping on the ground. I just this Spring learned that camping hammocks exist. I am already a hammocks enthusiast since I make them for a living where I live at Twin Oaks Community (though they are back yard hamx, not good for camping), and so I am enthused to buy a camping hammock and bug net and tarp and try it. I bought your Ultimate Hang book and read it, and have thought about what you wrote about deciding about what I need and want. That gave me some qualifications, but I am still bewildered at all the variety of options and quality available. So I seek more specific advise based on my needs/wants and budget. If you are willing to offer that, would I ask that here on line, or to you directly off line? (Also, I do not know what I should put for the website line below since I do not have a personal website, so I left it blank)
Sometimes you’ll find yourself sliding to one end of the hammock. This is because your hammock isn’t level. You’ll want to make sure your hammock is level to prevent you from sliding throughout the night. The first thing to do is to check your straps. Are both straps of equal length? If not, you’ll want to even them out as best as you can. With all materials, the straps may stretch a tiny bit throughout the night. This can throw off your hammock level. By making sure both straps are the same length, they’ll stretch at the same rate. The next thing to check is the strap height. Make sure the straps are level and at the same height. Once you’ve taken care of those 2 steps, your hammock should be perfectly balanced. If you find yourself still sliding to one side, move the straps up an inch or two on that side.
While silnylon is superior, any kind of tarp will work to create an effective shelter from the rain. The plastic blue tarps can make a variety of effective shelters for your hammock. They are also durable and cost only a fraction of a silnylon fly. The downside of these tarps is the bulk and weight, making them less than ideal for ultralight packs.
Some models though, we felt were quite adaptable to everything from backyard hangs to multinight backpacking trips. Two contenders that stood out in this category were the ENO SubLink Shelter System and the Bear Butt Double, though for different reasons. The ENO SubLink has many pieces of a whole system that can be added and removed as you desire, based on the conditions you anticipate. Awesome! The Bear Butt Double was a much more straightforward model, that we felt was useful for many different activities and easy to add additional components in the future if we so desired.
Sleep diagonally. Most people think you sleep in a hammock with your head and feet parallel to its ends. But this gives you an enclosed, “banana” effect that feels a little claustrophobic and puts your body in an uncomfortable position for sleeping. Instead, you want to lie in the hammock at a slight angle , which will allow you to lay in a much flatter and more ergonomic position. Choosing a hammock like the Hennessey with a built-in asymmetrical design makes getting and staying in this diagonal position even easier and more comfy.
Sleeping is also very comfortable, but in a fairly narrow temperature range between 50 and 75 degrees. Below that you need to bring along more under-insulation like a Jacks R Better down under-quilt or foam padding. Extending the use of your hammock in colder temperatures takes a lot of practice and experimentation, so be prepared for a few cold nights if you try to push the envelope.
The first thing I do when setting camp up is dig out my hammock. This is always followed by stares while everyone else is setting up their tents. Sleeping under the stars in a hammock might seem a little crazy for those used to sleeping in a tent. The confusion usually leads to questions. “What about the bears and bugs? Aren’t you going to be cold? Won’t that hurt your back?