When the temperature drops, the idea of sleeping wild can seem a bit daunting. Will you be warm enough? What if it rains the whole time? Wouldn’t it be easier to just stay home? But, with the right gear and a bit of preparation, winter camping can be incredibly rewarding.
In this blog, we share our winter hammock camping tips so that you can keep the hammock camping adventures going, all year around.
What’s so special about winter camping?
Winter camping is uniquely beautiful in Australia. From snow capped mountains to vivid sunsets over the desert to pristine beaches, there are so many adventures to be had around the country. Plus, many popular camping destinations will have fewer visitors in winter, giving you the opportunity to see them at their wildest.
Why use a camping hammock in winter?
You might be wondering why you’d choose a camping hammock over a tent for winter camping. Well, camping hammocks offer some impressive advantages for winter use:
1. Camping hammocks give you more flexibility about where you camp.
You can hang a camping hammock anywhere with suitable anchors, including over wet, snowy, rough or sloping ground.
2. Camping hammocks are easy to adapt to the conditions.
In cold weather, combine your camping hammock with an underquilt and a waterproof tarp for extra warmth and protection.
3. Camping hammocks are quick and easy to set up.
In winter, the days are short. A camping hammock can help you make the most of the daylight and save time because they are so quick and easy to set up.
4. Camping hammocks offer better ventilation than tents.
As the temperature drops, condensation can become an issue in tents. Camping hammocks allow more airflow, reducing condensation and keeping you and your gear dry.
5. Camping hammocks can be lighter and more compact.
Although this will depend on your specific gear, camping hammocks can be lighter and more packable than alternative shelter options.
What gear do you need for winter hammock camping?
With proper preparation and gear, you can stay warm, comfortable, and safe during cold winter nights in your camping hammock. Here is the essential hammock camping gear for winter:
Essential Winter Hammock Camping Gear
Rain and wind protection (eg. rainfly or tarp)
Insulation (eg. top quilt, underquilt and sleeping mat)
For a detailed breakdown of essential hammock camping gear, check out our Hammock Camping Gear Guide.
Our winter hammock camping tips
Pack your bags and put on your boots – it is time to hit the trail. Here’s are our expert tips on winter hammock camping:
1. Pack winter-ready hammock camping gear
As with any adventure, you need to go in prepared for the conditions. If you are camping in wet, freezing or snowy conditions, it is essential that your outdoor equipment is made to perform in lower temperatures.
2. Find a sheltered location to camp
When setting up your camping hammock for the night, try to find a sheltered location that provides you with some protection from the wind. Consider utilising natural windbreaks, such as boulders, dense trees or buildings, as this will help keep you warm and comfortable overnight.
3. Set your tarp low above your hammock
Once you’ve found a sheltered location and set up your camping hammock, secure your tarp over the top. In winter, you should position your tarp lower down so that it is closer to your hammock, while still leaving a little space for ventilation. This will protect you from the elements and help to trap heat around you. Stake or tie out the corners, ensuring the tarp is held firmly and the sides are taut.
4. Insulate your camping hammock on all sides
One of the biggest challenges of winter hammock camping is staying warm. In a hiking hammock, you are exposed to cold air that draws heat away from your body. To mitigate this, you need insulation that encloses around you and your camping hammock, sealing in the warmth.
Use a hammock underquilt to insulate the bottom and sides of your hammock, combined with a top quilt or sleeping bag over your body. Create a cocoon of warmth, wrapping your hammock closely around you – some hikers even use bungee cords to cinch the sides of their hammock closer together.
If the temperature is likely to drop below zero, additional insulation such as a winter-rated sleeping mat, sleeping bag liners and a camping pillow might be necessary in order to stay warm.
5. Keep your gear dry
Soggy, damp gear is never fun, but in winter it can become very dangerous, very quickly. If your hammock camping gear becomes wet, it can compromise the effectiveness of your insulation. Always store your sleeping equipment, clothing and essential items in dry bags.
6. Use a groundsheet ‘doormat’
Pack a small, waterproof groundsheet to serve as a clean and dry place to stand when you are getting in and out of your hiking hammock.
7. Eat more food and stay hydrated
In cold weather, your body burns more calories to stay warm, so be sure to take extra food along. Along with your main meals, high-calorie snacks, hot drinks or instant soups can keep your energy levels up and help you stay warm.
8. Take safety precautions
As with any outdoor adventure, it is essential that you take safety precautions to minimise the risk of harm to yourself and others.
Check weather forecasts, be prepared for changing conditions and always carry essential safety gear, including a first aid kit, a headlamp, a fire starter and a Personal Locator Beacon or GPS device. Tell someone about your plans, including where you are going and when you’ll be back, and make an action plan for what they should do if they don’t hear from you by that date.
And, finally, be flexible and willing to adjust your plans to prioritise safety. Sometimes, we are so hell-bent on accomplishing our goal that we become reckless and ignore the risks. This can cause us to make poor decisions that put ourselves and others in danger. At the end of the day, the most important thing is making it home safely.
Are you ready to try winter hammock camping?
Winter camping in your hammock is an incredible way to experience the outdoors. From the comfort of your camping hammock, you can truly appreciate the beautiful landscape around you.
Winter camping will help you build new outdoors skills and become more capable of handling yourself in the wild. But, remember, camping in winter conditions can be challenging, even for seasoned campers. Always go in prepared and make decisions to reduce any potential risk.