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Hammock vs. Tent – Which Option is Best for Backpacking and Camping

Girl in the Forest sleeping in a Hammock

A trip outdoors is almost as complicated as an ordinary vacation when you consider the amount of planning that’s involved in the process. One of the most important things to plan is your accommodations.

When you’re backpacking or camping, those accommodations will need to be brought with you. For many explorers, this comes down to a debate of hammock vs. tent.

Both hammocks and tents can be incredibly helpful tools on your next trip, but they’re each suited for different kinds of travelling and different environments.

Hiking Trail

The Pros and Cons of a Hammock

Many people who spend time in nature are hammock loyalists. They love their hammocks, and they wouldn’t imagine taking anything else with them on their trip.

When given the choice of a tent or hammock for backpacking, many experienced backpackers will prefer a hammock.

Hammocks do come with some distinct disadvantages, so before you make your decision, you need to understand what you’re getting yourself into.

Pros

  • Hammocks are lighter to carry than tents. There are no poles, and the setup is easy. All you need to do to put your hammock up for the night is find two trees nestled close together, which is never difficult to do in the woods.
  • Hammocks keep you elevated above the ground. If you’re sleeping somewhere with a marshy ground or a rocky terrain, you’ll be able to sleep easier in a hammock.
  • Hammocks don’t build up heat the same way tents do. The entire top is always vented, even if you erect a mosquito net above the hammock.

Girl in the Forest sleeping in a Hammock

Cons

  • Hammocks don’t do a good job of keeping travelers warm, even with a rain fly. Tents provide better insulation.
  • If you’re hiking across a flat area, like a desert, you may not be able to find trees to hook your hammock to.
  • Hammocks are designed for one or two people to sleep in, but not to hold camping gear.

Overall, hammocks are designed for trips through wooded areas in three seasons – everything except for winter.

This applies to the majority of backpacking trips, so hikers and backpackers who don’t have any special considerations will find that a hammock works out just fine.

The Pros and Cons of a Tent

Tents come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and they’re rated for all different seasons. Tents offer a greater amount of versatility and more customizable options than one would get with the typical hammock.

Many people prefer the security and shelter of a tent over a hammock, and certain kinds of backpacking or camping trips wouldn’t be possible without the right style of tent.

Pros

  • Tents come in many different sizes. You can get a tent designed for a solo sleeper or even a tent designed for 10 people. You’re getting a lot of extra space that can be used to store gear, or to inflate an air mattress.
  • Four season tents can be used in snowy weather. Some of them are insulated and come with a full coverage rain fly that can be used to protect campers from the accumulation of falling snow.
  • Tents allow campers to spread out, unlike a hammock. Hammocks cradle the sleeper, but tents are erected directly on the ground. You have a flat surface on the inside.

Tents on a Mountain

Cons

  • Tents are heavier than hammocks, especially if they’re designed to sleep multiple people.
  • It’s a little more difficult to erect a tent. Larger tents can take a considerable amount of time to put up.
  • Tents need to be staked to the ground to resist wind. If you’re camping in very windy conditions, you’ll need to find ground that’s dense and dry enough to hold your tent. If the ground is covered in snow, this can be an even bigger challenge.

Tents are a little more difficult than hammocks are to transport and set up, but they provide you with a little more security and space.

You’re getting four walls and more space. If you need to eat indoors due to inclement weather, you’ll have the space to do that within a tent.

They also sleep more people than a hammock, making them better for large groups.

When to Consider Hammock vs. Tent?

For Solo Travelling

If you’re travelling by yourself, a hammock or a tent is really a toss-up.

A one man tent weighs a little more than a hammock, but both are still relatively light to carry. A tent will provide you with a little more shelter from the elements.

If you’re trying to decide between a backpacking hammock vs. tent camping, think about where you’re going. If it’s going to be safe and dry, a hammock will probably be fine.

For Travelling with Small Groups

For small groups, everyone can carry their own hammock, or they can share a tent. For groups of three people or less, either option would be just as easy.

You have enough people to divide the weight of the gear you’ll have to carry, so carrying the tent could be one person’s job. Both provide versatility.

For Solo Camping

Camping is different from backpacking. When you’re camping, you intend on setting up your campsite and staying there for an extended period of time.

Since you won’t have to carry everything around from place to place, it might be worth opting for a tent. You can even carry a two man tent so you’ll have more space to live in and store your gear.

A hammock works well for a minimalist campsite. It’s all about the way you’d prefer to camp.

For Family Camping

Tents are always better for family camping, especially if you bring children along. Everyone will have a little more space in a tent, and they’ll be able to sleep comfortably.

If you’re driving your car to a camping area, the weight of the tent won’t be a problem. Many family tents also offer electrical outlet access, allowing campers to charge their phones on longer trips.

Hammock vs. Tent – Which One is For You?

Everyone prefers to experience nature in their own way.

Settling the hammock vs. tent debate depends on a large variety of factors, and only you know which one will work best for your expedition.

You have some considerations to make, and it’s easy to make them as long as you know where you’re going and who, if anyone, you intend to bring with you.