When you think of camping, do you picture pitching a tent at your campsite and snuggling up in a sleeping bag at night? Many people usually think of tent camping when they picture sleeping outdoors, but there are many other ways to camp.
One of the alternatives to a traditional sleeping bag is hammock camping where you actually sleep in a hammock. If you’ve ever lounged in a hammock during the day, you know how comfortable it can be. So why not sleep in it?
Some problems can arise when it comes to cooler weather and staying warm at night when sleeping inside a hammock. So how can you stay warm? And what’s the coldest you can camp in a hammock?
So what is the coldest temperature that you can hammock camp in?
The coldest nighttime temperature that is recommended for hammock camping for the average camper is 50 degrees Fahrenheit. However, with a cold-weather sleeping pad, an underquilt and four-season sleeping bag in your hammock, you can safely camp in a hammock in temperatures under down to 0 degrees.
Around 70 degrees you can start to feel the cold air beneath you and camping with only a hammock may become uncomfortable. However, with expert equipment, it is possible to hammock camp at much lower temperatures.
How to Stay Warm and Dry While Hammock Camping?
While hammocks are best for camping in warmer weather, they can definitely be a good option even in the winter. You will need more accessories to insulate yourself to stay warm but it is still possible to enjoy hammock camping year-round.
- Use an Underquilt
The first item you should have is an underquilt to insulate the hammock. Instead of using lots of padding inside the hammock which will get compressed and lose its effectiveness, an underquilt actually goes underneath the hammock.
This insulates the hammock without any compression and prevents cold air from getting inside the hammock and making your back cold. Many manufacturers make underquilts in a variety of shapes and sizes that are suitable for different temperature ranges and come with a choice of insulation.
To get the most benefit out of an underquilt, make sure it is attached securely and snugly against the hammock. Don’t allow any airflow to get between the bottom of the hammock and then underquilt or it will defeat the purpose entirely.
- Use a Sleeping Pad
Another option is to use the same sleeping pad you put underneath your sleeping bag inside the hammock. However, sleeping pads can shift around during the night, leaving cold areas that expose you to the chilly night air.
If your hammock has multiple layers, slide the pad or mat between the bottom layers to help prevent it from moving around. You can even double up on hammocks to create an additional layer to put a sleeping pad. Some sleeping pads designed specifically for hammocks might be a good choice but usually an underquilt is your best bet.
In the event that your sleeping pad gets damaged or deflated, you will want to have an underquilt as a backup layer. When you are depending on an inflatable sleeping pad, always bring a small repair kit to mend any holes.
- Cover up with a Top Quilt
In addition to an underquilt, you’ll also need a top quilt to lay on top of you and provide warmth from above. You could use a sleeping bag as well but they can be difficult to climb into while they are in the hammock.
For lower temperatures around 30 degrees or colder, then you should combine additional layers such as a sleeping bag with your top quilt and underquilt for added warmth.
- Grab a Liner
Similar to a sleeping bag, you can also add a liner inside the hammock for another layer of insulation. Liners are also great because they conform to your body after you climb inside and shouldn’t bunch up or become uncomfortable if you move around while sleeping.
- Use a Reflective Blanket
A reflective blanket can also help retain heat and is very lightweight, making it perfect for any kind of camping but especially backpacking. Just wrap it around your entire body once you are inside the hammock to help retain body heat.
- Bring Your Sleeping Bag
Colder weather means you definitely should use a sleeping bag in addition to the hammock. Opt for a mummy style bag which will retain the most heat. A sleeping bag helps to keep your feet warm as well in case your underquilt doesn’t run the full length of the hammock.
- Wear Warm Clothes
Put on warm, dry layers of clothing before getting into your hammock. Even if you have all the other accessories but fail to wear proper clothing, you will lose a lot of body heat during the night.
Use natural fabrics as your base layers to trap heat close to your skin. Wear a knit cap and warm socks as well to keep your extremities warm.
Other Things To Consider To Stay Warm In A Hammock
In addition to the materials used inside and around your hammock for warmth, there are a few other things you can do to ensure a comfortable night while camping in cooler weather.
- Location of Your Hammock
The most important consideration is the location where you set up your hammock. While it’s true that hammocks are more convenient than tents because they can be placed above uneven ground, not all locations are ideal.
When it comes to staying warm, choose a place that is not very windy. Not only will this reduce the chill at night, but will prevent the hammock from swaying which could weaken the straps, joints, and knots.
If it becomes incredibly windy, there is also a risk that the hammock could flip over and turn you out onto the ground. This could be very dangerous depending on how high the hammock is hung and if there are sharp objects on the ground underneath.
Look for natural windbreakers like a boulder or a dense area of trees. Avoid open areas that do not have any trees or other obstructions which will block the wind. Don’t camp in areas that are low lying because cold air may settle in these spaces at night.
If it’s not possible to avoid open areas, then use a tarp to create a wind block by hanging it to the side of your hammock.
- Use Heat Sources
Before going to sleep in your hammock, light a campfire to provide an additional source of heat nearby. Hanging a tarp behind the fire can also cause the heat to reflect toward you and the place where you’re sleeping.
However, never put the fire too close or directly underneath the hammock. This can be very dangerous and will likely damage or melt your hammock.
Chemical heat sources like hand and toe warmers can also be placed inside your sleeping bag for several hours of continuous cheap. These are also a very affordable and lightweight option that is safe to use while camping.
Choosing the Best Hammock for Cold Weather Camping
Look for a durable hammock that is made from sturdy materials like woven nylon instead of rope. You will also want to bring a sleeping bag that is temperature rated for very cold weather as well as an underquilt and top quilt.
