camping tips, tips

Sleeping in a hammock – 3 essential camping tips

night camping hammock

We’re talking all things hammock today. Questions like “Are hammocks good for your back?” will be raised, we’ll share some pretty useful tips and we’ll even manage to debunk some of the most common myths regarding camping hammocks.

Camping hammocks date back to…

450 B.C.E! They weren’t using it for camping back then, of course, at least, not in the modern sense of the word.

The first hammock supposedly invented by Alcibiades, an Athenian general, student of Socrates. It had a long run in military equipment, ranging up to the time of the war in Vietnam. Soldiers were regularly issued hammocks for brief respite in-between encounters.

Hammocks are a GREAT and pragmatic way to go about your sleeping arrangements while camping. They’re easy to set up and will keep you above the ground and all the creepy crawlies lurking about.

MAYANS called their hammocks “The Gift of the Gods”, so there’s got to be something more than meets the eye to this story.

Why consider camping hammocks in the first place?

Let’s think of a valid reason and say BAM! That’s why!

No, let’s do even better. How about 5 or 6 different reasons from the top of my head? Do I get my BAM now?

Here’s why camping hammocks might be a good idea:

  • You’ll fall asleep way faster in a hammock
  • You’ll sleep deeper, which will heighten your concentration during the day
  • As a direct result, your brain will operate at full capacity
  • It’ll alleviate the pain in your back
  • Dust-mites and other such critters are not going to be a problem anymore

 

effects on brain chemistry

 

The SCIENCE behind better sleep in a hammock

The science of sleeping in a hammock goes to the the beneficial effect of the swinging motion to the human brain. They replicate the brain waves that help babies fall asleep faster and deeper.

Because of this effect, hammocks are known as perfect tools to battle INSOMNIA; even the most severe of cases.

Can we get some concrete tips, please???

I’m so glad you asked. Let’s cut right down the middle and start learning everything about a comfortable hammock camping.

Tip No.1 – Know your camping hammocks!

The FIRST thing we need to do here is separate REAL hammocks from those lounge, comfortable-but-momentary hanging cargo nets.

Is this the first thing that pops to mind when we say hammock?

 

regular hammock

regular hammock

You know it is.

Now this is how a real camping hammock should look like.

 

real camping hammock

Real camping hammock

I think the pictures say it far BETTER than I could ever put into words (and then he continues by putting it into words).

Besides the apparent differences, I must stress one more point. Hammocks made for camping DO NOT flip over. EVER. It’s the common myth and misconception derived from the lounge, beach version of the thing. The most common fear about hammocks is that they’ll topple over once you fall asleep and start turning around.

Camping versions are specifically designed to prevent that from happening, so there’s no reason for such concerns.

The Second very IMPORTANT thing we need to get across here is the fact that camping hammocks DON’T have wooden spreaders at all. We look at those things as design flaws. They make the whole construction much more unstable than it needs to be.

While I was doing a very important part of my research for this article (watching clips of people falling out of hammocks,  I couldn’t help noticing how easier their life would be if they just removed the hammock spreader.

Tip No.2 – “Beat” the curve

Our brain won’t entertain the notion of a good night’s sleep in something basically shaped as a BANANA.

The first impulse you’ll have is to tighten the hammock as much as possible and give yourself a nice semi-flat sleeping surface. I mean, just looking at the natural curve of the hammock is giving you back pain, right?

 

protected hammock

 

That’s not the way to go about camping hammocks, however. Negating the curve is the biggest setup mistake you can make period. Its shape is crucial for relieving pressure points, and you’ll be up for quite a ride if you make it all tight and flat. Like in sport, the looser you are, the better.

Here are some other consequences:

  • The “WALLS” of the hammock will grip you too tightly, making the whole experience much more claustrophobic than it should be
  • Your MOVEMENT will be highly limited, and you won’t be able to change positions
  • The most serious drawback here will be the PRESSURE your body will be forced to suffer, not to mention the greater force the trees (or whatever objects you’re hanging it on) will have to endure. Damaging trees while camping is not something a good camper does. Spread the word.

So, instead of trying to negate the curve of your hammock, try embracing it and giving it a shot. Forget what it looks like and start believing the designers of the shape knew what they were doing. There are a lot of people sleeping regularly in hammocks every single night.

Tip No.3 – Get the right angle

The angle of the hammock is EVERYTHING.

Sleeping in a big curve is bad, but hang your hammock nice and loose so it has a good natural curve.

WHAT???

What am I saying here? It doesn’t make any sense.

This mess of a tip changes drastically after we introduce the angle into the mix. The hammock angle is what enables you to sleep with a very comfortable curve to your body instead of feeling like a horseshoe all night long.

angles to hang hammock

Get your angles right

 

Here’s how to execute it perfectly:

  • Begin in the center of the hammock, just how you normally would
  • Move your legs and feet around 8 to 12” to the side. Keep going until you see your feet laying much lower than before
  • Do this with your head as well, only move it to the opposite side
  • If you execute this little MANEUVER correctly, you’ll find yourself laying perfectly straight on a curved surface

Conclusion of our little camping hammock TIP-O-RAMA

So, let’s sum up what we just learned.

It’s how I learn best. Tell me what you’re about to tell me. Tell me. Tell me what you told me. Repetition is a bulletproof learning plan, so… 

Here’s a resume of the tips we went over so far:

  • Learn how to differentiate between lounge net “hammocks” that turn you into a human WAFFLE and proper camping hammocks
  • Camping hammock DON’T flip. Let’s get rid of that fear once and for all
  • Wooden hammock spreader – BAD
  • Don’t fight the curve, embrace it. It’s the main part of the awesomeness of hammocks
  • Tie the hammock nice and loose. Tightening it damages trees and gives YOU a lousy sleeping experience
  • Experiment with the angle of your body inside the hammock. Get the little maneuver down and practice it a few times until you do it right. Who said you can sleep perfectly straight inside a banana?

The last tip of the day is a bit of a bonus thing. People constantly ask us about ROMANTIC camping and hammocks.

 

romantic hammock

 

Well, my honest answer is, it feels a bit like we’re this cloth of entwined shoelaces. Don’t get me wrong, it can work perfectly, but you’ll both have to be super snug, or else being pinned together won’t hold water as far as romance goes.

Stay safe, take care and have a great hammock camping trip!

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