To most people, the ideal camping trip is pitching a tent after a long hike on a warm summer night. But a select few would rather enjoy the comfort of a hammock, while swinging nonchalantly and watching the powdery snow building up around them. Hammock camping may not be for everyone, but it’s definitely worth a try.
Small and lightweight
It’s much easier to pack for a hammock camping than regular tent camping — which we will explain in a bit. Camping in a tent entails lugging around the tent and all its accessories while you’re on the hike, whereas with a hammock, all you really have is the hammock! The best camping hammocks are a little less than three pounds and it already includes the straps, rain fly, and mosquito netting.
Easy to set up almost anywhere
Assuming you’re camping in the woods, like most people do, you can set up your hammock as long as there are two trees adjacent to each other that are sturdy enough to hold your weight.
Quick set up and take down
Setting a hammock up is a matter of tying the supporting rope to two trees, as we’ve mentioned before. Pitching a tent takes a lot more work — no explanation needed. And did you know that hammocks can be packed down to the size of a softball? How’s that for compactness and accessibility!
In case of emergency, all you need to do are to untie your straps, crumple the hammock, stuff it in your bag and go!
Affordable and long-lasting
Hammocks cost a fraction of what tents do. Think about it. Hammocks don’t come with nearly as much hardware and accessories as your standard camping tent. Plus, they don’t suffer nearly as much wear and tear as tents given the fact that they’re suspended in midair by two tension cables — they don’t touch the ground which means they won’t get dusty, flooded, or covered in mud.
You can bring a spare
Bringing a spare tent during your camping trip is unheard of, not once have you ever heard of someone packing two tents into your pack. A hammock on the other hand is so light and compact that you can easily bring a spare with you. Like we said, it can shrink to the size of a softball. You can literally attach it to your belt loops like a key chain and easily puff it up again when you need it.
Keep bugs away
Mosquitoes can be a real nuisance while camping during the warm summer months. But if you find a good quality hammock, it should come with a built-in mosquito net. The net is attached to the rain fly and descends into the underside of the hammock like a cocoon.
1. Prepare the things you will need to set up your hammock
You can DIY your tree strap into one-inch webbing. Ideally, they should be made of polyester instead of nylon to avoid it stretching on you. Choose the wrong material and you might just sink to the ground.
2. Find Anchor Points
Anchor points refer to the parts of the tree that are ideal for hanging your hammock. Ideally, you should be two to three feet above the ground, just enough for feet to hang and swing freely. Any higher than that and you risk injuring yourself as you make your way out of your hammock. But you can adjust the hammock as you see fit. Taller people will need more vertical clearance. Also, you may want to raise your foot end around eight to ten inches higher to prevent your body from sliding to the middle of the hammock.
3. Fix Anchor Points
Secure your anchor points by snugly wrapping the suspension wraps around your anchor points several times. You’ll know it’s ready when the straps stop moving.
There aren’t that many downsides to hammock camping in the winter, just two. Hopefully, they’re not deal breakers for the trip:
1. You don’t have much storage space in the hammock
Frankly, the only thing that fits inside your hammock are the clothes on your back and you. All your other belongings are either tied to a tree in a satchel to avoid animals rummaging through them.
2. It’s difficult to bring your dog with you
Bringing your dog along during your camping trips is such a novelty. There’s a reason why they’re called man’s best friend.
The most essential part of hammock camping in the winter is keeping yourself warm. Unlike in the summer where it’s easier to self-regulate, camping in the winter takes a bit more effort and external heat sources.
Hammock camping in cold weather requires materials for under quilts, top quilts, and pads, which purposefully designed in materials like down or synthetics. They help to keep these quilts and pillows dry without any loss or loft, fill, or warmth.
To save you more money, if you have an old sleeping bag lying around, you can use it to keep warm in a hammock. Sleeping bags are predominantly manufactured from down or synthetic dry proof materials.
Throw that sleeping bad down inside the hammock, crawl in and keep toasty warm! It’s essential to trap heat around your body when you winter in a hammock. To further save you money, you can use your car’s old reflective sunshade, which helps heat reflect on your body. You can lay it on top or put it beneath your body.
Durable fabric hammocks are very strong and more effective for the cold. The rope hammocks that you see quite often used in warmer temperatures are made from cotton or polyester. Be aware that you should not leave a hammock in direct sunlight for a long time because the sun’s UV rays will weaken the fabric. Cold weather hammocks are soft, they conform to your body comfortably, and they are susceptible to mold or mildew. As lightweight as they are to carry, they are very durable and super sturdy.
Dressing the part
Aside from having the right equipment, you should also be dressing the part. After all, a hammock can only do so much to keep you warm. We don’t need to go into much detail about how to dress in the winter because you probably already know how to, but we’d like to remind you to wear thermals inside and insulators on the outside at all times. Frostbite is the enemy, the cold will bother you. Trust us on this.
Additionally, you should have these things in your backpack:
One last thing, before you go: you should always check weather conditions and hazards. The golden rule for all outdoor activities: check the conditions. Aside from knowing what you’re up against, you can stay prepared for anything nature will throw at you.
Other than that, you’re all set. Happy camping!