man hammock camping near river

How to Start Hammock Camping

Hammock camping is one of the most enjoyable ways to get out into nature and get away from it all. You can practice your camping skills in the comfort of your home, or take your camping to the next level and embark on an incredible adventure in the wild.

The easiest way to start hammock camping is by buying a hammock and testing it out in your backyard. You’ll experience setting it up, lying in it for an extended period, and you get to tweak the little details to make you more comfortable. All before actually going on your camping adventure.

When you are feeling brave enough to venture out on your first hammock adventure, make sure to check out Hammock Camping 101: Everything You Need to Know to Get Started

How Do I Start Hammock Camping if I’m used to tent camping?

You may be used to camping in a tent. Lots of people grew up camping with their families, and tents were usually the go-to.

In fact, there were 93.8 million active camper households in the US in 2021, and 9.1 million first-time camper households, according to the North American Camping Report 2022, from KOA.

Furthermore, 56% of new campers prefer tent camping.

If you’re planning to try out hammock camping, there are some differences from tent camping that you should consider.

Related: What Is Hammock Camping?

Differences between tent camping and hammock camping

Hammock camping has several differences from regular tent camping. For me, the sense of freedom that a hammock provides is one of its main advantages. 

Here are some of the differences between tents and hammocks

  • Tents usually have some designated space for your backpack and gear. 
  • In a hammock, on the other hand, you will be asking yourself “Uhm, where do I put my stuff?”. You can put the rain cover over your backpack and hang it in a tree. Some hammocks have space to hang your backpack inside as well, like the Haven Tent Hammock. You also have little pockets inside many hammocks, where you can store valuables, electronics, or other small items.
  • Tents offer more protection from the elements, and perhaps wildlife.
  • Hammocks will be swaying in the wind and are more exposed to rain and cold. You counteract this with more “extra” gear though, like a tarp, underquilt, and sleeping pad.
  • Tents more or less keep bugs out, while you will need a bug net for your hammock.
  • Hammocks are more of a “solo sleep” experience, while tents allow multiple people to sleep next to each other. The same goes for pets, like dogs. You probably won’t be comfortable sleeping in a hammock with your dog on top of you the entire night. 
  • There will be condensation in tents, while hammocks are more open and breezy, making for a more comfortable experience in that sense.
  • Tents generally require flat, even ground to camp comfortably. Hammocks allow you to camp wherever you have two solid, stable points to hang from.
  • Most tents weigh a lot and take up a lot of space in your backpack, while hammocks usually pack lighter and take less room.
  • I really enjoy lying in my hammock and looking up at the night sky. It’s a magical feeling. Tents, usually, have a roof that you can’t see through.

How to choose a hammock

Before you can lie down in your hammock, and feel the mild breeze gently swinging you back and forth while you take in the beautiful scenery around you – you actually have to pick a hammock to buy. 

So, which hammock do you choose?

According to this article from, there are 4 factors your should consider when choosing a hammock

Summarized, you should consider size, end-use, accessories, and sleep system.

What size needs do you have? How will you be camping, mostly? Will you be hiking, or hanging out in your backyard? Which accessories you will be needing will be dependent on that. 

Test your Hammock

A hammock test is a great way to know how a hammock performs in the field. It’s also a great way to learn whether or not you need to make any modifications to it so it fits your needs. It’s a good opportunity to familiarize yourself with your new hammock.

If you are unsure if camping in a hammock is for you, then you will find out by testing it in the safe environment of your home. 

Related: Is It Ok to Sleep in a Hammock While Camping?

Don’t knock it till you try it … twice

I know from experience that hammock camping can feel challenging, or even a bit scary the first time around. You don’t know exactly what to expect, and the unexpected always seems to happen anyway. 

My buddy once dropped his knife and damaged one of his straps when setting up his hammock. He improvised a solution with some extra rope, but that’s how it is sometimes. 

It’s a bit of a learning curve to become a hammock camper. But the challenge is part of what makes hammock camping so fun! And it gets easier after a couple of times. If you give up after your first try, you will miss out on many amazing experiences though. So hang in there. Literally.

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