Thinking about trying out hammock camping?
It might not be as popular as tent camping, but a lot more people are making the switch. And, considering how comfy and easy it is, it’s no wonder!
Still, for someone just starting out, it can be daunting trying to figure out all the bits and pieces you need to pack for a successful hammock camping trip.
If you’re a first timer and you’re not sure what you need to take along, I’m about to give you the complete low-down.
From suspension systems, to tarps, to underquilts and sleeping pads, this hammock camping gear list will cover it all.
So, without further ado, let’s get started!
Hammock Camping Gear – 9 Key Items
You don’t need a bunch of fancy gear to go hammock camping. As you’re about to see, the complete list isn’t actually too long, so I really recommend taking everything on this list with you.
That way, you’ll be ready for any surprise weather changes, temperature drops and anything else nature decides to throw your way while you’re out there.
I’ve divided the list into 2 sections: the essentials and additional gear.
You’ll still be able to hang your hammock up without the additional gear, but you won’t have any protection from the rain, wind or sun. So, try and take as many of the things on this list as you can!
Hammock Camping Gear Essentials
To go hammock camping, technically all you really need is a camping hammock and some kind of suspension system.
- Camping hammock
- Suspension System
Here’s a little bit of information about each of these, to help you get started.
OK, so you probably didn’t need this list to tell you that you’ll need to have a hammock. Still, we can’t not mention it, because it’s undoubtedly the single most important piece of gear you’ll need.
Here’s something you might not have known though: although a single camping hammock will serve you just fine, getting a double hammock for 2 people is an even better option, even if you’ll be sleeping in it by yourself.
Double hammocks are larger and more spacious, which means you’ll be much more comfortable sleeping in a double.
And, even if you’re looking for an ultralight backpacking hammock, there are super lightweight double hammocks out there, so there’s no reason not to upsize.
Next, you’ll need something you can use to hang your hammock up. You’ve got a couple of different options:
- Webbing or suspension straps
- A hammock stand
I always recommend suspension straps, otherwise known as webbing.
If sleeping suspended between two trees wasn’t already giving you Spider-Man vibes before, I’m sure it is now that you know you’re being held up by webbing.
It’s lightweight, easy to use, and it doesn’t do any damage to the trees that you tie it to.
Which brings us to rope. Rope checks 2 out of 3 boxes. It’s also lightweight and easy to use, making it great for backpackers. However, a big issue with rope is that it isn’t so tree-friendly.
It digs into the tree trunks, which does a lot more harm to the trees than you might think.
That said, there is a solution to this problem. If you have to use rope, the Leave No Trace organization suggests placing several sticks in between the rope and the tree. This prevents the rope from digging into the bark.
The final option is a hammock stand, which is a good choice if you don’t have any trees around to hang your hammock.
However, these are much bigger and heavier than straps or rope, so they’re not going to be suitable if you have to carry your hammock gear long distances. They’re great for car camping, though.
For the process of hanging your hammock up, you’re also going to need some carabiners.
Carabiners are what you use to attach your hammock to your suspension straps.
They’re easy to attach to your backpack, and they’re super handy because you can use them to attach extra gear to your pack on the outside.
Plus, you can use them to attach extra bits of gear to your hammock once it’s hanging.
Be careful to use your carabiners correctly. They’re incredibly strong and can hold a lot of weight, but if you don’t use them the right way they can end up breaking. And, you wouldn’t want to come crashing down onto the ground like a sack of potatoes in the middle of the night, now would you?
Additional Hammock Camping Gear
Now, if you’re camping out for a night or two in the middle of summer, you might be able to get away with having nothing but a hammock and suspension system.
However, as we know all too well, nature is unpredictable and the weather can change in an instant. Even on a tropical island, you can find yourself caught in a flash storm out of nowhere.
That’s why it’s a good idea to have some extra gear with you, to make sure you’re ready for anything.
The following items will keep you protected from the cold, rain, wind and bugs.
For any and every hammock camping trip, I definitely recommend packing a good hammock tarp. Make sure you get one that’s big enough, so that you’re fully protected underneath it.
