When it comes to choosing between hammocks and tents, there will always be heated arguments about which one seems to be better than the other. While hammocks are fast to set up, available at a cheaper price, and protects you against rain and groundwater, tents turn out to be better in terms of comfort and space.
In case you can’t really figure out which one to choose among the two, here are a couple of guidelines that will help you make a more informed choice.
In a location which is dotted with trees, the main advantage of a hammock system will be the availability of suitable campsites. Hammocks are perfect for those sites which have a steep and rocky terrain where most of the areas are unsuitable for ground camping. Following are some of the pros and cons of using a hammock.
Advantages of Hammocks
Most of the times, hammocks have a quicker and better setup than the tents. While ground camping, you will first have to find a suitable area and then have to get rid of all the rocks and debris from that area. There is no fumbling with tent poles or rigging trekking poles.
Setting up a hammock is easier as it simply requires you to attach two straps to adjacent trees and then. Once you’ve done it a couple times, setting up a hammock takes only a few minutes.
Can be Set Consistently
Hammocks can be easily and consistently set up the exact way throughout many nights. The use of a ridgeline will nearly guarantee that the sag of your hammock will be identical regardless of the site and tree layout.
In a hammock, the sleeping experience will change nearly every alternate night because of the ground cover, ground slope and the abnormalities on the surface. So if you manage to master the setup of a hammock, you can easily and reliably sleep for many nights with no roots sticking into your back.
Protection from Rain and Groundwater
A hammock system is perfect when the ground is wet or when it is raining. The tarp will protect you from the rain and will keep you off of the wet ground. The hammock too can be used a dry bench while you cook or relax in camp.
Available at Lower Prices
This is one of the major advantages of using a hammock. Most hammocks irrespective of their sizes are available in a comparatively cheaper rate than the tents. While a decent tent will run you between $200 and $1000, a good hammock will cost you about $70. Even with a tarp and a bug net, you’ll barely be reaching that $200 base cost of a tent and you’ll have top quality gear instead of of entry level.
If you use an underquilt, you will be just as warm as in a tent. Underquilts function very similarly to sleeping bags, but are actually strapped below the hammock.
Since you are off the ground, bugs don’t have much of a chance of wandering into your sleeping space. Also, use of a bug net will create a fully enclosed space in which no bug can get into.
If you are staying in or near a trail shelter, there are no doubt rodents (it’s actually a huge problem). Using a hammock will get you off the ground and limit their access to you and your gear.
Size and structure
The overall size of the hammock even with the tarp and the straps will take up relatively lesser space than the backpacking tent. On top of that, a couple of pieces can also be stored efficiently and kept separately in your bag pack.
Your tarp is also a great piece of equipment to use separately for other situations that require overhead coverage unlike the rain-fly of your tent which is designed and usable only for the tent.
Disadvantages of Hammocks
Hammocks also have a couple of disadvantages.
Only Available for One Person
A hammock can only hold one person, unlike a tent which can be more spacious. While there are hammocks made specifically for 2 people, these tend to be a little uncomfortable if you actually have 2 people.
Hammocks aren’t really a good option when it’s windy.
First, hammocks will sway which can cause some discomfort.
Second, you need to be cognizant of which direction the wind is blowing. With a tarp, if the wind is blowing parallel to the direction of your body, you have almost no protection from the wind. While you can set up your hammock with this in mind, if the wind changes directions overnight, there’s not much you can do.
Require trees and/or rocks
Trees and rocks might not be available in your camping spot. If you are hiking above the tree line or in an open area, you might be out of luck.
Tents have been an age-old option for most camping enthusiasts. Many people choose tents over hammocks because of their comfort, spaciousness and sturdiness.
Advantages of Tents
Tents are usually very strong. They stand up well to strong winds and similar other weather conditions. The tent poles are work well to hold the tent in its correct shape. And stakes work well to hold the tent in place.
When it comes to comfort, most people find a a tent to be much more comfortable than a hammock. This is likely because most of us are not really accustomed to sleep in a floating condition.
Sleeping in a sleeping bag on a sleeping pad are relatively similar to sleeping on a bed – though likely not as soft.
A tent is definitely more spacious than a hammock. A hammock can accommodate one person. But tents are available for two or more people. Although this completely depends on the size of the tent, but even the smallest tent will accommodate one person comfortably.
Additionally, even after accommodating two people, the tent will usually have enough space to store your belongings. A hammock can be used for sleeping, but it does not have any specific compartment where you can store your stuff.
Works in all weather conditions
Unlike a hammock which is not really suitable when the winds are strong, a tent can work well for all weather conditions.
Some tents also come with a tent vestibule that can store the wet items that you don’t need in the tent.
Disadvantages of Tents
Unlike a hammock, pitching a tent might take some time. You might also need help for getting your tent pitched. Between hammering in tent stakes and dealing with tent poles, setting up your tent can take a bit more time than setting up a hammock.
Dealing with Tent Poles
Tent poles provide the backbone of your tent and while they work well, it’s not without some hassles. First, tent poles are big and take up a lot of space in your pack. Second, they can be tough to work with particularly if you arrive a camp after dark.
And finally, tent poles have a tendency to break and bend. A broken pole can make setting up your tent difficult or even impossible. Also, a broken pole can rip the tent fabric and ruin your tent.
Finding a Good Site for your Tent
Setting up your tent requires a flat, open space with no rocks, roots, or humps in the ground. You also need to be sure that your tent isn’t set up in an area where rainwater runoff flows.
If you are able to find a nice site, you’ll need to clear the area of leaves before you set up your tent.
The weight of a tent and its accessories tend to be a bit heavier than a hammock and its accessories.
Entry level tents run about $200 and top of the line tents can run closer to $1000.
Hammock vs Tent
So there you have it. Our attempt to put things in perspective when you are considering a hammock vs a tent. There’s a lot to consider, but hopefully you are now able to make a more informed decision.