Wild camping is camping out in wild and remote landscapes in contrast to conventional camping sites. This allows campers to connect with the natural landscape in a unique way. Most wild campers enjoy the seclusion of being away from the stresses and worries of modern living.
It has to be said wild camping especially if done solo is an amazing way to relieve stress. This type of camping becomes even more exciting when you use wild camping hammocks.
Wild camping should expose campers to stunning views and enchanted forests allowing them to be in ore of nature. One of the most magical parts about wild camping for me is to enjoy the dawn and dusk times of the day.
These times can expose you to rare wildlife and the beautiful chorus of local bird life. For people who enjoy nature wild camping is a joy for the soul and can become even more intimate with a wild camping hammock.
Why wild camp in a hammock?
Wild camping hammocks can quite simply widen your choice when it comes to finding viable places to camp. Hammocks can be set up over slopes or uneven ground which is imposable when camping in a tent. Being elevated from the floor means you are not hindered by surrounding ground conditions.
Wild camping hammocks keep you up and away from ground dwelling ticks, insects, leaches and snakes. These can be a problem in some climates more than others but nonetheless provides peace of mind.
Camping hammocks have a less visual and physical impact on their surroundings which enables you to blend in better. Most wild campers prefer to become one with nature instead of force themselves upon it. This can provide some excellent opportunities to view rare animals and birds.
Wild camping hammocks are lighter and smaller to pack away than traditional tents. Hammocks can pack down five times smaller than some of the smallest tents giving you extra room in your rucksack. This can be especially useful if you are travelling over large distances and are carrying everything with you.
Better than tents?
There is almost no condensation inside a wild camping hammock unlike with tents. Camping hammocks have a mosquito type net over the top which allows you to breathe through. As hammocks are usually sheltered by tarps there is no risk of packing away moist and soggy camping gear.
Wild camping hammocks can be used easily on places of shallow ground. This is especially useful in rocky environments or slopes where tent pegs are difficult to penetrate. Being elevated off the floor hammocks are a great way to admire stunning views or survey the area around you.
It is important to point out that the main disadvantage with the UK is many upland areas are devoid of trees. Deforestation and grazing means wild campers in Britain may not have enough trees to hoist hammocks and tarps. Good planning however will find perfect places for a wild camping hammock where ever your location.
Wild camping hammocks are quick to set up and quick to pack away which is also great for stealth camping. This point leads on to the fact hammocks force you to refine your gear to become lighter than ever before. This intern enables a diverse range of other activities to enable your wild camping expeditions.
Wild camping hammock activities
Because hammocks give you lighter gear and multiple camping spots there are many other activities you can enjoy alongside camping. This gives you the potential of longer and more action packed camping trips. You may even find a new hobby! We have put together some activity examples that can accompany your wild camping hammock trips.
Finding a location
Sometimes the most difficult part of wild camping is finding a suitable location. The good thing is as the name suggests wild camping is usually a wild affair and most nosey people are in the comfort of their own home. Always try to check the rules and regulations in your area but as long as you stick to these tips you should be just fine:
Don’t pitch up anywhere where there is hunting nearby. You don’t want to take a stray bullet in the middle of the night! Check for local shooting clubs or signs of ammunition in a location.
Try to find somewhere away from paths or where walkers may come through. This can at least prevent an early morning shock.
Set your hammock where your background doesn’t expose your silhouette. This allows you to camp without being bothered. Try to use equipment that blends into its surroundings.
Avoid obvious signs of trespass and no entry, this gives you little excuses if you are found in places you should not be.
Do not enter and camp in places through large gates or doorways in the landscape. You do not want to be locked into a place you cannot escape.
Camp in locations that have some phone signal, this will allow you to make contact in an emergency.
Find a location that will not bother others but allow you to enjoy nature to the maximum.
Sometimes having a nice country pub nearby is also beneficial but always drink in moderation.
Setting up your camping hammock
Setting up your hammock usually takes some practice to master. It is not like some people assume just a matter of finding two trees! There is actually quite a lot to consider when setting up a wild camping hammock.
When seeking the correct support for hammock do not use a tree with a diameter any less than 300 millimetres or 12 inches (1 foot). This prevents the hammock rising and falling too much in wind conditions. This also stops you putting too much force on younger trees which may not be as sturdy. Such caution also reduces the risk of a diseased or weak tree failing in the night.
It is important to remember that it is not just the hammock that will be hoisted up but also a tarp. This will provide you with the correct overhead shelter you will need from the rain. This will come from trial and error but usually having some trees dotted around to the sides is beneficial. This enables fixing the corners of your tarp tight to provide a clean and flush surface.
This will allow rain to run away with no puddles and prevent flapping about in the wind. Many wild campers use para-cord to fix their tarps using adjustable knots such as the double hitch. Bear in mind corners of tarps can become torn when put under too much pressure. I sometimes wrap bungees around trees to allow for extra give in heavy rain and strong winds.
Finding the correct support for your wild camping hammock will take some practice. As ever it is advised to practice with your gear. Trial and error will serve you well when understanding hammock set up.
