Setting up a hammock can be a lot of work! So naturally it becomes a question whether you can leave your hammock gear outside so you don’t have to do all that work over again. Is it a good idea, though, to leave your gear outside?
There are some hammock setups that are designed to be left outside, but they’ll still need to be cleaned and dried on a regular basis to prevent mold. In most cases, it’s better to store your hammock to prevent UV damage, particularly for gathered-in hammocks made from parachute material.
Keeping your hammock protected involved more than just those tips though. It really depends on your specific hammock and the pieces that make it up. Read on, and you’ll learn everything you need to know about how different pieces of hammock gear hold up in varying seasons and how to keep your whole set protected.
How Do Different Pieces Of Hammock Gear Handle Being Outside?
Depending on the kind of hammock you have, there may be a variety of different pieces that you typically use with it. From the hammock itself to stands, ropes, and underquilts, it’s worth knowing how each piece is affected by the weather.
In most cases, the hammock is probably the part of your setup that offers the most durability in varying weather conditions. That’s not to say you won’t notice any changes if it gets left out. For example, hammocks can bleach under too much sun, freeze, or generally begin to feel crunchy.
I can’t think of a better term–but it’s clear that hammocks made from parachute-like material will lose their elasticity and therefore some of their strength if left outside.
You will want to make sure to get a hammock that suits the weather you plan to use it in. Whether that’s your backyard or out in the wilderness, it’s going to need to be able to hold up. Otherwise, you may end up having to replace it sooner rather than later.
Hammock stands aren’t necessary, but they sure make setting up a lot easier. Many who camp with hammocks rely on the trees to keep them in the air. Going without a stand when you go out camping is much more convenient since stands are often very bulky. However, there are many people who opt to use hammock stands in their backyard–which makes total sense.
If that’s the case for you, it’s worth knowing that metal hammock stands can become damaged from the wet seasons. You’ll want to make sure to store it during those times, or it could become prone to rust. Wooden stands that are treated are able to handle wet weather more easily, but you’ll still want to make sure it gets cleaned and has a chance to dry out from time to time to avoid mold.
The weather will take its toll on anything–the sun is often the culprit–it will break down anything given the time. If you’re planning to leave some gear outside, make sure it’s in the shade.
Typically, bug nets for hammocks are designed to keep bugs away from you while you’re sleeping. No one wants to be eaten alive by mosquitoes while they’re trying to get a good night’s rest.
Because of that prospect, it makes sense that you’d include some kind of tarp or covering to protect the bug net as well. Bug nets don’t protect you from the rain. As long as you’re careful with your bug net and make sure it’s guarded against the weather, it should remain in good shape.
That said, if you are planning to leave the hammock out when you aren’t actively camping in it, it may be worth storing the bug net until you will be spending the night in the hammock again.
The reason why is that bug nets are made from a fine mesh material. This mesh material is sensitive to constantly getting wet and then drying. Falling twigs from trees can scuff up the mesh combined with any wind that can get to your hammock setup.
If bugs are a big problem for you when you’re camping, then you might just need a few more methods to fight them with. Our article on natural ways to keep bugs away can provide you with just that. Take a look at it here!
Both underquilts and overquilts should be protected from the rain as much as possible. These items are intended to keep you warm in colder weather, but they won’t stop rain from coming in. Much like bug nets, tarps or rain flies are typically included in the setup to keep your quilts dry.
An added option you have for underquilts specifically is to make use of an underquilt protector, such as those made by HammockGear. These help to protect the underquilt from rain as well as keep it clean.
While you’re camping in the hammock, these are great methods for protecting your quilts. However, it is recommended that you don’t leave them out in wet weather otherwise. To keep them in good shape, it’s wise to store them when they aren’t in use.
If you’ve never used an underquilt or overquilt, then you may not be sure which one your hammock needs. In our article on the subject here, we’ll take a look at which type of quilt is best for your needs.
Smaller Hammock Accessories
Assuming your hammock is one that has been made from quality materials, it’s the smaller pieces that may be most prone to damage. This is especially true when the setup is left outside for long periods of time. You may find that you need to replace parts like ropes and carabiners. A good carabiner (like the Black Diamond Screwlock carabiner used by climbers–see at REI) has got some moisture protection, but you shouldn’t count on it.
Leaving this hardware out in the rain can lead to rusting components, which weaken them and make them harder to operate. Naturally, you don’t want to put your weight on something that is weakened or compromised in anyway.
It’s really not a bad idea to have backup replacements that suit your hammock, just in case. The last thing anyone wants is to get their hammock out into the middle of the woods just to find that a broken carabiner is keeping them from hanging it up.
