Hammocks may have once been for comfortably lounging in the garden or at the beach, however, things have changed in recent years.
There are increasing numbers of campers, trekkers, and ramblers who have decided to switch from the trusty tent to the latest camping hammocks for their overnight stops in the wilderness.
New designs and materials have enabled hammocks to offer many of the benefits that a tent provides, while also being lightweight and portable.
Whether or not you should leave the tent at home and switch to the hammock really depends on a lot of different factors such as the location you plan to camp, how you’re traveling, prevailing weather conditions, and how much you’re able to carry.
Should I Switch To Hammock Camping – Factor to Consider
One of the key things people often forget is that hammocks need something to tie up against in order to be used.
If you’re planning to camp in a location without adequate tree coverage, a hammock may not be suitable or certainly less flexible than a traditional tent-based camping setup.
However tents require a flat clear area to be used, and this is where hammocks can really show their flexibility.
As long as there are anchors available, hammocks can be used in various types of terrain, and have other benefits, keeping you raised up off the ground away from snakes and other critters, as well as water and puddles.
Overall, there are a great number of benefits to using hammocks, and the newest designs add a lot of utility as well as being lightweight.
Bug nets, rain tarps, and even storage are all possible with the best hammocks available today, making them a tempting choice for weight-conscious campers.
What do you put under a hammock?
Many believe that hammock camping leaves you and your gear more exposed than other forms of camping, however, this isn’t the case anymore.
Modern materials and the ability to use excellent rain tarps allow hammocks to provide as much shelter as a tent can, for both you and your equipment.
The area beneath your hammock, even with a rain tarp is usually fairly well protected from the rain and other elements depending on the tree coverage and how high up your hammock is mounted.
This space can be used to store anything from backpacks to bikes, as well as your other camping equipment.
To keep yourself warm in colder environments you can use under quilts to provide insulation to the underside of your hammock, ensuring that you remain snug and don’t feel the chill of the cool air beneath you.
What do you do with your backpack when hammock camping?
It depends on the setup of your hammock and your campsite. Typically you can easily place your backpack beneath your hammock where it will be sheltered from the elements and also be easily accessible to you.
If you’d rather keep your bag off the floor however there are other ingenious ways of positioning your bag.
For example, it’s possible, depending on the type of bag you’re using and how heavy it is, to strap your bag onto the hammock straps to keep it raised up off the ground if you’re concerned about scavenging critters.
You can also find ways to strap it to the side of your hammock, or for smaller bags, it’s even possible to put them on the hammock with you near your feet.
It just depends on how big you, your hammock, and your backpack is.
Some newer hammock designs have added storage capacity in very unique and innovative ways, such as adding under sheets to provide both insulation and storage capacity, allowing you to keep your belongings better protected and also using them for added insulation.
You can get as creative as you like when it comes to storing your equipment, and you will often find yourself having to adapt to the environment you’re camping in.
Using your knowledge of your campsite and your equipment it should be no trouble to find a safe and easy place to keep your backpack secure.
Is hammock camping lighter than tent camping?
One of the big advantages that has drawn people to hammock camping is the lightness and portability of hammocks.
Due to the fact that hammocks don’t need metal poles and have much less material than tents, they are undoubtedly more lightweight, easier to pack, and much more modular.
For a tent to function properly, the whole thing comes as a package.
With hammocks, especially modern camping hammocks, you can decide what you need for each particular camping trip.
For example, if you know for a fact that the weather is going to be hot and dry on your trip, you may not need to bring a rain tarp with you.
Instead, you can simply pack your hammock, your straps, and your bug net if you feel you need it.
All of this is far easier and lighter to pack and carry due to being far smaller than a tent, much simpler, and allowing you to only bring what you need for the particular conditions and environment you plan to camp in.
There are certainly lightweight tents that exist but there are very few that can match the ultralight weight of camping hammocks, some of which weighing as little as 2lbs.
The advantages of a camping hammock in terms of portability are quite clear, as they will allow you to travel more comfortably, further and faster due to being lighter. Just make sure you’re in an environment with plenty of opportunities to actually mount your hammock effectively.
Do you need an underquilt for a hammock?
