Very early on in my hammock camping days, I thought I knew it all. How hard could it be, it’s just a hammock. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Different ways to sleep? Set up the rain fly differently depending on weather? What do you mean not just over the hammock? Staying warm isn’t easy?
That’s when I started following Derek Hansen. Derek is a lightweight backpacker, Scoutmaster, and hammock enthusiast who runs the website The Ultimate Hang and has authored a book by the same name. The website has tons of hammock reviews, trip reports, and tips on hammock camping. We suggest checking out the Hammock Camping 101 portion of the website. Derek’s book, The Ultimate Hang: An Illustrated Guide to Hammock Camping, should come standard with any hammock setup you buy.
Big Information, Itty Bitty Reading
It’s amazing how much information is packed into this little book. At just over 100 pages it’s a quick read on the weekend and provides valuable information to improve your hammock camping. Derek starts out the book with the basics of hammock camping. What type of hammock to get, details on the perfect types of trees and anchor points, suspension methods, elements protection, and staying warm. All of this information is detailed as you move through the book.
For example, it seems intuitive that you find two trees and hang a hammock. However, Derek goes into detail about selecting two trees at the proper distance for best possible comfort when lying down. In this case, it would be to take 3 paces to hang a hammock at the proper height to have a hang angle of 30 degrees.
Before reading the book it was trial and error (mostly error) for me when hanging my hammock. Frustration set in the first few times because I thought I had the right distance and height on a hang only to find out when I sat down I was on or near the ground. If I had read Derek’s book or blog beforehand, I would have probably not had these issues.
Derek doesn’t just talk about hammock camping, but principles any outdoors-minded person should be following anyway (i.e. Leave No Trace). The information is just tailored to be specific to, in this case, backpacking and camping with a hammock. Again, the information presents itself in a way that doesn’t make the reader feel like they have no clue what to do.
So What Did I Learn?
A lot. And that might be an understatement. The book itself taught me a bunch of things about hammocks I didn’t know. It also kicked off a flurry of researching every type of hammock and manufacturers of hammocks mentioned in the book. Much like Derek, the quest for the perfect hammock started and hasn’t stopped. I love my current ENO Sleep System, but I’m not 100% satisfied with it. So the search begins.
One of the best things I learned from it was how to sleep more comfortably. Instead of the standard straight position, Derek suggests sleeping at an angle in the hammock to spread out the surface area you’ve got for laying. I’ll tell you this made a huge improvement in overall comfort for me. Before reading about this I was debating whether I even wanted to continue with the hammock. After reading about this way, it became an intuitive thing when sleeping.
That’s what’s great about the book. It provides tips and tricks that I would not have thought about at all or even knew about when I started out hammock camping. Derek writes at a very easy to understand level. And the level of detail does not become a burden if you want to apply new techniques you read about.
Not once have a had a regret about buying this book. The information provided is extremely insightful and valuable. It has opened my eyes to the different types of hammocks available for camping. If you’re interested in adding a hammock to your overlanding gear this book is where to start. It provides the details on the benefits of each type of hammock you will encounter and the how-to on hammock camping. It’s a great read and I highly recommend it.