Ditch the Tent, Grab a Hammock
The Benefits of Hammock Camping
What’s the best way to sleep on your camping trip? Air mattress, sleeping pad, cot...not sure which type of sleep system is best for you? Maybe it’s not a traditional setup at all, but something more elevated. Hammock camping has many benefits including health, comfort, weight, and more.
Hammocks are known for putting your body in the ideal sleeping position. The position in which you lay down plays a pivotal role in having a good night’s rest. According to an article by Janet Kionsian of Huffington Post:
"Many doctors say it’s lying on one’s back, with the head slightly elevated, about 10 - 30 percent. This is postulated to give the brain optimal blood circulation rather than congestion and also allows for more un-obstructed breathing, says Dr. Steven Park, a head and neck surgeon and member of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. You see many native cultures sleeping this way, via hammock and other devices, rather than on flat surfaces as in the West."
Unlike ground sleeping, which allows for various unhealthy sleeping positions, the hammock forces you into the optimal sleeping arrangement. It is an option to consider if you struggle with congestion and trouble breathing when sleeping.
Size & Weight
Hammocks are lightweight and have a very tiny footprint. Most camping/outdoor hammocks include an attached carry bag for portability, with the total weight varying from around 1 to 3 pounds. The good hammocks will equip you with bark protecting tree straps as well.
There’s no competition when comparing the weight of a hammock to other sleep systems. The weight of air mattresses, cots, and sleeping pads is significantly more and represent unrealistic options for hikers and light campers. The hammock is a better sleeping option at a fraction of the weight. Plus, sleeping in a hammock gives you more room for food on your hike :).
Air mattresses and cots are better than using a sleeping bag on the hard ground, but there are drawbacks. These sleeping systems still put pressure on various parts of the body which in turn cause tossing and turning. Staying elevated gives you no point of pressure on the body, keeping you from becoming uncomfortable in the middle of the night.
Worried about being in the open environment? There are plenty of bug nets and rain tarps tailored just for hammock camping. You can hammock camp in a bug-free and dry environment no matter the conditions.
Every camper has experienced the woes of putting up complicated tents. Tent poles among other things make setting up camp a chore. Removing bedding, deflating air mattresses, and struggling to stuff the tent back into the bag make it even worse. On the contrary, you can be relaxing in a hammock in just minutes. Good hammock straps have sturdy, adjustable loops which allow you to attach them to trees effortlessly.
Travel & Convenience
Health, comfort, weight, portability, and easy setup are all fantastic reasons to consider hammock camping. However, one of the best things about sleeping in a hammock is the ability to set up camp virtually anywhere. Tents need flat surfaces and cleared out areas to be used properly, but you don’t need to worry about rocky and rough terrain with a hammock. All you need is two trees and you’ll have a level and elevated sleeping spot every time!