Bushcraft | Wild Camping

Hammock Camping

Hanging a hammock between two trees in a forest under a tarp, climbing in and curling up nice and snug can lead to the most comfortable night’s sleep.

Cocooned in your little woodland nest, nice and warm with your under-blanket you’ll wake to a cuckoo, owl or woodpecker to keep you company for the next hour before you really must get out.

You’ll get closer to nature when you hang from two sturdy trees in woodland, what you see and hear will always make you smile.

Pitching your hammock

This will be a bit different to tent camping let me tell you. Camping trips and your camping experiences will change forever! When do you ever sleep hanging?

Get in the habit of hanging your hammock tarp first. If it was raining this would be obvious. Make sure your ridge line is taught so the tarpaulin doesn’t blow around with any breeze and any deadfall from the trees you’re hanging from will be deflected. Beech is a bugger for dead branches just waiting for a bit of wind.

When you’re sleeping in a hammock you don’t want it raised too high off the ground. You want to be sitting down into it like a camping chair slowly as to not rip anything and so you can get out easily. To position it at this height you should play around with the position of the hammock suspension straps on the trees, which should be at the same height as each other.

You can replace the karibiners with twigs when hanging your tarp.You can replace the karibiners with twigs when hanging your tarp.
You can replace the karibiners with twigs when hanging your tarp.

If you use the DD suspension kit everything is very easy. Practice lengthening and shortening the whoopie slings before you head out into the woods.

Look into fitting your own ‘structural ridge line’, this will not only give you something to hook your bug net on but it will change the shape of the hammock by shallowing the angle of the suspension (should be about 30 degrees) and allowing a decent hang, making your position inside nicer. Shug made a good video, have a look…

Getting Into Your Hammock

Gently does it. If you go for the ultralight option in your hang you really don’t want to be bouncing around in it, take things slow and relax, the last thing you want in the middle of the night is something breaking or ripping, it’s quite shocking when you’re dropped onto the ground even from 18 inches or so, I know!

Sit down into the hammock and then turn, the experience isn’t like you would see in a Carry On film, you may gently rock but the material will hug you, part of the beauty actually. Most people lie in line with the hammock at first but I would recommend you try lying diagonally, you’re a little flatter and end up more comfortable, takes a little getting used to but you should work your way into the best position as you sleep time and again.

Keeping Warm Hanging In The Woods

Camping in cold weather will have it’s challenges.

To stay warm while wild camping you really need to eat as late as you can, your gut is what will produce ALL of the heat during the night. If you want to stop this heat from escaping you need insulation. Of course, usually you will think of a sleeping bag but when you’re sleeping on, a squashing the down or synthetic material it won’t insulate you very well.

Hammock camp at Cathedral Cavern
Hammock camp at Cathedral Cavern

Hanging an underquilt on the underneath of your hammock stops it from being compressed and so keeps the heat where you want it. A mat just moves around and escapes.

Where Can I Camp?

Wild camping for the first time in a tent you can get up into the mountains and not see a soul. You wake at 6 and think ‘Nobody will be up here until 9’. Things are different when there’s trees.

Camping in the woods means people might be nearby so if you’re properly wild camping without permission you really want to keep away from the beaten track.

Hammock camping in the woods by Cathedral Cavern, Lake DistrictHammock camping in the woods by Cathedral Cavern, Lake District
Hammock camping in the woods by Cathedral Cavern, Lake District

Of course, there are plenty of small woodlands that are open for a camp, take a look on social media and you’ll soon find somewhere not too far away. A quick search in a wild camping or bushcraft group for ‘where can I camp?’ or something similar will soon reveal a few sites.

Just like camping in a tent, if you pitch without getting a nod from the land owner you are trespassing. If you are asked to move on just do it and half an hour later try somewhere else. Don’t cause any hassle or give anyone reason follow you or keep looking out for you.

What If It’s Windy Or The Weather Is Bad?

Play around with different tarp set ups. Your tarpaulin is there to protect you from the elements, this includes wind as well as rain, you rarely see photos of a tarp acting like a wind break because the trees do such a good job but it you’re at the edge of woodland or by the beach your practice may come in valuable.

The rain on your tarp of course is beautiful and will shake off easily in the morning, all your other camping gear will be dry and put away so a waterproof bag might come in handy for the only thing wet!

Hammock Camping Kit List

Here’s my list for the full kit:

Shelter

  • DD Superlight 3×3 Tarp (or DD Tarp 3×3)
  • DD Cord 10m (or 550 paracord)
  • DD Mini Karabiners x 10 (or utilise twigs)

Hammock

  • DD Frontline Hammock (best value with a mosquito net)
  • DD Complete Whoopie Suspension System (great value instead of making up your own)
  • DD Hammock Sleeve (convenient but not essential)
  • DD Underblanket (a good investment or use some old sleeping bag in the hammock’s slip)

Replacing knots with twigs on the tarp suspension.Replacing knots with twigs on the tarp suspension.
Replacing knots with twigs on the tarp suspension.

You can replace the karibiners with twigs when hanging your tarp.

Hanging in Dodd Wood, Lake District.Hanging in Dodd Wood, Lake District.
Hanging in Dodd Wood, Lake District.

You’ll obviously need a sleeping bag or quilt but don’t leave out the insulation underneath. For me the underblanket is perfect because your when your sleeping position is across the hammock, corner to opposite corner,you’re flatter and more comfortable. A sleeping pad in the Frontline’s slip goes wonky and is a pain in the neck.

Hammock hang under the stars.Hammock hang under the stars.
Hammock hang under the stars.

Get Out There

The best night’s sleep I ever got was in a hammock. They’re very comfortable. You’ll love it.

Sat around the camp fire on a hammock camp in the Forest of BowlandSat around the camp fire on a hammock camp in the Forest of Bowland
Sat around the camp fire on a hammock camp in the Forest of Bowland

Being out in the forest is amazing.

The Hammock Wild Camping Experience gives you the chance to try out hammock camping and in the fortnight before I teach you everything you need to know about wild camping to get you started, we might even cook over a real fire. I’ll also lend you all the above kit for the night if you don’t have your own, show you what you’ll need and how to use it all.

Why not come and hang out with me in the Lakes, the Forest of Bowland or Snowdonia?

Happy hangin’.

Why not read my Introduction To Wild Camping?