Backpacking with Hammock instead of Tent

For many years, campers and backpackers relied on tents as their primary form of overnight shelter. On the other hand, the humble hammock is an enticing alternative—and one that is becoming increasingly popular. So if you enjoy relaxing in a hammock, it might be time to try camping in one.

We’ll contrast the hammock with the traditional outdoor shelter, the tent. We need to establish a standard against which to compare hammock camping in this article. So, first and foremost, let’s summarize a few critical analytical criteria about tents as shelters.


What is Hammock Camping?

Hammock CampingThe name Hammock camping refers to camping in which campers sleep in hammocks instead of ground tents.

Hammock camping entails replacing your traditional tent with a hammock and a few useful accessories, allowing you to sleep comfortably outside overnight.

Because hammocks are lightweight and take up little space in a pack, they are popular among backpackers and bikers. Hammock campers also have a better view and avoid the discomfort of sleeping on sloped or rocky ground. You only need a couple of sturdy trees.

What You Need to Hammock Camp

You can make a DIY camping (or backpacking) setup by adding components to your existing hammock, or you can buy a prepackaged “hammock tent” system that includes the majority of the items listed below:

1.       Suspension system

A suspension system, at its core, bridges the gap between the hammock and the anchor point. It should also include a mechanism for adjusting the gap based on how far apart the anchors are.

Because bare ropes can cause tree bark damage, a sound suspension system with wide straps is required. A hammock tent with a strap system is also easy to set up since no knots are required. In addition, some hammock tent systems come with thick ropes and protective sleeves to protect tree bark.

2.       Hammock

Hanging fabrics, ropes, or netting are used to create hammocks that people can use for sleeping, swinging or lounging. The hammock is frequently associated with summer, leisure, relaxation, and simple, easy living.

The essential factor to consider is comfort if you’re buying one, though weight will also be an issue if you’re backpacking. Aside from the classic sling, you can also find innovative designs.

3.       Sleeping pad

In the tents or hammocks, your lofty sleeping bag’s underneath is compressed and loses insulation power.  The solution in a tent is to use an inflated or foam sleeping pad. A pad can also be used in a hammock, though it may not nestle neatly into the hammock’s shape.

One option is to purchase an accessory sleeve to aid in the stabilization of your pad. Another strategy is to slightly deflate an air pad to help it conform to the shape of your hammock. Finally, some people cut a foam pad to size, which is inexpensive, effective, and windproof.

4.       Underquilt

As a replacement for a sleeping pad, an underquilt is used as bottom insulation. It is made up of sleeping bag insulation suspended beneath the hammock to insulate the bottom of the hammock without being crushed by the occupant’s bodyweight.

Because a hammock wraps around you, your underside is exposed to the elements. Therefore, an underquilt is a better (though more expensive) solution than a sleeping pad. Due to its outside and below placement, the insulation in an underquilt does not compress and can loft completely to provide ample warmth.

5.       Rain tarp (or rainfly)

This is the hammock equivalent of a rainfly for a tent, typically mounted over a ridgeline that you tie between the trees above your hammock. If you aren’t purchasing one designed explicitly for hammocks, make sure the option you select has enough attachment points to secure the tarp where you want it.

6.       Bug net

Many hammock nets available for purchase will cover the entire hammock, while others will cover the top. If you only have a top-only net, your sleeping bag and pad will provide some bug protection underneath. Still, it would be best if you also considered treating the bottom of the hammock with a fabric-safe insecticide such as permethrin.

How to set up a Hammock

Hang your hammock correctly by following these simple guidelines (but keep in mind that each hammock model is slightly different):

1.       Find Anchor Points

Your hammock anchor points for camping and backpacking are almost always two trees. These trees must be strong enough to support your entire body weight while suspended in your hammock. Check for any potentially hazardous branches (window makers) hanging precariously overhead.

The distance between the two trees (or other anchor points) should be between 10 and 15 feet. This will assist you in obtaining the most comfortable hammock hang angle possible.

2.      Attach Straps to Trees

It’s now time to connect your hammock straps to your anchor points.

Although every strap is different, the majority of them use a looping system. Wrap one end of the strap around the tree and thread it through one of the strap’s loops.

Adjust the straps so that your hammock hangs around your waist. When your body weight is added, you want it to sit about 18 inches off the ground.

Fix the anchor points slowly and carefully. Because the ground is likely to be uneven where you’re camping, make sure your hammock is hung evenly between two trees at the same height.

3.       Attach Hammock to Straps

Attach your hammock to the straps once both support straps are securely fastened to the two trees.

The straps are built into some models of hammocks. Other models necessitate their attachment separately.

Separately attaching the hammock straps requires one carabiner to one strap, and another carabiner is attached to the other strap.

4.       Adjust Sleeping Position

Finding your preferred hammock camping sleeping position may take some trial and error, especially on your first few outings.

