Crua's Guide to Choosing a Camping Hammock
Crua's Guide to Choosing a Camping Hammock
Let's Talk Camping Hammocks
Tent-less camping isn't anything new. Camping hammocks have been around for years but they are becoming hugely popular in recent times. Although Crua Outdoors might be known as a lover of tents, the surge in enthusiasm for camping hammocks is something we enjoy seeing and are embracing wholeheartedly.
For most people, heading out into the great outdoors with only a camping hammock for shelter is a relatively new phenomenon. If it's something you have been mulling over, don't think, just do it. Using a camping hammock is great fun and brings a whole new dynamic to camping.
Before you do that though, we wanted to put together a quick guide to camping hammocks and choosing your camping hammock. We will answer all the little questions and point out the main areas to consider when picking the best camping hammock for you. So, let's get into it.
What is Hammock Camping?
Hammock camping is a form of camping where you forgo the traditional tent and instead sleep in a hammock, which is usually suspended between two trees. With hammock camping, you don't need to find a flat surface or space to pitch a tent. Instead all you need is your camping hammock, suspension system and a couple of sturdy trees.
The traditional view of a hammock is a netted structure perfect for relaxing in for a few hours but possibly not ideal for sleeping overnight. However, camping hammocks were created with a great night's sleep in mind. They offer better support to your back and come with accessories that create ideal sleeping conditions. Camping hammocks can be thought of as a suspended, one (and sometimes two) person tent.
Tents vs Camping Hammocks - Which Should I Pick?
This question is one we've encountered many times and, to be honest, it puzzles us.
We've seen bloggers, camping enthusiasts and other campers tackle the question. They treat it like a great philosophical debate. They pick sides, weight up pros and cons and force the reader to choose their one true love.
This isn't like being a cat or a dog person, you can have both. You can spend a weekend with your family in a big six person tent. You can head off on your own the next week in a one person hammock and spend the third weekend in a two person tent.
Camping is about variety and camping hammocks bring something totally new and exciting to the equation. We won't give the usual pros and cons but instead point out a view benefits to camping hammocks.
Lighter, More Compact Load - Camping hammocks don't require poles, pegs or stakes which make them the perfect packing companion.
At One With Nature - With camping hammocks, you are off the floor and truly embracing the elements. Using the trees as a support, you can be gently rocked to sleep by mother nature herself.
Flexibility - Pitching a tent is a doddle but there is something very 'get-up-and-go' about a camping hammock. They are also a flexible piece of equipment which can double as an upright camping chair during the day.
Do You Need a Tree for Hammock Camping?
This is something that we get asked a lot and wanted to quickly cover. Hammock camping is all about trees and laying suspended in mid-air, we can't claim otherwise.
However, you can get camping hammocks that can do both. This eliminates the "tent vs hammock" debate and leaves all your options open. Check out our Crua Hybrid as an example of a hammock that can do both.
What to Consider When Choosing a Camping Hammock?
You've decided to get a camping hammock and try it out. But this is a new world to you, where do you even start? At Crua we have a simple two step process to choosing a camping hammock.
1. Specs and Sizes
Unlike tents, the variety in sizes of camping hammocks aren't too extreme and options are somewhat limited. Camping hammocks are generally either for one or two people.
If you are buying for one person, make sure the length is at least a foot taller than you are, maybe even two feet. In terms of width, camping hammocks are usually 4-6 feet wide. This gives plenty of room for most people. If you really cherish your sleeping space, you can get a two person hammock for one person use. Just don't forget that there are trade-offs. The bigger the hammock, the greater the luggage.
If you and your partner decide to get a two person hammock for you both to use together, that's great. However, our recommendation is to borrow from a friend and see how it feels. A cosy camping hammock can create a cocoon of intimacy for some. For other pairs, it might be best to be hammock neighbours first before making any big commitments!
2. Consider All Elements of a Good Night's Sleep
There is that island fantasy of the person lounging in a hammock between two palm trees (see image above). To most people, this looks like pure bliss. However, when camping in the great outdoors, this won't work so well.
When the sun goes down, this idyllic hammock will be exposed to the elements. It won't be long until the bliss feels more like blizzard and retaining heat becomes a survival necessity.
With trees all around, you can be sure there will be bugs. Not to mention, when the rain starts to fall. In that tropical nest of relaxation, you better have your rain gear ready. Not to forget without a good suspension system, you are on the ground. That isn't hammock camping or tent camping, that's some good old fashion back country survival.
Our best advice is to break sleeping down and make sure all your bases are covered. Consider all the accessories you might need and make sure they are included in your hammock set.
Keep The Cold Out
When you're in a tent, you protect yourself from the cold from all angles. You use a sleeping bag to keep you warm and a sleeping pad to keep the cold out from below. It's the same for camping hammocks. Some accessories that you might want include would be an under-quilt, a heavy-duty hammock, built-in sleeping bag and a pillow. Of course, most of you will have your own sleeping bag but it's something to consider.
Keep The Rain Out
The person lounging on the tropical island is taking the chance that it won't rain but you definitely shouldn't. Make sure that when you are buying a camping hammock that there's a tarp included. An added bonus would be waterproof pockets to protect your valuables.
Keep The Bugs Out
Anything bug related is often overlooked when camping. It's usually not done on purpose. The grave realisation only occurs when you are hours from home and suffer that first little bite.
In hammock camping, you are literally attached to trees, exposed to the elements and must be extra careful. All great hammocks should come with a bug mesh so unless you think you're covered, don't go without one.
Hang In There
The last thing to consider is your suspension system. Camping hammocks come with tree straps, carabiners and spreading poles. The carabiners and tree strap system are what will keep you supported.
Make sure you use all heavy-duty materials and that they come included in your camping hammock set. The spreading poles help to give your camping hammock width and room. Using spreading bars is a matter of personal preference. Some people like to get that extra bit of support. That said, some people like to keep their hammock camping tentless and poleless. Our tip is to try both ways and see what suits.
The New Crua Koala Camping Hammock
We have covered a lot about camping hammocks but we couldn't leave you without mentioning the new Crua Koala which will be released at the end of 2018.
We broke hammock camping relaxation down to a science and considered all options. Check out the video below which was created as part of a recent Kickstarter Campaign. The video is a lot of fun and also acts as a mini guide to hammock camping.
Thanks to everyone that joined in our Kickstater Campaign. To see full details of the new Crua Koala, please click here.