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Is Hammock Camping Illegal?

Is Hammock Camping Illegal?

Hammock camping is a unique way of camping that requires minimal, lightweight gear. It’s easy to pack, easy to set up, and comfortable. But is it legal? Let’s take a closer look at the legality of hammock camping, as well as the gear you need to do it properly.

What Is Hammock Camping? 

Hammock camping uses a hammock instead of a tent or vehicle. It’s a unique way of camping suspended between trees or even with a portable hammock stand. It’s fun and comfortable, and once you try it, you might not ever want to go back to a tent again.

The Beginners Guide to Hammock Camping

Is Hammock Camping Illegal? 

No, it’s not illegal. You should always follow the rules of the campground where you’re staying. Some campgrounds like RV parks or state parks have rules prohibiting campers from hanging things from trees. In these cases, sleeping in a hammock isn’t allowed, but it’s not necessarily illegal, either. 

Some places don’t like hammock camping because they feel it’s unsightly, and others feel it damages the trees. Thin ropes and straps can damage tree bark. Use straps that are at least two inches wide. 

Hammock pitched in the woods for camping.
Hammock camping is a legal and fun way to connect with nature.

Is Hammock Camping Safe?

Hammock camping is as safe as any other type of camping, provided you’re vigilant and safe in your campsite selection and setup. Hammocks provide just as much protection from the outside world as a tent. If you’re in an area where you don’t feel safe to tent camp, you might not want to hammock camp there, either. 

A couple of things to consider with hammock camping, however, is the weather you’ll be camping in and the bug situation. Unless you have a tarp, rainfly, or other shelter, weather elements like wind, rain, and even snow can be risky to hammock camp in without the proper hammock camping gear (discussed below) to stay warm and dry.

You are also left exposed to insects such as mosquitos, ticks, or other biting and disease-carrying bugs. Again, having the proper gear for your camping location and situation can mitigate this risk.

Where Can You Go Hammock Camping? 

When selecting trees for your hammock, always make sure that you choose live, mature trees with no dead branches in the canopy. Always scan the canopy for dead branches that could fall on your camp. Use two-inch wide or thicker straps and ensure your hammock is secure before getting into it. 

Hammock camping isn’t just for forests. You can do it anywhere you want if you bring a portable hammock stand with you. Try it at your favorite tent camping campgrounds, nearby state parks, or other camping areas that don’t explicitly prohibit it. You can even go camping in your backyard. 

Pro Tip: Instead of wasting time searching for the perfect trees to hang your hammock in, try one of these 5 Best Portable Hammock Stands to Bring Camping.

What Gear Do You Need for Hammock Camping?

You need more than just a hammock for hammock camping. Let’s take a look at what you should pack. 

Woman relaxing in hammock with coffee and a head lamp.
When hammock camping, make sure to have the appropriate gear.

Hammock

First thing’s first: you need a hammock. There are single hammocks and double hammocks. We recommend a double hammock because they’re roomier and more comfortable. The best hammocks use durable nylon rip-stop material. Be sure your hammock is well made and rated for well over your weight. 

Wise Owl Outfitters Hammock for Camping Single...
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Straps

Most hammocks don’t come with straps. Some hammocks come with thin straps like rope or paracord, which will damage trees.

When selecting your hammock straps, look for straps that are at least two inches wide to more evenly distribute the weight and pressure on the tree trunk. Better yet, look for tree pads to help protect the bark of the trees you’re connecting to.

Sleeping Bag or Over Quilt

You can use a sleeping bag in a hammock, but there are special hammock blankets called over quilts that you can purchase instead.

Whether you choose a sleeping bag or an over quilt, you still need an under quilt.

Hammock tied to the trees by water with man inside.
Keep warm in your hammock by packing extra blankets or a sleeping bag.

Under Quilt

An under quilt is a hammock blanket that hangs on the bottom of your hammock. It keeps you warm. A sleeping bag in a hammock won’t do the job, especially in chilly weather. 

When you sleep in a sleeping bag, the weight of your body crushes the insulation inside of it. A blanket or sleeping bag can only keep you warm when the insulation isn’t compressed. 

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Sleeping in a hammock tends to feel colder than sleeping in a tent, even on warm nights. This is because you have wind and air passing on all sides of you. You can lose a lot of heat through the bottom of a hammock, so an under quilt is a great purchase. 

