Hangin’ Out

Prime camping season is upon us, and I thought I’d talk a little about my hammock camping rig, as hammock camping has revitalized camping for me. Once I realized that with the right type of hammock, you can lie diagonally and very flat – and comfy! – a good night’s sleep in the woods was soon forthcoming.

imagesIt started just over a year ago, when The Boy decided he wanted to try hammock camping. As I am wont to do, I did a lot of research, including buying the Kindle version of Derek Hansen’s The Ultimate Hang during a bout of insomnia one night and reading the whole thing in one sitting), and reading a lot of posts on HammockForums.net. Derek’s book is a great place to start, and Hammock Forums is easily the friendliest and most welcoming forum on the Intertubes.

I got The Boy a nice camping hammock (Warbonnet Blackbird) and tarp (Warbonnet Superfly) for his birthday last year. Yes, I don’t believe in half measures. He loved sleeping in it in the back yard and also at Cub Scout campouts. After a few nice naps in his hammock, I eventually got one for myself (a Dream Hammock Dangerbird 60) and a Warbonnet Edge (the Superfly’s little brother).

I did 6 nights in a hammock over a month or so last fall at various campouts, and I really enjoyed sleeping in it. At one Cub Scout campout, I awoke late to find people eating breakfast and Scouts running around all around me. I had slept soundly (and well!) through at least an hour of not-so-quiet camp activity.

The hammock has also led to reduced bearanoia, which I tend to suffer from, especially on the first night of any campout. In a tent, especially one with a rainfly on it, if there’s an unidentifiable noise outside the tent, I have to get out of the sleeping bag, unzip the tent, unzip the fly and look out. Kind of a pain in the rear. I’d usually just lie there and speculate about what it could be (BEAR!). Now with the hammock, I just look over the edge (I usually have my tarp pitched pretty high (or rolled up, if the weather’s nice) and I look around a bit, easily identifying the noise as a branch rubbing, or a squirrel, or (once) a surprisingly heavy-footed 8-year-old Cub Scout looking for the latrine that was nowhere near my hammock.

Also, as I get older, I find sleeping on the ground (even on my nice thick Luxury Camp Thermarest pad) not so comfy. I can get a pretty good night’s sleep in the hammock, though I have had to figure out the best way to side sleep in one.

I’ve also spent tons of time playing with different suspensions (biners, whoopie slings, UCRs, Dutchware, etc.) for both the hammocks and the tarps.

At the moment, my rig is fairly simple.


Dream Hammock Dangerbird 60

This is a heavy-duty hammock made from 2.6 oz. crinkle taffeta nylon. Includes a zip down bugnet and a “weather shield” that can replace the bugnet (can’t deploy both at once) and protect against light drizzle, light snow, or windy conditions and can raise the temp by 10* or so. Very comfy.

My hammock has continuous loops of Amsteel in the ends. I have Amsteel whoopie slings with Dutchware Whoopie Hooks in the adjustable loops that hook onto the continuous loops and act as drip rings, too. The whoopies are loop-to-loop connected to the end of 1″ tree straps that are attached around the tree with titanium Dutch Clips. I can put this hammock up in about 2-3 minutes.


Warbonnet Outdoors Edge

This is a hex-shaped cat-cut silnylon tarp. It’s smallish at 126″ by 98″ but it weighs only 10 oz. and packs small.

Instead of using anything fancy as a ridgeline for the tarp, I’ve been using braided (NOT twisted) mason’s line (another tip from Derek Hansen) and doing separate ridgelines on each end. I don’t typically need a continuous ridgeline for my tarp, as I don’t hang anything from it. I attach a 12 foot length of line to the ridge tieout with two half hitches (could also use a bowline, I suppose, but the 2HH is easier to undo) go around the tree, through the ridge loop, then tie a tautline hitch. That hitch is adjustable, and I use it to center and then tighten my tarp. Quick and easy.

I have four tieouts on the bottom, and each of those has a self-tensioning guyline on it made from braided mason’s line and 3/32″ shockcord. Those help keep the tarp taught during the night if it sags due to moisture, as nylon has a tendency to do. They are attached to the tieouts with a bowline (though 2 half hitches might work), down through a loop on the stake (I use MSR Groundhog y-stakes), and then I tie a tautline hitch to tighten them up.

I often pitch the tarp in “porch mode” using a couple of branches (since I don’t use trekking poles) unless it’s raining.

I’ll have more on here about hammock camping in the future, I’m sure.