A Beginner’s Guide to Hammock Camping

Stop sleeping on the ground. Your body will thank you.

By The Editors
August 1, 2016 9:00 am

This is 5x5x5, a series in which the seasoned outdoorsmen at Huckberry give us advice on how a layman can up his wilderness-conquering game. This week: the art of hammock camping.

Camping: you’ve probably been there, done that.

Hammocks: you’ve probably been there, laid in that.

Hammock camping: if you haven’t yet, you definitely need to go there, do that. But before you do, it is necessary to learn the firmly and securely fastened ropes. To assist, here is the gear you need, the tips you’ve gotta know and the best places to tie one on.

The Gear

1. Expedition Classic Hammock System
You’re obviously going to need one of these. Comfortable and durable. Not to mention it all fits in a bag smaller than a shoebox for easy transport.

2. Rumpl Throw Puffer Blanket
Remember that extra blanket we told you to bring. This is the one you want. Just as good as a sleeping bag.

3. Bluetooth Speaker/Walkie Talkie Set
Made by the folks at Dreamwave. Jam out and chat easily even if your hammocks are hung a little farther apart than anticipated.

4. Campstove Bundle from Biolite
A complete set to allow you to cook, grill and boil. Plus a charger, in case you don’t want to be too far removed from the grid.

5. Rover Pack by Topo Designs
One of our favorite adventure bag companies. Holds up to the rugged activities of the outdoorsman but fit for any stylish gentleman. Just because you’re in the wilderness doesn’t mean you can’t look damn good.

The Know-How

1. Set up your hammock in daylight
No brainer. But hoisting a hammock and tying knots in the dark is no fun.

2. Pick up a mosquito net
Obviously keeps mosquitos out, but also adds an extra layer of privacy.

3. Angle your body for optimal sleep
When lying in a hammock, if your body is 100% aligned with the tie-off points, you’ll sink like a shallow “U”. Instead, angle your body so your feet and head are to the left & right of the tie-off points. This will flatten your body and take stress off your back and shoulders.

4. Bring an extra blanket / pillow
Hanging from a hammock, there is air beneath you, unlike traditional camping. You’re gonna want to insulate.

5. Invest in rope extensions for even more versatility
Just in case that perfect spot has trees that are just too far apart.

The Destination

May Lake, Yosemite National Park, California
A picturesque lake sitting at the base of the 10,845-foot massive cliffs of Mt. Hoffmann, just north of Tioga Road in Yosemite, May Lake is nirvana for hammock owners. You’ll find your head on a swivel, three feet off the ground, staring at the shimmering waters in one direction and soaring, world-famous granite in the other.

Zion National Park, Utah
The one shot of Zion National park you have to get? No question here: Angel’s Landing. Since it’s the most iconic hike in all of Zion (the Narrows comes in at a close second), this trail is incredibly packed, but still so worth it; Alex Souza, our Head of Photography, called it one of the most fun hikes he’s done in his life.

The Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee
Go to the east side of the park, which we found to be much less touristy. Within the park, there are several large frontcountry campgrounds (10 all together, in fact); the most popular of which is Cades Cove.

Havasu Falls, Arizona
There are camping spots all the way from Havasu Falls to Mooney Falls a mile below. We’d recommend one wedged in between trees to claim your space. Plan to stay for two nights, so that on the second day, you can hike down to Mooney and Beaver Falls, two-and-a-half miles away from Havasu Falls. If you truly can’t handle the tourists (and are in stellar hiking shape), navigate your way all the way to the confluence of the Colorado River, another eight miles past Beaver Falls.

Key West, Florida
If you’re island camping and feeling optimistic, pack light and only bring salt, lime and a few corn tortillas. The channel between Tarpon Belly was swarming at night with Mangrove Snapper, which made for some seriously delicious fish tacos once caught.

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