- Hammock camping
Hammock camping is a form of sleep
campingin which the camper sleeps in a suspended hammockrather than a conventional tentupon the ground, although some camping hammocks can be set up on the ground when supports are unavailable. In foul weather, a tarpaulinor tarp is suspended above the hammock to keep the rain off of the camper. Mosquito netting, sometimes integral to the camping hammock itself, is also used as climatic conditions warrant.
The hammock was developed in Pre-Columbian Latin America and continues to be produced widely throughout the region, including among the Urarina of the Peruvian Amazon. Though it is unknown who invented the hammock, many maintain that it was a device created out of tradition and need., "hammock" comes from the word "hamaca" a
TainoIndian word which means 'thrown fishing net'. On long fishing trips, the Indians would sleep in their nets, safe from snakes and other dangerous creatures.
Why camp in a hammock?
Hammock camping enthusiasts argue that hammocks don't harm the environment in the way that conventional tents do. Most hammocks attach to trees via removable
webbingstraps which don't damage the bark and leave little or no marks afterward. Whereas it's easy to see a frequently-used campground because of the effect on the grass, scrub and topsoil, the presence of a hammock camping pitch is much harder to detect. This has found favour with hikers and campers who follow the principles of Leave No Tracecamping. Hammock camping also opens up many more sites for campers - stony ground, slopes, and so on - as well as keeping them off the ground and away from small animals, reptiles and insects.
One of the benefits of hammock camping, however, can also be a significant drawback. A suspended hammock allows for a cooling air flow to surround the camper in hot weather but that also makes it harder to stay warm when temperatures plummet during the evening and seasonally. In addition, the camper's weight compresses the sleeping bag under them reducing its ability to trap air and provide insulation. A number of solutions have been found for the "cold backside" problem, most notably to suspend a quilt under the hammock. Some hammocks have been designed with an extra layer of fabric, or a series of large pockets, on the bottom. Insulating material, such as foam, quilting, or even dead leaves and brush from the campsite is stuffed between the bottom layers or inside the bottom pockets to create an insulating buffer between the camper and the cold outside air. Nonetheless, the above solutions, except for the found materials, add weight and bulk to the hammock thereby reducing its desirability.
Commercial tent hammocks
Although many hammock tents are homemade there are also a number of commercial ones on the market that do an excellent job. In the photograph on the right you can see the hammock itself which includes a sewn in mosquito net to keep out biting insects. This particular model features a bottom-entry system - a slit that runs along the bottom for half its length, secured by
Velcro. Rip open the Velcro, stand up inside the hammock, sit down on the other half of the hammock and then lean back and bring up your legs. The Velcro snaps shut behind you. To exit the hammock, you lean forward, tear open the Velcro, put both feet on the ground and stand up. Such bottom-entry hammocks are, however, more difficult than side-entry models to set up on the ground when necessary. Another drawback is finding two trees which are a suitable distance apart.
* [http://www.hammockforums.net/ "Hammock Forums"] , One of the best online support sites to learn about camping with hammocks
* [http://www.tothewoods.net/HammockCamping.html "Just Jeff's Hammock Camping Page"] , Info on how to stay warm and dry, DIY hammock projects
* [http://hikinghq.net/hammock/hammock.html "Sgt. Rock's Hiking HQ"] , Excellent hammock camping resource. Lots of links to other hammock sites
* [http://www.imrisk.com/ "Risk's Hiking Page"] , DIY gear, including a $10 TestHammock to see if hammock camping is for you
* [http://www.theplacewithnoname.com/hiking/index.html "The Place With No Name"] , Shane Steinkamp's hiking page, with info and videos about using a Hennessy Hammock
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