Most people have grown up camping in tents. In fact, the image of a tent is so synonymous with camping, many backpackers and wilderness trekkers consider a tent as an essential part of their camping gear. But what if there were other possibilities, like a hammock? Sure, the hammock may seem like a complete reversal of the camping experience that you know and love, but there are some awesome advantages to consider.
It’s time to tackle to the question concerning hammocks, tents, and which one is better. We’re going to consider comfort, price, size, and much more.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Tents
The tent, as mentioned before, is the symbol of an outdoor adventure. Tents come in many different shapes and sizes, some holding several fully-grown at once. Some are easier to pitch than others, but all are designed to keep you safe from the elements.
- Basically, you’re going to be buying a tent if you know that the location you’re headed has high potential of inclement weather, experiences extreme temperature shifts, or has other weather-related issues you want to protect yourself from. Most tents nowadays are constructed to be waterproof and windproof, but you need to read labelling and product descriptions carefully.
- Living space. You get headroom, an eating space, and basic living space for those moments when you want to be inside and secure.
- Storage space for things you don’t want to continuously carry around.
- Huge selection of tent types: traditional A-frames, tunnel tents, hoop tents, and domes. What you need, there is undoubtedly a tent for you.
- A tent feels like a “place to sleep,” even in places where you may find no comfort—like a barren desert.
- Many tents, especially those designed for bigger groups, are bulky and cumbersome to carry around. Some models require the use of hardware to stabilize them, and this may not be ideal if you are spending on long time on foot.
- Tents can be very pricey depending on what they are made out of (i.e. canvas or nylon).
- Tents can also weigh more than a hammock depending on the material. Plus, you’re going to need to pack an inflatable sleeping pad to go along with it. I mean, who wants to sleep on the cold, rock hard ground, right?
- You’re on the ground.
- Not practical for dense forests.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Hammocks
The image conjured up by the word “hammock” is definitely one of leisure, relaxation, and swinging back and forth as an island breeze blows. Of course, you don’t just have to limit your use of a hammock to the backyard, as many are finding out. Hammock camping is becoming a favourite amongst minimalist campers and backpackers around the world.
- Hammocks are by far a more cheaper alternative than tents. For example, you can get a relatively high-grade hammock, like a Grand Trunk for a decent price. Even when adding on an additional tarp, some extra suspension cables, and a bug net, you will find that the overall price is still less than some standard issue tents.
- You will sleep better in a hammock than you do on the ground. Once you learn how to position yourself in a hammock (there’s a science to it), you will actually wake up feeling more refreshed than you would expect. This is why some people eventually throw out their mattresses at home to permanently set up a hammock.
- You can camp anywhere, because you’re floating over everything. So go ahead, camp over rocks, water, snow, stumps, and mud.
- Set up is a breeze. All you need is something to ground the suspension cables to, and you’re good to go.
- Purchase the right hammock, and you’ll have all the essentials—bug nuts, waterproofing, and even insulation.
- Extremely lightweight and versatile.
Examples of Great Hammocks and Tents
Now that you have some information about the advantages and disadvantages of two kinds of popular camping shelters out there for backpackers and outdoorsy types, let’s take a look at some of the best examples on the market. Though you may not choose these exact items for your next camping trip, the features and designs should provide you with a general idea of what to look for when shopping.
The Best Tents for Backpacking and Camping
1. Nemo Hornet 2P
Dimensions: 85 x 51/43 x 40 inches
The NEMO Hornet is a lightweight, double-walled, semi-freestanding tent. There are two doors/vestibules, and while it is listed as a 2-person tent, suits single backpackers extremely well. Though the only drawback to it is the two stakes at the foot for securing it—increasing set-up difficulty in rocky terrain—this is a luxury tent comprised of state-of-the-art fabrics and superior hardware. It’s pricey, but sometimes comfort is worth it.
2. Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL Tent
Dimensions: 88 x 52/42 x 40 inches
Ultralight quality and living space. The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 is a fusion of quality construction, interior space, and durability that lasts and lasts. You will be amazed by how lightweight the tent is when folded up and stored, as well as how well it stands up to storm force winds and driving rain. It’s freestanding, double-walled, has almost vertical sidewalls, two vestibules, and interior storage pockets. An expensive but worthwhile investment.
3. Alps Mountaineering Lynx 1 Person
Dimensions: 36 X 90 x 32 inches
Though this is by far the smallest and most affordable tent on the list, it is also the heaviest (4.2 pounds) and is designed solely for one person. The tent features a freestanding design for easy setup, comes with #8 zippers, and mesh walls for superb ventilation. The floor is 75D 185T Poly Taffeta, and the seams are factory sealed. In other words, you won’t get wet, even in hours of rainfall. It’s a minimalistic comfort that does its job of protecting your from the elements well.
The Best Hammocks for Backpacking and Camping
There are some special considerations to keep in mind for camping hammocks. Remember that these are completely different from the hammock you have hanging up in the backyard. You don’t want to be exposed like that all night long, especially out in the wilderness. Second, look for a “flat lay” hammock. Usually, these are asymmetric hammocks that allow you to lay diagonally and more naturally than you would in a traditional hammock.
1. Hennessy Hammock Explorer Deluxe Series
Dimensions: 130 x 56 inches
A premiere name in the hammock camping world is Hennessy Hammock. These are state-of-the-art in construction (210D nylon, for example), and a sound investment for all experience levels. The asymmetrical design allows you to lay flat and sleep soundly. The Explorer Deluxe series also comes with a large rain fly. Though the hammock weighs around 3 pounds, it folds up fast and sets up even faster. The only thing that confuses some people is the bottom entry. Overall, an excellent choice.
2. Grand Trunk Skeeter Beeter Pro
Dimensions: 126 x 60 inches
If you want to try hammock camping without making a huge investment in gear first, the Skeeter Beeter Pro is a good place to start. Though it has a traditional hammock shape (so you can’t lie flat), it is still rather comfortable. You also have to buy an aftermarket tarp in case inclement weather strikes, but that balances out with the included mosquito protection and decent price. The total weight of the hammock is 1 pound 14 ounces, but it holds up to 400 pounds.
3. Grand Trunk Nano 7
Dimensions: 108 x 48 inches
At a weight of 7.4 ounces, the Grand Trunk Nano 7 is a fantastic choice for those who are looking for adventure without getting weighed down with gear. You can pack it down to the size of a softball and forget it exists until needed. It also comes with bent wires to attach to any form of tree strap (which have to be purchased separately). The max weight for the Nano 7 is 300 pounds and is great for 1 or 2 people.
In short, who is the winner: tents or hammocks? This bout ends in a stalemate! See, when it comes to being a backpacker or camper, you have the freedom to choose what is best for you. Some people love the additional comfort and “homey” feeling of setting up a tent for several days. Others cannot get enough to relaxing in a hammock with a book all day. Ideally, choose what is within you price range and appropriate for the camping environment where you are headed.