How to Make a Camping Hammock

There is nothing like being in nature, and rocking gently between two trees in a hammock. Hammocks are not only an alternate sleeping arrangement from sleeping on the ground, but also provide a nice spot to relax while camping. Making a camping hammock is a relatively easy thing to do. All you need are some sturdy trees, rope, and a sheet.

Sleeping in a hammock has a lot of advantages oversleeping in a tent. You don’t have to worry about clearing your campsite for rocks and other debris before setting up your tent.  Using a camping hammock also protects you from the elements, such as rain and snowfall. 

There are a few tips and tricks that can help in making your own camping hammock. You can learn more below about how to successfully make a camping hammock.

Hanging an Hammock

Before going into the details of hammock and creating a hammock, a camper should know the simple process of hanging a hammock. Whether the hammock is store-bought or homemade, the same basic process applies.

Find a spot between two trees or posts that have enough space between them for your hammock. Try to find trees that are about 15 feet apart, as this will give plenty of room for your ropes and straps. Check and make sure the trees are healthy and not being occupied by any creatures that may be disturbed.  

Using tree straps will also ensure that you do not damage the trees. Carabiners can also be used when connecting the tent ropes and tree straps to provide extra security for your tent. Place the tree straps at eye-level around the trees. Look the tree strap around the tree once and then loop it around itself, with the hook part hanging down. Make sure to pull the straps tight to make them secure.

Hang the straps at a 30-degree angle from the ground. You will also want the hammock to hang about 18 inches off the ground. Secure the hammock the trees and tie off the straps to ensure that they will stay in place. 

Using the carabiners, attach the ends of the hammock to the tree straps. Adjust the straps as needed to have the right amount of height and tension. 

You want the hammock to hang about a foot less than the ridgeline when the hammock is hung. You do not want the hammock to be pulled taut. Instead, it should have a natural sag to it. This will reduce the stress and tension on the trees and straps when you lay in the hammock.

While the process of hanging a hammock, there are a few important things to consider when hanging your hammock:

  • Check with the camp manager or park ranger to make sure that hammocks are allowed. Some places may not allow camping hammocks over worries of damaging the plant life.
  • Examine the trees to make sure they are not dead. Also, you want to check for insect nests or the presence of poisonous plant or animal life.
  • Do not hang your hammock near water. As cool as the idea of a photo hanging by a lakeshore may be, it will not be so cool if your hammock fails and drops you in water while you are sleeping.
  • Never place your hammock across a pathway. Look for signs of animal or foot traffic which will alert you that there is a path being used. Pay attention to possible routes to water sources that animals may use.
  • Do not hang your hammock higher than 18 inches. Even with perfect set-up and hanging of a hammock, there is the possibility of failure or falling out of the tent. The less distance you fall the safer you will be.
  • When not using your hammock it is a good idea to take it down. Especially if you will be away hiking or doing other activities, this will prevent animals from becoming ensnared accidentally.
  • Do not hang more than one hammock from the same trees. This will reduce the stress on the trees.
  • Creating a ridgeling will allow a perfect pitch for your rainfly or hammock tarp. This will also give you a baseline on how tight to tie your hammock straps and lines.

Using a Sleeping Pad and a Hammock

If you wish to use a sleeping pad with your hammock, you can do so easily with a double layer hammock. A sleeping pad will give you a layer of insulation, as well as keeping mosquitos from attacking from beneath you. You can use a sleeping pad with a single layer hammock, but it will be more difficult to keep it in place.

Double layer hammocks also have a few advantages. Not only will it keep a sleeping pad in place, but it will give you extra support when sleeping. If one layer tears or becomes damaged, you will still have the other layer to support you. This is helpful if you are in the middle of a camping trip and cannot easily get a replacement or repair the hammock.

If you do not want to use a sleeping pad, an under quilt is another option. Under quilts, like top quilts, provide more protection and comfort for sleeping in a hammock. They are also lightweight and able to be stored easily in a backpack.

Hammocks and Backpacking

Hammocks can be a great alternative to a tent when backpacking. They are relatively lightweight and can easily be stored in your backpack.  If you are backpacking you want to have as much space for your gear as possible. A hammock will take up less space than a tent, allowing you to pack more important gear.  Hammocks will not require the use of tent stakes, which also cuts down on the damage to the landscape. You can also have a bug net and hammock tarp, or rainfly, which can give you more protection from insects and the elements.