An underquilt is the accessory hammock campers use to stave off the cold that lurks beneath every hammock at night.
One of the biggest disadvantages of hammocks is also tied to one of its inherent advantages.
Floating off the ground makes you safer and more comfortable, but being surrounded by open-air means that insulation can be a big problem, especially in colder seasons.
To prevent you from losing a lot of your heat from out of the bottom of your hammock, underquilts have been designed to help insulate you and stop so much heat from escaping in this way.
They can make a huge difference to your comfort when camping out in the cold and while it is possible to get by without them, you will have a much more comfortable experience if you choose to bring a good underquilt along with you.
The beauty of hammock camping is that you can always choose not to use it if the weather is warmer than expected.
Can you use a sleeping bag in a hammock?
While you definitely can use a sleeping bag in a hammock it actually isn’t the preferred choice for most.
This is because hammocks are already quite small, restrictive spaces, and being cocooned in another smaller space can make things feel quite cramped and uncomfortable.
Most hammock campers prefer to use blankets that can be tucked in as needed and allow for that little bit of extra freedom, as well as the fact that camping blankets are often far less heavy and bulky than sleeping bags which is often a key consideration for anyone who has opted to hammock camp.
Some may prefer the extra warmth and insulation that sleeping bags offer, particularly in colder seasons or if you don’t use an underquilt.
Ultimately you need to decide what balance you like to strike between comfort, insulation, and weight.
Does hammock camping save space?
Hammock camping is almost certainly one of the lightest camping systems available today.
They pack up small and are very economical space-wise, which makes them a growing choice for trekkers and outdoor enthusiasts who like to travel light without sacrificing comfort and utility.
Hammocks may not offer the interior space of tents, but when coupled with purpose-built rain tarps they can provide a comparative amount of comfort and protection from the elements, meaning that on balance they pack an enormous amount of utility and performance into a very small and portable package.
If you have space and are in an area without many trees, a tent may be the safer option, but hammocks are very versatile and modular allowing you to adapt to your intended campsite and plan ahead to get the most out of your equipment.
Is a rope or fabric hammock better?
The traditional casual hammock is the rope hammock often associated with beaches, backyards, and lounging in the sunshine on a glorious summer day.
These hammocks are comfortable, simple, and have a great-looking aesthetic.
They often include spreader bars to keep the hammock flat and add stability which makes the hammock very comfortable for prolonged use.
While rope hammocks pack relatively small and are quite light, they are often not as well suited to expeditions as purpose-built, fabric camping hammocks.
This is because fabric hammocks are made of strong, modern materials with great strength to weight ratio, as well as being waterproof or very quick to dry.
This makes fabric an obvious choice for more arduous environments where weight and utility are key.
Fabric hammocks may not be as comfortable as rope hammocks, depending on the configuration and whether spreader bars are used, however fabric hammocks are still superbly comfortable.
This may explain why most dedicated camping hammocks nowadays have a fabric construction over the more old school rope designs.
Do bears attack hammocks?
Bears will pretty much attack anything unlucky enough to attract their curiosity. This is one of the simple truths about heading out into the wilderness and is something that everyone should be prepared to face and be equipped to deal with.
While hammocks themselves won’t attract the attention of a bear any more than a tent, it’s usually other factors that contribute to drawing bears and their ire.
Usually, when people camp out they will cook their dinner at their campsite and the scent of food, along with the warmth a fire gives off can be enough to draw various predators and scavengers, bears among them.
While bears won’t be particularly offended to see you using a hammock instead of a tent, if they feel threatened they are liable to attack.
The best habits to get into are eating your food quickly and not leaving scraps out in the open to draw predators, being prepared with deterrents such as bear spray, and making yourself an unappealing target.
Leaving as little trace of your presence as possible is the best way to attract any unwanted attention when out in the wild.
How can I make my hammock more comfortable?
There are a few things you can to make your hammock that little bit more comfortable. Hanging your hammock with the right amount of sag is key, as well as using bug nets, rain tarps, and spreader bars where appropriate.
An inflatable knee pillow can help some people, and lying diagonally can also be a great way to help spread the hammock out and adjust the way it cradles you. Finding what works for you will take time but is very rewarding.
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