Camping can be a wonderful, new and exhilarating experience, or it can prove to be and arduous and generally not too pleasant of a time. Knowing your way around getting a quality night’s sleep in the great outdoors is the key.
Whatever camping format you decide to go with, you’ll need to know all those little things that can make it or break it. We’ll try to avoid the part about breaking if we can (and we can).
This comprehensive little guide will teach you all there is to know about various tiny details that will make your camping trip into a wonderful and adventurous activity it’s always meant to be.
Let’s go over a few steps that will, if properly followed make a true camper out of you.
People that have never tried sleeping on a hammock don’t quite get the appeal of using one in a camping situation, with the default choice being a sleeping pad or a camping mattress. So, just to put some things into perspective, we’ll debunk some of the myths surrounding opting for a hammock on your camping trip.
Myth number 1: You can only sleep on your back in a hammock. I’m used to sleeping on my side
Not true. You can sleep on your side in a hammock, and quite comfortably I might add. Most misconceptions about hammocks come from people who don’t really have any experience in handling them. If you hang your hammock poorly and improperly, yup, you won’t have the greatest of times. It’s quite the opposite if you know what you’re doing with it. Bottom line is, you can sleep any way you want in a hammock, and that’s a myth debunked.
Myth number 2: Sleeping with a curve will wreck my back
Not true again. First of all a hammock that’s hung properly will allow for back or side sleeping without a curve. Most hammocks will allow you to lay flat at a certain angle to the centerline.
Slight, natural curve of some hammocks will become your friend anyway, after a few days of traveling. Your knotted, tired back muscles will relax unbelievably well while you sleep in that curve. You’ll even prefer it, once you get used to it.
Another benefit of hammock sleeping is the ability of elevating your feet above the body. It will do wonders in reducing that overnight swelling that happens once in a while after a day of hard core hiking.
Myth number 3: The cords are damaging the trees
Maybe once, long time ago. Today we can use a rope system with multiple wraps for load distribution. Ropes don’t dig into the trees and problem is solved. We can also protect the tree bark with flat straps.
Believe it or not, hammocks are one of the systems with the lowest impact out there. No compacting earth, no flat spot grooming, with a hammock you stay above all that.
Let’s talk advantages
Now we can talk about some of the advantages of sleeping in a hammock (besides low impact and being good for your back and feet):
Comfort – They’re simply comfortable, nothing much to say there. And floating beats sleeping on the ground any day
Site selection – Any site is good when you have a hammock handy. You just need a couple of trees with the right distance and you’re good to go
Weight – They’re very lightweight and just a dream to carry around. Can’t really say that for a tent
Flexibility – Your hammock can serve as a chair, gear loft, lounge, solo tent, and you guessed it, a hammock. Tent is just a tent
Adaptation to sleeping outdoors
Let’s see what this title entails:
Choose a good location – The one where you can truly enjoy your outdoors experience. Not too windy and sheltered as much as possible
New surroundings require mental preparation – Embracing this new experience is what it’s all about. Be ok with the fact that there’s no comfortable bed around and let the joy override the temporary inconveniences
Physical adaptation – Don’t let the super cool temperatures surprise you after sundown. Nor the fact that the night sky will get pretty dark. Light source and an insulating clothing layer will make a huge difference here
Enjoy the moment – It’s a unique experience. Learn to appreciate the new perspective of the world only a good camping trip can give you. Sever the tethers of modern, urban living and make every moment count
“Before bed” routine
Few tips to make your stay in the nature more pleasant:
Secure all scented toiletries and food – Nothing scented should be near you while you sleep, or you can expect some uninvited guests. The same goes for toothpaste, don’t spit it out next to your sleeping place. Don’t leave food lying around or spill things all over the place
Easy on the night caps – although you might feel alcohols is warming you up it’s a temporary illusion. Alcohol will actually interfere with the way your body regulates temperature at night.
Repeat familiar routines – Whatever routines you established at home repeat them here. It will make you feel more “at home”
Wear dry clothes – This goes without saying. Sweaty, damp clothes would be a huge no-no. Do not take this lightly, a calm sleeper is a dry sleeper, even damp socks can ruin your night, especially if you are in the cold. My rule of thumb here is changing head to toe before getting to sleep.
Overdressing is counterproductive – Especially if you fit a sleeping bag into your sleeping configuration
Eat something and drink water before sleeping – Digesting process will warm you from the inside, and a proper hydration is beneficial for blood circulation
Wear a hat – Usually while you sleep the only part sticking out is your head. Heat will radiate away through your face and head unless you prevent it somehow
Do some light exercises – Just enough to stir your blood, don’t get sweaty
Little something to help you through the night:
Ignore the night sounds – Especially if they bother you a lot or you’re easily spooked. Sleeping by the river helps a lot
Prepare for restroom trips – Keep your shoes and light source always handy
These tips, if followed should make your camping into an unforgettable experience you’ll eagerly wait to repeat.
Enjoy your visits to Mother Nature, stay safe and always think outside the tent.