Protecting Your Hammock From The Weather
Taking good care of your hammock will allow you to be able to enjoy it longer. On top of that, it means less money you’ll have to spend on replacements. To keep your hammock gear in top shape, keep these tips in mind.
Be Careful With Sunlight
The idea of sleeping out under the sun is an enjoyable one for many hammock users. That said, too much sunlight can result in the hammock material becoming bleached and losing color.
I know this unfortunately from experience. I have a gathered-in parachute material hammock that I’ve taken camping many times. I set it up in the backyard for a few weeks and when I climbed into it one day, I noticed that the consistency of the hammock was totally different!
The hammock felt crunchy, which means that the UV rays had weakened the fibers. The lifespan of the hammock was likely shortened considerably. I still have it, though, so there’s that.
That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your sunny naps. Just remember that the more time the hammock spends in the sun, the quicker it can become bleached. Another option you can use is to find a hammock made from a material less prone to UV bleaching.
Some backyard hammocks are often made from rope or other fibers less prone to damage from the sun.
One easy way to protect your hammock is to use another layer of protection. Using a tarp can be a great way to avoid too much sunlight on your hammock.
A warning here, though. You’ve shifted the responsibility of soaking in the damaging UV rays to the tarp. Your hammock will last longer in the sun in this situation, but your tarp will need to be replaced sooner. There’s always a tradeoff.
There’s no denying that hammocks are one of the most comfortable sleeping options out there. I can attest–some of the most relaxing experiences I’ve ever had have been in hammocks. For some reason there’s nothing like being suspended in the air swaying gently in the wind.
If you’re wondering if there are other comfortable sleeping options, check out our article on ways to camp comfortably without an air mattress here to learn more.
Store It In Winter
The biggest threats to your hammock typically show up in winter. Rain, wind, and freezing temperatures can leave your hammock in a rough spot. Freezing and dampness over time can result in damage. Damage on your hammock means you should probably not use it anymore.
In many cases, the hammock itself can handle some rain or wind without too much of a problem. It is generally a good idea to make sure the entire hammock is able to dry out from time to time. Otherwise, it can begin to grow fungus. Not only is it unpleasant to lay in a mildewy hammock, but it can weaken the fibers of the hammock.
Even if the hammock is made out of synthetic materials, mold can attach to other organic substances that can accumulate on the surface of the hammock.
While a hammock is just fine if it gets wet on occasion, the same is not true if you use a metal hammock stand, as they can be prone to rust and other issues. If you know you’re going to use your hammock in colder, wetter seasons then it’s wise to aim for either no stand or a wooden stand alongside a hammock that is made for colder weather.
Clean It Regularly
Keeping your investment clean is one of the best ways you can help it to last as long as possible. The good news is cleaning a hammock isn’t all that difficult. One thing you’ll definitely want to do is check the information for your specific hammock. That way, you can follow the instructions set forth by the manufacturer.
In most cases, you can use a mild detergent to keep your hammock clean. The hammock itself can actually be washed in the washing machine. Use cool water, the delicates setting, and dry it on a line afterward. Make sure that you stay away from bleach and other intense cleaning chemicals.
I really recommend using a delicate-cloth bag so that your hammock isn’t stretched or pulled in awkward ways that can rip the fabric. You can see what they look like here on Amazon.
If you use a hammock stand, those can also typically be cleaned up with some mild soap and water. If you don’t want to take that route, you could also use Lysol wipes.
Understanding Hammock Materials
Hammocks can be made using different kinds of materials. Some even use a combination in order to provide the most durable and comfortable experience. It’s important to understand what materials make up your hammock and how they function in different kinds of weather.
For example, cotton hammocks can have more of a tendency to grow mold than others when they are left in wet weather. At the other end of the spectrum, hammocks made from synthetic materials or poly-cotton blends such as one material called EllTex can be much more resistant to weather complications.
Those who use hammock stands may also want to weigh the benefits of using a wooden or metal stand. Some may prefer metal stands due to their supportive capabilities, but wooden stands that are high quality with treated wood will hold out much better in wet weather.
Invest In Quality
Any product you want to last is worth spending a bit more money on. There are so many cheap options on the market these days that it can be hard to avoid just aiming for the least expensive option. However, with such vastly reduced costs, there can also often be a decline in durability.
Instead, take the time to weigh out the advantages and disadvantages of any hammock you’re interested in purchasing. Consider how it would work in the weather you’ll most often be subjecting it to. Furthermore, learn the best ways to take care of that specific hammock so you can help it to last as long as possible.