Camping is an adventure, no matter how you do it!
Tent camping is the most popular way to camp – nearly everyone has camped in a tent before. They are simple to assemble, offer protection from the elements, bugs, and critters, and provide more privacy than a hammock.
Hammock camping is a bit new on the camping scene but is great for warm summer nights when you need some airflow to keep you cool while you sleep. This method of camping requires a substantial learning curve to figure out what works best for you.
Going on a camping or hiking trip and trying to decide whether you want to camp with a tent or hammock? We’ve got you covered with this comprehensive comparison of hammock vs tent camping.
Hammock Camping Considerations
There are multiple things to consider with hammock camping. It is not as simple as hanging the hammock and going about your day. Let’s discuss what you must consider when choosing a hammock for camping.
Hammocks are more convenient and can be hung in many places that tents cannot, like over rocky areas or above shallow streams. You can also set up a hammock along the treeline of a cliffside for a breathtaking view.
You can hang a hammock anywhere you have two sturdy trees or other structures close enough together. Make sure the trees you are tying off your hammock on are sturdy and sufficient (at least six inches thick) to hold the weight of the occupied hammock without damaging the trees.
You don’t need an open space to hang a hammock as you do for a tent. A hammock protects you from creepy crawlies like snakes or other critters because you are suspended in the air. You can also purchase bug netting to further protect you from mosquitos and other small insects.
Hammock camping doesn’t provide as much privacy as tent camping. You will always be out in the open when camping in a hammock. A tarp provides a higher level of privacy when in a hammock, but you still don’t have a lot of space to move around, so you definitely can’t change clothes or wash up in a hammock.
However, you have better visibility in a hammock. You can sit up and look outside your cocoon if you hear something or someone approaching your campsite. The visibility also makes hammocks great for stargazing while camping.
A hammock is lighter than a tent and easy to carry on a hike. However, you will need supplies along with the hammock, such as sturdy hammock straps, a rainfly to protect you from getting wet, and bug netting to shield you from mosquitos and other critters.
Once you consider the weight of the additional gear you need for camping with a hammock, it is around the same weight as a tent. The weight of a hammock with the required additional equipment can be compared to that of a one-person tent.
Hanging in a hammock exposes you to more airflow than a tent would. This results in a loss of convective body heat.
You will need extra insulation if you camp in weather below 60 degrees. To combat the cold air swirling around you while you try to sleep in your hammock, use an insulated sleeping bag, hammock underquilt, and a warm top quilt to bundle yourself up.
Hammock camping will keep you cooler than a tent camping in a warm region. The suspension of a hammock allows the air to flow all around you, cooling your body temperature as you sleep. This airflow also combats condensation, so it doesn’t build up like in a tent.
Another thing you should consider when deciding between a hammock and a tent is how many people are camping together. Hammocks, even a two-person hammock, aren’t that comfortable for more than one person.
That said, hammocks can be very comfortable for hiking and camping alone. Since the hammock is suspended in the air, you don’t have to worry about the lumpy ground, with rocks and tree roots poking into you while you sleep.
The rocking motion of the hammock swaying in the wind will lull you to sleep faster and keep you asleep longer. They support your neck and back in a way the hard ground can’t.
A hammock alone is cheaper than a tent setup, but when you factor in the additional gear and materials you will need to hang the hammock and provide protection from the elements, the price of hammock camping comes out pretty close to that of a tent.
Challenges of Camping With a Hammock
Hammocks are not legal everywhere but are allowed in many more places than tents. In some areas hanging a hammock is illegal to protect trees from damage caused by the straps. Research the legality of hammock camping before heading to your destination.
A hammock may not be your best choice if you are a chaotic sleeper or prefer stomach sleeping. You can’t get completely flat in a hammock, so stomach and side sleepers may prefer a tent.
Hammocks are meant for sleeping. This means you usually don’t have space to bring your camping gear inside with you. This leaves it susceptible to being stolen by other campers or rummaged through by wildlife. Some hammocks come with a small pocket for smaller belongings.
A critical and dangerous issue you could face is falling from your hammock. Whether you roll out in your sleep or strap breaks, falling out of a hammock is rare but entirely possible. Never suspend your hammock above deep water or sharp rocks to avoid serious injury, and never hang it higher than eighteen inches off the ground.
Tent Camping Considerations
Tent camping comes with a variety of considerations. A tent is easier to set up than a hammock and takes less time because a tent pitches the same every time. However, it still comes with its challenges.
Let’s discuss what you must consider when choosing a tent for camping.
Camping in a tent is ideal for open environments, like the desert, a parking lot, a campground, etcetera.
When tent camping at a campground, finding a good spot to pitch your tent will be easy.
However, if you prefer to get even closer to nature, you may need to spend more time searching for the perfect campsite. It would be best to find a flat and open spot for your tent to fit when it is completely set up.
Freestanding tents are the easiest and fastest tents to set up. They do not require stakes, so you can literally pitch your tent anywhere. A non-freestanding tent does require staking, which limits you to choosing a campsite with soft ground.
Tent camping offers way more privacy than a hammock does. Even in a one-person tent, you can move around and change your clothes, clean yourself up, or do anything else you would prefer the privacy of a tent for.
However, you don’t have great visibility in a tent. You must unzip it and look around if you hear something or someone approaching your campsite.
A tent generally weighs more than a hammock alone, but some excellent lightweight tent options are on the market. Tents have different variables that affect the weight, but hammocks require additional gear, making them nearly the same weight as a tent.
Tents come in different sizes. You can buy tents that sleep up to twenty people!
Tents are designed to protect you from the wind and rain from all directions. They usually have a built-in rainfly that keeps the occupants dry even against the most brutal driving rain.
