According to Leave No Trace, a non-profit organization founded in 1994 in partnership with the United States Forest Service and American Camp Association, a good campsite is found and not made. For tent camping, finding a site with flat, comfortable and impacted ground, no active wildlife habitats, no snake holes and that is at least two-hundred feet away from a body of water, can be challenging.
On the other hand, a person may encounter different or unique challenges when hammock camping. Deserts, mountains, and beaches do not always offer reliable trees or anchors for hanging a hammock. Large trees with dead branches may pose a danger to hammock campers. A strong gust of wind may snap the branch and send it falling on the camper. When it comes to hammock vs tent camping, one has to consider weather conditions, weight, comfort, and practicality.
Research conducted by Swiss and French neuroscientists at the University of Geneva, found that rocking a bed from side to side resulted in a significant increase in the length of stage N2 sleep. It also increased spindle activity and slow oscillations. Professor of Neurology, Sophie Schwartz, led the study. The results showed the rocking or swaying of a bed produced a longer deep or delta-wave sleep which is crucial for growth, physical renewal, and hormonal regulation. The findings were published in the journal Current Biology.
Depending on weather conditions and temperatures, you may need some accessories for your hammock such as a tarp, under or over quilt, mosquito net, or sleeping bag and pad. You can transform your hammock into a tent high above the ground with some of the accessories. A hammock is quick to pack, extremely lightweight, easy to transport and can be hung on uneven terrain.
One of the advantages of hammock camping is the fact that you are suspended off the ground, and it will keep you safe from snakes, squirrels or raccoons passing by. If possible, keep your bag in the hammock even if you do not have any food in there. Your bag may provide shelter for some unwelcome creepy crawly or attract a destructive squirrel.
- Hammocks are available in different styles and sizes
- Improved campsite availability: can be hung on uneven terrain and sites
- Extremely lightweight and easy to transport
- A hammock requires only a suspension system
- Beginners may find it difficult to set it up
Tents come in a large variety of sizes, prices, and shapes and they are by far the most practical solution for families or friends who love spending time in nature. The color of the tent is not necessarily a functional advantage, but it may be a safety one. In the case where assistance is required, bright colors can be seen more easily.
If you are new to camping, it may be a good idea to practice setting up the tent at home before heading out. When looking for a campsite, you should try to find a flat area which is not anywhere near a river or flood plain. Make sure there are no sharp grass ends and rocks that may damage the ground sheet.
Aluminum pegs for staking down the guy-lines and tents may be more expensive than the steel ones, but weigh a lot less. Camping tents are manufactured with various fabrics, including:
- Ripstop: the thicker thread incorporated into the fabric may prevent a rip from getting bigger.
- Polyester and nylon: both these fabrics need to be coated to become waterproof. Nylon is more elastic and generally stronger.
- Canvas: durable and heavy fabric.
A fiber’s density is indicated with a “D” for denier. A fabric with a label showing 50D is denser than one rated 10D. Thread count refers to coarseness or fineness of fabric. For example: a 190T is less tightly woven than a 210T. PU, or polyurethane, is waterproof. Rain flysheets are typically manufactured with this fabric. PVC, or polyvinylchloride, is much heavier than PU, but an excellent barrier to water.
Most dome-shaped, or geodesic, tents are constructed with an inner layer attached to the waterproof ground sheet. The ground sheet usually extends five inches vertically on all sides. During heavy rain periods, the sheet will help prevent water from getting inside the tent.
Camping tents are either A-frame or geodesic/dome shaped. Ridge or A-frame tents are typically not as heavy as the dome-shaped ones, but provide less space.
- Great protection against cold and rainy weather
- Some tents are easy to set up
- Can accommodate multiple people
- Heavier and bulkier than hammocks
- A tent requires accessories such as poles, footprint, sleeping pad, vestibule and a rain-fly
- Can get very hot inside
Hammock vs tent camping
Hammock and tent camping both offer mental and physical health benefits. Sunlight provides the body with vitamin D. Exposing your skin to sunlight also increases the release of serotonin levels by the brain and calms the mood. The effects of camping in nature help ease the symptoms of mental and stress problems. Areas with more tree-density offer higher levels of oxygen, elevating the mood and boosting the immune system. Being active while camping improves general fitness and strengthens the muscles.
It is easier to find a location with trees for hanging a hammock than a site suitable for ground camping. Rocky and steeply sloping areas are unsuitable for ground camping. Many people find sleeping in a tent less comfortable than napping in a hammock and others feel slightly squeezed in the latter.
With hammock vs tent camping, low temperatures are always an issue for both. Tent sleepers need to insulate their underside against the ground and hammock campers are more exposed to cooling from the wind underneath. Effective insulation includes a hammock sleeping pad or a closed-cell foam or air mattress for tents.
Some skills and knowledge are required to set up a hammock or tent. Once mastered, sleeping in either one presents no major difficulties. Hammocks are not flawless and may potentially have some drawbacks. When it comes to the hammock vs tent camping debate, one has to consider weather conditions, weight, comfort, and practicality. Hammocks are quick to pack, extremely lightweight, easy to transport, and can be hung almost anywhere.