Complete Hammock Camping Checklist for Beginners

Updated Jul 22, 2023

Hammock camping: it’s an experience like no other, a blend of comfort and simplicity, nature’s rocking chair nestled among the trees. As someone who has spent countless nights cradled in a hammock under the stars, I can say without a shadow of doubt that it is an adventure worth experiencing.

Hammock camping offers a unique way to engage with the outdoors. It allows you to set up camp in places where traditional tents wouldn’t stand a chance – rocky grounds, sloped terrain, and yes, even over a babbling brook if you so desire! It also offers superior comfort, eliminating the hard and often uneven surface beneath your sleeping bag. But perhaps the real magic lies in the sense of connection it fosters. Suspended between trees, caressed by the wind, one truly feels a part of the ecosystem.

However, as liberating and exhilarating as hammock camping can be, stepping into this world as a beginner requires guidance. It’s essential to pack right and understand what you need to maximize the experience while ensuring safety and comfort.

With years of hammock camping under my belt, I’ve had my fair share of trial and error in figuring out the ideal gear list. My experiences have honed my packing list to a tried-and-true selection of essentials that I’m excited to share with you.

Whether you’re planning a weekend getaway or embarking on an extended backcountry expedition, this complete hammock camping checklist for beginners will equip you with all the necessary knowledge and tools to ensure your first hammock camping trip is a resounding success. Let’s dive in!

Essential Hammock Camping Gear

Here are some must-haves for hammock camping:

  • A quality hammock: This is the foundation of your setup. Look for one that is durable, comfortable, and easy to setup.
  • A sturdy suspension system: Straps or ropes that attach your hammock to trees or other anchors. Make sure they are strong and adjustable.
  • Tarp or cover: You’ll need some type of cover for your hammock, such as a tarp of hammock cover. It should be waterproof so that it keeps you dry even if it rains.
  • Insulation: This can be an underquilt or a sleeping pad inside your hammock. This piece of gear should be well-suited for whatever temperatures you plan on encountering.
  • Sleeping Gear: Bring along a quality sleep setup that includes a sleeping bag, pillow, and a bag liner.
  • Mosquito net: Protect yourself from bugs with a net that covers your hammock. Get uninterrupted sleep without worrying about bug bites.
  • Gear Organizer: Since you can’t really take any gear inside like a regular camping tent, make sure you have something that stores your gear like an undercarriage bag.
  • Other Essentials: You’ll also need everything else for your camping experience like ways to cook food, toiletries, and much more. See below for more details.


At the heart of every hammock camping trip is, of course, the hammock itself. When choosing a hammock, look for one that is sturdy, lightweight, and easy to pack. It should be able to support your weight comfortably, and made of durable material that can withstand outdoor conditions. For beginners, I recommend a double-layered hammock for added strength and stability. Size also matters; your hammock should be long and wide enough to allow for comfortable sleeping positions, preferably on a diagonal angle, which provides the best lay for your back.

We really love this ENO Shelter System – they’re our go-to brand for hammocks.

Suspension System

A good suspension system is crucial for hanging your hammock securely. It consists of straps and carabiners or hooks that attach to your hammock and wrap around trees. When selecting a suspension system, look for tree-friendly straps that are wide enough (usually around 1 inch) to avoid damaging the bark. The straps should also be adjustable to accommodate different distances and tree diameters. The strength of your suspension system should be tested to handle at least twice your body weight for safety.

Tarp or Rain Cover

A tarp or rain cover is essential for protecting you from the elements. Rain or morning dew can quickly turn a pleasant camping experience into a soggy one. Your tarp should be large enough to cover your hammock completely but light enough to pack easily. I recommend choosing a tarp with multiple tie-out points for flexibility in setup, as weather conditions can change quickly in the outdoors. Most hammock tents will come with one, but not all of them do so it’s easily purchased separately as well.


Even on seemingly warm nights, the air beneath your hammock can get chilly, which is why insulation is a must. There are two main types of hammock insulation: underquilts and sleeping pads. Underquilts (like this one) hang underneath your hammock and provide excellent insulation, while sleeping pads (like this one) go inside your hammock. Both have their merits, but underquilts tend to be more effective at maintaining warmth as they cover a wider area and eliminate the risk of slipping off the pad.