Camping in a tent protects you from convective heat loss. However, it would be best to consider conductive heat loss since the tent is on the cold ground. An insulated sleeping pad underneath your sleeping bag can help keep you warm on your camping trip.
The enclosed space in a tent traps heat, keeping you warmer. Tents protect from wind, allowing you to get away with a lighter sleeping bag. However, your body weight compresses the insulation, so you will still need that insulated sleeping pad mentioned above.
Although tents sit on the ground, they still provide the utmost protection against critters because the tent is completely sealed when zipped.
Tents may be uncomfortable to sleep in when pitched over rocky terrain, but they offer plenty of space to get more comfortable. You can pile up fluffy blankets and pillows to create a soft area for sleeping.
Even better, you can take the whole family along! Tents accommodate many more people than hammocks, comfortably.
There is plenty of room to bring your food and gear inside your tent to prevent it from being stolen or rummaged through by wildlife. Your electronics will also be well-protected from rain damage.
While the price of tents varies, a high-quality tent is well worth the price. It includes everything you need for a quick and easy setup. A good tent will cost about the same as a hammock with all the necessary additional gear. It can be costly, but you get what you pay for when it comes to camping equipment.
Challenges of Camping With a Tent
Pitching a tent is illegal in many cities, but there are plenty of designated campgrounds where pitching a tent for camping is legal. There are also many hiking trails where you can pitch your tent legally.
Tents cannot safely be set up in extremely rocky or flood-prone areas. Nobody wants to sleep on a lumpy, rocky surface or wake up drenched by a flash flood.
Some areas have sensitive vegetation or fragile ecosystems, which make them unsuitable for tent camping.
Finding an area flat enough to pitch your tent can be difficult if you are hiking pretty deep in the woods or on rocky ground.
Choosing the Best Quality Equipment
With all the camping equipment on the market, figuring out what will work best for you can be challenging. But don’t worry; we’ve got you covered!
Whether you choose a hammock vs tent, our lists of the best camping hammocks and best camping tents will offer you the best quality camping gear and equipment to keep you safe and comfortable on your camping trip.
Supplies and Gear for Hammock Camping
Setting up a hammock for camping isn’t as simple as finding two trees spaced appropriately apart. You must have other gear and equipment for setup and to protect yourself from the elements.
You will need the following supplies and gear to set up a camping hammock:
- Tree straps – These straps prevent damage to trees. They must be between one and two inches thick to not cut into the tree’s bark and to ensure they can support your weight without breaking.
- Hammock Rope – This is to secure the hammock to the tree straps. Some hammocks include the rope needed to attach them to tree straps.
- Rain Tarp – A hammock tarp will protect you from getting wet even in heavy rain.
- Guy Lines – These will hold the tarp away from the hammock, so it’s not sitting on top of you during your entire stay.
- Bug Netting – Netting will keep away mosquitos, gnats, and other small insects away from the hammock while you sleep. Some hammocks even have built-in bug nets.
- Insulated Sleeping Bag – An insulated sleeping bag will provide extra warmth for the increased airflow around a hammock.
- Under Quilt – An under quilt is essential for hammock camping because the weight of your body compresses the insulation on the bottom of your sleeping bag. The under quilt will keep the bottom of your sleeping bag nice and toasty!
- Top Quilt – If camping in temperatures lower than 60 degrees, you will need a top quilt over your sleeping bag to stay warm through the night.
Supplies and Gear for Tent Camping
- Tent Footprint – This will help keep the tent floor clean and protect it from damage.
- Sleeping Bag – A sleeping bag is needed as a cushion and to keep you warm. You can also pile pillows up or use multiple sleeping bags to help make your bed for the night a bit more comfortable.
- Sleeping Pad – This will protect you from the cold, hard ground. It provides extra insulation on cooler nights, which is needed because your body compresses the insulation in your sleeping bag. A sleeping pad prevents the cold of the ground from seeping into your sleeping bag.
- Tent Stakes – These secure the tent safely to the ground to ensure the wind doesn’t blow it across the campsite and nothing knocks it over, especially while it’s occupied. Most tents include the stakes needed for security.
- Guy Lines – This helps support the tent and hold it up. Most tents include the necessary support.
- Tent Poles – Most tents include support poles, but you must get some if yours doesn’t.
Hammocks vs Tents: Which Is Better?
Choosing between a hammock vs tent for camping really boils down to personal preferences and experience.
Hammocks and tents are worlds apart. Most people have camped with a tent before and know how to set up a tent while learning to set up a hammock camping system can take substantial time, effort, and practice.
A hammock offers a fun, comfortable, and exciting way to camp, especially during the summer when the breeze flowing around you isn’t too chilly.
If you enjoy being closer to nature, the comfort of the rocking sensation from being suspended in the air with a slight breeze, and looking up at the stars as you fall asleep, a hammock might be a good fit for you.
Hammocks are more comfortable for some people with posture issues and also provide a way to avoid sleeping on lumpy, hard ground, while tents can be more comfortable for people who prefer to sleep on their side or stomach. A hammock will always have a U shape, while you can sleep flat in a tent.
In terms of cost, hammocks vs tents are about the same when you factor in all the additional gear and supplies you will need to go along with your hammock. High-quality equipment will be lightweight and easy to carry regardless if you choose a hammock vs tent for your camping trip.
Wrapping Up Hammock vs Tent Camping
Camping is a beautiful way to relax and connect with nature. While the differences between camping with a hammock vs tent are extensive, the experience will be unique regardless!
It really depends on what you are looking for in a camping experience. A tent is a perfect shelter if you are taking the family along on a fun camping trip. If you are camping alone, and prefer a more versatile experience, camping using a hammock might be the right choice for you.
Are you planning a family camping trip? Our guide to planning the perfect family camping trip can help ensure you are prepared for anything that might come your way!