Gut Rumbles

August 02, 2005

sleeping in a hammock

The first time I went backpacking, I did it frontier-style. I picked a spot to sleep, I threw a blanket on the ground and I crawled into my sleeping bag to take my rest. I was totally fucking miserable all night long.

Some kind of root or rock was poking into my ribs, I rolled off my blanket a couple of times and I slept fitfully at best. The next morning, when I was bitching and moaning about my miserable night, Recondo 32 said, "Get a hammock. You can sleep anywhere in one of those as long as you have two trees to tie it to."

He was correct.

You can buy a jungle hammock for about $10.00 at any store that sells camping supplies, and once you learn to pitch one, you'll never want to sleep in anything else again. It's not rocket science, except for the part of getting INTO the hammock and into your sleeping bag at the same time.

I always found two sturdy trees, tied my lines to them and stretched the lines as hard as I could. If you don't tie them tight, your ass will be dragging the ground by morning. Once I had that done, I ran a tarp over where I intended to sleep and hung my pack in a tree.

Even after becoming semi-drunk around a campfire, I learned how to do this: 1) Sit your ass in the hammock and don't fall out. 2) Pull the sleeping bag up to your waist, or higher if you can. 3) Roll into the hammock, without falling out, and then pull the sleeping bag up nice and snug around you.

Trust me, people. You'll sleep like a baby that way.


Every time I've slept in a hammock , I've woken up the next morning with a crook back.

I'll take my swag over a hammock any day. They're also near to waterproof , bugproof , and easier to errect (without running the risk of a rope breakin' or comming undone , just roll it out on a semi flat piece of dirt) while blind drunk.

Posted by: efa on August 3, 2005 03:29 AM

If you've woken up with a crook back, you're not pulling it tight enough.

Hammocks are great. I've used mine everywhere from snoozing by the pool to getting some shut-eye on a 12+ hour flight to theatre on a C-130/C-17.

Some tips - buy about 30' of paracord and four carabiners (cheapo ones without gates are fine). Cut the paracord into two lengths and tie each length into a big loop. That gives you two 7.5-foot extensions so you don't have to worry about finding two trees that are the right distance apart - you can just shorten the paracord by wrapping it around the trunk/branch until you've got it right and then hook the carabiner back onto the cord. Cuts out all that fiddling with knots and loops and worrying about whether your knot's going to slip in the middle of the night and dump you on the ground - snick, snick, you're done.

If you're stringing it from something you can't wrap it around (e.g. cargo hooks in a plane), just knot the cord to the right length.

Also, with this sort of set-up it's easier to pull the hammock taut and hook on the carabiners so there's no slippage. I generally have mine at about stomach/chest height, pulled as tight as I can get it (paracord will support more man's weight, so you can pull as hard as you want without worrying about it breaking).

The first couple of times you string it up, you'll be nervous about trusting your weight to these thin bits of cord but, as long as you've knotted the original loops correctly, it'll be fine.

In cooler weather (or if you're sleeping by the ramp in a Herc), your back and ass can get cold. I'd advise getting a two-layered hammock (mine's a Nomad Tropical) and putting a mat between the layers (I have a Thermarest, which is also v.good for sleeping on the ground). It's easier to use a mat with a two-layered hammock - if you have a single-layered one and you just try putting the mat beneath you, it can go all skew-ways in the middle of the night as you move about and then you have to get up and fix it. Pain in the ass.

I'd advise against a string hammock (despite the fact it'll take up less space than a nylon one)- I tried out a friend's once and didn't find it as comfortable. Also, if if you're wearing combats, your buttons will get all hooked up in it.

Posted by: Jack on August 3, 2005 05:34 AM

Yep, but the last time I tried to fuck in one I wound up on the ground with a nice LBFM on top of me!

Posted by: GUYK on August 3, 2005 08:11 AM

Camping is fun!

Posted by: Kelly on August 3, 2005 08:39 AM

My aunt has one between two of her trees in her yard (she lives in Mich).
One summer while visiting, my son took a 2 hour nap in it. The most relaxing 2 hours of my life!

Posted by: Maeve on August 3, 2005 09:40 AM

That's great if you're going to be sleeping alone..LOL. I'd have to learn that trick sitting next to a guy (my husband) who is a foot taller than me..hahahaha...picture that will ya?

Now that I'm thinking about it that way, I think I'm going to have to go get a hammock now...(evil grin)

Posted by: Kelly on August 3, 2005 11:08 AM

Sleeping in a hammock in cold weather is still better than sleeping on the ground.

Unless you have a damn good insulation layer of blankets and such under you, the ground will leech your body heat in nothing flat.

Posted by: Graumagus on August 3, 2005 09:28 PM

I can doze in a hammock, but I've never been able to sleep in one. I'm a stomach sleeper, and just cannot fall/stay asleep on my back. If there's a way for stomach sleepers to get comfortable in a hammock, I haven't figured it yet.

Posted by: Desert Cat on August 6, 2005 12:10 AM
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