I make a lot of backcountry fly fishing trips, and one question that I often get asked is where I put my backpack when hammock camping.
I usually clip my backpack with a carabiner onto the head side of my hammock suspension system. The hanging setup keeps my head lower than the feet for a comfortable hang.
Hanging your backpack on the hammock strap also keeps it under the tarp for rain protection. It also doubles as alarm protection so that if anyone or anything touches your bag, you’ll feel it.
Of course, that’s not the only way to place your pack when hammock camping.
Remember there’re no set rules to tent camping. You’re allowed to make rules that will work for you in the long run.
That said, let’s get into detail on the proper ways to store your backpack in a hammock camp.
Option 1: Backpack Hanging Methods
There’re a couple of ways to store your backpack when hammock camping, but hanging is one of the most popular methods.
Hanging is also simple, but more importantly, it keeps your hammock away from the weather inclement and the pesky bugs & insects.
There’re a couple of techniques in the hanging method, and in the section below, I’ll go into details below.
Hanging Backpack Under Hammock
Hanging my backpack under the hammock is my preferred method.
The technique involves attaching your backpack to one end of the hammock straps. You need a carabiner to secure the pack on the hammock straps.
If you don’t have a spare carabiner, you can loop a stick between the hammock suspension strap and the backpack for a secure attachment.
There’re a couple of benefits of hanging your pack under a hammock, but the main one is keeping your belongings off the floor. It saves you from worrying o bugs and other critters creeping into your stuff.
Secondly, it’s easy to implement and sometimes feels like cheating. It simply entails lifting the backpack and attaching it to the suspension ropes.
For me, it’s all about weather protection and safety. I can keep my backpack close by my side for convenience while protecting it from weather inclement.
The only downside with the hammock suspension system is that it adds some unbalance to the hammock since the weight is on one end.
It’s not too much of a bother, but you might notice some difference, especially when compared to a free-hanging hammock.
Hanging on a Ridgeline
The second hanging technique comes in handy if your rain tarp setup allows the formation of a ridgeline.
If the hammock’s tarp has a nice & sturdy ridgeline, you can use it to hang gear, including your backpack, boots, lanterns, and other things.
I also like this method because it’s quite convenient and provide accessibility to all of my items.
It’s also simple to set up and use a similar carabiner concept to our first hanging method.
Hanging a Backpack on a Nearby Tree
I understand hanging your backpack under a hammock or on a ridgeline is fashionable and probably the most popular method.
But depending on your environment and sleeping preferences, you may find reasons not to. For example, if you’re camping in swamps and jungles, there might be critters that love attaching themselves to your backpack.
Therefore, consider storing your backpack in a tree if you’re worried about the critters attaching themselves to your backpack and slowly evading your space.
You simply need to tie a generous length of cordage around a tree and simply attach a carabiner to hang your backpack.
It keeps the backpack away from the ground and critters.
Alternatively, drop a short line between two trees or an overhanging branch and hook a carabiner. Next, use the carabiner to attach your backpack.
Both methods offer a hands-free approach to storing your backpack and keeping it away from the ground and most critters.
My only concern with this method is that it doesn’t protect your backpack from the weather inclement because the pack isn’t under the shield of a rain fly.
I’d also recommend this method if you only plan to store your bag for the day hikes.
Ideally, backpacks stored or hung on trees should always be in dry sacks or a rain cover.
Option 2: Using a Gear Sling
Our second method isn’t exactly a DIY technique.
But it offers a convenient and hands-free way to store your pack while camping on a hammock.
A gear sling, also known as a gear hammock, is a mini hammock hanging underneath your hammock.
Think of it as a kangaroo pouch.
It’s a storage attachment for holding all your gear inside.
These attachments usually hang from the hammock strap, meaning no need to bring extra carabiners, straps, suspension, or ropes.
A big benefit of the gear sling is it offers convenient storage space, and unlike the first hanging method, the weight is evenly distributed for a nice, quality sleep.
There’s no discomfort, and you won’t even notice something is hanging on your hammock.
Also, it jeeps your backpacking gear away from the ground, so you don’t have to worry about the weather inclement or critters.
My only concern with the gear sling is that it’s not a DIY, so you need to invest in a gear sling. A typical gear sling isn’t expensive, but more than the DIY techniques.
Plus, it adds bulk to your backpacking gear.
Option 3: Storing Backpack Inside the Hammock
If you’re not comfortable leaving your pack outside in the cold, you might consider bringing it inside.
But one thing to keep in mind is depending on the size of your hammock; the experience can be a bit uncomfortable.
If you’re like me, who values personal space, I’d not recommend you bring your backpack inside your hammock.
