The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Hammocking - Part 2: Making the Most of Your Hammock

The best thing about hammocks is that they open up endless possibilities. You’re no longer confined to the ground, which means you have plenty of options for creative ways to enjoy your adventure.

This article is Part Two in a three-part guide on making the most of your hammock. In Part One, we discuss how to set up your hammock. In this section, we’ll talk more about some tips and tricks to hammocking to help you make your next adventure even more awesome!

Hammock Guy

This is how cool you'll look after reading this article

Finding the perfect hammock spot

It can be hard to find the perfect spot to hang your hammock. When the Octopus team goes hammocking, we look out for a few simple details to consistently find great places for hammocks.

#1: Two good hanging points

A great hammocking experience starts with where you choose to hang the hammock. It’s usually easiest to hang your hammock from two trees, but you can use any two objects that are strong enough to carry your weight. We’ve seen people hang their hammocks from telephone poles, cars, buildings, and plenty of other creative spots.

Basement Hammock

I hung the first Octopus hammock in my parents' basement between the wall and a ceiling post.

The important thing is finding two fixed objects about 10 to 15 feet apart. This gives you plenty of room to hang your hammock with space to re-adjust it if you need to.

#2: An open space

When you hang your hammock, make sure you aren’t setting up over any bushes, sharp rocks, streams, animal dwellings, or other obstructions. There’s nothing worse than getting out of your hammock in the middle of the night and stepping on a thorn bush! Before you hang your hammock, do a quick sweep of the area to make sure that your chosen spot is free of debris or obstructions.

#3: Safety First!

When you’re picking a hammock spot, you should always keep your safety in mind. In particular, watch out for:

  • Height: Hanging your hammock too high is very dangerous! No matter how experienced you are, there is always a risk of falling from the hammock and injuring yourself. You should always be able to step in and out of your hammock from ground level. That’s why we recommend that you never hang your hammock more than 4 feet off the ground.

Danger Hammock

This makes a great picture, but you should really hang much closer to the ground!

  • Hazards: Always be aware of your surroundings before you set up your hammock. Avoid hanging near cliffs or steep dropoffs, and make sure the trees you hang from are strong enough to support your weight. We recommend that you only choose trees that are at least 10 inches in diameter (that’s about the size of a basketball) to guarantee the tree will be strong enough. Double-check that the tree is alive and watch out for dead branches. Experienced adventurers refer to falling tree limbs as “widow makers” because they frequently cause injuries or death. Overall, dead trees are weaker and more dangerous than living ones and should be avoided.

Dead TreeLive Tree

Left: Dead tree. Right: Living tree

  • Equipment Check: It’s always a good idea to check your equipment before use. If you notice your hammock or straps are beginning to tear or unravel, you should replace them right away. Damaged equipment can be dangerous and inconvenient. A quick equipment check before each use is the best way to avoid falling out of your hammock.

Hammock Accessories

If you’re just interested in short-term recreational hammocking, then all you’ll need is a hammock and some tree straps. However, more and more campers are replacing their tents with hammocks these days. If you want to go on a full-fledged hammock camping trip, you’ll need a few extra pieces of equipment. The most common add-ons for hammocks are:

  • A Rain Fly: A rain fly is a waterproof tarp that you hang over your hammock. This tarp will protect you from rain and weather, keeping you dry all night long.

Hammock Tarp

A standard hexagon rain tarp - the hammock is underneath.

  • A Bug Net: A bug net is exactly what it sounds like- a mesh net that keeps biting and stinging insects out of your hammock. Some hammocks come with bug nets attached already but usually, the bug net comes as a separate piece.

Bug Net

A typical bug net looks a little like this.

If you want to learn more about how to set up your hammock, check out Part One. In Part Three, we’ll discuss good hammock habits like how to protect the environment and what you should or shouldn’t do while hammocking.

What other hammock tips do you know about? Let us know in the comments!

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