I would like to admit that while growing up, I didn’t know much about hammock camping. We used to go for high adventure trips to places like northern Ontario in isolated cabins. When we were out camping for summers with the Scouts, we used large tents that could carry up to ten people. However, the argument of hammocks vs. tents has come up more often recently. Which is better and why?
There are plenty of perfect arguments that can come from both sides. Let’s, therefore, take a look at both hammock camping and tent camping so that we can make a sound decision based on factors that are most important to a novice camper like you.
Most outdoor enthusiasts are more familiar with tent camping as compared to hammock. This is because tent camping has been the most popular form of camping for decades. Tents are comfortable to sleep in and work flawlessly in a variety of situations. Here is are the reasons why:
Tents enable you to escape the weather
The main reason why we go camping is so that we can give ourselves the opportunity to be immersed in the outdoors with friends and family members. However, sometimes the weather may not always be our good friend and may take a turn for the worse. As a result, you will need some protection. The four walls of a tent and a stable rain fly will keep you safe from the rain, the wind, and the snow.
Sleeping inside a tent will give you the freedom to customize what you sleep on so that it can perfectly fit your sleeping style. Every camper wants to have a great night’s sleep after having a day full of hours of enjoyment and creating connections with nature. Sleeping in a tent will be awesome since you will be able to integrate your cots and sleeping pads into your tent.
Tents are sized to fit your needs
One of the best reasons why you should have a tent while you are out camping is that you will have room to store your gear and equipment out of the element. This is because tents come in different sizes and varieties to allow you to choose one that will suit your needs.
Does tent camping has any shortcomings?
Camping in tents has some shortcomings, which is one of the reasons why most campers now prefer hammocks. These cons include:
It’s not guaranteed that you will find a good spot
Sometimes the terrain of your camping site may not be suitable for setting up a tent. For example, if the terrain is rocky, it will be hard to set up a tent there. You may also have a hard time pitching your tent so it can stay dry during a rainstorm.
Sleeping on hard ground can be a bit uncomfortable
If the terrain is rough, sleeping on such a surface will be very uncomfortable to your back. This will be made worse if you don’t have any sleeping pads or sleeping bag.
Camping with a tent means that the whole family is going to sleep in that tent with you. This means that you will have to learn to fall asleep while your grandpa snores next to you. Your smart cousin, on the other hand, would be 50 yards away from having sweet dreams in his hammock.
More moving parts
Since tents are large and heavy, it has more parts that can fail or be lost. The tent zippers may fail due to wear and tear, the tent stakes may become lost, and the tent poles may malfunction.
What can be said about Hammock camping?
The popularity of hammock camping has increased in recent years, although it has actually been around for quite some time. This is because most campers find it to be the best overall sleep system. Experienced backpackers like me who have happily ground-slept for decades also find hammocks to be more practical and efficient as compared to tent camping.
The primary advantage of hammock camping is that it leads to a huge increase in suitable camp sites. Hammocks will make rocky and steep terrains irrelevant as far as camping is concerned. You will also have an advantage over other campers in case the campsite is overcrowded since all you will need is two trees that are 12 to 18 feet apart and you are good to set up your hammock.
What are the advantages of hammocks?
Apart from improved campsite availability, hammock camping has several advantages over tent camping, which include:
Camp comfort and sleep quality
Sleeping in a hammock will always give you a better night of rest as compared to sleeping on the ground. With a hammock, you will not need to bring a dedicated camp chair with you.
Setting up a hammock with the Straps and Carabineers is easier and faster as compared to setting up a tent. For you to set up a tent, you will have to scope out a suitable area first and clear it of rocks while in the case of hammocks, it will take you at most two minutes to clip two nylon strands around trees- without regard to the surface below.
Falling asleep breathing fresh air
Since the main reason you go out for camping is to connect with nature, sleeping in a hammock will allow you to breathe fresh air while you sleep. You will also be able to watch the stars and be woken up with the beautiful sunrise. You will also spend the first few minutes of your morning watching the birds hop from tree to tree and watching the clouds filter. What a beautiful sight!
Hammocks have all the features of a tent
Nowadays hammocks come with all the suitable features that tents have. From mosquito nets to traps to gear lofts for your belongings. Hammocks also have rain flies that you can set up to reflect heat just like a tent.
Leaves no trace
With a hammock, you will leave no trace of where you are camping. Hammocks don’t also crush or smother the vegetation below them.
Protection against rain and ground water
When you are tent camping, and it rains, you might count yourself lucky if you don’t wake up in the wee hours of the night in a pool of water that has collected inside your tent. This is why hammocks are superb when it is raining or when the ground is wet.
Here are the shortcomings of hammocks
Just like all gears, hammocks are not flawless, either. They have a few obvious limitations that include:
You will aneed to have trees of sufficient strength to set up your hammock. The trees also need to be well spaced.
Less comfort while sleeping. Sincerely speaking, sleeping in a hammock is never very comfortable. Most people normally feel so much squeezed when sleeping in a hammock.
Sleeping in a hammock results to a cold comfort because there is nothing to insulate underneath the hammock if you didn’t carry your underquilt with you. The cooling that comes from underneath especially when there is some wind may lead to a very cold comfort. Related: Sleep cozy in your winter hammock.
It is time to declare the winner between the two
Your choice of camping gear will depend on your preference and the campsite area. For example, if you are camping in a field with no trees, then a hammock simply won’t work. On the other hand, for those intending to camp in a mountainous terrain, then a hammock will be a perfect choice.
When it comes to my choice, I am a hammock fan. This is because I’m an ultralight backpacker. I also prefer to sleep while I can watch the stars and breathe fresh air. Ever since I started using hammocks, I have never looked back.
This does not mean that tents are not good. In fact, tent camping has been around longer than hammock camping. It’s therefore advisable to choose what works for you. I would, therefore, conclude that this debate of hammocks vs. tents is a win-win for everyone involved since it all depends on what works for you.