Instead of a sleeping bag, you may also want to purchase a top quilt. This will keep you warm and secure in your hammock.  These are made of ultralight material, so they won’t suffocate you and will not take too much room in your backpack.

A hammock tarp can be hung over the hammock very easily and draped over the hammock. Bug nets can also be draped over the hammock to touch the ground and enclose the hammock area. These can combine to create a quick and easy shelter for you to sleep in.

DIY Hammocks

Some campers may find that they are too tall for the types of hammocks sold in stores. Some may find buying a hammock as too expensive. Still, others enjoy the process of DIY projects. In these cases creating their own hammock is a preferred option. A camper that makes their own hammock also has the chance to do some customization on the hammock, such as adding more pockets for storage.

There are a few ways that a person can go about creating a DIY hammock. What follows are some helpful hints.

The No-sew Method: Start with a large sheet of fabric (ripstop nylon or polyester are the best choices as they tend to hold up better. The fabric should be the camper’s height, plus four feet. The width should be about 36”.

Tie an overhand knot at each end of the fabric. Attach strong and sturdy rope to each end. These will be the suspension lines, so they should be strong enough to support twice the person’s body weight. 

Gathered Hammock with minimal sewing: For this method, you will need a good sewing machine as well as scissors, needles, and thread. Make sure the thread is sturdy, outdoor type thread.  As with the previous method, you will begin with the same size large cloth.

Begin by sewing a simple ½ inch rolled hem along both long ends of the cloth. At the short ends create a rolled hew 1 inch wide which will create a channel. Next, using a coat hanger as a guide, feed a line through the channel. 

Tie the line around the end of the fabric to create a “whipped” end to the hammock. Attach a rope to the ends of the hammock to create suspension lines. 

Gathered end hammock with a bug net: To create this style hammock, follow the same steps as above. The bug net will require a ridgeline to be attached to the hammock.  Lay the hammock flat on the ground and measure the length between the whipped ends. Calculate 83% of the length; this will be the length of the ridgeline.

Drape the bug netting fabric over the ridgeline. Pin it in place all around the fabric. Next, sew a full-length zipper along one side of the hammock. Sew the bug net to the other side of the zipper.  Sew the other side of the hammock directly to the other side of the bug net.

Hennessy and ENO Hammocks

If you do not want to go the DIY route, there are several great options for camping hammocks that you can buy that are ready to go. Depending on what features you want for your camping hammock, a camping hammock can be found on sites like Amazon, Warbonnet, and REI. Several outfitters provide high-quality camping hammocks.

If cost is not a factor, Hennessy Hammocks are some of the best camping hammocks on the market.  The tents come with straps, bug nets, and canopies. Many of the tents are designed to enclose the camper, protecting you from the elements and insects while you sleep in comfort.

Another provider of quality camping hammocks is ENO (Eagle’s Nest Outfitters). Their parachute hammocks are made with ripstop nylon which provides a layer of protection of failure of the hammock.

Kammock is another great manufacturer of camping hammocks. Their Roo Double hammock is easily portable and is tear-resistant.

Regardless of what outfitter you choose, it is important that you choose a hammock that is going to be useful for your needs. The hammock should be made of quality lightweight materials. Check and see what extra gear is included such as tree straps, carabiners, and ropes. 

Do Your Research

With these tips and recommendations, you should be able to set up and create your own camping hammock with no problems. Whether you decide to make a DYI camping hammock or buying one from a camping outfitter it is important to do your research.

There are many great hammock and camping forums that can be found easily. These forums are populated by camping enthusiasts with a wealth of knowledge. You may find inspiration from other campers on making your own DYI camping hammock as well as help in troubleshooting any snags you might hit along the way.

Forums are also great for finding out the quality of the retail hammocks out there. Read discussions on products to see what real customers think of the products. This is another way to make sure that you spend your money wisely if you are purchasing a hammock.

Hammock camping can be a fun experience and alternative to the typical camping and sleeping in a tent. It allows the camper to experience nature in a new way, as well as providing for easier travel experience for backpackers. Following the advice in this article will ensure that you have a great experience on your next hammock camping adventure.

Sam Brooks

Sam Brooks

Hi, my name is Sam Brooks and I'm a huge hiking, fishing and camping enthusiast. I bring my dog Max as often as I can because he also loves the great outdoors. Although I consider myself a private person, I really want to share my passion and knowledge with the readers here at outdoorcommand.com