Category Camping

Hammock Camping; a new trick

Should file this one under, ‘teaching old dogs new tricks.’

I have been camping and in the outdoors all my life (suffice it to say well over half a century).  Any way, unlike our friends to the north, here in central Texas we do not have bears.  No, instead we have the much more vicious and formidable red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta).


The boy who has long since become the past tense of me, never had to worry about fire ants, imported or otherwise.  Oh, I had chiggers and ticks, which I shared with my dogs.  Those were pests to be dealt with one at a time.  Since the fire ant was ‘accidentally’ imported, chiggers and ticks are no longer to be feared.  This can not be said for the fire ant.

No, when you encounter a fire ant, you encounter thousands of fire ants.  There is no single fire ant!  They attack as one, but are in reality hundreds of thousands.  They are everywhere now, one the ground, under the ground, in the trees, under the brush.  It seems that they like campsites especially well.  Ergo, sleeping on the ground has become a test.  Are you setting up on top of a fire ant mound?  Just to the side of a fire ant mound?  Will a scout fire ant wander through and alert the million others that there is fresh meat on the ground.  You get the picture.

Over the past few years, I had been looking at and considering the use of a camping hammock to keep myself and my children from becoming fire ant feed.  However, cost constraints kept me from buying a camping hammock (Have you seen the price of those things!).  Recently, I was pleased to come across Kenneth Kramm’s channel.  Mr. Kramm is an old time camper, hiker and backpacker – similar in many respects to yours truly.  Mr. Kramm has the advantage of living in the east part of Texas, while I am of the prairie (really a live oak savannah, but who would know with all the juniper covering everything).  So, Mr. Kramm has a few advantages in woodcraft that do not exist in my country.  However, he has traveled in the state parks near and around my country.  I have watched several of his videos and I recommend them.

Of particular interest was Mr. Kramm’s entry Bedroll & Haversack Camping in the 1800s: #5 Hammocks.  Finally, I had found an answer to getting a camping hammock that I could use.  Taking Mr. Kramm’s idea and adapting it to what I had in the barn, closet and various other hiding places, here is the results:


It works great as a summer set up!  I have made a few adjustments in how the hammock is attached to the trees, but otherwise it remains as is.

It does get cold in my country.  Not like this past winter (2013-14) up north, but we did have winter this year.  This presented the next question, how to camp in my hammock in the winter?

I stumbled across Wilderness Outfitters site.  Guess what?  Right there was the solution to the winter cold.  The video; Winterizing the Hammock for the Common Man, was spot on.  I went out and purchased the material, although had I searched long enough I may have found the materials in my barn.  So, here are the additions:


On the left is reflective insulation and on the right is a yoga mat (don’t worry I am not contorting myself in an effort to attain enlightenment).

Once the insulation and mat are installed in the hammock, it begins to take shape:


I then add my old wool mexican blanket:


Of course we have insects, even in winter.  So, add mosquito netting:


Finally, given the unpredictability of the nationalist weather service, one should add a cover for precipitation:


I have used this set up through the winter and into the summer with great results.  The main thing is that I have not had one fire ant to sleep with me or keep me awake at night.  Well done!

A big tip of the hat to Ken Kramm and Dave Canterbury.

Happy Camping.