Make sure you set up the hammock so you can lay flat in it to achieve the best sleep. Don’t hang it too loose or you’ll get back pain from the curve in the hammock.
Stringing a hammock too tightly will pull the edges together and squeeze your shoulders or put pressure on your legs, causing a lot of discomfort. One tip is to sleep diagonally to avoid strain and hypertension. You can also roll up a jacket or place a small pillow under your knees.
In the winter, you will absolutely want to bring a tarp to hang above the hammock to block out the snow. If there is bad weather such as rain or snow, then you should hang your hammock as low to the ground as possible. Then place the tarp directly above it.
In order to stay warm while hammock camping, it is very important to remain completely dry. So don’t let any snow or other moisture accumulate inside your hammock. Don’t wear wet or damp clothes either or you could get chilled.
Make sure the tarp is slightly larger than what would be used on a traditional camping trip. It should be big enough to fully cover the entire hammock. Ideally, it should extend beyond the hammock for additional coverage.
When hanging the hammock, choose trees that don’t have anything that could fall down and hurt you. This includes ice, snow, or dead branches. Never hang your hammock on a tree that is dead or rotting.
Make sure your hammock has straps that won’t damage the tree and refrain from putting a hammock on a tree that has anything growing on it. This is especially important in alpine environments where flowers and other plants are incredibly delicate.
Before your camping trip, make sure to inspect the hammock, especially the straps and cords. Make sure they aren’t damaged which could lead to an accident or injuy.
Pros and Cons of Cold Weather Hammock Camping
- Lightweight and Small
Some of the benefits of using a hammock while camping is the fact that they are very small and lightweight. This makes them perfect for backpacking since you essentially have your shelter and your bed all in one.
There’s no need to carry additional gear such as a tent and poles if you’ll be using a hammock instead. A hammock is usually less than 3 pounds, making it much smaller and more lightweight than a backpacking tent.
- Comfort and Better Sleep
Anyone who has ever spent time in a hammock knows they are incredibly comfortable. Many people also find they sleep better in a hammock and it is often more comfortable than sleeping on the ground, even with a sleeping pad.
Instead of coming home from a camping trip and being sore while looking forward to a real bed, you will feel refreshed and energized. The motion of the hammock can also help you fall asleep faster and experience deeper sleep.
They also don’t have any pressure points which means less tossing and turning during the night. You can even sleep on your side or curl up in the fetal position inside a hammock, making it the perfect place for any type of sleeper.
- You Can Camp Almost Anywhere
Unlike tent camping, you won’t have to worry about finding even ground, a place far from water or avoiding other obstructions like roots and rocks. However, you will need to find something to hang your hammock from such as a tree, post, or rock.
If you will be camping in a place where there is nothing but open space, then a hammock will not be feasible because you’ll have nowhere to hang it. But most places will have trees and then you can choose the most beautiful and scenic place to spend the night.
- Easy to Set Up and Take Down
Hammocks are also pretty easy to set up, especially compared to tents which often have complex pole systems. However, you will need to find something to hang your hammock from such as a tree or other sturdy structure.
If you do have somewhere to rig up your hammock, then it will be fairly fast to get it set up so you can get right to sleep after a long day. It will also be quick to take down in the morning when you’re finished and ready to hit the trails again or head home.
- Affordability and Durability
Many hammocks are also quite affordable compared to all the other gear that would need to be purchased in its place. A high-quality and durable hammock will also last you for a long time so you’ll get your money’s worth after multiple camping trips.
- Direct Contact with Nature
Hammock camping is also a lot of fun and brings a sense of play and whimsy to your outdoor adventure. Unless you have a cover, you will be directly in contact with the fresh air, sunshine, and be able to see the stars at night.
If you’re a person who never feels like they can get enough of the outdoors, then hammock camping will be perfect for you! In the warmer months, spending the night in a hammock is an experience that just can’t be beaten.
- Not Fully Enclosed
On the other side, there are a few drawbacks when it comes to a hammock. Most people prefer a tent because it is familiar and provides a feeling of comfort and security. They also provide protection from the weather, wild animals, and insects.
Hammocks can be covered with mosquito netting to prevent bugs from biting. You can also put a top on the hammock to keep out rain or simply to keep heat in. However, a tent usually makes campers feel more secure when they are inside.
- Hammocks Aren’t Ideal Living Spaces
While modern hammocks do have a lot of features similar to tents such as a rain fly and mosquito netting, they aren’t the best place to spend time when you aren’t sleeping. In a tent you can spend time with other people, eat, prepare food, and relax.
However, a hammock is best used when you’re lying down and it may be difficult to move around inside without tipping out. Most hammocks are also best for just a single person so it’s hard to spend time with your camping companions, whether human or animal.
If you’re camping with your dog, bring an extra tarp to create a shelter for them so they are protected from the elements and don’t have to sleep directly on the cold ground. Depending on the temperature, you may need additional blankets or coverings to keep them warm at night.
- Lack of Privacy
Tents are fully enclosed, giving you a lot of privacy while sleeping or while going about daily activities. It is much easier to change clothes inside a tent than a hammock. Some people might also feel uncomfortable sleeping in the open where others can see them because they are used to being in an enclosed space.
On the other hand, because you won’t be constrained to staying at a designated campsite when tent camping, you can place your hammock far away from other campers. This will give you a degree of quiet, solitude, and privacy if you want to be left alone.
- Minimal Storage Area
Hammocks do have places to stow gear, but definitely not as much room as a tent. You may need to rig up a tarp to create additional room to put your backpack and other items underneath. If you have muddy boots and don’t want to leave them on the ground, you’ll need something to put underneath them.
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