7 Reasons to Try Hammock Camping Instead of Tents

Categories:Guest Post | Hammocking

I have a guilty secret to share with you: I hate tents.

There, I’ve said it. My kudos as a trekker and lover of the outdoors may never recover but I can no longer live with the lie, the pretence, that camping in a tent is fun.

Sleeping is one of life’s great pleasures, but the twilight hours can also be tortuous, a waking nightmare of tossing and turning that never seems to end. Too many tents have been my torture chamber.

Why do they still smell of stale grass and dampness after endless shake-outs and six months in an airing cupboard? Why does a thin sheet of fabric invoke coffin lid claustrophobia? Why do the zips always stick and the tent pegs always bend and your neighbor always snore and why can I, sleeper extraordinaire, fail to catch any solid shut eye after a 12-hour trek?

Fortunately, an alternative to tent camping is beginning to make a mark. Hammock camping is on the rise and I, for one, will be trying it out. Here’s 7 reasons why.

1 – No One Likes Tents Really

I realize I’m in danger of laboring a point but I’m going to bet that you share some of my concerns about tents.

Many of us have experienced a bad night’s sleep due to rocks or tree roots sticking out under our tent. Such experiences lead campers to return home exhausted and desperate for a sleep in their own bed.

It shouldn’t be that way. We head into nature to relax and revitalize ourselves, not to drain our batteries further.

Trading your tent for a hammock you’ll sleep without having to worry about what’s under you. Hammock camping certainly sounds a lot better, doesn’t it? Swinging away between two trees, breathing fresh evening air rather than vapour from your tent mate’s socks…

2 – Camp Almost Anywhere (Well, Anywhere There’s Trees)

Blogger Andrew Surka highlights another key advantage of hammock camping over tents: you greatly widen the range of available camping locations. It’s astonishing how hard it can be to find a spot to set up a tent. Any sort of incline is out of the question. You’ll want to avoid rough, stony ground, but smoother, grassy areas can often be too soggy.

Such concerns are rendered “completely irrelevant by a hammock,” Surka notes, since they can be setup “without any regard to the surface below it.” You’ll need a couple of trees to hang it between, but I’m going to stick my neck out and claim that trees are more prevalent in nature than ideal ground conditions for tents!

3 – Shun Other Campers

Isn’t the whole idea of heading into nature to get away from it all? I’ve seen campsites in remote places with a similar population density to Manhattan, tents crammed together so closely on the designated local campsite you’re virtually guaranteed to spent the night cursing some nameless, unidentifiable snorer.

One of the reasons campers are forced to huddle together is outlined in point 2 – the difficulty of finding spots for tents. With hammocks you can camp where you like, with who you like, or with no-one at all. With a hammock you can be as unsociable as you want!

4 – Leave No Trace Camping

Another issue with overcrowded campsites is their impact on the environment. Hammocks help minimize your environmental footprint in two ways. Firstly, by steering clear of already crowded campsites you’ll avoid despoiling a piece of land yet further. Moreover, unlike tents, “hammocks do not crush or smother the plants below them”.

Most of us would like to leave the wild as close to how we found it as we can and hammocks chime with this ethos.

5 – Travel Light

Hammocks, in general, are lighter and more compact than tents. In general hammocks can be more than 4 times lighter and 3 times smaller when compared to a tent.

That’s a significant saving in weight and size. When you include what many would consider mandatory add-ons for a hammock such as a tarp and bug net, the contest is much closer, it seems fair to say that hammocks have an edge on tents when it comes to weight and portability.

That’s certainly the position artofmanliness.com take. They highlight the fact that if you know you’re “camping in a warm, bug-free area on a clear night” you can, in theory, set out with a hammock that weighs “only 28 ounces, and packs down to the size of a softball.” Talk about traveling light!

6 – It’s a Chair, Too!

As pointed out in this YouTube beginner’s guide to hammock camping, hammocks are multi-functional – you can use them as a camping chair, too! If you have a sensitive posterior (as many of us do) this could be a welcome alternative to roughing it on the ground. Plus, it’s just cool. Your own outdoor rocking chair. Beats sitting on a tree stump!

7 – Sleep Under the Stars (and Actually See Them)

In time-honored tradition I’ve left the best till last. A hammock’s strongest USP is the greater sense of immersion in nature it offers.

Tent’s might do a better job protecting you from the elements but they also isolate you from the full outdoor experience.

A hammock has no walls. It holds you there, swaying in nature, with fresh air all around you and the stars above you. What could be better?

Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed the list. Hammocks are on the up and it’s easy to see why. With less environmental impact than a tent and a setup that marries comfort and a greater sense of connection with the natural world, the chances are that once you’ve tried a hammock you’ll never want to go back.

If you enjoyed this article feel free to share it with your friends and get them on board. And let us know how your first hammock camping trip goes!


About the Author: Rich is a camping and hiking enthusiast who also runs the blog rollingfox.com. We write about camping tips, guides, gear reviews and camp cooking. You can follow me on Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook.

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