Hammock Camping In a Thunderstorm: Is it SAFE?

Updated Jul 22, 2023

When a thunderstorm is looming, many outdoor enthusiasts question whether it’s safe to remain in their hammocks or if it’s time to pack up and head for safer grounds. The question is: Is hammock camping in a thunderstorm safe? It is safer than a regular tent? The short answer is, it can be, but with several important precautions.

In comparison to regular tent camping, hammock camping doesn’t necessarily offer more or less safety. The safety of hammock camping during a thunderstorm, much like tent camping, depends on the measures you take to prepare and protect yourself from potential hazards.

In this article, we will delve into the considerations and steps you should take if you find yourself hammock camping with a thunderstorm on the horizon. From choosing the right location to understanding how to respond when the storm hits, we will guide you through the do’s and don’ts to help ensure your safety. The beauty of nature often comes hand in hand with its might; understanding how to respect and navigate these forces is an integral part of the outdoor experience. Let’s explore this further.

Best Practices for Staying Safe in a Hammock During Thunderstorm

Staying safe while hammock camping during a thunderstorm involves a combination of smart planning, taking the right actions at the right times, and carrying the correct equipment. Remember, safety should always be your primary concern when camping, regardless of whether you’re in a hammock or a tent. Be ready to change your plans if the weather takes a turn for the worse. The goal is to enjoy nature and return home safe and sound.

Here are some best practices that can help you weather the storm:

Choose a Safe Location

The first step is to pick a safe location for your hammock. You should do this anyway, but it’s especially important if you’re expecting adverse weather. Try to set up camp in a location that naturally shields you from the elements. Avoid tall, isolated trees, which are more likely to attract lightning. Instead, opt for a group of smaller trees.

It’s also wise to avoid setting up camp near bodies of water during a thunderstorm, as water can attract lightning and flash flooding may occur. Similarly, avoid setting up camp on high ground or hilltops which can make you a lightning target. Instead, setup your hammock in valleys where you have some natural protection from the elements.

Inspect the Trees

Before setting up your hammock, inspect the trees you plan to use. They should be alive and sturdy. Avoid trees that have dead branches (and areas with dead trees or dead branches), as these can break off and fall during a storm, causing injury or damaging your equipment. The actual tree you select for your straps should be on the shorter side compared to the trees around it.

Use Lightning Safe Gear (No Metal)

Metal attracts lightning, so using a hammock system without metal can reduce your risk of being struck. There are hammock straps available that are made entirely of synthetic materials, providing a safer alternative during thunderstorms.

Waterproof Rain Tarp

A good rain tarp is crucial for hammock camping during a thunderstorm. This will protect you from rain and wind. Make sure the tarp is big enough to cover your entire hammock. Rig the tarp with a little bit of a slope to allow the rainwater to run off.

Understand the 30/30 Rule

The 30/30 rule helps you estimate the distance of the storm and can guide your decision making. After seeing a lightning flash, start counting seconds. If you hear thunder within 30 seconds, the storm is close enough to pose a threat and you should seek shelter. Wait 30 minutes after hearing the last thunder before venturing back out.

Have a Backup Plan

Before you even start your camping trip, know where the nearest safe structures and vehicles are in relation to your campsite. In case of a severe storm, you may need to evacuate your campsite to seek safer shelter.

Tent vs. Hammock

When comparing the safety of hammock camping and tent camping during a thunderstorm, it’s important to note that both have their unique considerations. Neither form of camping is inherently safer than the other. Instead, the safety of both depends largely on your knowledge, preparedness, and actions during the storm.

Hammock Camping Safety

Hammock camping during a thunderstorm demands careful attention to your campsite location. As you are suspended off the ground between two trees, it’s crucial to choose trees that aren’t likely to be hit by lightning. As mentioned earlier, avoid tall, isolated trees, and instead opt for smaller trees in a group. Also, ensure the trees chosen are healthy and sturdy with no dead branches that may fall during the storm.

Using non-metallic suspension straps can help reduce the chances of attracting lightning. Moreover, being suspended in a hammock means you’re not in contact with the ground, which can be an advantage if there’s a risk of flooding.

Tent Camping Safety

Tent camping, on the other hand, places you directly on the ground, which can be a benefit or a risk, depending on the situation. If lightning were to strike, being inside a tent on the ground can be safer because electricity tends to follow the shortest path to the ground, and a tent is not the shortest path.

However, a disadvantage is that tent campers are more susceptible to ground currents if lightning strikes nearby. Additionally, tent campers are also at a higher risk if the campsite experiences flooding during a severe thunderstorm.

