I still remember my first time in a hammock. I climbed onto the rope net at my neighbor’s house and quickly realized I had better hang on tight — this was not going to be the escape to paradise I thought it would be. After some uncomfortable minutes I gave up and waited for my skin color and the waffle that was my body to return to normal. I would not climb aboard another hammock for almost 30 years.
Fast forward to a few years back when I observed fellow Scouters sleeping comfortably in their camping hammocks. I was jealous of their comfort and the ease of hanging them up while I was laying out my pad on the hard ground. I decided to give hammock camping another try, and after a few times I was hooked. Now nearly every campout I sleep suspended between two trees, no matter the weather. Rain — slept through it and stayed dry. Snow — watched it come down in the morning as I awoke. Freezing temperatures — most comfortable night of sleep ever. Want to try it yourself? Here are some tips to get you started.
One trick to successful hammock camping is getting the right sag in the hammock. Simple adjustments to the way that your hammock is hanging and remembering a few key measurements make all the difference in the world. Try keeping your hammock lines at 30 degrees relative to the trees to create the perfect sag. One other key measurement: keep the hammock no higher than 18 inches off the ground — you don’t want to fall any farther than that!
At our last troop campout, I got called a “gear head.” Maybe I am, and that is why I love the hammock. Hammock camping can be as simple as throwing your hammock between two trees and looking up at the stars as you drift off to sleep. But after a night out with the bugs you may want to add a bug net. One rain will be enough to make you want a rain fly. Snake skins, underquilts, top quilts, ridgeline, tree straps and more — oh my! Your only limit is how much of a gear head you want to be. Check out this list of gear you may want to invest in.
“Leave No Trace” should be more than a neat slogan on a bumper sticker — it should be the only way you camp. Whether we’re camping or not, by using the seven Leave No Trace principles such as “Leave What You Find” and “Minimize Campfire Impacts,” we are ensuring that the nature we enjoy will be around for generations to come. I invite you to learn more about Leave No Trace.
Hammock camping is an easy way to get outdoors and enjoy all that is around us. Whether you are in the woods or in your backyard, you can learn a trick or two about how to get that perfect sag and further your quest for the ultimate night’s sleep. Join us for our upcoming Hammock Camping course to learn all this and more. Call 405.377.3333 with questions or register here. To find out about more courses like this sign up for our monthly e-newsletter. View all of our upcoming courses in our digital catalog.
Jeremy Zweiacker is the Executive Director of Planning and Operations at Meridian Technology Center as well as an Eagle Scout and Scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 818.