Camping in a traditional tent creates all kinds of problems that are avoided with hammock camping. That said, some people are better off sticking with the more conventional form of shelter. Here are a few things to consider when deciding whether you want to try a hammock.
New Campsites Are Possible
Anyone who has set up a tent in the wilderness knows the challenge associated with finding the right patch of ground. Even relatively small rocks and sticks can cause a lot of discomfort for someone in a sleeping bag. Those who use a shelter suspended from trees, however, need not worry about rocky or uneven terrain. The new challenge, of course, is finding two trees an appropriate distance apart. Trees must also be big enough to support your weight.
Not Everyone Can Handle the Swinging
If your shelter is suspended between two points, there tends to be a lot of swaying during the night. When you roll over, or a breeze picks up, the insecurity can be problematic for some people. Just sleeping outdoors makes many people feel very vulnerable, and sleeping with just a thin layer of fabric between yourself and the outside air understandably heightens that concern. It’s a good idea to try napping in a hammock before committing to a camping trip.
There Won’t Be Many Options for Sleeping Positions
Those who can only sleep on their stomachs should probably avoid this approach to enjoying the outdoors. Because an occupant’s weight tends to bow down the middle of a hammock, people inside are most comfortable on their backs. Some models have an asymmetrical shape that allows the legs to project out to one side. If you prefer to sleep on your side, then make sure your choice of brand and model will accommodate that position.
Bug Nets Are Only as Good as Their Seal Around the Edges
Inexperienced adventurers might think it’s possible to get a separate bug net. Unfortunately, this approach isn’t nearly as effective as netting that’s built into your shelter. Some versions will allow you to zip netting all the way around the edge, not unlike the closure on a tent. The most secure option has netting that is permanently attached to the nylon. Since you can’t slide under the netting, you enter this type of hammock through a seam in the bottom. When properly designed, the occupant’s weight can hold the entry seam closed.
Rain Coverage Is Still Vital
Backyard hammocks rarely include rain covers since they aren’t made for extended camping. A tarp can be hung over a rope for strong and functional coverage, though tarps can be too heavy for backpackers who make weight a high priority. Even with the best system, storms with a combination of wind and rain can be troublesome. Even if swinging in the wind doesn’t bother you, the wind will make it more likely that rain makes its way into your sleeping area.
Ultimately, this type of shelter isn’t for everyone, but it can be a great option for fair weather in forested terrain. Happy trails!