Regardless of whether you are hammock camping or tent camping, taking refuge in a vehicle or a solid structure is the safest course of action if a severe thunderstorm hits. While it can be an adventure to weather a mild storm, no camping experience is worth risking your life. Always remember: your best tool during any camping trip is knowledge and preparedness.

Safety Considerations for Hammock Camping in Thunderstorm

Hammock camping during thunderstorms requires careful thought. The danger of lightning is real, but with the right steps, you can still have a great outdoor experience!

  • Pick your spot wisely: Locate a campsite where there’s natural protection from lightning, such as a forest, or a valley. Avoid setting up your hammock near tall trees or water.
  • Use protective gear: Get a high-quality rainfly to fully cover your hammock and provide extra protection against lightning strikes. It should have a high waterproof rating and should completely cover your setup.
  • Stay low and secure: If you’re already in a thunderstorm while hammock camping, lower your hammock closer to the ground for less risk. Make sure your suspension system is firmly attached.
  • Check the weather before you go: If the weather is going to be bad and you can reschedule your trip, that may be your best bet.

Choosing the Right Hammock and Equipment for Thunderstorm Conditions

Choosing the right hammock and equipment for thunderstorm conditions is essential for safety. Here are a few key points to keep in mind:

  • Get a hammock made from strong, weather-resistant materials. Look for features like reinforced stitching and waterproof coatings.
  • Make sure your hammock has a sturdy suspension system, such as tree straps or carabiners, to handle winds and heavy rain.
  • Bring a rainfly or tarp to provide extra protection from the rain and wind. Make sure it is big enough to cover your hammock.
  • Look into a lightning protection system, like a Faraday cage, which can send electric currents away from you if lightning strikes.

Setting Up Your Hammock in Thunderstorm

Stay safe and enjoy your camping experience by taking these steps when setting up your hammock in a thunderstorm:

  1. Choose a safe location: Find an open space or shelter away from tall trees or objects that can attract lightning.
  2. Use proper equipment: Ensure your hammock is durable and waterproof, and secure it to sturdy trees or poles with strong straps or ropes.
  3. Set up a rainfly: Attach it securely for maximum coverage and protection from the elements.
  4. Stay informed about the weather: Check the forecast before heading out and monitor changes during your trip. If thunderstorms are predicted, consider postponing or finding alternate accommodations.

Also, avoid metal objects, tall trees, and seek shelter in a building or vehicle immediately if you hear thunder or see lightning flashes. Follow these recommendations to stay safe and enjoy the beauty of nature during a thunderstorm. Be sure to practice caution when dealing with unpredictable weather conditions.


Hammock camping can offer an unrivaled connection with nature and a unique camping experience. However, it’s crucial to remember that with such adventures come responsibilities, particularly when dealing with unpredictable elements like thunderstorms.

The safety measures outlined in this article can greatly enhance your protection during a thunderstorm, but they do not guarantee complete safety. In an environment as powerful and changeable as the outdoors, risk can never be entirely eliminated.

Therefore, the most important advice is to always stay alert to changes in weather and be prepared to take action if necessary. Seek professional shelter if a storm becomes too severe. No camping experience, no matter how extraordinary, is worth risking your safety.

Embrace the thrill of hammock camping, respect the force of nature, and never underestimate the value of preparedness. By doing so, you can help ensure that your outdoor adventures are both safe and memorable. Happy hammock camping, and stay safe out there!

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I safely hammock camp during a thunderstorm?

While using a hammock during a thunderstorm may be safer than sleeping on the ground, it is not recommended. Lightning can still pose a threat, and it is better to seek shelter indoors or in a safer location. If it’s not possible to seek shelter, plan ahead for this situation by picking a safer spot and using gear that has a limited amount of metal in it.

What precautions can I take when hammock camping in a thunderstorm?

If you find yourself caught in a storm while hammock camping, it is best to seek lower ground and stay away from tall trees or open areas. Additionally, it is advisable to pack a tarp or rainfly to shield yourself and your hammock from heavy rain.

Are there any specific hammocks designed for thunderstorm camping?

While there are hammocks available with built-in lightning protection features, no hammock can guarantee complete safety during a storm. It is still recommended to find appropriate shelter when thunderstorms are present.

Should I avoid using any metal components with my hammock during a thunderstorm?

It is advisable to minimize the use of metal components, such as carabiners or metal suspension systems, during a thunderstorm. Metal can conduct electricity, increasing the risk of lightning strikes. Opt for non-metal alternatives whenever possible.

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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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