3+ Tips for Hammock Beginners

The romantic lure of a hammock will never die. It is the ultimate bed, tent and lounger wrapped into a neat, portable package. Modern build materials have turned hammocks into an ever greater asset for campers and hikers. Newer hammocks are made from ultra lightweight synthetics that are also comfortable and packable. What’s not to love?

For hammock beginners, it’s common to make mistakes. And yes, that may be especially true when using the slightly more complicated—but way cooler—3-point anchor system. So let’s dig in to a few rookie errors in hammocking, and how to avoid them.


Distance

Hammock tips for beginners

You can stretch a hammock quite a ways, but we don’t recommend more than 18 feet. At that point, your bed will be too taut and you may run into some common problems. First, you may find that when you climb inside a typical hammock (not those old ropes ones in your grandma’s yard) the sides will creep up. This creates claustrophobia and for most people, shoulder syndrome. What is shoulder syndrome? Simply put, it’s when you can't move or relax your shoulders, which gives you the uncomfortable feeling of being boxed in or trapped.

To avoid feeling like a mummy, make sure your hammock has plenty of give and slack. This means usually hanging it substantially less than 18 feet end-to-end. Although, Tentsile's 3-point anchor system avoids this problem all together.


Height

Get it right and you’ll climb in with ease. Get it wrong, and it’ll remind you of climbing into a canoe. Too high means you’ll need a stepladder to get in and out of it. Too low leads to butt dragging. You’ll need to play around with this one, as your height is also a factor.

We recommend re-rigging your hammock if the height is wrong. Don’t settle for something that isn't comfortable or doesn't feel safe.


Size Matters

3 Person Hammock

We recommend that most people consider purchasing a hammock that is one size larger than you might think you need. The exception to that is if you plan on exclusively doing solo hammocking. A larger one is far more versatile and, especially with our snazzy 3-anchor system, is fantastic for group lounging. It doesn’t require any more time or effort to set up, plus with friends around to help, the set up goes twice as fast.


A Strapping Young Hammock

Straps will come in several varieties. For 2-anchor systems, you’ll have a sturdy webbing that can be placed around any tree or post. This is usually a 2-4” flat strap with a loop or metal ring at the end for securing it back on itself.

The best approach here is to read the instructions. If there are no instructions then google “hammock strap set up” and go from there. But this part is pretty intuitive.

For a 3-anchor hammock, you’ll get straps plus a ratchet system which allows you to tighten the hammock very taught. These style hammocks are like floating floors and meant to feel more like a non/less-bouncy trampoline.


Bonus Tips: Staying Warm while Slacking

Hammock air pad mattress

To avoid the mummy (or snug shoulder syndrome), give your hammock "bed" plenty of slack, then lie across it. This way, you can sit in a slack set-up, or lie down flat. Some people call this “getting a flat lay.” (You can also achieve this with a higher-end, 3-anchor hammock). Since you’ve set up your new 2-point anchor system hammock with some slack and are laying at an angle. The hammock itself is curvy, like a sling, but you are not. You’ll be able to sleep on your side or back.

Hammocks were originally made for jungle environments, so in colder weather you'll need extra help. Your two best friends in this regard are an inflatable mattress pad and a top quilt and under quilt (aka an inner sheet). Instead of using the awkward sleeping bag liner (great for other occasions but not with hammocks) and under quilt will insulate you from condensation build-up that happens with sleeping pads. And the over quilt is easy to use and replaces the usual sleeping bag liner.

Follow these easy tips and you'll be enjoying nights under the stars, sleeping at an angle, shoulders free, with a flat lay, in no time!

November 29, 2020 — Ryan W

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