Tent vs Hammock: Comparison, Pros and Cons

All campers, backpackers, and trailers at one point get confused- a tent or a hammock? 

If you are stuck in this limbo, then this article is for you. It covers all the points to address your confusion regarding Tent vs Hammock.


What are hammocks?

Tent vs Hammock

Hammocks are simply hanging beds made with ropes and fabrics. They are hung mostly between two trees any other stationary points. You can use a hammock to rest, sleep and swing in. Over the years, these hanging beds have become very popular among campers and backpackers for their low weight and enhanced usability.

However, it’s not to say that they don’t have their pros and cons. 

Pros and Cons of Hammocks

Pros

  • They are extremely comfortable.
  • These are legal in multiple places.
  • Hammocks ensure sound sleep.
  • Condensation is not an issue with hammocks.
  • They are cooler.
  • It’s easier to find a campsite if you are using a hammock.
  • Hammocks have multiple uses.

Cons

  • You will need properly spaced trees, rocks, or some stationary points to hang your hammock.
  • These are not stand-alone shelters.
  • You can get cold while sleeping on a hammock.
  • They don’t offer any privacy.

What are tents?

Tents have been popular for quite some as a makeshift shelter for campers. Unlike hammocks, tents are pretty spacious, sturdy, and provide better comfort. Currently, there are different varieties of tents available. These differ in sizes, styles, and shapes. Overall, they offer you the ideal protection against the elements in the wilderness.

But before you opt for tents over hammocks, let’s take a look at their pros and cons:

Pros and Cons of Tents

Pros

  • Ideal for more than two people on a trip.
  • These are comfortable and reliable.
  • Tents are warm and spacious.
  • They provide the perfect protection against elements and animals in the wild.
  • Extremely practical.

Cons

  • Pitching a tent is time-consuming.
  • The size and weight of tents can become an issue.
  • You will require a suitable site to set it up.
  • Condensation is an issue with tents.

Tent vs Hammock: Comparison

Weight

For professional campers and backpackers, weight is an important consideration point while choosing a sleeping system. This is natural if you are hiking and walking up a long and challenging terrain and your backpack is loaded with equipment; you will want to ensure every ounce of the weight is essential. To that end, a hammock seems like the ideal option as often these weigh less than 10 ounces. 

However, you need to consider that you will need other equipment to set up the hammock. For instance, you will require a strong rope and a rain fly to protect you if it rains.

Besides these, some backpackers also pack bug netting and support ropes. So a hammock with all these additional accessories will bring up the weight to 2-3 pounds. 

An ultralight tent will include stakes, cords, a rainfly, and a repair kit. A one-on-one tent weighs the same as a hammock (which can support only one).

However, the weight can increase with the price decrease. But overall, since both one-on-one tents and hammocks weigh almost the same, it makes sense to opt for a tent.

Safety and protection

Camping is a safe activity for those who are experienced and have night gear. However, you might get uncomfortable due to foul weather, bugs, and animals.

On their own, hammocks do not protect against bugs, bad weather, or animals owning their open-top design. But fortunately, if you have a rain fly or bug net, you should be able to protect yourself to some extent. 

A tent thankfully provides excellent bug and weather protection, particularly during heavy showers and winds. They also offer sufficient protection against small forest animals and rodents.

Space

Of course, a tent will not offer you the comfort of your king-sized bed, but it will still be roomier than a hammock which is almost like a cocoon. While you can still share your tent with another person for a night (though it might get stuffy), it’s impossible to do the same on a hammock.

It’s advisable to opt for a two-person sleeping tent even if you are camping alone. Two-person sleeping tents don’t add much weight and don’t cost extra as well. You will be able to place your gear inside, which will be out in the open on a hammock.

Setting up

After a long day of hiking/trailing, you surely do not want to spend hours setting up your shelter. Thus it’s imperative to find a shelter that is as easy to pitch as possible. This is where tents might lose a point.

Setting up a tent has a steep learning curve. As per many campers, they found it extremely challenging to set up a tent as beginners. In addition, since setting up a tent involves using multiple poles and stakes, the pitching process gets draining. 

Hammocks, on the other hand, can be set up real quick. All you need to do is find a spot between two perfectly spaced trees and tie the both end of the hammock.

However, if you are planning on adding a bug net or rain fly, you might need a bit of extra time. However, the time required to set up a hammock complete with rain fly and bug trap is the same as setting up a tent.

Comfort

A good night’s sleep is essential for the success of your camping trip. And for a night of sound sleep, you need to be comfortable. In this case, tents take the lead as campers feel that sleeping in a tent is more comfortable than sleeping on a hammock. If not the same comfort as your bed, a tent offers something similar. 

On the flip side, sleeping on a hammock can get tricky. While some people have a sound sleep in that suspended position, others might wake up in the morning stiff and uncomfortable.

Warmth

Sleeping on a hammock makes one vulnerable to the wind, which carries off warm air from the body and replaces it with cold air. Thus, one might feel a bit chilly while sleeping on a hammock. This becomes a severe crisis if you are camping somewhere cold. Ideally, you should pack a tent for such places or get hold of an insulated sleeping bag if you are sleeping on a hammock and try other ways to stay warm in a hammock.

Furthermore, since hammocks are a one-person sleep system, they fail to retain much body heat, leading one to feel extremely cold in some cases. Thankfully, sleeping in a tent is comfortable in this case and provides the right amount of protection against cold wind.

Rain

Of course, the rain fly of your hammock will provide you the ideal protection against vertical rain; however, if the rain is accompanied by strong winds and becomes horizontal, your chances of staying dry will get soggy. To add to it, if you are camping in a place that gets puddles quickly, you can get splash up. On the other hand, a tent with a full rain fly will keep you dry irrespective of the direction of the rain.

Placement

One of the advantages of a hammock is that one does not require open space or level ground to set it up. You only need two equally distant sturdy points to support the weight of the user.

This advantage comes in handy as it’s often difficult to find an open space to set up a tent in a forest; however, it’s not big an issue in other terrains. Thus, it’s advisable to opt for a hammock if you spend the night in the forest.

Reliability

Though tents have many advantages over a hammock, it has one weak link- the poles. The alluminium poles, though extremely strong and very difficult to bend, might get damaged during your trip. And if these do get damaged, there is very little you can do to fix these.

Hammocks, on the other hand, are more reliable in this case. The fabric used in the hammock is strong and has less chances of getting damaged compared to the tent poles. 

Packability

Be it a camping or road trip, you need a packable shelter. Thankfully, most hammocks that are designed for camping can be packed small. This is an excellent advantage for backpackers going on a long trip. However, most often, a two-person tent complete with accessories is often bulkier than a hammock. 


Conclusion

As you can see, both hammocks and tents have distinctive features that set them apart. when it comes to Tent vs Hammock It’s not to say that one performs better than the other, but it mostly depends on you. For instance, if you are going into the forest for a night, a hammock will function better as it’s easier to set up. However, if it’s a long trip that involves two people, having a secure shelter like a tent will be effective.

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