The 7 Ugly Truths About Tents and Why Hammocks Always Win
Camping is perhaps one of the most universally popular pastimes in the world for anyone who enjoys the natural, breathtaking beauty of the great outdoors. The best aspect of camping is that you can be as versatile as you wish; there are so many different places and ways to camp. There is no limit to the terrains you can trek, the scenery you can take in, and the days and nights you want to spend on the trail.
The traditional way to camp is with a tent. They are widely available, shelter you from the weather, and have been used by hikers and adventurers for many years. Despite its popularity, however, tents often can lead to a variety of complications. One of the biggest problems that people encounter with tents is – they can be frustrating to set up. Most tents have a system of poles that need to be slid through fabric and connected to provide structure and rigidity. Depending on your experience, setting up a tent can take up to a half hour, if not longer.
Another major downside is that tents tend to be heavy, bulky, and very inconvenient to carry. Even the best ultralight tents weigh multiple times more than a hammock. Getting a tent back in the stuff bag that comes with it can also be a difficult process, especially when doing it alone.
Coming from the experience of a seasoned backpacker, my vote is easily for the ultralight camping hammock. When trees are readily available and especially if you’re journeying out on a multi day (or week!) backpacking trip, you’ll soon realize the joys of hammock camping. If you’re still on the fence on whether or not to choose a tent or hammock for backpacking, here are 7 reasons that will sway you to the dark side ?
Reason #1: Unlimited Campsites
How often do you arrive at a campsite only to find it overcrowded and littered with people and gear? You can even see the impact of all this traffic on the nearby plants and terrain. With a hammock, your choice of campsites is almost limitless given you find a couple of trees. Not to mention it’s a great leave no trace shelter.
“Leave No Trace Principle #2: Travel and camp on durable surfaces. Campsites are found, not made.”
If you’re traditionally a ground sleeper, you know the frustration with having to find flat land. If you lay on uneven ground while in a tent, you’ll be slipping and sliding all night. Not to mention when sleeping on rocky terrain, your back won’t love you in the morning. Camping with a hammock removes this worry of finding flat ground – all you need is two trees relatively close to each other, and just like that, you have a shelter and bed ready in minutes.
Because you can set up virtually anywhere, this saves you time looking around for a campsite. More time saved equals more trekking time which means more distance covered.
Reason #2: Catching Some Z’s
Let’s face it, sleeping on the cold hard ground isn’t the most pleasurable experience. Sure, after a grueling day of trekking you’ll probably pass right out. But in the morning, you’ll feel it. It’s just not the same as sleeping in the comfort of your own bed. Whether you’re having trouble sleeping outdoors or even at home, the hammock could be your solution.
One of my hiking buddies describes hammocks as “hyper-comfortable” – and there’s no denying it. Most people that are just “trying out” my hammock never come out of it! Myself, including many of my friends, have made the switch from ground sleeping systems to hammocks. The difference in comfort is immeasurable.
Whether you have problems sleeping at home or while camping, the right camping hammock could help you. Studies have shown that hammocks help people with insomnia sleep deeper and sounder.
Reason #3: Weight Savings
At under a pound (which most basic parachute hammocks are) there’s really no way a tent can beat it. Serac’s ultralight camping hammock comes in at just 14 oz. While you’ll end up spending a few hundred for tents under 2 pounds. And the lighter it is, the more expensive it gets.
Bonus Reason: Camping hammocks usually come with attached stuff sacks – making them really easy to fold up and tuck away. They’re small and compact and take up very little space in your pack.
Reason #4: Quick Setup
It also doesn’t take an eagle scout to figure out how to setup a hammock; there are no complicated poles on your standard hammock, just tree straps or connectors that allow you to attach them to a tree. Even without any knowledge of knots, with a pair of good tree straps, a hammock can be set up in a minute.
All you need to do is wrap your tree straps around a set of trees about 15 feet apart (this also depends on the tree width and how long your straps are), clip the carabiners onto the straps. That’s pretty much all there is to it. The hammock shouldn’t be taught, it should have a bit of a sag (about a 30 degree angle) so that you can sleep diagonally in it. Learn more about the proper hammock sleeping position.
Attaching an ultralight hammock tarp is simple and will keep you protected form the elements.
Reason #5: Reliable Sleeping Conditions
When you’re on the move, your sleeping arrangements are changing every night. The terrain is different, the slopes are different. Hammocks keep this factor consistent night after night. This keeps set up quick and easy, while making sure I get reliable sleep every night of my trip. With a mosquito net for the hammock, I can sleep comfortably without worrying about any bugs. Even winter hammock camping is safe and comfortable with the right insulation to stay warm.
Reason #6: Peace and Quiet
Because you have the freedom to set up virtually anywhere, I like to choose an area away from other people. I prefer enjoying the outdoors away from other crowds. It seems to be getting harder these days, with the huge influx of people showing up to established campgrounds. But that’s ok, we can camp anywhere we’d like.
Reason #7: The Views
If you really want to sleep under the stars, this is the only way to do it. Fall asleep pointing out constellations or creating your own. The views from the hammock are incredible. One of my favorite feelings is the morning after setting up camp in the dark with nothing but headlamps. To wake up and finally see where you ended up sleeping for the night, it just takes your breath away.
Sometimes it’s dangerously easy to just set up your hammock and spending hours relaxing and enjoying the view instead of building a fire or making dinner. It’s happened more than once!