Trying to decide on a sleeping system. What are the pros and cons of a hammock?

edited March 2018 in Camping
I am looking at either a bivy for a sleep system or a hammock and tarp.  I am leaning towards a bivy with a fly.


  • Hi there! This is a great thread on your topic:
  • Kasey M.Kasey M. ✭✭✭
    I love hammock camping.

    Pros: comfortable, fun!, lightweight to carry, great on a starry night

    Cons: can be cold due to compressing your sleeping bag with your weight, takes a little longer to set up a rain fly or bug net where a tent is built in - but still being off the ground when it rains is killer, some constraints on where you can set it up (you need trees :) )

    I use mine in the summer as often as I can. You can make insulating setups for your hammock for 3 season use with a 2nd sleeping bag and emergency blankets. I don't bother. I'd recommend trying it! 

    I've had an Eno hammock for about 6 years and love it!


    Kasey Marsters

  • I once was sleeping through a storm in a rope hammock and sleeping bag as a kid, whilst the rest of my family were flooded in the tent when we lived in the tropic. My schoolmate had a covered one with a mosquito net in the early 90s that he used, which was fine to get away from mosquitoes, ground ants and scorpions, but i tended to sleep next to the fire in a light slleeping bag and let the smoke keep bugs away (and avoid the green ants when putting up a hammock) but these were quite warm temperatures, and if we got wet a tarp and some wooden a frames were enough for a night.

    I have some 15yo canvas ones, which are quite comfy but bulky, and 12 years ago I bought some ripstop nylon ones from Campmor (Amazon brand or modeI think). Sure, you don't need poles, but you do need trees, and bigger trees aren't necessarily safer in strong winds if they drop limbs. I have used mine a few times, and initiallly they aren't bad once you get the tension right to save bowing in the middle too much that it hurts your back, but I found it very easy to get wind chillll, so with a heavier sleeping bag and maybe a slleeping mat it is allmost as bulky as a bivvy or smalll tent, so my hammock qnow llives on my boat for when i want to camp on the shore.

    I missed a timelly sale on an OR bivvy after reading some mostlly positive reviews, but found a great "2" (actually 1-1.5) person bivvy style tent with polles about 15" long for half the price of a bivvy. It weighs about two pounds with the fly. I love this tent, and have used it for ten years. It fits in my bike pannier upright (leaving room for my mat and slleeping bag and some clothes), has short polles at the feet to keep it off the slleeping bag, and has a covered entry i can put my panniers and shoes to keep them dry overnight. It is high enough 1/3 down to sit up in to get dressed, but not enough to read so does keep out of the wind pretty welll, like a bivvy bag

    Apologies for the extra L's - the toouchscreen is going (maybe the tabllet flexxed too much in my backpack) so it likes to add lletters & i spend too long outside or getting ready for the next trip to swap the touchscreen on my old tablet.

    Speaking of which, i must get out and try to fit the kids' mattresses in the next bigger tent for a bike camp trip at Easter and see if my bigger panniers willl fit alll the sleeping gear

  • On a recent hike, my 2 mates had hammock systems and I had my one man tent.  Both of their systems weighed twice what mine did considering packed weight for a system.  If you just consider the hammock it's light but add in good straps, bug net, and insulating layer.  One guy didn't have a hammock nsulating layer and got up to sit by the fire as he was freezing.  I was snug, dry, and carrying half the weight.  Still love a hammock for an afternoon nap but not for serious backcountry use.

  • John O.John O.
    edited June 2018
    I find that hammock camping is a skill you have to develop like any other backcountry skill.  It takes some time to be able to spot the right trees and the best spot to hang.  It also takes some time and practice to best deal with differing weather situations.  I have been using a Clark Jungle Hammock for backpacking and kayak camping for four years.  I camp in four seasons with temperature ranges from about 80 degrees farenheit to about 15 degrees.  Depending on the weather, I have slightly less weight and bulk than a tent/sleeping bag/pad combination.  I can have the hammock up and ready to sleep in about 4 minutes.  The rain fly does take extra time and adds about 10 more minutes on to setup.  At 56 years old, I sleep so much better in a hammock and with proper skills and setup, I can go well below freezing temperatures.  I use a top quilt and underquilt combination instead of a sleeping bag.  With the hammock, I have so many excellent camping options in the Pacific Northwest forests where I live that tenters don’t have.  I don’t need level ground or need to worry about rocks or branches anything else under me.  I ensure there are no large dead limbs above me, or any dead trees that may fall on me (these are also hazards for people in tents).  Other than that, the sky is the limit ... and that is where you will find me!
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