A Beginners Guide To Hammock Camping

When most people think about going camping, they typically think about grabbing the family, the tent, and necessary supplies to head out for a weekend trip at a rural KOA campground. While yes, for some a weekend camping adventure simply means trading their bedsheets for a sleeping bag and a tent — for others, however, camping is a little more adventurous. 

At Hennessy Hammock, we have been designing and manufacturing camping hammock shelters for over 20 years — refining our products and adding innovative features along the way. But why have we chosen hammocks?

At Hennessy Hammock, we view hammocks as more than just a relaxing tool for laying comfortably in the yard. Instead, we see hammocks as a valuable camping tool that can be used to adventure and explore the natural world comfortably — protected from the elements and the cold, hard ground. 

Hammock camping has become increasingly popular in recent years as avid adventurers and weekend warriors alike are learning more about the various benefits that a hammock shelter can bring to the table. So before we get into the basics that you’ll need to know as a novice hammock camper, we have listed a few of the different benefits that you might experience when you trade your old tent in for a Hennessy Hammock’s hanging hammock shelter. 

The Benefits Of Using A Camping Hammock

For years, hammocks have been seen as a backyard lounging tool — seldom entering the camping conversation. Currently, however, people are starting to realize that hammocks have much more to offer. Hammock shelters offer a number of advantages including:

Sleep Comfort

When it comes to hammocks, it is impossible to have a conversation about them without discussing the fact that they are extremely comfortable. In fact, that is exactly why they were created in the first place — for lounging. That being said, if a hammock is comfortable to nap for a couple of hours on a hot summer afternoon, why wouldn’t it be a comfortable overnight option? 

Hammock shelters are an excellent outdoor sleeping solution and can increase your comfort while camping tenfold. After all, sleeping in a camping hammock is a great way to guarantee that you won’t wake up the next morning stiff from the cold, hard ground, or in pain from the rock that you slept on all night. Sleeping in a hammock is arguably one of the most comfortable ways to sleep outdoors. 

Easy Assembly & Tear Down

When it comes to camping equipment, people want high-quality equipment that is easy to use — and the same thing goes for sleeping solutions as well. So would you rather spend an hour messing around with assembling your tent, or a couple of minutes spending time hanging your hammock shelter? 

At Hennessy Hammock, we have specially designed our hammock shelters to be durable, easy to set up, and even easier to take down. After all, when you are camping you should be spending more time enjoying yourself than working on assembling and taking down your shelter. 

Protection From The Elements

Traditionally, tents were the clear choice for camping. After all, if the weather is unfavorable you want to be protected from the elements — something an open-faced hammock can’t do. That being said, our hammock shelters here at Hennessy Hammock are specially designed to keep you safe and comfortable from the wind, rain, snow, and whatever other elements can be thrown at you. 

Hennessy Hammock camping hammocks are specially designed to keep you off of the cold, hard, and wet ground, while also protecting you from wind, insects, rain, and any other unfavorable elements that you might run into. 

Smaller Environmental Impact

As outdoor enthusiasts, it is rather common knowledge that Leave No Trace principles are very important. Leave No Trace speaks to the importance of leaving nature as we have found it — creating as little strain as possible for nature when we visit it.

One of the largest impacts that we can have on nature as campers is the destruction of natural plants — something that a poorly-placed tent and ground tarp can easily do. Rather than compressing the soil and damaging native flora with the weight of a tent, you can instead use a hammock shelter that has no impact — allowing you to “take only photos, leave nothing but footprints, and kill nothing but time.” 

A Message from Tom:

When I was a kid, the oldest of 5 in my family, every summer my incredible mother would pile us all into the family station wagon and leave dusty and hot suburban DC for the cool and tranquil state parks of Upstate New York.  We would spend the summer camping, sleeping in hammocks, cooking and cleaning fish and learning about nature. I credit my mom with my love of the outdoors, my resilience and my drive to innovate and explore, all centred on these amazing summer adventures.  In our family, we all had jobs and mine included not only prepping our old “Woody” station wagon for the trip, but also “taking stock” of our camping equipment and going to army surplus stores with my mom to replenish our gear supply. That ‘s where I found my first hammock (but that’s another story)!  

It feels like it’s time to take stock again, to venture into the outdoors with our friends and family, maybe sticking close to home for vacations.  It’s time to be together and learn the simple skills of camping which are also the skills of self-sufficiency and survival. The great thing about camping gear and supplies is that they are not only part of what you need for a fun and thrifty vacation but also what you need to have on hand for the emergencies we hope will never happen but feel good about getting ready for anyway.  Camping out is a good way to learn how to use these tools and also how to be okay with getting out of our comfort zone occasionally.  The “bug out bag ” we all aspire to have ready can also be the “have-fun bag”..

What if you don’t have someone in your family like my mom to take you on that camping trip?  You may be surprised to find that you have friends who are campers and just waiting to be asked to go out on an adventure.