Mosquito Mesh

No one likes waking up with bug bites, so a mosquito mesh (or bug net) is another essential item. Some hammocks come with an integrated bug net, but if yours doesn’t, you can easily purchase one separately. Make sure the mesh is fine enough to keep out tiny insects and that it encloses your hammock fully to prevent any unwelcome visitors during the night.

Gear Organizer

Staying organized while camping is key, and this is where a gear organizer comes in handy. These are usually small hanging pouches or pockets where you can store essentials like your flashlight, water bottle, or phone within easy reach. Some hammocks come with built-in pockets, but there are also standalone organizers that can be hung on the ridgeline.

Sleeping Gear

Last but certainly not least, don’t forget your sleeping gear. This typically includes a sleeping bag and a pillow. A good sleeping bag is essential for warmth. Opt for a model that suits the lowest temperature you expect to encounter. Inflatable camping pillows are a good option as they offer good support and are easy to pack. Remember, while hammocks are comfortable by nature, the quality of your sleep will greatly impact your overall camping experience, so invest in good sleeping gear.

Other Essential Gear

Outside of the essentials you need specifically for your hammock, you’ll also need everything else for camping. This includes kitchen utensils, cookware, a headlamp and lightning, proper clothing, toiletry items, bug spray, and so much more. Check out our complete list of camping essentials to get a free checklist of everything you could possibly need.

Safety and Emergency Equipment

When hammock camping, safety is key. Having the right gear is important for emergencies. Here are three essentials for your gear list:

  • First Aid Kit: Bandages, antiseptic ointment, pain relievers, and more.
  • Emergency Shelter: A tarp or bivy sack can help in bad weather or if your hammock fails.
  • Communication Device: Cell phone, two-way radios, GPS device, or locator beacon for remote areas.

Leave No Trace Practices

Follow Leave no Trace principles at all times: Pack it in, pack it out! Bring a trash bag and leave the campsite better than you found it. Stick to designated trails – don’t trample on delicate flora and fauna. Respect wildlife – keep a safe distance and don’t feed them.

Minimize campfire impacts – use existing fire rings or designated pits. Don’t build new pits and fully extinguish flames before leaving. This helps preserve nature for future generations.


It’s clear: having the right gear is key for a successful outdoor experience. Invest in quality items such as sturdy hammocks, bug nets, and rain tarps. Don’t forget insulation like underquilts or sleeping pads – this keeps you warm and cozy. Plus, consider tree straps or carabiners to hang your hammock securely.

When packing for your trip, opt for lightweight and compact items. Try hammocks with storage pockets or tarps that can be used as covers.

A story to consider: a couple set out on their first hammock camping trip, forgetting their bug net. They spent the night battling mosquitoes instead of relaxing! This taught them to double-check their gear list prior to embarking on any journey.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are the must-haves for hammock camping?

The essential gear for hammock camping includes a hammock (with straps), a rainfly, a sleeping bag or quilt, a pillow, a bug net, insulation (such as an underquilt or sleeping pad), and a headlamp.

2. Do I need a special hammock for camping?

Yes, it is recommended to use a hammock specifically designed for camping. These hammocks usually have durable fabrics, built-in bug nets, and sturdy suspension systems with straps for easy setup.

3. What type of sleeping gear is suitable for hammock camping?

For hammock camping, it is best to use a sleeping bag or quilt that is compatible with your preferred sleeping position in the hammock. Ensure it provides enough insulation and comfort for the expected temperatures.

4. How important is a rainfly for hammock camping?

A rainfly is crucial for keeping you dry during inclement weather. It provides protection against rain and wind, ensuring a comfortable and dry camping experience.

5. Can I use a hammock without a bug net?

While a bug net is not mandatory, it is highly recommended. It prevents insects, mosquitoes, and bugs from bothering you while you sleep, making your camping trip more enjoyable.

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About the Author

Hey there!

We are Derek and Ashley of Know Nothing Nomads. Whether it is hiking, camping, climbing, or just generally being outside, we love it. We are so happy that you have found our little blog and hope that you stick around a while.

Safe Travels,

Derek and Ashley


Know Nothing Nomads

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