A Clever Guide To Using a Hammock in All Weather Conditions

photo of covered hammock

A hammock can be the height of luxury and relaxation when it’s stretched between a few swaying palms or by the pool. Hammocks aren’t just for swaying in the breeze, though. A hammock can be employed to protect the user from any kind of weather conditions. 

Here are five ways to use your hammock in different weather conditions:

  1. During sunny conditions, use a sunshade.
  2. When it’s windy, use a multifunctional hammock.
  3. For rain, use the hammock as a rainfly, ground tarp, or poncho.
  4. In the cold, use it as a blanket or with an underquilt.
  5. Turn your hammock into a tent.

There are many possible uses for hammocks beyond their traditional function. In some cases, a hammock might even save you from sunburn or hypothermia. Keep reading for more information about how to use hammocks in any and all weather conditions. 

1. During Sunny Conditions, Use a Sunshade

Sunny days are prime for hammock use. Simply stretch your hammock between two trees or posts and lounge. If the hammock is not covered by natural shade, you can construct a sunshade over it. This will help to protect you from sunburn while you snooze. 

There are a variety of sun shades you can purchase to cover your hammock in the warmer months, according to Men’s Journal. Permanent sun awning fixtures are best for keeping the sun off your hammock. Portable sunshades like the Nebulaland Car Awning Camping Tarp from Amazon.com can be purchased for camping hammocks. 

Related: The 5 Best Backyard Hammocks: A Mini Buyers Guide

Sunburns are uncomfortable at best and can cause serious damage to your skin. A sunshade is a valuable tool when campers are exposed to extreme heat. Many camping hammocks are designed to easily convert into a sunshade. 

2. When It’s Windy, Use a Multifunctional Hammock

Wind can be a serious problem while you’re camping or backpacking. Too much wind can make it difficult to light a cooking fire. It can also cause windburn, which is painful and ruins the camping experience. 

photo of windy hammock

Multifunctional camping hammocks like the Unigear Hammock (also from Amazon) can come in handy when the wind is high by stretching the hammock out vertically. Secure the corner lines as high and low on the post or tree as possible. Spreading out the tension that the lines place on the tree will help to secure the screen. 

In order for a hammock to be effective as a windscreen, it must be a solid piece of material. Rope net hammocks will allow too much wind through the weave to keep the wind off the camper. A hammock windscreen essentially becomes a sail, so be sure your lines are secured to a stable post or solid tree. 

3. For Rain, Use a Hammock as a Rainfly, Ground Tarp, or Poncho

Rain doesn’t have to mean the sudden end of your hammock time. If you’re caught in a downpour while you’re camping, your hammock can be helpful in keeping you warm and dry. Hammocks can be used as a rainfly, ground tarp, or even a poncho in inclement weather conditions.

How To Use a Hammock as a Rainfly

photo of rainfly install

A hammock can be turned into a rain shelter much in the same way it becomes a sunshade. 

  1. Invert your camping hammock by staking the corners to the ground.
  2. Adjust the angle and height of the tarp to keep out the rain by positioning the hammock higher or lower on the post or tree.
  3. Set up the rainfly over a ground tarp to avoid getting wet from the rain runoff. Your ground tarp should be stretched out at least 1 foot (30 cm) beyond the coverage of the rainfly, according to Hiking and Fishing

How To Use a Hammock as a Ground Tarp

A ground tarp is important for keeping the dry camper overnight during a rainstorm. A ground tarp and rainfly are helpful if you’re tent camping and can be critical if you’re hammock camping. Most camping hammocks are made from water-resistant materials, which means they can be used as a tarp if need be. 

Using your camping hammock as a ground tarp is simple: 

  1. Stretch your hammock out on the ground.
  2. Stake down the corner lines. 

Now you can set up your tent, sleeping bag, or bivouac in a dry, secure area.

Use Your Camping Hammock as an Emergency Rain Poncho

A flash rainstorm can be brutal and even deadly for hikers if they are caught unprepared. Getting drenched while you’re out in the wilderness, where you’re exposed to the cold, can lead to hypothermia or other illnesses. According to the CDC, the risk of hypothermia begins at only 40°F (4.4°C). 

Your camping hammock can be a vital tool in a downpour. Camping hammocks are typically waterproof and lightweight material, so it should be easy to wrap yourself up in one. In order for the makeshift rain poncho to be effective, be sure the material is covering your head, torso, and any water-sensitive gear.

Better yet, this hammock here on Amazon actually comes with a hood, so you can use it like a traditional rain poncho. It also has mounting holes to mount it inverted to act as shelter.

