I think I was tougher when I was  kid. Either that or I’ve gotten soft as a middle aged man. When I was younger I loved to go backpacking and camping where we would hike in for miles and there wouldn’t be another camper in sight. We would pitch the tent and unroll our down-filled sleeping bags. When it came time to go to bed I would crawl in and be asleep in minutes. No foam or inflatable pads.

I still love to go camping, but I can’t sleep on the ground anymore. Apparently the ground has gotten harder in the last 35 years since I was a kid. Now that I’m a little older I use an inflatable therma-rest pad that gives me about an inch of cushion. But when it was time to go to bed I would crawl into my sleeping bag and, lo and behold, there would be a rock about the size of my fist right between my shoulder blades. Funny that I hadn’t seen that rock when I was putting up the tent.

Then one day I was perusing an REI catalog looking at the camping gear. I’m like a kid when I’m in the REI store, and I love it when the catalog comes. Anyway, as I was looking through the catalog I came across something that has made me love camping again – a camping hammock! Eureka! No more rocks betwen the shoulder blades. No more sleepless nights camping!

I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of a camping hammock years before. Maybe because I had always camped the same way, and always slept in a tent, and of course you can’t sleep in a hammock and sleep in a tent too, or so I thought! They have camping hammock accessories! Rain-flys and mosquito covers!

If you are a backpacker, or a tailgate camper (which is what I am nowadays) a camping hammock is certainly an option for getting a good night’s sleep. Hammocks are lightweight and portable so packing one along on your next camping trip is easy and convenient.

So what type of hammock is the best for camping? A camping hammock should be portable, lightweight, and easy to hang between a couple of trees. The best camping hammocks are made of high-strength, breathable woven nylon with triple interlocking stitching, and feature marine-grade line with metal snap links so that you can securely attach it to trees or whatever else you can find. I personally think that camping hammocks have some advantages over tents. They cost less, they pack up smaller, they are lighter, they are quicker to set up, and they are far more comfortable than sleeping on the ground.

If you’re thinking about buying a camping hammock here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Nylon woven hammocks are more comfortable than rope hammocks, and they dry very quickly.
  • Buy a good quality rain-fly. This is your shelter and in rainy weather you will be glad you have one.
  • Get a bug/mosquito net to keep the insects out. These pack up the size of a grapefruit and are light-weight.
  • Size matters. Camping hammocks come in double sized versions and are more stable.  They also provide additional space to store your other gear.
  • Bring along additional, sturdy rope. This gives you more options as to where you can hang your hammock.
  • Bring the tent anyway – it’s a great place to store your gear.

If you bring a hammock with you the next time you go camping I can promise you you’ll get the best night sleep you’ve had camping since you were a kid!