We've grown acquainted with the backyard (maybe a little too much) over the past few months. Every corner of the yard investigated, every blade of grass counted, and no stone left unturned. You’ve become the park ranger of your terrain. So, why not take this opportunity to learn a new skill – learn to hammock camp in the backyard.
Across any outdoor activity, it’s best practice to give your gear a test run before heading into the great outdoors. Imagine if you arrive at your campsite when it’s dark, raining, or right after a tiring drive, you’ll be frustrated as you attempt to rig your system for the first time. There is no better space like the backyard to master new skills and bring confidence for days ahead in the backcountry.
Whether you’re an avid tent camper wanting to give hammocks a go, or dipping your toes into camping for the first time, give yourself a test run in a familiar and safe environment. Plus, if it turns out hammock camping isn’t for you (we highly doubt it as the hammock people we are), your bedroom is just a few steps away. Let’s get started.
Backyard role call
Before we talk about the not-so nitty-gritty details of hammocks, let’s talk about the anchor points where you will hang a hammock. Take inventory of your backyard for tall sturdy structures that can safely support your weight. You’re looking for a pair of live trees or sturdy posts about 12-15 feet apart. Since you're in your backyard, don't hesitate to take out the measuring tape to get a feel for the distance. If you don't have a pair of trees, you can also hang between two car racks or between a car rack and a tree.
Shopping for the essentials
A hammock and a pair of straps are the bare essentials to get camp off the ground. It’s as simple as that. You can take it to the next level with bug protection, weather shelters, and hammock insulations, but we’ll focus on just the essentials for this blog.
Essential #1 Hammock
When shopping for a hammock, you’ll want to look at the material and weight capacity for strength and durability. Aim for ripstop nylon fabrics. If your hammock gets a small hole, ripstop will prevent additional tearing so your hammock doesn’t shred like string cheese.
You’ll also want to take into consideration the size of the hammock for comfort. The right hammock size is a matter of individual preference. Hammocks come in multiple sizes and most people will have no problem finding a comfortable fit.
One last thing to consider when shopping for a hammock is the modularity capabilities for adding creature comfort accessories like under quilts, sleeping pads, etc. All the hammocks listed above have integrated loops lining the fabric edge, making it possible to attach accessories. You may not need these loops for your first test run in the backyard, but you’ll be glad to have them in the backcountry.
Essential #2 Hammock straps
When researching hammock straps, you’ll see the term “hammock suspension system” come up a lot. This simply refers to how a hammock hangs between anchor points, aka the straps and carabiners (sometimes toggles) that connect the hammock to the straps. It’s good to note not every hammock brand provides carabiners, which is why you’ll see carabiners included in some strap packages. If you’re picking up any Kammok hammock you won’t have to worry about this.
- Strap style: You’ll see all sorts of shapes and sizes from rope to flat webbing. Ropes require knot tying skills and due to the thin characteristics of their design, they tend to cut into tree trunks. We recommend flat webbing straps to evenly distribute weight on the tree and they do not require knots. Webbing straps are easy to use and great for first-time hammockers.
- Strap length: Hammock straps are typically sold in a pair, two individual straps in a single package. You’ll want to look at the length of each strap and the combined length. We recommend 10ft straps (a combined length of 20ft) for the most common setup. If your anchor points are very far apart or very wide in diameter, you could increase the strap length with extenders or opt for longer straps.
- Strap attachment points: Hammock straps have several loops along the strap to clip in a carabiner. The more points of attachment, the better control you’ll have in setting the optimal hang angle.
- Weight capacity: The weight capacity of your straps is just as important as your hammock. Your straps should at least match or go above the weight capacity limit as your hammock.
Setting up your hammock
Step #1 - Find the perfect spot: Great job! You already scouted the backyard for the perfect anchor points to hang your hammock. The ideal anchors are 12-15 feet apart and sturdy to hold your weight. For a Roo Single, a shorter hammock, the ideal distance is 10-13ft. For a Roo Double XL, a longer hammock, the ideal distance is 13-15ft. For this example, we’ll refer to the anchor points as trees.
Step #2 - Putting up the straps: The ideal height to hang each strap is at eye level or higher. The widest end of the straps should rest around the tree. To hang, feed the narrow end of the strap through the opening of the wide end.
Step #3 - Attaching the hammock: With the carabiner attached to your hammock, clip the carabiner into one of the attachment points on your strap. Repeat on the other side. The goal is to have the lowest point of your hammock hang no more than 18 inches off the ground, roughly shin height. This may take a couple of tries since it’s your first time, but once you’ve got it down, next time will be a breeze.
Step #4 - Get in: We recommend weight testing with your arms before jumping in. Push down firmly on the hammock and make any adjustments if needed. Once everything looks and feels good, you’re clear to get in.
A final word of advice for backyard campers
Going hammock camping in the backyard is as simple as owning a hammock and pair of straps. You can take it to the next level with bug protection, weather shelters, and hammock insulations, but if you don’t have that gear, that shouldn’t stop you from trying something new. Add warmth by using a sleeping bag you already have or pull the sheets off the bed. Check the forecast to camp on a clear night to eliminate the need for a weather shelter. Plus, you'll be able to stargaze without a shelter over your head. By using what you have and checking the weather beforehand, you don’t have to go all-in acquiring the additional gear until you’re ready. Start small in the backyard and work your way up to camp in the backcountry.