Have hammock will Travel

There are a few items that I would not even consider leaving home without; a hammock is right at the top of that list!

The flimsy net or thin material types that are often seen on images of perfect beaches hung between two palm trees do not really make the grade here. A well constructed hammock with solid fixings, a fixed or detachable mosquito net and a reliable waterproof canopy are the ingredients of a quality sleeping system. Some hammock choosing advice is available in 10 Essential Travel Items

How to hang a hammock in rain or shine on Mallory on Travel, adventure, photography

Don’t forget the hammock

Versatile digs

A good hammock is possibly the most versatile accommodation there is, especially if coupled with a canopy for keeping the rain off. In the jungle it is probably the only really practical option available. It will keep you off the ground and away from the creepy crawlies and if placed high enough away even from the larger animals too.

Highly portable and yet comfortable enough for several days or even weeks, a well ‘pitched’ hammock is excellent luxury accommodation whatever the location. It is not even necessary to look for a clear area of ground as you will not be sleeping on it.

My hammock has provided me with a comfortable sleeping option many times and on at least a few occasions saved me from either an uncomfortable night or journey.

Handy hammock

Returning from Corsica a couple of years ago the airport at Bastia was closed late in the evening and a number of passengers including me were asked to leave the terminal. Whilst my travelling companions attempted to find themselves a comfortable spot on the grass outside, I received several envious glances as I strung my hammock between two suitable trees. I even slept in the next morning!

A flight to the Falklands is quite a long haul at the best of time but when the aircraft is a RAF Hercules (C-130) it is a particularly uncomfortable journey that seems to take even longer than the actual thirty plus hours. The aircraft does not have any seats in the normal sense, just some netting that you strap yourself into. It can get pretty unpleasant; therefore it was extremely pleasing when the ‘cabin crew’ permitted me to hang my hammock. I enjoyed a much more comfortable flight sleeping most of the way.

Hammock and shelter in te woods on Mallory on Travel, adventure, photography

Out of the rain, notice the clothes line

The art of hammocking

Although it is not absolutely necessary to have some clear ground beneath your hammock it is recommended especially if staying for more than just one night. It will prevent the risk of injury when moving around and also make your stay more comfortable.

In fact most aspects of good camp craft are applicable; water close by, good drainage, latrine and waste kept well away from the campsite and a good fire at night.

Hanging your hammock properly is of paramount importance and a good habit is setting up the canopy first. This will provide shelter if it is already raining or starts to rain, enabling the sleeping system (which includes bag) and other equipment to be kept dry.

The guy lines for the canopy should be already fitted, paracord is ideal for this and a tautline hitch is useful for attaching to anchor points such as a tree. This allows adjustment of the guy lines but locks in place under tension. Ensure the anchor points are placed low down so that the canopy is sloping to prevent any build up of rain water and remember to keep pushing it upwards regularly for the same reason.

A good tip is to have sufficient ‘spare’ cord left over to make a clothes line, especially in the jungle as getting out of the wet clothing that was worn all day is an absolute highlight. Shame it has to be put back on again the next day!

Hang your boots up too; keep them off the ground so that it is more difficult for those creepy crawlies to climb inside. Though still ensure that you check them before putting them on in the morning.

Hammock campsite on Mallory on Travel, adventure, photography

A fully set up hammock camp

Be careful to ensure that you have enough overhead cover, having the canopy drip on your head all night is not fun!

Actually climbing into a hammock without falling out and looking a complete idiot is an easily learned skill. Initially climb into the hammock and sit astride it, then carefully lower back into it, until you are laid comfortable but with your legs hanging over the sides, then simply bring each leg in until you are fully cocooned.

Take care of your hammock, wash it down when returning from a trip, use warm water without any detergent and it will last you a lifetime.

Hammock paradise

Even in the modern era of restricted airline weight allowances it is worth considering taking a hammock. They are lightweight and portable, if you are aware that you are staying in a five star hotel for two weeks it is probably an unnecessary luxury. Those on extended trips with a little less certainty or greater flexibility in their accommodation requirements it will be a great investment.

There is always the possibility you might find that perfect beach though, two ideally placed palm trees and a large pitcher of ready mixed mojitos. It would be a shame not to have  suitable equipment to enjoy the setting sun!

