Considering just taking a hammock (Grand Trunk double) and tarp on my next camping trip.

I wondered what things I am likely to miss/get wrong for the first hammock camp?

The location is likely to be within Western Europe within the late Spring to early autumn climate.

  • 1
    Could you add some more information about your situation? Where in the world are you, what's the climate, how hostile is nature there (midges, bears or stuff like that)? As it stands, your question looks really, really broad and prone to be closed. Jul 5, 2015 at 11:53
  • Heat loss through the bottom/sides. Hammocks can feel cold even at 60 F and you'll need to figure out the best way to stay warm. I'm sure someone will elaborate, but look at synthetic sleeping backs (which don't compress), sleeping pads, and/or under quilts. Jul 5, 2015 at 13:31

3 Answers 3


I've been hammock camping for about four years, and there are a few issues you should be aware of.

First, as already noted in the comments under your original question, insulation is critically important. I know that below about 65 F (18 C), I sleep uncomfortably cold. This is because your insulation (sleeping bag) beneath you is compressed by your body weight and the air under your hammock is free to circulate. Combined, this will quickly sap your body heat.

The Hennessy Hammock I use has an insulation package available as an option. This consists of an open-cell foam pad and an "all season" outer liner. If this isn't warm enough, you can add a Mylar emergency blanket between the foam pad and the liner. Most importantly, this system installs on the OUTSIDE of your hammock. Using this setup, I have camped comfortably at temperatures below freezing. Videos of this system and how it is installed are available through their web site at http://hennessyhammock.com .

Other options include using a foam pad or a Therm-a-rest style inflatable inside the hammock. Some hammocks have an option to install these trapped between two layers of fabric.

Second consideration is the way you pitch your tarp. In general, it should be perpendicular to the wind (lest it act as a funnel). If possible, the ridge line should run above the tarp (rather than under) since this configuration will not allow water to run beneath the tarp if it rains.

In addition to staking the corners of your tarp, make sure you keep the edges taut as well. If the wind picks up, the edges can start whipping around, creating a lot of noise at night. I run lines from the center of each edge to the tie-downs in each corner (which results in something of an 'W' shape) and pull these tight with a taut line hitch.

Finally, make sure you know your knots. If they slip during the night, you will find yourself dragging on the ground or with a tarp flapping in the wind. If the knots supporting your hammock slip, the dip in the hammock may lead to your head and/or feet being uncomfortably elevated.

Personally, I have taken to using hammock straps (such as the ENO Atlas) and carabiners with my Henessy. Once these are set and stretched, there is no noticeable sag during the night.

  • How would you suggest attaching the tarp so that the ridge line was above the tarp?
    – Swagin9
    Feb 4, 2016 at 20:03
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    The tarp needs to be made for this. Typically, there will be loops on the outside of the tarp along the path of the ridge line. The ProForce (now SnugPak) I use has these, and I have seen them on Kelty tarps friends use.
    – Jeff W
    Feb 4, 2016 at 20:14
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    @Swagin9 If the ridgeline has no attachment loops, you could use a Prussick Knot :en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prusik May 25, 2016 at 12:41

There are really only two main considerations for hammock camping: the first is hanging the hammock (trees); the second is whether or not it will be warm enough to sleep in a hammock (temperature).

Hammocks are great at keeping you cool, so they are best suited for sleeping in hot humid environments where there are plenty of trees to hang it from, and where you aren't going to get cold at night. I've been camping with people who have brought their department store hammocks out into the Canadian Rockies, they had no problems with finding trees to hang them from, but they froze at night when the temperature dropped to nearly zero.

There are of course hammock systems suitable for sleeping in cooler climates, but there's a learning curve, you can't simply apply what you know about ground sleeping to sleeping in a hammock.

There's a lot of convective heat loss in a hammock, particularly from below, whereas in ground sleeping you're more concerned with conductive heat loss against the ground. The solution in hammock camping is to put blankets on your bottom:

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You can still go hammock camping and stay warm without buying a expensive hammock. The trick is to zip your sleeping bag all the way around your hammock so that you're not compressing it underneath you. Results will of course vary depending on your hammock and the zipper of your sleeping bag.


1 location. Are there trees or porch's you can use? 2 Insects, snakes, & such. It needs a roof & mosquito net sides. 3 does all zip or fit together tight closed? 4 take a small flashlight to bed with you. 5 There main purpose is to get you of the ground while sleeping. Protect you from insects, shield you from rain or night mist. A small tent is better to sleep in. They are made for the tropics. To get you off the ground. Not best to sleep in. 6 take some tinfoil to wrap around the lines to keep scorpions from walking them. & if you need get up in the night use flashlight to look at ground below you before stepping out. Here we have more types or poison reptiles than any place in the world. Not to mention insects, spiders. Why we use them over a small tent. Your area I would advise a small tent. Much warmer, more room to roll over in them at night. Hammocks are for safety in sleeping & make for cool sleeping at night.

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