There are few things more gratifying in the world to an outdoor enthusiast than a good, old-fashioned, multi-day through hike. The sense of accomplishment at traveling a great distance on foot is unparalleled, and when you’re packing everything with you, you count every ounce… Because every ounce counts.
While there are many ultra-light weight tent options on the market today, this article will highlight the benefits of choosing a hammock, rather than a tent, for your next big adventure.
Hammocks take up less space
The first (and most obvious) reason to pack a hammock for your next through hike is size. Camping hammocks these days typically come with a nylon or cotton stuff sack to store your hammock for travel. When enclosed in the stuff sack, many hammocks can be as small as 7 inches (18cm) in length, and 5 inches (12cm) in diameter.
If your hammock is what is known as a “Jungle Hammock,” it will most likely have a bug net sewn into the hammock itself and will pack down into the storage pouch along with the hammock.
This extremely small size can come in handy when budgeting space for all your other necessary supplies.
In addition to your hammock, you need to pack straps and possibly a rain fly, which can all be easily wrapped or clipped to the exterior of your pack, leaving valuable real estate inside for clothing, food, and any other gear you will need to bring with you.
Hammocks are lightweight by nature
While there are many options for super lightweight tents out there, they can cost quite a bit. Most quality backpacking tents that weigh 3 lbs (16oz) or less will run you between $200 – $300, while it’s possible to get an equivalent weight hammock with bug net and straps for less than $50!
By adding a camping hammock to your arsenal of gear, you get a low-cost alternative to a bulky and expensive tent.
Other Benefits of Bringing a Hammock Backpacking
A hammock allows you a quick and easy set up when light is failing you. Instead of scouting out a level rock and root free spot for your tent, with a hammock all you need are two points of attachment… and with the correct straps and techniques, you will leave you camp site as undisturbed as you found it. No matted grass or broken plants from the footprint of a tent, and a much quicker tear down in the morning to get you back on the trail sooner.
In warm weather, a hammock’s convective properties will keep you sleeping comfortably through the night. The exposed fabric against your body is great at keeping your core temp from rising to levels that make sleep impossible, and during colder times of the year, there are many lightweight packable under quilts that attach seamlessly to your hammock, keeping you toasty when the temperature drops.
For the reasons previously stated, it’s clear that the benefits of bringing a hammock on your next backpacking adventure are innumerable. Hammocks are so easy to pack and can be a great alternative to traditional tent camping. And because they can be purchased on the cheap, why not at least give it a try? Maybe you’ll find that you never want to sleep in a tent again.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can I use a hammock for camping?
A: Definitely! Things to consider are… What will the weather be like? Where am I going? How am I travelling? The answers to these questions will give you an idea of the gear you may want to bring along with your hammock, including possible under quilt, bug net and rain fly. It will also indicate clothing you will want to pack for your adventure.
Q: What if there are no trees?
A: Any solid raised object can be used as an anchor point if you get a little creative. It’s handy to have a few extra straps and lengths of rope along with you if you will be in a situation that makes hanging a hammock difficult. There are also options for packable stands like the Handy Hammock.
Q: What if I already have a tent?
A: Hammock systems can be so low cost, that it really is a no brainer on giving it a try. While a tent can be perfectly suitable for many camping situations, a hammock is so versatile that it makes sense to pick one up. If you still prefer a tent for sleeping arrangements, then you will have a hammock for years of lounging to come.