With the intensity and frequency of tornadoes, earthquakes and floods that seem to be happening every time we watch the news, knowing that you have a dry, bug-proof, sheltered bed that can be tied up above the ground anywhere there are trees, vehicles or fence posts provides a level of safety and security not found in tents. Plus, they store so compactly that they will be much easier to grab in the heat of the moment.

Hennessy Hammocks can also be used as stretchers, chairs, and when grouped together to make an excellent camp.

Best regards,

Tom Hennessy

Slincoln33 — Google Review (5-Star Review)

Product: Hennessy Hammock Expedition Zip

“I have resisted making the move to hammock camping for years but in an effort to free up room in my pack and try something new, I broke down and purchased a Hennessy Expedition Asym Zip Hammock. I could not believe how comfortable this hammock was and how easy it was to set up, right out of the sack. I was able to lay plenty flat enough for a very comfortable night’s rest and could even sleep on my side. This was by far, the most comfortable night’s sleep camping that I’ve ever had. I kept expecting sore shoulders or hips. That has been my experience in other, more popular hammocks belonging to friends. Instead, I slept like a rock and woke up rested and refreshed. I’m only disappointed that I didn’t make the switch sooner.” 

A Beginners Guide To Hammock Camping

So you’ve decided to make the switch from traditional tent camping to spending your nights in a hanging hammock shelter. Where do you begin?

All too often, people rush themselves into hammock camping. In reality, a lot of work goes into hammock camping in terms of researching before you rush to buy what others on the internet claim to be “the latest and greatest hammock camping equipment.” Instead, you want to consider the areas where you intend on hammock camping, the times of year that you will be camping most often, and the type of hammock that will provide you with the greatest comfort and shelter. 

Choosing The Correct Camping Hammock

Before you can become a hammock camper yourself, it’s rather obvious that you’ll need a hammock shelter of your own. The important part is that you don’t rush your decision. First and foremost, it is incredibly important that you research camping hammocks and choose the correct kind. 

As we said earlier, when most people think of a hammock, they think of the large flat lounging hammocks that sit on a stand in their backyards. This is not the type of hammock that you should buy to be your hammock shelter. In fact, the one feature of traditional hammocks that you want to stay away from is the spreader bar. 

Spreader bars are used to flatten out the hammock so that it has more surface area and lays flatter. And while it might make for a nice backyard napping session, hammocks with spreader bars are not designed for overnight use or use in heavy weather. Spreader bars, while intended to be helpful, destabilize the hammock — meaning that if you lean to one side too heavily or a sudden gust of wind catches the hammock, you might be going overboard. 

Instead, you want to look for a hammock that sits lower and has raised sidewalls. In doing so, you will be able to rest easy knowing that waking up on the ground is not in your future. Check out our hammock shelters to see what a quality camping hammock looks like. But when a hammock sits lower, doesn’t it have a sag? 

How To Lay Flat

One of the things that deter people from hammock camping most is the sleeping position that they think a hammock will limit them to. When most people think of spending a night in a hammock, they think of the severe curve angle that they will have to lie at, and how that might impact their sleep. Luckily, there are a ton of ways to combat this issue and lie flat in a hammock.

The first thing that people do wrong when setting up their hammock is to hang it too tightly. The thought process that they have behind this is that if they hand it tighter than it will lay flatter. Sadly, doing so will not help you to achieve a flat lay and will instead subject you to the hammock cocooning around you and pulling your shoulders inwards as you try to lay flat. 

Instead, you’ll want to hang your hammock with a good deal of slack. Upon laying in the hammock you might notice that while the hammock walls are not pulling inwards and restricting your movement, the hammock will have a natural curve to it — a natural curve that can be mostly taken out by lying diagonally in the hammock shelter. By lying diagonally, you can flatten the hammock, leaving your head and feet raised slightly while the hammock bottom conforms to your back. 

At Hennessy Hammock, our hammock shelters include a patented asymmetrical shape and Perfect-Set Comfort Curve. This innovative hammock bottom design allows you to lay flatter easier. Learn more about our proprietary patented hammock shelter solutions today.

Staying Warm

A common argument that traditionalist adventurers have against sleeping in a camping hammock is that the hammock does not have insulation like one would have when naturally sleeping on the ground — therefore the user will be colder. Luckily, there are more than a handful of hammock insulation solutions that can keep you warm all night long. 

While a down sleeping bag might seem like plenty of insulation, they tend to not work very well in camping hammocks. Because the bottom layer of the sleeping bag between you and the hammock bottom will have no air, it will be unable to insulate your back and bottom — meaning that you’ll need to use an insulated barrier between your hammock bottom and your sleeping bag or an insulating layer below your hammock bottom. 