BE Outfitter The Campo Packable Utility Hammock + Poncho | Camping Hammock, Rain Poncho, Shelter and Ground Cover in One

4. In The Cold, Use It as a Blanket or With an Underquilt

A weather-resistant hammock can be better than a tent in the snow. As long as you have a good sleeping bag and rainfly, sleeping in a hammock can make sure you stay dry overnight while it snows. If it’s actively snowing, set up a shelter or rainfly over your tent before going to sleep. 

Sleeping directly on the snow is likely to soak your sleeping bag. Sleeping wet and cold is dangerous and can be fatal. If you don’t have adequate snow camping gear, a hammock can help by keeping you off the snow while you sleep. 

Hypothermia can start to take effect in mere minutes, according to Hofmann & Schweitzer. This means that staying warm during a snowstorm is crucial, not just a matter of comfort. Sleeping in a well-insulated hammock can save you from freezing in snowy conditions. 

How To Use a Hammock in Freezing Conditions

If the temperature is below freezing, but it’s not snowing, your camping hammock can still be a useful tool. You can use the weather-resistant material of your hammock as an insulating blanket around your sleeping bag or bivouac sack. 

To use your camping hammock as an insulating blanket, simply:

  1. Wrap the tarp around your sleeping bag once you’ve gotten in.
  2. Wrap yourself tightly so that the material will keep your body heat inside the sleeping back.
  3. If possible, pull both the sleeping back and hammock blanket over your head. 

Using your hammock as an insulation blanket will also help to keep condensation off your sleeping back. If there is a lot of moisture in the air, morning dew can soak through some sleeping bags. This will leave campers soaking wet and cold when they wake up, which is dangerous if the temperature outside is sub-zero. 

Use an Underquilt When Hammock Camping in Cold Conditions

OneTigris Hideout Hammock Underquilt, Full Length Lightweight 4 Season Hammock Gear Underquilt for Hammock Camping Hiking Backpacking Travel Beach Backyard Patio Portable

When camping in cold weather, it’s important to use an underquilt to keep you comfortable. An underquilt is essentially a bottom layer that hangs underneath the hammock. Its function is to provide the camper with an insulating layer underneath, allowing them to stay warm and dry all night in the hammock. 

How To Keep a Hammock Warm Without an Underquilt

If you don’t have an underquilt for your hammock, there are a few things you might have around the campsite which can be used instead, according to Serac. Underquilts are especially critical when hammock camping in cold or freezing temperatures. 

Here are a few materials you can use instead of an underquilt to keep your camping hammock warm and dry through the night: 

  • Sleeping pad – A sleeping pad or roll mat can be laid inside the bottom of the hammock. This will provide a bottom layer of insulation, keeping body heat inside the hammock and sleeping bag. Make sure your hammock is wide enough to support the sleeping pad. 
photo of hammock sleeping pad
  • Reflective blanket – Most camping emergency kits contain a reflective blanket or poncho. This can be used as a liner for your hammock or sleeping bag in place of an underquilt. Reflective blankets are designed to be insulating and lightweight, which makes them an ideal insulating layer. 
  • Sunshade – The sunshade from your car, if it’s accessible from your campsite, can be used as an insulating foundation for your hammock cocoon. Sunshades are designed to keep the heat of the sun outside of the car. This capacity can be flipped to keep your body heat inside the hammock. Many sunshades have wires to hold their shape, however, which can be uncomfortable to sleep on. 
  • Polyethylene – Polyethylene is the material that many shipping packages are made from. Polys are durable and water resistant, making them effective underlayers to keep campers warm and dry in their hammocks. 

Lining the base of your camping hammock with polyethylene can be a cheap and easy way to insulate. Repurposing old poly mailers into an insulation layer is a more environmentally conscious way to keep warm in your hammock at night.

5. For Any Weather, Turn Your Hammock Into a Tent

Inverting your camping hammock into a tent is easily the most important element of all-weather hammock use. Fortunately, camping hammocks are designed to flip easily. This allows the hammock to protect campers from sun, rain, wind, and even snow. 

Here’s how to turn your camping hammock into a sunshade in 3 simple steps: 

  1. Suspend the hammock between the posts or trees at roughly waist height.
  2. Stake the corner lines down so that the hammock is inverted, like a floating tent.
  3. To make the shaded area larger, lower the peak height of the tent and stake the corners farther out. 

Hammocks are a great way to relax, no matter what type of weather is afoot — and if the weather takes a turn for the worse, it could potentially save your life. 

Michael Carpenter

Hi, I'm Mike. I grew up in North Carolina having a blast on trampolines, go-karts, and just sitting on the porch with my friends. I have since moved to Las Vegas with my wife, 2 children, and 3 dogs. When I'm not chasing the kids around the house, I am probably chasing them around the backyard!

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