Hammock Living: The Ultimate Simple Van Conversion
- They’re forced into vandwelling because they have little or no money.
- They have a strong desire to live as simple or minimal a life as they possibly can.
For those of you who fall into one of those camps (broke or a minimalist) you’re going to love today’s post! We’re going to look at my friend Nancy’s van home which I think is the simplest, easiest and cheapest conversion I’ve ever seen. Are you ready? Here’s what she did:
- She took out all the seats.
- Tied a knot on each end of a hammock.
- Opened the front and back door and closed the knot in it.
- Moved her stuff in.
Whatever your situation or desires out of life, you can do just what she did and live a very happy life of freedom on the road! You don’t need money to buy a lot of stuff, you don’t have to have the skill and tools to build anything, you don’t have to spend a lot of time planning and making decisions.
No, you just buy a hammock, hang it in the van, put your stuff in the van, and drive away! Simple, cheap and easy.
What you must have is the courage and boldness to make the decision to do it! Those are the only essential things you need to bring to this party. If you can do that, you’re set!
I’ve known a few people who loved hammocks and I’ve known people who hated them. The one thing I can say for sure about them is that they are polarizing, you either love them or hate them. I’ve not spent enough time in one to form an opinion, but based on my research and what I’ve heard from people who use them, here are their advantages and disadvantages.
Why should you get a hammock?
1) It’s a very natural and fetus-like way to sleep. There’s no question about that, if you get in a hammock you are curled up in a fetus-like position and you feel enclosed like I’m sure you would in the fetus. People who love them say that because they are so close to the natural way babies (and therefore all humans) sleep they have these health advantages:
- The rocking motion gives you a deeper, more restful sleep. I must admit, I immediately noticed the rocking motion of the hammock and loved it, so this claim I totally believe! It’s also the only one with clinical proof. A Swiss sleep study verified that rocking during sleep does indeed cause a deeper, better sleep which should lead to increased alertness and mental functioning the next day. http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2011/06/21/137300311/why-hammocks-make-sleep-easier-deeper
- They are better for your back and neck. My first impression was this would be true for me. I have a terrible time finding a pillow that works for my neck, but I thought the hammock was just right without a pillow. Only time would tell if it’s true.
- They eliminate pressure points so you don’t toss and turn. Again, I can easily believe this to be accurate. I’m constantly turning over in a bed so this would be wonderful if it’s true.
2) They save space. This is not up to any debate; they save a huge amount of room in the van and we need all of it we can get!
3) A Hammock is always level. Again, there is no debate about this, they allow you to sleep level no matter what weird angle the van is at. As a boondocker who spends lots of time in the National Forests or BLM land, this is a huge advantage to me. Their’ s a reason sailors have been sleeping in hammocks for hundreds of years; ships are rarely level!
4) They’re much cooler in the heat. We’ve all laid down on a hot night and felt the heat pouring up through the mattress. The thin piece of nylon or netting in a hammock doesn’t make you nearly as hot!
5) Making your bed is easy! Every morning I spend the first 10 minutes making my bed. That problem is solved with a hammock.
6) No build up of condensation or mold. While this doesn’t happen to me in the desert, whenever I’m in the forests I get condensation building up under the mattress and on top of the plywood under it; sometimes leading to mold. That won’t happen with a hammock.
7) No dust mites or bed bugs. Most of us don’t have these problems, but if you do a hammock will solve them. If you spend much time in a motel or hotel, it could be a lifesaver.
8) No mice, scorpions, snakes or spiders will crawl in bed with you. Many primitive tribes that lived in jungles or rain forests sleep in hammocks because it gets them up from the creepy crawlies on the jungle floor. They do the same for you and I wherever we are.
1) It’s hard to get in and out of them. Nancy says that after awhile it gets easy, but no doubt in the beginning it will be quite difficult.
2) Hyper-extension of your knees. This was the very first thing I noticed and Nancy agreed, but she said she just put a pillow under her knees or bend them up the sides and that solved the problem. That made sense to me.
3) Getting out of bed at night to go potty. As I’ve gotten older, I find myself making multiple trips to the bathroom at night and I think that’s true for most of us. I can see that as being a real problem with a hammock.
4) Their colder than a mattress. This is the flip-side to they are cooler in the summer, they are colder in the winter. There are two common solutions which most people find totally solve the problem:
- A backpacking sleeping pad under it will keep you warm and it doesn’t cost much.
- An under-quilt that ties around the bottom of the hammock. It does an excellent job of keeping you warm and because its under the hammock and not under you, your weight won’t compress the insulation reducing its value. Unfortunately, they are fairly expensive. You can get them in 3/4 length or full length and Nancy recommends getting a full length or you can have cold feet.
To learn more about hammocks Nancy recommends joining Hammock Forums. Find it here: https://hammockforums.net/forum/content.php
You can buy the Trek Light Hammock that Nancy owns and recommends from Amazon here: Trek Light Gear Single Hammock
Here is a nice under-quilt at a good price $175 from Amazon: Eagles Nest Primaloft Underquilt