I cannot emphasise the importance of safety when setting up your wild camping hammock. Sometimes perfectly looking trees are rotting from the inside and less stable than they seem. Sometimes giving a tree trunk a robust thump with a clenched fist can identify a tree feels hollow.
When setting up try to get a gauge of tree health before setting up. Study the bases of trees; try to see any indication that soil is being washed from under the root mass. Assess the general vicinity to see if any trees look unstable or leaning.
Beware of widow makers! Widow makers are branches overhead that could potentially fall on you in the night. Even moderately sized branches can be fatal when falling from height. If there are branches above you that look dead or excessive blooms of fungi stay well away. I would advise stay away from any substantial branches above at all. Every time you think you have found a camping spot, look up and around at all the surrounding trees.
Plan for the worst
Try to pick out all of the potential inevitabilities from the surrounding vegetation. Make an informed decision on if it is safe to camp. When setting up your wild camping hammock try to avoid animal trails of funnel points for large animals. These can be located by noticing compressed lines in the ground.
Sometimes herds of browsers such as cows and dear can be spooked and run along these trails in a panic. If they are in a fluster they may fail to see you and plough straight into you in the night. This is not a likely scenario but get used to identifying sign of animal trails and stay out of the gangway. Try to bear in mind that hammocks are not as a solid block in the landscape as tents.
It’s great that hammocks are not as feared by wildlife as tents but this also goes for predators. If you have bear, wolves or large cats in an area they may be a concern for you. Predators are usually scared of people but a hammock will suspend you in a less threatening mass than a tent. It is always wise to consider this when wild camping in a hammock.
The perfect location for setting up your wild camping hammock can be a bit of a conundrum. It has to be said that the set up location can make or break your camping experience. I know of a particular spot where I can mount my hammock and watch the sun set over a beautiful valley. I love to watch the mist roll over the wooded hillside as the sun starts to go down.
This experience always sends shivers down my spine all the way to my toes when camping. Occasionally I will see deer feeding down in the valley; words simply cannot express how magical this is!
It has to be said that having a great view when in your wild camping hammock is a great advantage. There is nothing like appreciating the sense of scale the landscape gives you. For me this always puts things into perspective.
No matter what life throws your way the trees will always grow and the hills will always cushion the sky. This gets to the very essence of why I love wild camping. When setting up a hammock location try to select a place with a great view to watch the sunset. You will never go back!
The direction of the prevailing wind will be an important factor when setting up your wild camping hammock. If there is one negative side to camping hammocks they are usually made from very thin nylon. This means strong winds can blow up against your body. This can be an issue seeing you are suspended in an exposed position. There are some things you can do to counter act this issue.
Try to position your tarp in a formation so prevailing wind rolls over your position. This can be a very effective way to also stop driving rain coming in at you on an angle. Tarp formation is an important thing to get right and takes a little practice. When starting out just apply some common sense and experience will come through experience. When setting up these locations it is also useful to check what the weather forecast is.
Another way to combat harsh winds on the hammock is to invest in a foil mat. This can act as a thermal barrier between your body and the outside. I find them very effective! You can now also buy products such as camping hammock cocoons and under quilts. These act as protective quilt like tents which go around your wild camping hammock. We have linked to some of these below.
Wild camping hammock accessories
Some people assume all you need for wild camping is a hammock and that’s it. Well this is not true, you will need some other fundamental kit if you intend on hammock camping. If you are already a tent or bivyy camper you may have some of this gear already.
These come in a variety of sizes and are suspended above your hammock to keep you dry. They can also be used to direct prevailing winds away from you.
Bungees are tough elastic cords with metal hooks on the end. These can be used for suspending your tarp. The benefit with these is they can flex in strong winds. This helps to preserve the tarps loops and attachments.
This is most commonly used to pitch up your tarp and is very strong cordage. It is worth learning some knots which will allow you to adjust your tarp without taking it down.
This is a tent which goes around your wild camping hammock
These are very similar to a cocoon but sits on the underside of your hammock. Some of these are designed to come up over the whole hammock.
These can line the inside of your wild camping hammock to create a defensive barrier to cold winds.
A sleeping bag is still very necessary for camping hammocks, well if you want to be warm anyway!
First aid kit
When it comes to comfort with wild camping hammocks there are some mixed reviews. Some people find them uncomfortable and restrictive while others find them extremely comfortable. It sounds to me that they are good for people who like to sleep on their back and sides. Everyone I know who likes to sleep on their front doesn’t seem to find them very comfortable.
Having said this I have not researched this on an extensive level. I guess every wild camper has to be prepared for some discomfort than they get at home. Many people have told me they are better for preventing sore necks and backs. I personally find both tents and hammocks comfortable.
They both have their pros and cons. Sometimes a solution is to buy a double nest hammock and have a more rigid camping mat inside. This will create more of a dome for your sleeping bag to sit in with some extra turning space.
Best wild camping hammocks
Wild camping hammocks are an exciting, quick, easy and an inexpensive way to camp. They can transform the way you wild camp and explore the wild for good. There are some things to learn as you go along with hammocks but they are well worth at least giving a go. This article should outline everything you need for a fun and safe adventure. Enjoy! If you want more information on wild camping why not check out our article on wild camping equipment here.
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