‘It’s total relaxation’: Hammocking gives students an activity to hang out


Illustration by Jessica Ma

Students enjoy hammocking with friends or by themselves, describing it as a relaxing experience.

Jessica Ma, Assistant Campus Editor

When Weinberg senior Ben Swedberg sways in his hammock, he feels like a “baked potato wrapped in tin foil” warming up under the sun. 

“It’s total relaxation, especially if I can find a spot where it’s still sunny on me and I’m baking a little bit,” Swedberg said. “I enjoy the sensation of swaying back and forth.” 

When spring rolls around, the Lakefill becomes dotted with brightly colored hammocks dangling between trees. Around campus, students say they hammock to have fun in the sun. 

Swedberg said hammocking is a popular summer pastime in Michigan, his home state. In high school, people would drive to the woods to hammock together, he said. 

One summer, Swedberg did not own a hammock, which made him feel left out. 

“Then, I got a hammock. The clouds parted, and the sun started shining,” Swedberg said. “It was the dawn of a new age.”

Now, Swedberg keeps his hammock in his backpack “in case duty calls.” In the spring, Swedberg said, he hammocks once or twice a week. 

Swedberg has brought his hammock on several backpacking and camping trips. He usually sleeps in his hammock, he said, rather than carrying around a tent. 

Swedberg’s hammock is navy blue and black, which he said was meant to be unassuming.  

“I thought it would be kind of annoying if I had a bright yellow hammock in the woods, where people are trying to enjoy a nice hike,” he said. 

Weinberg sophomore Graham Umbanhowar has one word to describe his hammocking experience: bliss. 

Umbanhowar’s mom gave him his hammock as a gift two weeks before the start of his freshman year. The first day he arrived on campus, he went out to hammock and “fell in love” with the activity.

“Sometimes, you just want to kick it,” Umbanhowar said. “It’s the type of thing where the second it’s a really nice day, it’ll be my go-to activity.”

For Umbanhowar, hammocking is a spontaneous, non-strenuous activity. While hammocking, he said, he enjoys reading or sleeping. 

While Umbanhowar prefers to hammock alone, Weinberg junior Emmanuel Nidea is a communal hammocker. He enjoys doing the activity with others. 

He didn’t begin hammocking until last spring, when he ran into friends hammocking on the Lakefill. Others began to join them and formed a “hammocking circle.” 

Nidea had never been on a hammock before, but he realized he was “vibing with it.” He went on Amazon to buy his own hammock — a green one with yellow edges.

“(I was) able to participate in that culture and appreciate Northwestern’s campus while being surrounded by good friends,” Nidea said. “(That’s) what pushed me to get my own hammock, so I could have more moments like those.” 

But this year, Umbanhowar said his hammocking experience has gone downhill. 

He pointed to the challenges that come with hammocking, like navigating the Lakefill’s shared space with nature’s messengers: birds. 

“One of the central plagues to exist on the Lakefill is that of bird poop,” Umbanhowar said. “You think to yourself, ‘I’m safe in my hammock. I’m elevated’ … but that’s when they get you.”

Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @JessicaMa2025

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