Can You Get Struck by Lightning in a Hammock?

Written By Matthew Cordero

Going hammock camping means that you’ll be spending most, if not all of your time, outdoors and sometimes for many days. This can increase the risk of being exposed to lightning storms. Because of this, some people wonder if it’s possible to get struck by lightning if you’re sleeping in a hammock.

Statistically, the chances of lightning striking you on a hammock is low but it can happen. However, there is a risk of getting indirectly hit if your hammock is between two trees where one is higher than others around compared to tying your hammock between two trees that are around the same height.

There are certain things to keep in mind in order to stay safe from lightning when hammock camping outdoors. Read on below to learn more.

The chances of getting struck by lightning is so rare: it’s about 1 in 960,000 annually.

However, there are still chances of getting hit by lightning whether directly or indirectly when you are out hammock camping. There are some factors that determine how high or low your risk is.

Preparation Is Key

When you’re preparing to go hammock camping, it’s important to always have an idea of the weather at all times and prepare accordingly.

The skies may look calm and clear right now, but it can change at any minute. Visual monitoring helps, but you should also go online for the forecast over the next few days of your trip. Additionally, thunderstorms tend to happen more during the late afternoons and the evenings but there are also chances that they can occur during other times of the day.

Conducive Equipment

Keeping any conducive equipment away from your hammock is another way to minimize risk of getting struck by lightning. These would attract lightning towards the hammock.

Check your hammock equipment, especially the straps, and be sure to pack those that are non-conductive. Store any metal parts and keep them away from the hammock, because while it won’t attract lightning, metal can allow lightning to travel to you.

Camp Location

It may seem tempting to camp out on mountain tops because of the views, but during lightning and thunder storms, these are the most dangerous places to be. Slot and box canyons, as well as desert terrains, are also dangerous to stay in during a lightning storm.

These areas should be avoided:

  • Isolated trees: Don’t set up your hammock in a wide open space, among the only few trees found there. These tall and isolated objects will make you vulnerable to side flashes, which is when lightning strikes an object (the tree), then jumps to an object located close to it (you and/or your hammock).
  • Timberlines: Hammock camping on mountainous zones are the most dangerous areas especially near or in the timberline.
  • Exposed, high terrain: Avoid ridgelines, peaks, ledges, and sheer cliffs.
  • Open spaces: Don’t pitch your hammock in an area where you would be the tallest object. This would make you much more vulnerable to a direct lightning strike.
  • Bodies of water: Stay away from bodies of water, whether it’s rivers, lakes, or ponds.
  • Dead or lone trees: Lightning can strike the isolated objects around you including dead or lone trees, and this could result in a side flash, causing you to indirectly get burnt or struck,

Generally speaking, lower your hammock is to the ground, the less your chances are of getting struck by lightning. This means that it’s best to keep your hammock low, and tying in between the shortest trees you can find in the area. If you have no choice but to set up your hammock in an open area, you can set up in a low area such as a ravine, in the event that you are able to find trees in the area to hang your hammock.

It’s impossible to be 100% safe from lightning strikes from a hammock, as you can still be prone to side flashes. Always seek shelter in a building or structure, or have an option for one nearby, if there is a forecast for a thunderstorm or as soon as you see one approaching.

Overall, you shouldn’t stress out too much about thunderstorms when hammock camping as long as you check the weather forecast and have a backup plan.

Safety Tips

Here are other safety tips to reduce your chances of getting struck by lightning when you’re hammock camping:

  • Just because you don’t see lightning doesn’t mean that the risk has been eliminated. If you are hammocking in the wild and the weather turns for the worse, it’s always a good idea to seek shelter. If there’s thunder, then there is already a risk for lightning in your vicinity.
  • Put a tarp underneath your hammock. This layer between the ground and your hammock can provide extra protection from lightning. If you don’t have a tarp, a sleeping pad or a small camp stool will do the job. It would prevent side flashes from reaching you if lightning has struck the ground

Best waterproof hammocks for camping

If you are going to go hammock camping but aren’t sure how the conditions will be, it’s recommended to get a waterproof or weather-proof hammock. Here are some great, top-rated models that you can order from Amazon:

-   Wise Owl Outfitters Camping Hammock
-   Kootek Camping Hammock
-   Legit Camping Hammock

So Are You Safe From Lightning in a Hammock?

You can still get struck by lightning in a hammock. If lightning doesn’t strike directly, anyone hammock camping can get indirectly struck through side flashes or get injured from falling limbs and trees.

There is no sure guarantee that these methods would 100% prevent lightning from striking you in a hammock, but following them certainly decreases the risks of it happening. If you’ve already done the necessary precautions mentioned above but still find yourself caught in a thunderstorm in your hammock, and are unable to leave, look for shelter options nearby and be sure to camp in an area where shelter is always accessible if lightning is a worry.

Frequently Asked Questions

What to do while hammock camping during a thunderstorm?

The best thing to do if a thunderstorm starts while you’re hammock camping is to always seek shelter right away. Leave any elevated areas such as peaks, mountain ridges, and hills but never lay flat on the ground.

When determining your shelter options, always stay in one where you can go inside and avoid staying outside especially if there are metal doors, electrical appliances, or metal window frames since these can give lightning a path.