Whether you’re on a multi-day hiking or paddling trip a great alternative to packing along a tent is to use a hammock. Hammocks are light weight and take up very little space in a backpack compared to a tent. When you are camping in an area that is not flat or the terrain is rocky a tent will not provide you with a comfortable sleep, where a hammock will. They allow you to get a great sleep without feeling the rocks and ground under you. There is also significant cost savings buying a hammock. A good quality hammock can be purchased for under $150. For a good quality tent you should expect to pay over $250.
One thing to remember when using a hammock is that you will need two trees that are close enough together to attach the hammock to. If you are camping in areas that will not have trees or the trees will not support the weight of you and the hammock then you are better off bringing along a tent.
What should you look for when buying a hammock for camping? A good hammock for camping comes with a built- in bug screen and also comes with a rain cover. You also want to check that the weight rating on the hammock is enough to carry your body weight. Ensure that the hammock is large enough to allow you to use a foamy or Thermarest in it if you are planning on camping in colder conditions. The foamy or Thermarest helps prevent your backside from becoming cold.
A good quality hammock can range anywhere from eleven ounces to around three pounds. The average weight rating is about three hundred pounds. Hammocks come in different styles. Some you enter from underneath and they seal automatically when you get in, others you enter from the top. A good hammock with come with tree saver straps to ensure that you do not damage tree bark. The tree saver straps are wide nylon straps that wrap around the tree. You need to follow the directions that come with the hammock you purchase as they provide you with the correct way to set the hammock up. Incorrect setup can cause the hammock to fall and could injure you. Before setting out on your trip try practicing setting up the hammock. Keep practicing tying the knots that will hold up your hammock until you have it mastered. There are different knots used to fasten a hammock to a tree, a common knot used is a bowline.
There are a few disadvantages in using a hammock compared to a tent. A tent provides extra storage for your gear whereas a hammock does not. In wet conditions you will have to ensure that you bring along an additional tarp to cover your gear. Some people are also concerned about privacy with a hammock. A tent provides a place for you to change your clothes. Though you can change your clothes in a hammock it is much harder and provides you with a lot less privacy. Hammocks also will not provide shelter for a group of people who want to sit around and talk or play a game in bad weather.
A hammock camping is not for everyone. If you are unsure about camping with a hammock try visiting your local outdoor store to see if you can rent one to try it out.