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.
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.
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.
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.
- Comfortable: Whether you're relaxing by the fire or sleeping...
- Compact: Lightweight and convenient, our travel hammock weighs...
- Easy Setup: Equipped with two 9ft long tree straps and...
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.
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.
- [ 20D SHELL + DWR COATING + 300T LINING - ] - The hammock...
- [ BIG SIZE - FITS ANY STANDARD SIZE HAMMOCK ] - Hammock under...
- [ ELASTIC STRAP ON BOTH ENDS - EASY TO SETUP ] - This camping...
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.
- 15 Degree Sleeping Bag for Camping: Perfect winter hammock...
- Hiking Gear: Designed for thru-hiking, backpacking and camping,...
- Hydrophobic Water Repellent: DWR-Coated camping sleeping bags for...
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.
- COMFORTABLE: Whether you're relaxing by the fire or sleeping...
- PACKABLE: Lightweight and convenient, our hammock with mosquito...
- MESH NETTING: Built to last a lifetime, our large hammock with...
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.
- Rain, rain, go away: The DryFly Rain Tarp is made of...
- Safe from any storm: Features a unique shape and a spacious...
- Adventure ready: Weighing only 22 ounces, the DryFly has a...
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 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.
Benefits of Hammock Camping
There are so many benefits to hammock camping. Here are our favorite things about this style of camping.
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?
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.
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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