Hammock Camping – Store Your Gear and Keep It Dry


Where and how to store your gear while hammock camping is a question that comes up alot. Keeping your boots, backpack and gear dry when the rain starts, quickly turns into a mad scramble.

Clipping to a ridge line, utilizing hammock pockets, hanging a gear strap, and popping a gear tent are all great options for protecting your clothes, pack, lamp and electronic devices.

Even when the weather is sunny and bright, nighttime moisture and morning dew can make your gear damp and soggy. To help you avoid all these scenarios we’re sharing the best ways to store your gear and keep it dry while hammock camping.

Hammock Camping

Best Ways to Store Your Gear

Keeping your gear dry while you’re camping isn’t just for comfort’s sake. It’s also to maintain the condition and longevity of your gear.

Gear Slings

Gear slings are great for under hammock storage because they keep your gear off the ground but still easily accessible. Slings are like a mini hammock for your gear, they can handle the full load of your backpack, shoes and any other equipment you bring on the trip. 

Gear slings can be hung under or above your hammock to utilize the protection of your hammock’s tarp. Otherwise they can be strung up in a totally separate location sheltered from the rain and weather. They are also compact leaving lots of space in your backpack for the essentials. You can bring your own or share space with a friend.

When I’m out on the trail I ladder mine and the slings of my friends between the same trees and we use a single tarp to cover them all. That way we know where everything is and reduce the number of lines criss crossing the campsite.

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Storage Straps

Storage straps are a simple way to hang your camping gear off the ground and provide convenient easy access to everything. Constructed similar to a multi loop hammock strap, storage straps span the space between trees and provide separate loops for attaching carabiners, clips or rope. They can also be hung vertically if preferred.

The individual loops prevent all your gear from migrating to the center and creating a low spot. Storage isn’t the only use either, hanging a lantern to illuminate your campsite in the evening or your pots and pans to dry after washing is awesome. 

Due to their simplicity they’re lightweight and easily packable, and because they’re a strap they can support a lot of weight. A single strap can support the gear of a small group, just be sure the trees you hang it from can too!

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Ridgelines and Organizers

High quality cord strung up as an overhead ridgeline can provide a simple solution for hanging and organizing your gear. 550lb Type III nylon paracord will support anything you have laying around your campsite. It can be cut to any desired length with the use of a lighter, burning it seals the ends and prevents the strands from unravelling at the ends. Cord has all kinds of uses around a campsite and getting a handle on some basic knots will serve any camper well.

Stretch the ridgeline between your tarp and hammock to keep it and your gear protected from the elements. If you’re using a continuous ridgeline for your tarp you could hang some gear from it but It’s not recommended. The added weight can create a low spot on your ridgeline and cause issues with runoff, run a separate gear line whenever possible.

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For smaller items like your headlamp, pocket knife, phone and other small electronics, having a small organizer hanging from your overhead ridgeline is helpful. These are the types of items you carry around during the day but want to stash for sleeping. 

Small fabric organizers weigh next to nothing and can be stuffed in your hammock bag for storage and transport. They have multiple mesh pockets to keep your gear visible for finding what you need without having to root through a big pack. 

Dry Bags

Dry bags are a simple waterproof storage solution for keeping small and medium sized items protected from the elements. Commonly used by kayakers, rafters and divers, dry bags can hold many of the important items you don’t want to get wet.

Having a dry bag eliminates the need of keeping all your gear under cover as well because they can be easily loaded, rolled, and sealed. The handle can even clip around a tree branch be hung from a ridge line or attached to the outside of your pack.

Instead of adding more items to your pack, dry bags can be used as an organizer within your pack and simply pulled out and hung up once you reach your campsite. Just preload the bag with the items you want readily available, its great for keeping your smaller items together rather than sifting through your pack for them.

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Hammock Straps

Since you’re camping in a hammock, hanging smaller items directly from your hammock straps is an option. It’s not good to hang anything too heavy though, it will unbalance your hammock and create issues. Heavier items can start swinging and disrupt your sleep if not damage your hammock and gear. Here’s some more tips to make hammock camping more comfortable.