P.S. I hope you can see these pictures were taken in the rain, for the purposes of the post the hammock was set up in pouring rain, the sacrifices I make for you! It was a littler dark and colder however so excuse my shaky hands.

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Comments 17

  1. Torre – Fearful Adventurer

    I love the idea of a hammock, but I’d be far too scared to attempt to sleep in one in the Australian bush. I’m not a fan of slithery, top-ten-most-deadly bed-mates. The advice here is: don’t leave your boots out or snakes seeking warmth will curl up in them. I’m pretty sure that, if you were sleeping in a hammock here, you’d wake up to an intimate spoon with a cranky lover. No thanks. 🙂

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      Iain

      Thanks Torre but any good hammock is also zippered so snakes stay out. The advice about the boots is included in the post because it is great advice, thank you for taking the time to comment.

  2. Justin@GreatFamilyEscape

    You convinced me. We were just going to get the tent, but now I figure if we need some individual space or just don’t feel like setting the tent up, we are good to go. I love the ease of it! Thanks! Now off to see which hammocks you recommended.

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      Iain

      Glad you are persuaded Justin it is possible to get double ones too, though not sure how comfortable they actually are for a whole night. Hennessy make great hammocks, used to have one and loved it, but it seems somebody else did too as they stole it from a drying room after I cleaned it :S Good luck with your purchase, let me know which you decide.

  3. Matthew Karsten

    Lifelong fan of hammock camping! Like Iain said, a good one will have bug netting attached to it, keeping absolutely everything out.

    Long boat rides are another great place to use them. While everyone else is sitting on hard benches for 5-10 hours, you can take a nap!

    Hostel booked up completely in the middle of the night? Ask them if you can hang your hammock and use their bathrooms for $2. You’ll never be without a place to sleep…

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      Iain

      Thanks Matthew as you point out so many great reasons to pack a hammock, great for doing routes like the GR20 too as if the refuge is full easy to string up outside. Just cannot go wrong.

  4. Trans-Americas Journey

    Great post, love the tips.
    We also find our hammocks indispensable. We actually have two each with us on our Journey — our super-comfy Yucatan hammocks for chilling and sleeping in good weather. We also have Hennesey hammocks for jungle/bad weather. Easy, light weight, functional and comfortable.
    Sadly the art of hammocks seems to be fading a bit in the Yucatan and Central America. When I traveled through the area in the early 90’s hammocks were a way of life for a majority of the people and travelers. Most everyone in many of the hot areas slept in hammocks and many hotels had hammock hooks available to hang your owm. Now that we’ve been traveling through this area for the past 1+ years, things have changes. Sure people still sleep in hammocks, but it seems like it’s become more of a class thing now — poorer people hammocks and having a bed is a status symbol. Additionally, we rarely find hotels that offer the hammock option.

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      Iain

      It is a great shame that hammocks seem to be fading from the culture of these areas, I wonder if the hotels would react by refitting them if requested by enough people. I can understand people wanting a bed and see how it could be a status symbol too. Thanks for sharing a little insight of your travels with hammocks.

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      Author
  5. Caril Ridley

    Over forty years I’ve refined Hammock use, from a first Yucatán to self-manufactured hybrids designed for snow, mosquito, bottom and side entry, double or single point, each self-contained cocoon placed where no flat spot can be found, trees, rocks or building parts… you have the same comfort, and the same stealth-full security every night with far less environmental impact in a lighter package… Hammock-on!

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      Author
      Iain

      Thank you for your input Caril it sounds as if you have much more experience with hammocks than many of us. Let us hope hammocking becomes a more popular way to travel in future.

  6. Hammock

    I think your post will help me in my outing, actually from last one week I was planning for camping but I am in confusion which kind of tent will suitable for sleeping and all that. But after getting your post I think hammock is suitable for me and your tips too. Thanks for sharing with us.

  7. Lace Thomas

    Since I’m a big fan of having activities outdoors, I agree that hammocks are best for adventures, not only because of their lightweight features, but because other hammocks are also fitted for a king’s comfort.

  8. Kathryn

    hammock is very helpful while travel to a place where you can not set up your tent but should strongly tight both edge.

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