I love my hammock. There are zero secrets about that. The ease of set up, the comfort, and the peacefulness that I find in the gentle sway in the wind as you drift off to sleep can’t be beaten. I don’t like to use a tent if I don’t have to, but sometimes there aren’t any trees to hang from. It’s one of the disadvantages of being a hammock camper. We have to have two strong supports in order to hang our hammocks, and sometimes those supports are hard to come by. It’s a fact that some of my ground-dwelling tent camping friends give me grief about – it’s not unfounded. The typical snarky comments go a little something like,
“Well Chris, where we are going is just an open field. How’s your hammock going to help you out there?!”
We have been on scouting trips where there wasn’t a proper grouping of trees so that the boys and I could hang together. This wasn’t really a problem and we could make it work because we still had some access to trees – even if we were hanging further apart.
The real struggle came when I found out that a scouting event outside of our regular camp required us to camp in an open field. I had three hammocks to find a solution for, or I was going to have to give in and haul the tent out there. I began to do some research on hammock camping without trees. I was determined to find a solution and not have to resort to a tent. There had to be a way to get a good hang in a field.
I was right.
Portable Hammock Stands: The Solution to No Trees
There are a ton of great DIY solutions for making your own hammock stand out there, but I honestly didn’t have the time to craft everything I needed for 3 hammocks in time for our three-day camp. Portable hammock stands fit the bill for what I was looking for. The issue now was that I needed to find quality hammock stands that weren’t going to cost an arm and a leg to buy three of them.
I ultimately landed on the Ozark Trail Hammock Stand at Walmart and it got the job done. There has been a learning curve to using a hammock stand and I plan to outline the good, the bad, and the ugly about my personal experiences. It’s been a while since that first scouting event, and my boys and I have used the hammock stands multiple times since.
Before we get into the actual review of the Ozark Trail Hammock Stand, let’s talk for a minute about hammock stands in general.
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When is a Hammock Stand the Best Choice?
You need a level surface
As hammock campers, we are used to being able to set up just about anywhere and we don’t pay much attention to the angle of the ground. However, hammock camping with a stand is different. Much the same as tent camping, you will need to find level ground in order to set up your hammock stand. Some, not all, hammock stands have a long continuous base. The one I have has to be on a reasonably flat patch of ground. Otherwise, one foot of the stand will be higher than the other, causing instability. You don’t want to have your hammock stand off-balance and risk hurting yourself. This shouldn’t be much of an issue if you are setting up in a field of grass, but just be aware of the evenness of the ground and be sure that your hammock stand doesn’t rock around.
Hammock Stands and Ease of Portability
During my research, it was hard to come by a lightweight hammock stand. Most of the stands I found would be heavy and cumbersome to carry for any distance and would be more suited to campers who plan to stay in one place. This was the case for our event and it worked out well using the Ozark Trail Hammock Stand that weighs in at just under 30 lbs. Definitely not something that I would carry on a backpacking trip.
I did come across a few that may be light enough to attach to your pack and take backpacking. Of course, I can’t speak to the performance of these stands just yet. As a backpacker, these lightweight options have definitely piqued my interest. I do plan to try some out in the future, so stay tuned for future reviews.
Hammock Stand and Hammock Set-Up
Hammock stands come in a variety of different styles and weights. They also somewhat differ in how they operate. The stands either fold out, or there are bars or tubes that connect to create the structure. The more lightweight stands are more like a bi-pod on each end and require you to have tension lines to keep it balanced. As is true with any lightweight camping gear, these stands are typically much more expensive.
For now, I only have experience with The Ozark Trail Hammock stand. It is relatively straightforward and easy to use. The stand folds out on each end and I have to secure a few safety latches to ensure it doesn’t close back down on itself. The set up is relatively simple and my boys can set up their own hammock stands without much help from me.
The set up of the hammock on the stand is pretty much the same as hanging on a tree. The end of the stand has a hook or loophole to attach your hammock, depending on the specific hammock stand you chose.You can also use straps if your hammock doesn’t have enough length to fit the stand. In my case, our ENO junglenest hammocks were too short and I had to use my straps to adjust the length. The downfall – Ok…maybe not a downfall per se. It was more of a slight annoyance that my hammock was too short for the stand and I was only using 8 inches of my 15-foot straps, so they had to be wrapped around the stand…But it still works.
Great to Have Inside
Using the hammock stands indoors is probably one of my favorite things about having a portable hammock stand. In all seriousness, it has been so much fun to have in the house. I never realized how much I would actually enjoy and use my hammock in the living room of my home. I have been known to set up my hammock stand in the living room while watching TV and hanging out (pun intended) with the wife. What can I say, I love a good hang.
