Northern Wilds Magazine
Grace Chandler from Duluth is a hammock enthusiast. Here she enjoys a peaceful day while watching a paddleboarder from a hammock. | ERIC CHANDLER
Along the Shore

Suspended bliss: Exploring the tranquil world of hammocking

Have you ever wanted to hang out with your friends? I mean, literally hang out from some trees? Then a hammock might be just what you need. A hammock is a lightweight, cloth platform that you string between two trees so you can sit or lie down suspended above the ground. People who use a hammock even have a verb for the activity: mocking (short for “hammocking”). The popularity of this outdoor pursuit seems to be growing.

Grace Chandler from Duluth is a hammock enthusiast. She said, “I like to do it because it’s peaceful. It’s relaxing and nice. You can be social. Or not. Everyone can do it. You just have to find somewhere outside in the trees.” She got her hammock in 2017 and says, “There are lots of options. It’s fun because you can get a hammock that’s pretty much any color or pattern that you want.” She says it’s a versatile activity. “You can spectate outdoor sports like running and even XC skiing from a hammock.”

The outdoor retailer Trailfitters in Duluth sells the ENO (Eagles Nest Outfitters) brand of hammocks. You can buy a single-person hammock from them for $54 or you can spend between $74 to $84 for one of their two-person models. The Duluth Gear Exchange sells gently used gear on consignment. They recently had one Grand Trunk brand hammock for sale for $30. Considering that it’s a relatively lightweight sleeping system you could use for camping, they are reasonably priced. However, fully equipped camping models with insulation, pillows, pockets, a rain fly, and insect netting can cost several hundred dollars. Chandler has spent the night in her minimalist hammock but noted, “I have a bug net.” You can even purchase a hammock stand, in case there are no trees available.

Renting is also an option. The University of Minnesota-Duluth (UMD) Recreational Sports Outdoor Program Rental Center has two kinds of hammocks for rent. You can rent a Guidesman brand camping hammock for $8 a day or a lounge hammock for just $3 a day. The lounge hammock is made with thin, nylon material that you could use to spend a day relaxing outside, napping, or reading a book. This is certainly an inexpensive way to give “mocking” a test run. And you don’t have to be a UMD student to rent equipment there. Anybody can give it a try.

Grace Chandler is getting ready to use mosquito netting during an overnight in the hammock. | ERIC CHANDLER

You should have some consideration for your surroundings when you use a hammock. The most important general guideline, no matter whether you’re on public or private land, is don’t harm the trees with your hammock. The Minnesota DNR allows hammocks in Minnesota State Parks and Trails but within some rules. The DNR website says, “Hammocks are allowed in public use areas at state parks, state recreation areas, forest recreation areas, state trails, and state water trails.” However, they point out, whether using a hammock or not, overnight camping is only allowed in designated campsites. Hammocks must be attached to trees that are at least 12 inches in diameter with straps that are at least 1-inch wide. Extra padding should be used if damage to the bark of the tree occurs. Only one hammock per tree is allowed. More information can be found on the Minnesota DNR website:

It’s smart to plan ahead if you want to use a hammock on public land. For example, in Isle Royale National Park, hammocks are allowed for camping, but they aren’t allowed inside any shelters. This is different from Canyonlands National Park in Utah where hammocks are not allowed to be attached to any vegetation at all. Research your destination with the corresponding land management agency before showing up with your hammock.

The word “hammock” originated with the Indigenous Taíno people in the islands of the Caribbean Sea. They used the word “hamaka” in the Arawak language, meaning a “stretch of cloth.” The Spanish translated the word as “hamaca,” which made it to English as “hammock.” The Minneapolis Parks & Recreation Board website says, “The history of the hammock imparts an obligation to use them respectfully, responsibly, and with an intent to honor their culture of origin.” That seems like good advice. So, be kind to the trees that help your hammock sway in the breeze. And then enjoy hanging out in the Northern Wilds.

Related posts

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More

Verified by MonsterInsights