[pct-l] Thoughts on hammock camping

Geoff me8938 at yahoo.com
Tue May 5 23:26:48 CDT 2009


I agree with everything Brian has added to the hammock
thread. Camping in a hammock is not for everyone and
there can be significant advantages to using a tent
depending on your style.

Compared with most conventional double wall tents, a
hammock setup is likely to be equal or less in weight.
Compared with a tarp and a minimal pad, however, the
hammock is probably going to be heavier. A hammock
still needs a tarp in the rain, it needs a suspension
system, and it still needs a form of over and under
insulation (bag or quilt on top and pad or quilt on
bottom). With care, you can shave the weight of the
total kit, but realistically, it won't be able to
compete in the gram weenie olympics.

I believe it is possible to be warm in a hammock
without a lot of bulk, but it will be costly. Because
the hammock wraps around you, it compresses all the
insulation in your sleeping bag that is under you. The
solution is to put half the sleeping bag outside the
hammock where it is not squished (under quilt) and to
use a top quilt inside. Two down quilts should weigh
about the same as one down sleeping bag and should
occupy about the same volume. I've been making my down
quilts and I do it more for the fun of it rather than
to save significant amounts of money. Leisure time is
expensive too :)

If I'm camping with my daughter, sometimes it is a
pain not to be able to hang out together in a tent. If
I'm car camping, I'll often bring the tent a a backup
in case things get wet for long periods of time.

It really is subjective and I resisted for quite a
long time. My friend picked one up at REI and I
actually laughed at him. "You are going to sleep in
that suspended coffin? You like being a bear pinata?"
I figured there was no way I could sleep in a hammock.
I was worried about claustrophobia and I was worried
about falling out late at night.

A trip to the Ozark Trail changed my mind. After
wandering off trail for a few hours due to a map
reading mistake, we found ourselves at the end of the
day near a lovely stream. The campsite was another 2
or 3 miles away and we just couldn't see the point of
leaving such a nice area. So, we hunted for 45 minutes
for a place to put my small, one man REI roadster
tent. One flat spot appeared to be on someone's cow
pasture and I didn't want to get stepped on. The
second potential location was right near an ATV trail,
and, although we hadn't seen any traffic, I was
reluctant to stay there. There were just too many beer
bottles around. I eventually located a semi flat area
on the only remaining location which happened to be a
hillside. My friend turned around, said "Huh . . .
look a that, two trees," and threw his hammock up in
about one minute flat. A few hours later as it started
to get dark, four ATV's came roaring down the road and
stopped, exactly where we thought about camping.

I bought a hammock the next week.

It has been a constant process of exploration that has
required a fair amount of time and money. I'm really
happy with the results. I actually dread the though of
sleeping on the ground now.

So, I jumped in when I saw a question about hammocks
and bugs and I wound up listing a whole bunch of
reasons for hammocks while trying to maintain a
balanced perspective. You will need to make up your
own mind, of course. I offer my experiences not to
convert anyone but to answer questions of those who
may be curious.

Thanks for reading this long, rambling post.


> ------------------------------
> Message: 3
> Date: Tue, 5 May 2009 14:31:29 -0700
> From: Brian Lewis <brianle8 at gmail.com>
> Subject: Re: [pct-l] Hammock camping and bugs
> To: pct-l at backcountry.net
> Message-ID:
<bd5c16ca0905051431o145eb1d9wda84b8cdc46fe542 at mail.gmail.com>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1
> FreeTheWeasel listed a lot of advantages and
> disadvantages of hammocks.  I
> would add that as with so much else in the
> backpacking world, some of this
> is of course subjective.  Many, perhaps most find
> comfort to be an advantage
> of hammocks; I sometimes find that whichever one I'm
> in, I miss comfort
> advantages of the other.  A hammock is a sort of
> guaranteed comfort level in
> terms of no roots or rocks, and some find they can't
> sleep well in the woods
> in any other way, but when I'm in my hammock I
> sometimes miss the simple
> ability to lean on level & solid ground, spread my
> stuff out without it all
> ending up underneath me, that sort of thing.
> In terms of flexibility, I was really attracted to
> hammock camping for that
> reason --- the idea of having an easier time finding
> places to camp (and
> away from where animals are habituated to humans
> camping there). But it's
> not the panacea I had imagined --- sometimes I'll
> actually find good tent
> sites before I find a good hang site.  For example,
> if the only trees are
> young trees with a lot of understory, and/or they're
> growing too closely
> together, or there's too much underbrush. Or of
> course, no trees at all.
> The temperature issue is for me ultimately a weight
> and 
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