Camping is a wonderful way to spend a vacation, especially if you love the beauty of the outdoors. Within a few hours’ drive from Los Angeles, you can camp on beaches, in the desert, in the mountains or wooded canyons.
For many people, camping means tents. There is a reason why campgrounds on maps or road signs are indicated by a tent icon. However, tents have their downsides, such as extra weight, extra setup time, limited location options, which has led to a new trend in the outdoor lifestyle: hammock camping.
Here are some reasons to consider hammock camping instead of tent camping.
1. Easier to pack set up
2. They are lighter
According to this article, a typical hammock camping set-up is almost a pound lighter than a typical tent set-up. One pound might not seem like a big weight difference but as any veteran backpacker will tell you, every ounce saved helps.
3. Unlimited camping locations
When setting up a tent, you have to avoid rocks, tree roots, poison oak, puddles and other obstacles. Even a narrow tree root or small pebble that seems harmless can create an annoyance when you are trying to sleep. With hammocks, your campsite choice is limitless. You can set up your hammock a slope, over rocky terrain and even over water. According to the Leave No Trace website, hammocks also leave a smaller footprint than tents and thus have less environmental impact.
4. Hammocks have all the advantages of tents
Worried that you will miss anything from a tent? Hammocks can come with all of the features of tents including mosquito nets, tarps and gear lofts. A tarp can give you the privacy of a tent while a hammock rain fly can reflect heat just as it would for a tent.
Hammocks provide much more than just a place to sleep. You can use your hammock as a camp chair by the fire or as an observation deck for stargazing. You can even use it as a swing – a fun option if you are camping with kids. (Additionally, if you are camping with kids, as this article points out, “Kids will be going to sleep at different times to the adults, which can be annoying if you are all sleeping inside one tent.”
6. Health and comfort
Sleeping in a hammock is often more comfortable than sleeping in a tent. Even if you are using some of the best sleeping pads in a tent, it may not be comfortable sleeping on a wetland, terrains places and dirty and muddy areas. Other tent problems include overnight moisture, and bugs dragging around your tent floor. Additionally, hammocks can help you fall asleep more quickly and maintain an ideal posture, with your head inclined at an angle of 10-30%.
7. Better views
Hammocks provide incredible views of nature. You will have a great view of the shining stars as well as a consistent flow of natural air. When the sun comes up, you’ll have a view of it without having to move. You can watch the birds instead of just hearing them singing from your ‘tent bed’.
8. Hammocks are more affordable
Hammocks and their accessories are available at relatively reasonable prices compared to their tent counterparts. Tents come with the additional cost of sleeping pads which aren’t necessary with hammocks.
9. Quiet and peace
As we discussed in reason #3, hammocks can help you avoid certain natural obstacles more easily than tents. Another advantage is that they can help you stay away from human annoyances. Areas in the Angeles National Forest permit remote camping, but in reality much of the terrain is inhospitable when it comes to setting up a tent. Thus, tent campers are largely limited to established campgrounds where the 10pm noise curfew might not be respected. The versatility of hammocks makes it possible to set them up in more remote locations.
With all of these reasons, it’s no wonder that hammock camping is becoming more and more popular. Appalachian Trail through-hiker Rhys Hora says, “I see so many people get into a hammock and say, ‘holy [cow], this is great.’ I never see people going from the hammock to the tent and saying the same thing.” Maybe someday, hammocks icons will replace tents on roadside and trail signs!
Robert J. Hamilton has been an avid camper since 2013. He enjoys testing out different gear and sharing tips from his experience with others. More of his writing can be found at Outdoor Spider.