Topics Discussed On This Page
* Why Camp In The Tree Canopy!?
* Tree Camping Orientation Video
* How To Choose Your Hammock
* Choosing A Tarp
* The Gear
* Climbing Into A Tree
* Camping In The Canopy
* Do It
I will answer your question with a question. If you are camping alone and find yourself surrounded by blood hungry werewolves or brain eating mummies would you rather be hanging 2 feet above the ground or 50 feet up in a tree? I rest my case. Haha. But seriously, if you have to ask this question tree camping is not for you.
Direct video link:http://youtu.be/hyZJvpogWKQ
OPTION 1: Buy a factory made hammock. I do not like this option since most attachment points on store bought hammocks are not very bombproof. In other words, factory made hammocks are not build for tree camping. This is my least favorite option.
OPTION 2: I started tree camping with a traditional gathered end hammock that I built for $12 (Link). I took a rectangular piece of nylon and tied a short piece of webbing to each end, done. I disliked this hammock because it required a very long footprint which made it difficult to find a good spot in the canopy, it was unstable to enter and exit, and it was quite hard to move around in. This is a great option for first time tree campers because the ends are tied making them much less likely to fail versus sewn seams.
OPTION 3: A portaledge is simply a fully framed hammock which hangs from one point. The fact that it only uses one anchor point made tree selection very easy. So what was the price? I made my first ledge for $17 using an old aluminum cot from craigslist and tying it up with some old webbing I had laying around. My second portaledge was made from a light but bomber aluminum cot that I bought from a store for $70. I then added a cheap solo tent that fit perfectly on this cot and it worked beautifully! See: portaledge video. I ended up turning away from this system for a year because I didn’t like the bulkiness and weight. During this time I tree camped using “Option 4” below. HOWEVER! As of August 2014 I decided to switch back to using a portaledge for the following reason:
The problem was that I stopped tree camping as regularly because I didn’t get very good sleep using “Option 4” (even though it was much better than options 1 and 2! I got fed up and decided that a good nights sleep was the #1 most important thing to me so I switched back to a portaledge. If you plan to buy a portaledge I recommend RUNOUT Customs. He is a climber who is passionate about sleeping high in the sky and his customer service can’t be touched by other companies. Oh, and he currently sells the cheapest double portaledge available! I decided to build my own portaledge (Easy DIY Portaledge) with a legit silnylon rainfly! It is extremely compact, light, and comfortable 😀
OPTION 4: Next is a modified bridge hammock and if you own a sewing machine this is what I recommend to use for tree camping. My total price was $25. It is easy to build and outperforms the other three in almost every manner. Check out my latest version of The MONSTER PROOF hammock SYSTEM!
OPTION 5: The Single Point Hammock! I began testing this hammock in July 2015. I was very skeptical of a single point hammock because I feared the potential shoulder squeeze while sleeping. However, Tom Claytor has introduced the Mosquito Hammock Bat Hammock as a comfort oriented single point hammock that was designed for climbing purposes!!! The best part? The hammock only costs $160 and you can’t argue with that price. I am in the earliest stages of testing but from what I have seen so far I am pretty sure that this style of hammock IS the future of tree camping. Visit this link: https://treefool.com/2015/08/01/video-mosquito-hammocks-bat-hammock-review/ if you want to see a full video review of the Bat Hammock being tested up in the tree canopy.
A traditional tarp is very hard to pitch in a tree canopy. Either there are too many branches that get in the way or there aren’t enough to guy out a tarp. I had a blue plastic tarp (the kind you buy at Home Depot) and used this for my first couple trips since I didn’t want to hurt my expensive C.C.S. tarp. After battling with setting up the blue tarp I decided to convert it into a tarp sock. WOW did that work great (see it in action)!
The tarp sock is not very good in the summer though (ok, it is impossible to use in the summer, way too hot!). So after two years of experimentation and doodling I built a weatherproof, bugproof, and totally breathable tarpsock. Check it out: the perfect tarpsock.
After a year of testing out my DIY tarpsock I found a few flaws in it (it is very noisy in the wind!). Since that time I had began making tent-like tarps for my portaledges which were fantastic for tree camping since they stayed taught and didn’t need any guy-out points. I am currently working on a similar concept for my newly acquired single point hammock and I think it will be perfect! Stay tuned for more information.
2– Cooke Custom Sewing tarp, 1.1oz, 8×10′. I now use a tarpsock/bugnet: the perfect tarpsock.
3– REI Flash pad L. This is a superlight pad that uses a small amount of synthetic insulation and three beautiful inches of air in case I find myself in a treeless location.
