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People tell us they want to try hammock camping having never used one before - what do we suggest?


The first thing we suggest is not to dive in and spend lots of money on the whole hammock and tarpaulin kit.  There's going to be someone who just can't get on with it, so don't risk ending up with lots of gear you'll never use again.  Get the minimum and save your cash.  The best thing you can do is to borrow someone else's kit.  If you know someone who has all the gear, they might be able to show you how to set up also.


The ideal 'taster hammock' would be one of our lowest priced ones, and that would be one without mosquito net.  This kind of hammock is easier to set up; it's a good idea to move towards the full-on system gradually.  Having said this, if the place where you're going to spend your first night in a hammock is likely to be a hotspot for insects then maybe you have no choice but to get a hammock with a mosquito net.  One thing you'll learn quickly in a hammock is that as your underside is pressed against the hammock material, it can get cold when it's not cold.  Test it for yourself - lie in the hammock and see how cool your underside gets.  If you're in a really warm climate you might be ok, otherwise you will likely need a sleep mat underneath you.  This means you'll need a two-layer hammock so that you can put the mat between the layers.


Which one to get?

Being a hammock newbie, you won't have a preferred hammock sleeping position, so it should be safe to rule out the 1.8m wide hammocks.  These are not made wider for bigger people, it's for a different way of sleeping - something to learn later if you feel the need.  For you, around 1.5m wide will be fine.  You will need to consider length though, this is purely down to your height.  Our shortest hammock is 2.5m and although no one is that tall, you have to bear in mind that when you're in a hammock, you can't really use the full hammock because of the way they narrow at each end - you won't want your feet forced together at the bottom end.  You can expect to not use 30cm at each end of the hammock, so a 2.5m hammock gives around 1.9m (about 6'2") of good sleeping area.  Our 2.8m XL will give you about 2.2m (7'2") and our 3m super XL will give really tall people enough room to get lost inside it (close to 8 feet).  

If possible, why not try to spend your first night in a hammock when you know it's going to be dry?  If your first night out is a rainy one and you need to get out of the hammock a few times in the night to alter your ropes - or answer the call of nature, you won't want to be doing it in the wet.  If you can't trust the weather to be dry and can't borrow a tarpaulin, maybe you can improvise something from polythene?  If you manage to borrow one or make something yourself, note that a tarp needs to overhang a hammock at least 30cm each end because of rain blowing in at an angle and getting under the tarp.  

To start with, don't buy these things yet.  Any hammock we sell will have enough rope/webbing to set up with.  Keep it low cost and also keep it simple.  

What else?

Well, you might want to take a sleeping bag and any other usual camping items you can think of, a knife, food or some means of cooking, a headtorch is better than a torch because if you need to adjust or move your hammock in the night, you'll need both hands.  Do your research on where to set up, are you allowed to camp there, are there dead branches above where you want to camp that might fall down?  Once you have all that you need and you know your chosen spot is good and safe, get in, start wriggling about and see if you can stop yourself having a big grin on your face.


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