The Ultimate Hang: An Illustrated Guide to Hammock Camping…

Over the years, in my back country adventures, I’ve tried hammock camping several times.  I have two hammocks I hang in my backyard when the weather is nice.  I have a hammock that picked up specifically for my (formerly) annual trips to Mexico.  I have tried many hammocks in a variety of locations and I’ve always had a great experience, even when it wasn’t ideal.

Cascade at Havasupai…Imagine hiking 12 miles into a picturesque oasis of fantastic waterfalls and crystal-blue creeks.  High red-rock cliffs rise on all sides dripping with verdant greenery creating welcome shade in the normally warm temperatures of Northern Arizona in late Spring.  After the long, hot hike in to camp you set up a luxurious hammock under the canopy of group of shade trees next to the cool creek water…  This was the setting of my first hammock camping trip, a nine-day hang in the heart of Havasupai just above Mooney Falls.

On that trip, I packed in a very heavy cloth hammock.  It was warm in late May and I did not bring a sleeping bag.  Nor did I bother with a tarp, bug net, or any of the other fun accessories available for hammock camping these days.  I was a little cold the first night there, but was otherwise comfortable the entire time in the canyon…and I was hooked!

Since then, I’ve hiked in to various locations around the state with a hammock and have even taken it on some whitewater trips.  Hammock camping, in general, has always been a warm weather adventure for me but as I work to get out in the wilderness more often I’ve looked for ways to make my hammock a more year-round setup.

The Ultimate Hang BookI recently mentioned getting to use the ENO Double Nest Hammock I won last year to do some camping up near Flagstaff.  One of the comments left on that post was from Derek Hansen.  I soon discovered that Derek was the author of a new book called The Ultimate Hang: An Illustrated Guide to Hammock Camping.  After a quick back-and-forth, Derek offered to send me a copy of the book to check out and I happily accepted.

Derek was introduced to hammock camping at the age of 14 at a Scouting event in Utah.  Later, volunteering as a Scout Master himself in Virginia he began experimenting with hammocks again.  He became a very active voice at the worldwide hammock community, HammockForums.net.  Here, his talent and skill as an illustrator played a major roll in his ability to share his experiences and techniques with the Forum.  Eventually, Derek decided to parlay his talent, skills and experience into a concise, self-illustrated guide to the art of Hammock Camping.

Page samples from The Ultimate HangAs soon as I received my copy of Derek’s book, I leafed through it to get a feel for the presentation, expecting it to be a dry read of knots and gear lists.  I was pleasantly surprised to see a fun, well organized, beautifully illustrated, interactive book that reveals a real passion for the subject.  Derek’s writing style is easy and informal offering a fun read.  It’s organized such that you could read it cover to cover, or jump in to any chapter you want.  The illustrations are a fun mix of diagrams and comic-strip style cartoons, making the book entertaining and informative.

Illustration from The Ultimate HangAs a former freelance illustrator myself, I was very impressed with the consistency and continuity created with the illustrations.  The book has a great, relaxed look and feel but presents you with an amazing amount if information.

Another fantastic feature of this book takes advantage of a fairly new innovation just recently finding popularity in marketing circles.  The book is sprinkled with QR codes, allowing you to scan them with your smartphone for more detailed information, a custom “Hang” calculator, links to web pages mentioned in the text, among other things.  This feature I found to be great fun and a beautiful use of the QR code technology.

How to Layer your Hammock from The Ultimate HangThe best part about this book is that it walks you through many of the basics of hammock camping as well as technical knots and DIY projects, making the book relevant for beginners and experienced hangers alike.  Whether you’ve never owned a hammock before in your life, or you are a regular weekend Hang Champ, this book is bound to teach you something that will make your hammock camping experience more comfortable and enjoyable.

Have you been out hammock camping, or thought about hammock camping, but just don’t feel confident in trying it on your own?  Well, here’s your chance…not only will this book help, but I’ve got a copy to give away!  Derek was gracious enough to send me an extra, autographed copy of his book to give away to one of YOU!

Check out the Rafflecopter widget below and follow the instructions for your chance to WIN your own copy of this book.
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Campsite Impact on the environment…

I’ve been doing a fair amount of hammock camping lately.  I’ve also been studying and testing gear and techniques associated with making hammock camping more comfortable and convenient.  I’m currently reading The Ultimate Hang: An Illustrated Guide to Hammock Camping by Derek Hansen.  I’m hoping to see Derek at a seminar he will be giving at the local REI about hammock camping and, I’m sure, promoting his new book.

Aside from the technical information about knots, gear, quilts, tarps, etc. Derek also discusses the history of the hammock in Western Culture.  Most interestingly, he does discuss the importance hammock camping plays in protecting the environment.  In my interview with Seth Haber of Trek Light Gear, he also touches on the fact that hammock camping is, by it’s nature, a zero-footprint way of camping.  It is very closely associated with the Leave No Trace school of thought.

To illustrate this point, I took a couple of photos this weekend while I was out camping with some friends.  This photo is not to place judgement or to show that one method is better than the other, simply to show the difference in the impact (footprint) of a typical family camp site vs. the impact of a hammock camp site.

campsite impact on the environment

Whether your style of camping is closer to the top, or the bottom picture…whatever gets you and your family outdoors enjoying nature is good enough!

The sad side of this weekend was something I failed to get any pictures of.  Just a couple of camp sites down from where we were, a previous party had left a giant pile of trash and debris.  It looked almost as if they had brought trash from home just to dump at the camp site.  It was frustrating and infuriating to witness.  Back in Northern California, in the more rural areas, we would find trash dump sites all throughout the forests.  People would use the wilderness as their personal landfill to avoid having to pay to dump in the actual landfill. Often these sites would host appliances riddled with bullet holes and broken down vehicles with rusty frames and the engines missing.

I think it’s that sort of carelessness that I’ve seen in the backcountry that makes me so self-conscious about my own impact on the environment when I’m in the wilderness.  On most local trails, I often return carrying trash I’ve collected from the trail.  On camping and backpacking trips, I go to great lengths to make sure I’m leaving things just as I found it.  My time camping along the Colorado River it was a constant challenge to leave our camp site cleaner than it was when we arrived.

What are your “camp rules” for making sure you leave a clean camp site?

Have you ever tried camping in a hammock?  Would you take an extended trip camping in a hammock?