People trying to make their hammock too flat is a common beginner hammock mistake we see. However, because you’re used to sleeping flat on your bed, it might make sense to try it with your hammock.

However, hammocks are not intended to be used in this manner. A hammock has a naturally curved shape. Take advantage of this natural curve to find the most comfortable sleeping position.

When you make your hammock too flat, the sides become too tight. It will squeeze you from the sides and make you feel constrained.

Hammocks as a Shelter

1.       Practicality

The learning curve for hammocks is steep. You’ll spend some time tinkering with your setup, learning how to pitch taut, repair slack after weighing the hammock, and estimate distances between trees. Among other things, you’ll need to hang angles and keep your top quilt and underquilt dry.

2.       Comfort

Hammocks, by definition, provide a very comfortable surface on which to lay. Camping hammocks force the user to lie sideways, resulting in a more flat-shaped lying position than a banana-shaped lying position. The hammock is usually an enjoyable sleeping system because there are no roots, rocks, or lumps to contend with.

3.       Protection

When it comes to protection, hammocks leave a lot to be desired. They are highly vulnerable to convective heat loss, which is heat loss caused by breezes and winds moving beneath the sleeper. As a result, you’ll need to use something called an “under quilt” to keep you warm.

4.       Options

The options for camping hammocks are both overwhelming and limiting. In comparison to tents, there are fewer manufacturers of hammock camping gear. Most hammock campers who stick with it for a long time end up making or modifying their equipment.

5.       Size/Weight

Hammocks typically come in a variety of sizes and weights. They don’t need bulky, heavy tent stakes, but they do need a large rain tarp, tree huggers, toggles, and an underquilt. However, when compared to lightweight tent setups, hammocks are usually on par.

However, there is a significant difference in size and weight depending on which hammock and tent you compare. If you don’t compare “apples to apples,” you’ll get a very skewed picture.

6.       Set up

When compared to tents, hammocks require significantly more time and effort to set up. The learning curve for setup can be steep, and you’ll make many mistakes before perfecting your hang.

The following are the reasons why the setup is complicated:

  • The hammock and tarp must be set up separately.
  • The angle at which the hammock hangs is critical.
  • The size and distance between trees are essential considerations.
  • There may be delicate knots and procedures involved.

What exactly is tent camping?

Tent campingNomads, recreational campers, soldiers, and disaster victims all live in tents. In addition, overhead shelters for festivals, weddings, backyard parties, major corporate events, excavation (construction) covers, and industrial shelters are also standard.

Tents as a Shelter

1.       Practicality

It is quick and straightforward to get over the learning curve. This is how tents are made: foolproof and quick. Except in rare cases, finding a tent campsite is usually simple. However, mastering the art of setup and site selection may take some time.

2.       Comfort

Tents are extremely easy to keep comfortable. They keep bugs at bay and rain at bay (provided you purchase a decent one). They may, however, experience condensation problems. Most tents have plenty of flat space as well as room to stretch and move around.

3.       Protection

Wind, rain, and even driving rain are all well-protected by this design. Rainfly usually fall far enough to keep even the worst weather out. Tents shield you from convective heat loss, which is heat lost due to air moving beneath you. However, a sleeping pad is required to prevent conductive heat loss to the cold of the ground.

4.       Options

Are virtually limitless. Tents have been popular for many years, and each manufacturer produces variations with varying features. So if you can think of it, chances are it’s already available.

5.       Size/Weight

Tents’ size and weight can vary when compared to hammocks. However, the weight of high-end tents is similar to or slightly less than that of high-end hammock setups.

6.       Organize

Tents are typically easier to set up in the field than hammocks. Tents will be far easier and faster to set up for users who do not have expert status. Finding a tent site is often easier than finding a hammock site, except in the most extreme cases.

Wrap Up

Tents and hammocks are worlds apart. Moving from tents and ground shelters to hammocks requires a complete overhaul of your gear and systems. However, it can be a great move that is both enjoyable and rewarding for the right people.

Caution: hammocks aren’t all fun and games. They can be demanding, difficult to set up, and require a significant amount of testing and modification to get them “just right” for you. We believe that hammocks make the most sense for users who, for whatever reason, are unable to find a suitable sleeping system.

Bottom insulation is required in a hammock; when sleeping on the ground, this was provided by your sleeping pad (inflatable or closed-cell foam), and you can use it in your hammock as well. As a replacement for a sleeping pad, an underquilt is used as bottom insulation.

Even if hammocking makes you feel like a soft-shelled burrito served on a bear platter, there is no evidence that it is any more dangerous than tent camping. Bear attacks are almost always the result of human error, not your preferred sleeping arrangement.

Set up your tent and hammock the next time you go camping. Begin your evening in the hammock. If it doesn’t work out, you’ll have a safe and familiar alternative.

No one has ever been eaten by a bear from the comfort of their hammock, as far as we know.

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