Not As Advertised

I always laugh when I see someone’s normal reaction to a pic like this:

“Ooooh,” they coo, “that looks so relaxing.”


If you have that reaction, then you’ve never actually been in one.  Getting into it is fraught with danger — it usually takes three or four attempts the first time — and if you just jump into the thing, there’s always the chance that the whole apparatus will detach itself from the ceiling or beam and you’ll come crashing to the floor.

Once you’re in, assuming you eventually manage it, there are still more dangers.  You can’t roll over, because the balance changes and you’ll be swinging around until motion sickness sets in.  Basically, all you can do is read or sleep.  Good luck trying to reach for a drink if you get thirsty, because most likely you’ll either knock the side table over or spill the icy beverage all over yourself, or both.

I know;  you’re thinking about sex with your squeeze in that thing, aren’t you?

Ain’t gonna happen.  What will happen is either the “helpless side-by-side swinging” thing, or else the “detach from the beam and come crashing down to the floor” thing, and maybe both, in that order.

Hammocks were invented for sailors on ships in that they provide for the sleeper a little relief from the ship’s movement.  They do not belong on dry land.

Oh, and speaking of sailors, they use this kind of hammock:

…which is just as difficult to get into, just as difficult to avoid falling out of, and you can only lie in one position, i.e. on your back — and not flat on your back, either.  After about ten minutes you back will start to ache, and the only way to get any relief is to get fall out of the hammock.

You want to know the best way to relax outdoors?

Both of you can relax, facing each other, experience no motion sickness and, if the urge arises, sex will not involve falling several feet to the ground.

Don’t ask me how I know all this.


  1. As a former naval person I’m given to understand that one advantage of the old sailor’s hammock was that it saved on deck space. The crew slept above the bulky muzzle loading cannons. Night actions were rare but if the need arose the sailors could quickly roll out of their hammocks, take them down, and start sending 24 pound round ball greetings at the French. During the Napoleonic wars the British navy was known for the speed at which its ship could come into action and the high rate of its fire. During the day the hammocks were usually rolled up and tied to the bulk heads around the upper gun deck to provide soft armor protection against wooden and metal splinters.

  2. Challenge accepted! I’ve been meaning to give hammock camping a go. This weekend will be it… if the camping spot I’ve reserved has appropriate trees. Sleeping flat, as I understand it, is a matter of hanging the hammock correctly and lying a bit diagonal. The predicted rain should enhance the challenge. I’ll report back.

    1. I’ve done the hammock camping thing about a dozen times. Here are a few tips:

      Get a double sized hammock.
      A “double” still sucks for the abovementioned falling on your ass if you try pigeonholing two people in it, but it makes the “diagonal flat laying” much easier, at least if you’re taller than 5’4″. Still more comfy even for short folks.

      Get a ripstop rain fly:
      Light, keeps dew from the tree falling in your face, and they are relatively cheap (can find them on Amazon for under 20 bucks). Just rig a paracord line between your trees, and arrange in whatever configuration meets your rain/wind delfection needs at the time.

      If it’s going to be cool, at all, get an underquilt:

      This is like a light sleeping bag that wraps under the hammock leaving an insulated air pocket. A light breeze under your hammock will sap the heat out insanely fast, even if you have an insulated sleeping pad/bag. I just bought a OneTigris under quilt off Amazon for 42 bucks, but that was a good sale, they’re usually the priciest bit of kit in the whole hammock camping setup. A top end really good, really lightweight down filled one will set you back a couple bills (which is only worth it if you need that extra weight out of your pack for backcountry trekking).

      And last, hammock bug net (wraps around hammock and hangs from a guy line, can use same line for the rain fly. This time of year you may not need one dependant on where your at.

      The tree straps are highly superior to paracord as well, makes adjustment easier (mine have multiple loops for switching where you attach the carabiners) and added bonus won’t damage the tree.

      My hammocks, flys, and straps are from Bear Butt, bug nets from Eno, and under quilts from OneTigris.

      1. I bought a Hennessey hammock on clearance a few years ago that I hadn’t tried yet. That’s the one on the agenda. So, it’s covered pretty much everything you described except the under quilt. I have a couple items in mind to try for that. We’ll see how it goes with this being sort of improptu and based on a contrarian impulse to our host’s disapprobation for hammocks in general. 😉

        1. If you want a cheap solution to the cold air beneath your ass, try newspapers. Worked quite well in the army, and you have a firestarter for the morning coffee fire.

  3. I’ve never been in a contraption like that, and instantly sneered upon seeing it. Clearly impractical, and just as clearly designed to appeal to chicks, or chicks with dicks.

    1. That was my first thought, too, and not because of my admitted weirdness, but because of my sensitivity to Mosquito saliva.

  4. I have slept in hammocks similar to the one above many times and have found them quite comfortable. They do, however, take some getting used to and there is a learning curve on mastering the technique of getting in or out of one. YMMV.

    As ltdavel said, one advantage was saving deck space, but in my opinion, the main advantage was allowing a sailor to sleep comfortably when the vessel was pitching and rolling in high seas. If you tour an old sailing vessel you see that the hammock hooks were set up so that when the hammocks were slung, they were in a fore and aft configuration. This allowed the hammocks to swing in unison with the ships roll and the fact that the hammock wrapped around you would also insulate you from most of the pitch component of the ships motion.

    I have actually slung a hammock at sea in a sailboat while in a “lively” sea state. I slept like a baby.

  5. I’ve slept in jungle hammocks while hiking and camping in Panama. Standard hammock with a fabric roof and mosquito netting, rolls up nicely for your backpack. And after a full day’s hike slogging through creeks and up and down hills, you do tend to sleep like a baby.

  6. Hammocks only become appealing to keep bugs and critters off of me while I try to sleep.


  7. My secret for sleeping in a hammock is to have a larger than normal glass of brown liquor before retiring for the evening. You will sleep better, and if nothing else, you will provide some choice entertainment for your campmates and the nearby wildlife as you attempt to climb in.

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