I tried it once but ended up using the hanging method because it was a real inconvenience, and there was not enough room, especially when sleeping.
On the other hand, my buddy’s hammock is quite big, and he also doesn’t mind bringing the backpack inside while sleeping.
From experience, he tells me there’re two main ways to position the backpacking inside the hammock for better and more comfortable sleep.
The first one is using the hammock as a pillow or sleeping pad. It’s a great option if you don’t pack hard gear or wear a framed pack.
The pack can double up as a great pillow alternative to rest your head on.
Another great backpack position is between the legs.
It’s not only a comfortable position but if you’re hammocking in the cold season, having the backpack between your legs can add a layer of insulating material.
But there’re a couple of compromises with the between-legs position.
If the backpack is quite heavy, it can be cumbersome and even trouble to sleep with.
And for both backpack sleeping techniques, the key is to have your backpack as lightweight as possible. You shouldn’t stuff it with a lot of gear.
Finally, the gear shouldn’t consist of the hard stuff.
Option 4: Storing Backpack Outside
If you don’t fancy bringing your pack inside your hammock or even going through the inconvenience of hanging it on the hammock suspension, you can consider storing it outside.
It’s probably the most straightforward method I’ve come across.
The first thing to do when storing your backpack outside is to find an ideal location. The terrain should be relatively but not so much to allow water to collect or form a swamp. It should gently slope.
Next, the ground should also be free of debris, such as rocks, tree stumps, and anything that may affect the positioning of your backpack.
You should also have a cover to place your backpack on. I’d recommend a plastic cover because it doesn’t allow water to get inside and is quite sturdy.
The plastic cover should keep your backpack and sleeping bag from direct contact with the ground and avoid the critters.
The last item you need is a dry bag cover/ rain cover or trash bag for your pack. It should protect your backpack from rain and other weather inclement.
The final step is positioning your backpack close to your hammock, so you can each it wherever you want to get something in the dead of night.
How Do I Store my Boots When Hammock Camping?
Next, after the sleeping hammock, you also need to consider boots.
Hiking boots usually cause a headache deciding where to store them because you can’t bring them inside your hammock set.
Storing your boots inside the hammock may bring dirt and cause the deterioration of the hammock material.
So, how do I store my boots when hammock camping?
1) Anchor them using a ground peg
The simplest way to store your boots while hammock camping is to place them right to your hammock on the floor.
The problem with this method is you might get a possum or any other creature coming and dragging your boots.
Therefore, it’s necessary to have a spare ground peg to anchor your boots. Attach the shoes to the anchor peg through the laces.
2) Use a hammock suspension
A big problem with our first method is more than having a possum drag your shoes; it also leaves them in direct contact with the ground.
This may invite crawling creatures like snakes, spiders, and other critters.
Our second method avoids all of that because you store your shoes above the ground.
Simple tie both shoes together using their laces and pop them over the hammock suspension/strap.
It’s quite similar to the first method we use for our backpack storage.
3) Using two sticks
The final method is my preferred technique to store my hammocking boots.
I simply stake two sturdy sticks on the ground and then place my boots over the top. Of course, I always turn the boots upside down.
The benefit of this method is that it doesn’t expose the boots much to inclement or bugs.
My only issue with the method is you need to find two sturdy sticks. You also need to consider the ground because you can’t do it on extremely hard surfaces.
Protecting my Backpack Gear When Hammock Camping
There’re a couple of ways to protect your backpack gear when hammock camping.
Here’s a breakdown of the different ways:
1) The first method is ensuring your gear hammocks are stored underneath the rain tarp. A tarp will provide the needed protection against rain and UV exposure.
2) Another method is storing your backpack in a dry sack, dry cover, or waterproofing cover. While most backpack materials can withstand weather abuse, storing them in a dry sack bolsters their resistance.
3) If you need to protect your backpack and sleeping bag from bugs, consider spraying it with DEET or any anti-bug repellent. Also, have a bug net to keep the bugs away.
4) If you’re hammocking in a location with bears or foxes, try to store your food in closed containers because bears can smell food from miles away.
5) Finally, you also need to protect your backpack from other hikers. You can’t do much to stop them, but you can deter them by investing in backpacks with antitheft pockets or compartments. Use these pockets to store the most valuable of your items.
Wrap Up: Where do you put your sleeping bag when hammock camping?
As you’ve seen, storing your backpack when hammocking isn’t challenging.
There’re numerous ways to go about backpack storage, and it’ll depend on your camping location and preferences.
But as we’ve seen, it’ll make more sense if you pack light. Try to limit the amount of luggage you need to carry. It means putting stuff or squeezing too much stuff at the expense of your comfort.
Also, it’s important to always have spare carabiners and a plastic cover when heading out.