By Emily Moskal and Cyrus Harp
You can’t get closer to the outdoors than sleeping in a hammock. Hammocks are versatile and light, weigh less than a tent or bivy sack and eliminate the need to find flat, clear, dry ground. This ultra-minimalist way to sleep outdoors offers views far prettier than a tent wall.
Hammocks are great not only for backpacking trips but also day trips like picnics or stream fishing. You can hang out in spots that would be otherwise impossible, like along a burbling creek or up in the canopy of a tree. Once you find your spot, stringing up the hammock takes only a couple of minutes.
Sleeping tip: Position yourself diagonally in the hammock (rather than in the middle), so your spine can lie flat, enabling you to sleep more comfortably. Hang your backpack and other gear at the head end of your hammock for easy access. (Compensate for the weight when tying that end’s anchor.)
Always follow the weight limits of your hammock, cordage and carabiners. If your hammock gets a rip or hole, it may be time to retire it or have it stitched.
• Parachute-material hammock – Cotton and nylon string hammocks are common, but parachute material is lightest, relative to strength.
• Webbing or cordage – Two lengths, each about equal to the length of your hammock.
• Rain fly – Doubles as sun shade, or rig a poncho or small tarp with some extra cordage.
• Mosquito net – Because, insects.
• Bedroll – For really cold weather, attach it to the outside of the hammock. Insulation is less effective when compressed.
Picking the Spot
Always test the strength of the anchor before applying all your weight. One easy rule of thumb: If the tree or branch is thicker than your thigh, with green leaves, it’s safe for your weight. You can also attach a hammock to multiple smaller branches.
Hammock cords can damage trees — for repeated use, place something soft, like a towel, between the cord and the bark.
Hang It Up
Adjustable slings make setup quick and easy.
If you don’t have those:
• Attach cordage to each end of your hammock. Carabiners can be used
for quick attachment.
• Wrap the cord twice around the first tree anchor, but don’t knot it yet.
• Walk the other end over to the second tree and
make another double wrap.
• Use enough tension to make the hammock a banana-shaped crescent.
• Adjust the tree wraps until the ends are at the same height, then knot both using a bowline.
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