Note: Hammock Camping – Hammock Calf Ridge Causes and Fixes

Main Idea:

Calf ridge refers to a squeezed or compressed feeling on the underside of your legs when laying in a hammock. It’s a common hammocking discomfort caused by poor hang angle and body position. Understanding what leads to calf ridge and how to optimize your lay is key to maximizing comfort.

Key Question: What is calf ridge in a hammock, what causes it, and how can you fix it?

Calf ridge arises from hammock suspension being too tight or from laying incorrectly, compressing the underside of your legs. It’s fixed by adjusting the hang angle, achieving a nice diagonal lay, and elevating your knees.

Causes of Calf Ridge

  • Hammock hung too tightly with steep angles
  • Laying parallel to ridgeline instead of diagonally
  • Knees jammed straight against hammock body
  • Suspension not adjusted for optimal 30° hang angles
  • Attempting to force a flat lay in a gathered-end hammock
  • Two people crammed into a single hammock
  • Improper use of spreader bars straining the hammock

Achieving Optimal Lay

  • Hang at 30° angles or slightly more to enable diagonal lay
  • Position shoulders and knees at opposite corners
  • Align neck and knees to minimize bend points
  • Lay on a diagonal, not lengthwise parallel to ridgeline
  • Allow natural hang, don’t force flat like a bed
  • Let knees elevate slightly to avoid calf compression
  • Loosen suspension straps gradually to find sweet spot

Adjusting Your Suspension

  • Start with 30 inches of strap length on each tree
  • Gradually loosen straps in 4 inch increments
  • Find ideal hang distance and angle for your body
  • Mark strap settings for quick setup next time
  • Consider whoopie slings for easy length adjustments

Avoiding Problematic Hangs

  • Don’t hang hammock too tightly between anchors
  • Prevent extreme angles under 20° or over 40°
  • Use wide straps to protect trees from damage
  • Hang at height that keeps your back off the ground
  • Be wary of sharp branches abrading the hammock
  • Inspect carabiners and anchors for defects

Gear Tweaks and Upgrades

  • Get a hammock with an asymmetric cut for flatter lay
  • Try a bridge-style hammock which eliminates calf ridge
  • Add a detachable pad or underquilt for cushioning
  • Get a double hammock for more room to spread out

Simplified Explanation:

Calf ridge arises from tight hammock suspension and suboptimal body positioning that compresses the underside of the legs. It can be fixed by adjusting the hang angle to around 30 degrees to enable a nice diagonal lay, aligning the knees and neck to minimize bend points, and allowing the knees to elevate slightly to avoid calf compression. Gear upgrades like asymmetric hammocks and adjusting suspension length can also help optimize lay and comfort.

Additional Insights:

  • Trying different widths and lengths of hammocks can impact lay and calf comfort.
  • Adding a sleeping pad can provide cushioning but won’t correct a poor hang angle.
  • Loosening suspension angles gradually helps identify the optimal settings.
  • Hang angles may need adjusting seasonally as temps and clothing layers change.
  • Bridge style hammocks essentially eliminate calf ridge but limit lay angles.

Technical Terms:

  • Whoopie sling – adjustable cording suspension system used to hang hammocks
  • Ridgeline – rope running through the hammock lengthwise to define the lay
  • Cataract loops – loops on the ends of a hammock to attach carabiners
  • Tree straps – wide nylon straps that protect trees from damage
  • Structural ridgeline – a static ridgeline allowing customized hang angles
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