Some of the more popular hammock insulation systems are sleeping pads (both air pads and foam pads will work), large blankets, underquilts, and insertable insulations systems depending on the complexity and quality of your hammock shelter. At Hennessy Hammock, our camping hammocks are compatible with any insulation system. That said, some of our camping hammocks have a double-layer hammock bottom that allows you to slide our SuperShelter 4-Season Insulation System between the two layers — keeping you warm all night long. 

Weather Protection

Hammocks are commonly associated with sunshine on a warm day. That said, as a hammock camper you need to prepare your hammock shelter for all kinds of weather — both good and bad. 

One of the best ways to do so is to make sure that you have bought a waterproof hammock that can be directly exposed to water and not get wet. Second, you need to make sure that you have a rainfly that can adequately cover your hammock shelter from all sides. 

There are many kinds of rainfly systems that can be used to protect yourself from the elements — with the general rule of thumb being that the larger the hammock rainfly is, the better the coverage that you can expect. In fact, there are even rainflies that can create a full enclosure around all of the hammock that anchors into the ground. 

At Hennessy Hammock, all of our hammock shelters come with a rainfly, and all of our hammocks are compatible with all of our rainflies — meaning that you can upgrade your rainfly based on your unique needs. Check out our inventory of hammock shelter rainflies today.

Jason S. — Amazon Review (5-Star Review)

Product: Hennessy Hammock Deep Jungle Zip

“I purchased this hammock last year and have used it several times. I am a BSA leader in NC, so the mosquitoes get quite bad in the summer, but not when I am inside of this. I have used it on nights where it was 80+ degrees and still needed to crawl into a light sleeping bag due to the breathability of the fabric. I have also used it on nights where it was below 40 degrees and with the mat and a good sleeping bag you will stay plenty warm enough. I am 6' 1" and can lay in this hammock with tons of room to spare. I bought the mat, snakeskin, and hammock together and do not regret it. If you are a BSA member or scout, order directly from the manufacturer as they provide a discount. GREAT PRODUCT AND HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT!”

Common Issues Experience By Beginning Hammock Campers

While hammock camping is bound to become one of your favorite things, there are some common issues that newer people experience when sleeping in their hammock shelters. Luckily, they are all relatively easy to solve — and in time you will likely work out the kinks and experience nothing but comfort when using your camping hammock. Below, we have listed some of the more common camping issues experienced by beginners, as well as how you can avoid them. 

Frozen Butt Syndrome

While this syndrome might not be recognized as a medical issue, we can assure you that it is not the most pleasant feeling. Frozen butt syndrome occurs when you do not have enough insulation in your hammock shelter between your butt and the hammock bottom. 

To resolve this issue, be sure to add insulation below your sleeping bag in the form of a thicker blanket, sleeping pad, or underquilt. In doing so, you can eliminate the cold butt feeling that might keep you up at night. 

Shoulder Squeeze

As we discussed earlier, if the tension in your hammock is too tight, it can cause the walls of your hammock shelter to squeeze your shoulders inward toward the midline of the hammock. Unless you really enjoy sleeping coffin-style, we recommend that you loosen the tension of your hammock and lie at a slight diagonal angle with your head and feet on opposite sides of the midline. Doing so will allow the lay of the hammock to be flatter and more comfortable. 

Calf Pressure & Discomfort

Like shoulder squeeze, you might experience calf pressure and discomfort if your hammock is hung at a high tension. Calf pressure is caused by the ridges in the fabric that are created by the combination of your weight and the tension of the hammock bottom. 

Calf discomfort can be resolved by lessening the tension in your hammock and lying diagonally, but if calf discomfort is a recurring issue, we recommend that you look for a larger, more comfortable hammock. 

Motion Sickness

Some people get motion sickness easier than others. But that is no reason for you to give up on your hammock camping needs. Rather than ditching the hammock for a tent, consider looking for a hammock that has a staking system. If the hammock has a staking system, you can anchor it to nearby trees or the ground to prevent the hammock from rocking through the night. 

Regardless of the issues that you experience as a beginner to hammock camping, trust us when we say that there are solutions — and once you work out the kinks in your setup, you will never look at a traditional tent again!

For High-Quality Hammock Tents, Think Hennessy Hammock!

For Over 20 years, Hennessy Hammock has pioneered the hammock shelter industry. Our hammocks are designed to be easy to use, comfortable, and durable — ensuring that you’ll never need (or want) another camping hammock again. 

If you are considering giving hammock camping a try, we urge you to consider introducing yourself to this new camping adventure by using one of the best hammock shelters in the industry — the Hennessy Hammock. 

So what are you waiting for? Shop our large inventory of hammock tents today.

Choose your weight limit:


Choose your entry type:

See Search Results

Stay in Touch

Win free gear!

Subscribe to our HH Gearmail newsletter and get a chance to win a kit with your favorite hammock, insulation system, and SnakeSkins. Our occasional newsletter has hot new product info, upcoming sales, promotions and latest tips.

A new winner every month! See the winners.