The Hammock’s Humble Beginning:
So you want to spend a few days in nature to unwind and reset… or maybe you just need a quick afternoon nap in between your busy workday. Whatever the reason may be, hammocks have proven to be a popular leisure activity for nature-lovers and city-dwellers alike. But long before we adopted hammocks for our personal use, Hammocks first provided a very practical use. The indigenous people of Central America are estimated to have used hammocks as early as 1,000 years ago! Not such a new fad after all, huh? These hammocks were first invented to ward against snakes, insects and other poisonous creatures that lurked in the shadows below. It wasn’t until Christopher Columbus discovered hammocks by the Taino people of the Bahamas around 1492 that he later introduced the new way of sleeping to Europe. Because of its space-saving feature, sailors began using hammocks throughout World War I, World War II, the Civil War and even through the Vietnam War. Although different adaptations emerged by using various materials, the first hammocks were made of bark from the Hamack Tree. The original term was coined as “hamacas” in the Taino Language. Through translation, we now know the glorious lounging apparatus as a hammock.
A New Kind of Camping:
Although they were once vital to a way of living, we now use hammocks more recreationally for hammock camping, suspending the fabric between two trees. Camping has become a widespread activity to escape everyday materialism and connect back to our roots. Throughout history we’ve been using different types of tents to provide shelter from the world around us. But recently, nylon hammocks have become a popular choice instead. Their portability and ease of use provide a useful alternative to a typical tent. ENO Hammocks and Grand Trunk Hammocks have become leaders in the industry, offering lightweight, stylish hammocks for hikers on the go. Whether you would like to share your hammock with a friend or have it all to yourself, you can choose between a double hammock and a single hammock. But before you set up your sleeping gear, there are a few vital tips you need to know.
Tip #1: Make Sure the Campsite Allows Hammocks
Because of its now widespread use, hammocks have become restricted in some areas. Without adequate knowledge on proper setup, hammock use has infringed upon certain wildlife areas. So before you start your weekend adventure, make sure to spend some time researching areas that allow such use. Nothing ruins a nice weekend like a big, fat fine in your bank account!
Tip #2: Find a Campsite with Minimal Ground Cover
One of the most important tips for hammock users is to make sure that you are setting up in an area that either looks like a previous campsite, or naturally has little plant growth on the forest floor. There’s nothing more disrespectful than destroying precious plant life while you invade their environment. Be respectful of your fellow forest friends and avoid a lush space.
Tip #3: Look for Thick, Older Trees
This tip is crucial. Because of the lack of knowledge surrounding this point, fines have been set in place on certain college campuses. Students who have not been conscious on where they are setting up their hammocks have ripped down young trees. Try looking for trees at least a foot in diameter and do not hang your hammock from a dead tree!
Tip #4: Use Webbing Straps
Webbing Straps, or tree hugger straps, are a great alternative to rope or ties around tree trunks. Nylon webbing is safe for trees and will prevent any harm to the bark once you put your weight in the hammock. The last thing we would want is any harm to our giant friends!
Tip #5: Pitch the Straps at About 30 Degrees
Believe it or not, there is a legit science to hanging a hammock. There’s many different factors that determine how your hammock will hang. The suspension length describes the length of the straps from the tree trunk to the hammock, while the ridgeline length is simply the length of the spread out hammock. Your weight is also a factor, as is the height of the hammock off of the ground. But before we get too technical, a rule of thumb to start with is attaching your straps around the tree trunk at a 30-degree angle to ensure ultimate comfort. This ensures that you can lay on a diagonal in your hammock, resting flat and comfortable. Another tip is to make sure both straps are of equal length on each tree!
Tip #6: Invest in Protective Gear
No matter where you reside, weather can unexpectedly become pretty gnarly. On a hot summer day, temperatures can rapidly drop, freezing your buns as the air gushes underneath your hammock. Not cool! A simple solution is to come prepared with a Sleeping Pad to be put inside your camping hammock. Just as the indigenous people of the Caribbean lit small fires underneath their hammocks, you can stay warm too (in a safer, more efficient way)! And for other conditions such as rain or annoying insects, look into bringing a Rain Cover or Bug Net to prepare for any condition that may come your way.
Tip #7:Pick Up Your Campsite and Leave it as you Found it
If you take away anything from this article, remember this tip! Nothing is worse than going out for a hike in nature and stumbling upon empty bottles, dingy wrappers and other pieces of garbage. It’s called trash for a reason – because it belongs in the trash! Please be mindful of how you leave your campsite and pick up your belongings before returning home. Leave No Trace is an awesome resource for understanding the ethics of outdoor recreation. They have devised seven important principles to follow while you’re out on the trail or even in your backyard. One of their guidelines is to of course dispose of waste properly and leave your campsite as you found it: natural and untouched. After following these guidelines and the tips outlined above, you’re ready to embark on the wonderful world of hammocking!