Your hammock tarp, or hammock rain fly, is essentially going to be your best line of defense against the elements.
It’ll provide you with excellent shelter from both the rain and sun. And, it’ll give you some protection against the wind as well.
You’ll need to set up a ridgeline above your hammock, that you can use to hang the tarp where you want it.
5. Guylines & Stakes
If you’re going to be coming up against particularly windy weather conditions, you might want to take along some guylines and stakes.
Sometimes the wind can be so strong that it blows your tarp around, giving it a battering. To avoid this, you can attach guylines to your tarp and stake them down to the ground, keeping it securely in place.
6. Bug Net
Another item I strongly recommend packing no matter where you’re going is a bug net.
There’s nothing worse than waking up covered in mosquito bites. And, wherever you are in nature there’s bound to be some bloodsuckers buzzing around.
Some hammocks have already got bug nets built in, so if you’ve got one of these you’re all set.
If you’re buying one separately, make sure you go for a model that goes all the way around your hammock, giving you complete 360-degree protection.
7. Sleeping Pad
Staying comfy and warm in your hammock is essential to getting a good night’s sleep. And, a hammock sleeping pad is a great place to start!
Fitting your hammock out with one of these is a double win, because you get a boost in comfort, and you get extra insulation to keep you warm.
You can use a regular sleeping pad, but a sleeping pad designed specifically for a hammock will be a cozier, comfier fit.
If you want to make sure you’re extra warm while you sleep, it’s a good idea to equip yourself with an underquilt.
These go underneath the hammock, and they protect you from every hammock camper’s worst nightmare: cold bum syndrome.
Having one of these underneath you shields you from cold air flowing underneath your hammock, keeping you nice and toasty warm all night long.
9. Top Quilt Or Sleeping Bag
The final thing you’re going to want to have to stay warm is either a top quilt or a sleeping bag.
If you’re using a sleeping bag, and you have an underquilt, it’s a good idea to unzip the bag and use it as a regular blanket. That way, the underquilt keeps you warm from below, and the sleeping bag from above. Bliss.
Of course, if you’re hammock camping in cold weather conditions, this part is super important.
Not all top quilts and sleeping bags are made for winter camping, so it’s crucial that you pay attention to the temperature rating. You’ll want to make sure that you get a top quilt or sleeping bag with a suitable temperature rating for the kind of weather you’re expecting.
It’s always a good idea to go with a temperature rating for colder temperatures than you expect. Sleeping in 40 degree weather calls for a temperature rating no higher than 25-30 if you want to be comfortable. I hate being cold, so I’d personally go for a 20 degree quilt or bag to be on the safe side.
Setting Up Your Hammock
OK, so you’ve got all this gear. Now, what are you going to do with it?
Don’t worry, setting up your hammock is a piece of cake.
- First off, you’ll need to hang your hammock up. You can tie it in between two trees using your suspension straps, or you can use boulders, fence posts and even your car if there aren’t enough trees around (it’s also a good idea to learn some hammock knots too).
- If you’ve got a hammock stand, unfold it and tie your hammock to the anchor points.
- Next, you’ll want to assemble your tarp. Hang it over your hammock, but make sure you leave enough room to breathe and move around underneath. If you’ve got guylines and stakes, you can guy your tarp out and stake it to the ground, for extra stability.
- Then, attach your bug net to the top of your hammock, and your underquilt to the bottom.
- Put your sleeping pad and top quilt or sleeping bag inside the hammock.
And there you have it. All ready to go for a night of hammock camping under the stars!
All that’s left now is for you to go out and gather all the gear you need, and you’ll be ready for your first hammock camping experience.
Remember, it’s a good idea to have as many of the items on the hammock camping gear list as possible. Not all of them are essential, but they all serve an important purpose. If you want to be ready for anything, equip yourself as well as you possibly can.
Another good article for first time hammock campers is this one, that tells you all about how to make sure you stay comfortable sleeping in your hammock.
So, be sure to check it out before you head off!