Up until recently, tents have been the default shelter for camping. But, over the last few years an interesting alternative has been quietly gathering a cult following among ultralight hikers, bushcrafters and bikepackers around the world: camping hammocks. Yep, you read that right. If you thought hammocks were just for lounging by the beach, then it is time to think again.
So, should you ditch your tent for a camping hammock? In this blog, we unpack some of the reasons why people are making the switch to hammock camping – and why you should, too.
What actually is hammock camping?
Hammock camping is pretty self-explanatory: instead of using a tent as a shelter when camping, you use a lightweight hiking hammock.
Just like a tent, a camping hammock gives you portable, packable shelter that you can carry with you on overnight adventures. They both protect you from the elements, such as rain, wind and insects, and provide you with a place to sleep in the great outdoors. Hammocks and tents come in a variety of models and designs, with some options better suited to certain conditions than others. And, both shelter options often utilise purpose-built accessories for additional functionality, such as a rainfly for your tent to protect you from the rain, or a waterproof tarp over your hammock.
But, that is where the similarities end. Tents are pitched with poles and staked into the ground, requiring a flat, even surface. They are always paired with a sleeping mat to provide a comfortable, cushioned surface to sleep on. In contrast, hiking hammocks are elevated off the ground between two trees (or other anchor points) using a suspension system made up of hammock straps or ropes. Because you are not sleeping on the hard ground, you won’t necessarily need a sleeping mat. Likewise, while your sleeping mat and sleeping bag provide insulation against the cold in a tent, hiking hammocks require alternative insulation strategies to stay warm.
Ultimately, tents and camping hammocks serve the same purpose. But, how they do that is very different, with each option requiring specific gear and setup considerations for optimal performance.
Why should you try Hammock Camping?
You might be asking yourself, “Ok, but why should I try hammock camping? I’ve been using my tent for years, afterall.”
As a matter of fact, there are a lot of benefits to hammock camping that might make you consider ditching your tent for hammock. We could write a whole book devoted to why we love hammock camping – but we’ll save that for another day. Here are our top four reasons why you should give hammock camping a go:
1. Camping Hammocks provide next-level comfort.
For all the great benefits of hammock camping, comfort is one of the most compelling reasons for why you should try it. Why? Easy. Because better sleep equals better adventures.
With proper setup technique, a camping hammock can make sleeping wild more comfortable than ever before. No painful pressure-points, no sliding off the edge of your mat because the ground isn’t quite flat, no waking up feeling more sore and exhausted than when you went to bed. Just ask anyone who uses a hammock for camping, and they’ll tell you the same thing: camping hammocks are unbelievably comfortable.
Gently supporting you as you sleep, a hiking hammock can significantly improve your sleep quality. Sleep is the foundation of physical and mental performance. Not only does it ensure that you wake up feeling energised, it aids muscle recovery, boosts your mood, and can even reduce the risk of injury. By enhancing your sleep, a camping hammock can improve every aspect of your outdoor adventures.
2. Hammock camping gives you more freedom
The next big reason why you should try hammock camping is because of the freedom it brings to your adventures. Without the need for flat and even ground, you can use your camping hammock just about anywhere, as long as there are suitable trees or other anchor points around.
By increasing your potential campsites, hammock camping is ideal for adventurers who are heading off the beaten track, such as long-distance hikers, bikepackers or even pack-rafters. Even if you aren’t setting out on a big mission, a hiking hammock gives you a lot of freedom about where and how you camp.
3. Hammock camping offers unique advantages.
As well as the freedom to camp in a wide variety of locations, hammock camping offers impressive advantages.
Without the need for tent poles, pegs or other built-in features, a good quality camping hammock can save you weight and space in your pack compared to your average tent setup. Plus, because camping hammocks require far less fabric to make, they can be constructed from high-quality, ultra-durable materials and still weigh less.
The unique advantages of a camping hammock don’t stop there. Another big point in their favour is ventilation. Hammocks have superior airflow, reducing condensation and helping to regulate your temperature while you sleep. This also means that your hammock is less susceptible to moisture damage.
Finally, by not coming into contact with the ground, your camping hammock can last far longer than a tent and will require fewer repairs over time. This will save you a lot of money over the long-term, especially because hammocks are generally more affordable than tents.
4. Camping Hammocks are more fun.
Last but not least, you should try hammock camping because it is fun. What’s a better reason than that, after all?
With a camping hammock in your pack, even the most familiar locations can feel like a new, exciting adventure. As you explore your surroundings with a new perspective, you’ll start to notice details in the environment that you would have never even given a second glance to before.
Another fun part of hammock camping is the community that sparks up around it. If you camp in areas with other people around, your neighbours will often be very curious, asking questions about your setup. And, if you do happen to cross paths with another hammock camping fan, they will usually be eager to swap notes on gear, technique and adventure destinations. These small but meaningful interactions can make your adventures more memorable.
That’s a wrap!
Lightweight, versatile and exceptionally comfortable, a camping hammock is a great shelter option for the wild. But, it is much more than that. Hammock camping opens up new adventures for you, bringing you closer with nature and memories that will stay with you for a lifetime.