The boys have even had sleepovers with friends when I have set up all three hammock stands and hammocks for them – they had a blast. It’s especially helpful when a backyard campout is planned with the kids, but the weather turns out to be worse than anticipated. We just move the party inside. It is fantastic. I would have gotten a hammock stand just for this reason alone if I had known how much fun it would be. But they say hindsight is 20/20.
The Pros and Cons of the Ozark Trail Hammock Stand
I was extremely skeptical about the whole hammock stand idea at first. I was fully prepared to sleep on the ground for a few nights if the stands didn’t work out. Luckily, the Ozark Trail hammock stands I chose did work out well and we got to hang just as planned. I’m always upfront about my experiences. I’m never afraid to talk about the good and the bad when it comes to hammock camping. There were a lot of good things and some not so good things when it came to using these hammock stands. I’ll break it down a bit more below.
Keep in mind that I have only tried one hammock stand. This pros and cons list is a reflection of my experience with this specific hammock stand – the Ozark Trail brand. It’s not representative of all hammock stands.
- You Don’t Need Trees: Hammock stands, in general, are an excellent solution for hammock camping when there are no trees around. This stand is no exception. I’m surprised at how many times I have had to reach for it, so I’m glad to have it in my gear stash as an option.
- Versatility: Camp anywhere that has flat ground. I love using this hammock stand indoors. Makes for an easy, no fuss extra bed if you ever need one as well.
- Easy Setup: The learning curve is pretty simple to get the hang of. Let’s face it; most of us hammock campers have our hammock hangs down to a science and a little stand isn’t going to intimidate us much.
- Cost: I got mine for around $60. It was well worth the cost to have that extra versatility.
- Safe: This hammock stand has two safety latches that lock everything down securely.
- Solid: The steel frame is stable and is also rust-resistant. I’ve camped in the rain a few times with this hammock stand and I haven’t seen any evidence of rust.
- Length: You can use up to 14ft hammocks. All of my double hammocks work well on this stand.
- Height: As a grown adult, I feel this was the most significant con. The profile of the stand was very low to the ground. I had to crawl on all fours into and out of my hammock when the rain fly was on. Not a deal-breaker, but definitely not ideal.
- Weight: The Ozark Trail hammock stand is 28.6 lbs. It’s not all that easy to carry around and I wouldn’t recommend using it if you know you will have to carry it for any distance. It’s also too heavy for my boys to carry on their own – mind you, they are 8 and 10 and this may be a non-issue for older kids and teens.
- Adjustability: This comes back to the low profile of the stand. My hammock was already too short for the stand to begin with and I had to use my straps. The low profile kept me from getting the proper hang and I couldn’t get my angle right – if I had, I would have been on the ground. I did get good sleep anyway, but this was a con for me.
- Rain Fly: Again, due to the profile of the hammock stand, it was difficult to set up my rain fly. I think it would work well to use some long branches or trek poles to get additional height on the rain fly or tarp. As I mentioned, crawling on the ground to get in my hammock wasn’t ideal.
- Bug Net: My ENO Junglenest has an integrated bug net and since the ridgeline was too low, the net was in my face all night. It was quite annoying and I am still trying to find a solution for this.
Get It Here: Ozark Trail Hammock Stand
Some Closing Thoughts About Hammock Stands
Overall, I’ve been happy with my Ozark Trail hammock stand and have found it to be useful in many situations. There are some drawbacks to it, but no real deal breakers for me. This hammock stand was a cost-effective option that gets a gold star in my book since I had to buy three of them. For me, it is my goal not to use a tent unless I absolutely have to. I plan to try out and review other hammock stands in the future, but for now, the Ozark Trail is meeting my needs just fine – no trees? No problem.
The main question is, how important is it for you to hang? Is a hammock stand perfect? No, but being able to hang anywhere outweighs the cons of actually using it, in my opinion. As I mentioned, the most significant drawback of the hammock stand is the low profile and getting into and out of your hammock. It may not be ideal for you to physically get down on all fours to crawl around. I get that. This isn’t going to be the best option for everyone.
I hope this article gave you some insight into a viable option for hammock camping without trees. The Ozark Trail hammock stand has impressed me considering the low cost. I’ve used it in many more situations than I thought I would. I thought this purchase would just get me through our single scouting event, but the stand has proven useful many times after that outing. I recommend giving it a go if you are in the market for a hammock stand, but don’t want to shell out hundreds right at the start.
No matter where you find yourself with your hammock, in the forest or fields, I hope you enjoy your time out in the Wanderful Wild.