One of my favorite aspects of summer is the ability to enjoy an evening sleeping under the stars without the barrier of a tent. While you could brave cowboy camping and lay out on a tarp, I far prefer the relaxation and elevation of hammock camping. Tucking a hammock and a few other essentials into your pack will open up so many opportunities to extend your adventures, turning hikes into full weekend escapades. Interested in giving tentless camping a try but not sure where to start? Here’s my go-to gear guide for successful hammock camping:
- The Kammok Roo is a personal favorite because they’re based in Austin like us, donate a portion of their proceeds towards Malaria No More, and adhere to slightly higher quality standards than other hammock manufacturers. The Roo packs into a small, easily portable size and is ample enough to support two (however, I highly suggest sleeping solo – it can a bit too much togetherness otherwise 😛 ). Made up of proprietary diamond ripstop LunarWave nylon, which makes the fabric breathable and lightweight, you won’t find yourself waking up in the middle of the night feeling sticky or clammy.
- One of the biggest challenges of warmer weather are all the bugs. Since I think we’d all rather not present ourselves as a defenseless bug buffet while sleeping, investing in an insect net for your hammock is a smart move. If you’re rocking the Kammok Roo, its Dragonfly add-on is a no-brainer. This net surrounds your hammock like a giant cocoon, preventing mosquitos, no-see-ums, and any other creepy crawlies from disturbing your slumber. The mesh material is still breathable enough to allow a refreshing summer night’s breeze pass through and thin enough so your late night stargazing will be unobstructed.
- I used to think packing along a pillow was superfluous for hammock camping, but that was before trying out Sierra Design’s DriDown pillow. Providing the perfect amount of neck support, this ultralight pillow feels deliciously luxurious to sink into after a long day of adventuring. Designed to provide campers with ultimate flexibility, you have the option to either stuff the quilted pillow top case with clothing (I suggest a towel, puffy jacket, or tomorrow’s clothes) or keep things simple and use the included synthetic insert. Everything tucks away nicely into an included stuff sack so that storage (and keeping it clean when not in use) is a breeze.
- If you’re in a climate such as the desert where it gets cooler in the evenings, an extra layer of warmth will be much appreciated. Your standard sleeping bag will work just fine, but if you want to step up your hammock camping game, I recommend checking out a camping quilt. For example, Kammok’s Firebelly Quilt is an ideal choice. You won’t find yourself sliding down towards the center of your hammock as much in a quilt as you would in a sleeping bag. The Firebelly is crazy light, extremely warm, and features drawstrings that allow the option to tighten it around your feet or completely snap up along the sides to get a traditional sleeping bag shape.
5. This may go without saying, but bringing along a headlamp is an absolute essential for any form of camping. They make life so much easier and the hands-free component is incredibly convenient. When hammock camping, I like to stash mine in the pocket that hangs down along the side of the hammock (AKA the built in stuff-sack). Whether you’re reading in the evenings or need a handy source of light to illuminate the trail when heeding nature’s call, having a headlamp as opposed to fumbling around for a handheld flashlight (or worse yet, trying to use your cellphone) is a game changer. Petzl’s rechargeable Tikka is an awesome option because the intensity of the light automatically adjusts to your surroundings. It charges with a standard USB port so you can use your phone’s car charger when on the road.
With these five pieces of gear in your backpack, you’ll be in top shape for an amazing summer full of hammock camping! Are there any other essentials you like taking along for hammock camping? Comment below, I’d love to see your suggestions as well!
Devyn, Hammock Camper Extraordinaire