Special sleeping bags have been developed just for hammock campers that serve as an under quilt and an over quilt. While they can be a little expensive, these bags look really cozy.

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Bug Net

Bug nets aren’t necessary, but we don’t know many people who would pass one up if given the opportunity. Hammock bug nets help keep the mosquitos and other creepy crawlies away. Some hammocks come with bug nets pre-attached, or you can buy a separate bug net for your hammock.

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Multiple hammocks tied in trees for camping.
To stay insect bite-free, pack an insect net and bug spray.

Rain Tarp, Rainfly, or Dry Fly

If you plan on camping in any wet weather, you’ll need a hammock rainfly. A rainfly attaches to a guy line over your hammock and stakes into the ground to protect from wind and rain. 

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Rope

It’s always a good idea to have extra rope for your hammock. You can use rope to hang a rain fly or tarp, help secure your mosquito net, and more. 

Stakes

Stakes usually come with a rain fly, but if you fashion one yourself out of a tarp, you’ll need your own stakes. This is an optional item but very helpful. 

Woman relaxing in a hammock while husband admires the view.
Hammock camping is much more comfortable than sleeping on the ground.

Benefits of Hammock Camping

There are so many benefits to hammock camping. Here are our favorite things about this style of camping. 

More Comfortable

It’s way better than sleeping on the ground, that’s for sure. You can stretch out, lie flat, and feel perfectly supported when you hang your hammock correctly.

Unique Camping Experience

Sleeping while suspended between trees is a truly unique camping experience. A gentle swaying motion can rock you to sleep, and there’s just something about waking up in a hammock that’s so charming. 

Pro Tip: Keep calm and camp: Connecting with nature is always a great way to reduce anxiety. Read more about the benefits of camping here: Is Camping Really Good for Anxiety?

Woman in hammock at her campsite.
Rock yourself to sleep in your hammock.

Lightweight Gear

Hammock camping gear is really lightweight. It’s easy to carry, easy to pack, and easy to set up. If you’re backpacking, hammock camping gear is a great choice. 

Doesn’t Damage Forest Floor

Hammocks don’t damage the forest floor as tents do. No part of a hammock sits on the floor, so you don’t have to worry about finding a good spot on the ground. We recommend getting hammock straps that have tree pads on them to protect the bark of the trees you’re connecting to as well.

Hammock Camping Done Right: Tips and Required Gear

Everyone Should Try Hammock Camping

Hammock camping is legal, safe, and fun. We think everyone should try it. It’s not far-fetched to say that once you try it, you’ll never want to sleep on the ground again. If you already have a hammock and you’re interested, try camping in it on your next trip.

Have you ever given it a shot? If not, would you? Drop a comment below!

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Tom & Caitlin Morton of Mortons on the Move gave up the stationary life for one where they are constantly on the move. They are full-time travelers, television hosts, and digital media producers.
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Derek Harnett

Tuesday 2nd of November 2021

I've used 2 trucks before to hang my hammock. Also used my truck and a tree. Don't need trees or a hammock stand can use vehicles if you think outside the box

Mortons on the Move

Monday 15th of November 2021

Good idea!

Susan Johnston

Wednesday 20th of October 2021

I started hammock camping a few years ago and would not sleep on the ground ever again! My Eno has a built in mosquito net that keeps the biting bugs away and also gives me a little feeling of cocooning when I'm out! It's my favorite thing to do, and I'll even sleep out in it just out side my RV (I'm a FullTimer!)

Edward Vivant

Tuesday 19th of October 2021

Its the only way to camp/backpack. And yes if its cold you need to underblanket. Also trees are a must. .I used a hennesy.

Dewey Johnson

Tuesday 19th of October 2021

I through hiked 23 days, 273 miles, from MA to Canada on the Vermont Long Trail. I slept in a hammock 75% of the time and in shelters 25%. You can't beat hammock camping! Lightweight, quick setup and breakdown, and super comfortable. Having the right gear , I stayed comfortable and dry through multiple downpours. I should have brought thicker quilts. I had some chilly nights. My biggest advantage was not having to find a flat spot to set up a tent. I hiked til dark and just found 2 trees spaced correctly and set up camp. I can't recommend it enough!

Mortons on the Move

Saturday 23rd of October 2021

Wow, that sounds like an epic hike! Thanks for sharing your experience with hammock camping. :)

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