How To Set Up A Hammock For Sleeping While Backpacking

How To Set Up A Hammock For Sleeping While Backpacking

How To Set Up Backpacking HammockCampers, hikers and boaters all have different ways of spending the night or making a shelter. Some campers have tents that remain on a site for the duration of their trip while others pull big trailers or drive recreational vehicles.

Boaters can be canoeists, kayakers, sailing enthusiasts, or individuals that prefer luxury yachts or cabin cruisers.

Hikers might camp at one place and venture out each day hitting different trails, but some prefer to rest when they get tired and hungry. Camp for them is wherever it is convenient.

But, regardless of the type of outdoors person, the individual or group might choose to stop at different points and set up camp. This means that they need food and water for survival, plus a safe place to bed down for the night. They’ll need gear that keeps them warm, protected from the elements of weather, as safe as possible from animals, and somewhere comfy enough to get that much needed shut eye.

Therefore, if they are making a shelter for the evening, they will need to know how to set up a hammock for sleeping while backpacking.

Why We Chose A Hammock Over Sleeping On The Ground:

We do sometimes sleep on the ground. It all depends on the trip we are taking and what location we want to visit. Lots of factors enter into the decision which might even include how we feel at the time. To be honest, each way is just another adventure for us.

But in this tutorial, we wanted to do the whole backpacking hammock thing, so that you would see there are other options to explore. To make it even more enticing for you to try, here are ten reasons why we chose a hammock over ground sleeping.

#1 Animals
There are certain animals that you want to be aware of when hiking. One of those is the bear. By being up higher off the ground, you are a little more protected and may not be as nervous when resting. And remember that regardless of where you sleep, be sure to keep your food up high away from all animals.

#2 Warmth
We find that if you bring along the right equipment, you will be warmer in a hammock. The reason for this is you don’t have the stone cold of the ground on your body for hours on end.

#3 Lulling
The hammock, like a cradle for a baby, lulls you to sleep. It is peaceful being perched between two trees, hanging in the wind.

#4 Comfort
A lot of people say, and we think, the hammock is more comfortable than the hard ground. It allows your body to go into whatever position you want without having pressure points on your hips, shoulders and back bones. As a result, you sleep much better and are rested up for the next part of the journey in the morning.

#5 Easier
Many individuals feel that they can set up a hammock much faster and easier than a tent. It does take some practice to get the right tension and so forth, but pitching any kind of tent also requires some advanced preparation.

#6 Less Weight
Now, hammocks can be heavy if you chose the wrong one, but sometimes, it is much more convenient to pack a hammock than a tent with poles and stakes.

#7 Night Sky
While you are lying there ready to sleep, you can watch the stars, clouds, moon and anything else in the galaxy that might be visible that night.

#8 Drier
Yes, it is true that if it rains, you might get wet, but generally speaking, you can’t roll over into a puddle, like you do when tenting or lying right on the ground.

#9 Fresh Air
Think how invigorating it will be breathing in the night air and waking up in the morning to fresh air, as opposed to the stuffiness of a tent.

#10 Same Features
Many hammocks now come with the same things as tents such as a fly (tarp) for rain, or bug net to protect yourself.

Supplies & Gear Needed For Sleeping System

Now, you might find it odd to read about nail polish in the list of suggested items? No, we are not going to get fashionable, but you will see the purpose in the video at 1:48. We also explain it in Step #3.

Step By Step Instructions

#1 Find Two Trees

As we all know, a hammock isn’t much good without a couple of trees to hang the ropes from, right? So, let’s find two trees that are about fifteen feet apart. The fellow in the video says the easiest way to mark that out is to step five large paces.

#2 Get Gear Under Tarp

Of course, this step won’t exist if it is a hot sunny day. But if there are clouds in the sky or it has already started drizzling, be sure to get everything under the tarped area right away to keep things dry.

#3 Nail Polish

You will have already done this at home because you probably tested out the hammock already, so you know how to set it up. But basically, the fellow says to mark the foot end of the hammock. In other words, put a bright color on the string of the carrying case. He feels that if you put the foot a little higher than the head, like twelve inches, you will like that position better and it will be more comfortable.

#4 Remove Straps From Bag

The length of the straps that hold the hammock will depend on how far away the trees are from one another and also, on how wide the tree trunks are. He is using twelve foot straps in this video. At this point, loop one strap around one of the two trees chosen.

#5 Set Carabiner On Loop

What A Carabiner Looks LikeLeave the strap dangling after looping it to the tree. Now make another loop and clip on a carabiner. He makes the loop and carabiner into a marlinspike hitch. This forms a handle of sorts and makes a good solid knot for strength.

#6 Attach Hammock Rope

Example Whoopie SlingMost people refer to the twines or ropes that connect the hammock to the straps as whoopie slings. They were originally used by tree pruners to safely add tension to their harnesses. But, they were quickly adopted by the hiking community since they are lightweight and so tiny in size.

#7 Hold Hammock Tight

Make sure you don’t let the hammock touch the ground when unfolding or getting out of carrying case. You don’t want it all dirty and wet when you finally go to sleep.

#8 Get Second Strap

Now get out the other strap and loop it to the other tree. Make the same loop handle from the carabiner as you did on the other tree. Add the whoopie string in the same fashion as the other tree.

#9 Position of Straps

Remember that if you would like your feet higher than your head, like he does, be sure that the foot end of the hammock has the strap looped higher up on the tree trunk.

#10 Adjust Tension

Adjust your hammock until you have it taut between the trees and at a height that is comfortable for sleeping. Remember, you don’t want any part of it touching the ground and you don’t want it to fall down in the night. You also don’t want it so tight, you can’t get in it.

#11 Lay Diagonal

Laying on the diagonal of your hammock, as opposed to straight head to feet means that you can lay flat which is a better resting position.

#12 Place Bag and Pad

You are going to want your sleeping bag and insulating pad in the hammock for bedtime, but I would suggest you wait until it is time to go to sleep, especially if it is already raining.


When choosing your sleeping gear, make sure you think about what you need before even searching and buying. For example, you want to be able to use the sleeping bag for different treks. That means it needs to be at least rated for ten degrees colder than the coldest destination you expect to visit. At the same time, it needs to be light enough to carry attached to your backpack.

The same is true of the insulating pad. Don’t opt for something that is not compact and cannot easily be wrapped up and strapped to your sack. You also want material that is tear-resistant and durable for the rough outdoors.

We know that when you sleep on a hammock, you don’t necessarily need the same gear as on the ground, but if you can be more comfortable and much warmer, then we figure, hey why not? As long as you buy the models that fit best with hiking, then you may as well have the comfort and enjoy your trip.

Remember, too, that everything on the list does not have to be expensive. You can buy nail polish and tarps at the dollar store and save your money for the more important items.

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