4– Mountain Hardwear Ultralamina 32*. I replaced my superduper ultralight 800fill Montbell down bag with this beast. Same temperature rating, 1/5 the price, dries DAYS faster with the only negatives being 15 ounces heavier and less compressability.
5– Black Diamond 50 Caliber pack. This is probably my favorite piece of gear I ever owned. It is very simple which makes it light, it has a haulbag bottom with super thick body material, and it is so comfy. I have beat the crap out of this pack for three years (rock climbing twice a week) and the only sign of wear is the waterproof coating delaminating on the inside. BD better never stop making this pack because if this one ever dies I will want another one.
6– PMI 11mm EZ Bend static rope. Just 100 feet for lighter pack weight. I rarely find myself wishing I had a longer rope.
7– Food bag. You can get a 3 pack of silnylon drybags from Sportsman’s Guide for $5!
8– Primus Micron Ti stove, Backcountry Ti pot, one MSR fuel canister, and matches. Everything fits inside the little pot. This is a great compact setup but you can go lighter for way cheaper (penny stove as one example).
9– Mammut Tripod Helmet. This helmet needs to be replaced but I am too attached to retire it.
10– Nalgene. Depending on the location I may bring a waterbladder too.
11– Pee bottle!!!
12– Black Diamond Storm. Why does BD make such good stuff!? I got this lamp as a present and quickly upgraded my wifes to the same thing. Waterproof, bright, light, and good battery life.
13– Earplugs (I’m a light sleeper)
14– Petzl Sama climbing harness. Allow me to explain why I hate tree climbing harnesses linke (UNDER CONSTRUCTION)
15- First Aid kit. After graduating from medic school I realized that most kits sold in stores are completely useless for backpacking. Click here to see my homemade kit (UNDER CONSTRUCTION).
16– Throw weights.
17– Throwline. DON’T buy the expensive stuff! I bought 300′ of this from Home Depot for $12 and I have yet to notice any differences.
18– Extra biners.
19– Petzl Grigri.
20– Black Diamond ATC Guide.
21– Extra clothes. For most short summer trips I just bring a synthetic fill sweater and a light duty rain jacket. There is no need for extra socks, pants, etc unless you are staying out for over two or three days.
22– Anchor Cords. I recommend using a lanyard instead of multiple anchor cords. Anchor Cords were my way of attaching myself to the tree when I had to unclip from the main climbing rope to advance it higher into the canopy. A better option is to use a lanyard since they are easily adjustable and much faster to deploy.
23– Emergency prusik loops.
24– Petzl ascender.
25– Footloop for ascending.
If you understand the general concepts of tree climbing visit the climbing page to choose a technique that best fits your needs and budget: “-climbing gear & techniques.”
In camp I usually use the tree to climb instead of the ropes. This means that I am always feeding out slack or taking in slack to keep my rope tight. If you have slack in your rope (a static rope, not dynamic) and you fall you could hurt yourself very bad. Even if the line is tight and you slip off of a limb you will go for a big swing and hit anything in your path. This is why learning to climb from a good mentor is important.
Cooking in the tree canopy can be easily accomplished but I only bring a stove about half the time. Even when I am staying in a tent on the ground I prefer to eat cold food versus cooking because I hate cleaning dishes! However, in the coldest months of Minnesota cooking food gives me something to do in the extended night hours so I have figured out multiple options for no-clean-up foods to cook while climbing.
If I could afford Mountain House meals for all of my excursions I would probably just do that. But I like finding cool new food ideas to make my adventures even more adventurous. It really boils down to what type of food you prefer (see what I did there?) but I’m a vegetarian and have a tough time finding “Just Add Water” meals that are high protein without the meat. A few of my favorites are Mac&Cheese cups and Quaker Oats Medleys. Also, if you watch the “cooking while climbing” tutorial below you will see that I use pre-made boxed soups. When climbing, it doesn’t matter whether the weight of water is in your waterbottle or already in the soup because you won’t be replenishing your H2O stocks until the climb is over. Check out the video:
Sleeping is the easy part. When buying a harness choose one that you would want to sleep in because, well, you are going to sleep in it. I use a Petzl Sama for most of my big climbs because it is light, compact, squishy, and provides enough padding for most recreational tree climbs. And since you are going to be sleeping in your harness make sure that you are wearing the pants you want to sleep in because I can’t think of any possible way to change pants while wearing a harness. And the most important part!?
A pee bottle. I have no idea how I managed to go backpacking for 6 years without using a pee bottle. I started using one on a trip in Northern Minnesota where we saw temps of minus 50 degrees!!! I realized how freaking awesome it was to empty the bladder without even getting out of bed so I now use one on ALL of my trips!
Seriously, stop looking at your computer and go do it.