If you choose to hang gear from your hammock straps don’t clip it directly on, create some loops using paracord and a slipknot and clip your gear to the loops. This should prevent anything from sliding down the straps toward your hammock when you get in it. 

Keeping Your Gear Dry

Now that we’ve covered the ways to keep your gear off the ground, let’s talk about keeping it dry. These two topics go hand in hand to protect your gear from the top and bottom.

Overhead Tarp

Using a tarp is an obvious solution for overhead protection since they’re synonymous with hammock camping. If your chosen method of gear hanging is oriented in a way that your hammock’s tarp will cover it then you’re all set.

Bringing a second smaller tarp for a more remote gear hanging location is helpful because it can be hung higher to allow access to your gear while standing upright. Storing your gear this way will make accessing the items you need much easier.

Your gear tarp doesn’t need to be as big as your standard hammock tent, it should be small, compact and lightweight. 5×6 is a reasonable size, it will cover your gear ans still have overgang for protection without making access a pain. 

Your gear tarp needs sturdy attachment points at the corners so it can be tightly secured down with guy lines. Having center loops for a ridgeline is a bonus but not essential, it can simply lay over the ridgeline when necessary.

Your small tarp can also function as a ground sheet if there’s enough room to lay your gear on the ground under your hammock.

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Shade Tent

It’s unlikely you’ll be doing much sunbathing on your next camping trip but hear me out before dismissing this clever option. Tiny sun shade tents weigh less than ¼ lb, pop in is seconds and collapse to the size of a sleep sack. 

With top, bottom, and 3 sides walls of protection, these backpack carports will protect you gear from anything short of a downpour. Due to their small footprint it wouldn’t be difficult to bring it under your hammock for extra protection, and the single open side is perfect for stowing your footwear and keeping it dry at night. Consider the benefits of having one of these on hand.

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Contractor Bags

Using a beefy 3mm thick contractor bag will provide protection for all your gear without fail. Access to your stuff will be difficult but for overnight storage it should work fine. 

Once bagged up your gear can safely sit on the ground without worry of it getting wet, you can also cut down a side and create more of a wrap than a bag, this will allow better access. If your overhead tarp is sufficiently large to cover it then using it as a simple ground sheet will prevent moisture from seeping up from the ground and the tarp does the rest. 

Trimming down the bag to a more manageable size and converting it to a simple pack cover is also a popular option. A large bag like this can also function as a poncho protecting you and your pack if you were to be caught in some nasty weather before reaching camp.

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Hooks and Hangers

There are a number of different ways you can hang your gear from a ridge line, paracord or strap. Using carabiners, hooks, velcro straps or getting creative with knots and cord are all viable options.

Carabiners

It’s hard to argue with carabiners, they’re strong, lockable and lightweight. Every camper should have a few spares in their pack at all times. There are a few different styles including D-ring and S-clip and they are available in every color of the rainbow in locking and non-locking designs.

Bring a couple of these on your next trip of various sizes. You’ll need a medium duty carabiner to support a full pack of 25 to 30lbs. Light duty keychain size will hold most individual pieces of gear.

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Paracord

Old faithful paracord, can’t camp without it. You’re probably using some of this in every corner of your campsite and making some loops through the handles of your gear creates a perfect hanging point. 

If you want to go super simple skip the carabiners and clips and brush up on your quick release knots. Being able to release your gear with the pull of a cord is both convenient and impressive to your fellow campers.

Bright orange or red cord also makes smaller dark colored items like a canopener, multitool or folding saw more visible to the naked eye if it were to be dropped and lost on the forest floor.

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In Closing

Stowing your camping gear while hammock camping will keep it dry and out of the rach of pests. Having it hanging at eye level makes your kit easy to access and organize. Getting creative with the help of some sturdy cord, straps, a few carabiners and an overhead tarp will keep your gear dry and your campsite tidy.

Next time you string up your hammock, add an extra guyline for your gear. It will keep it dry, protected and in top condition for when it’s needed most.

Beau

Beau is an electrical engineer with a knack for DIY repair and construction. When he's not tinkering with his projects he's on the road travelling and enjoying an exciting lifestyle with his young family.

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