Backpacking (tents vs. hammocks)

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Backpacking (tents vs. hammocks)

Postby ismellbacon » Thu Mar 08, 2012 9:16 am

I am having trouble deciding, so I was hoping you all could sway me one way or another...


My troop is planning on working on the Camping and Backpacking merit badge this year. The scouts plan to do one additional campout each month for 4 months starting in May. With the final one in August being a week long 30 mile trip...

So I am debating on getting a hammock or just sticking with my tent.

I would think that the hammock would take up less room, is lighter, is easier to assemble/disassemble, and will help me cool down at night with breeze blowing around me. But, is it really worth forkin over the money for a good hammock?

Your thoughts?

Thanks again in advance!
Yours in scouting,

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Re: Backpacking (tents vs. hammocks)

Postby FrankJ » Thu Mar 08, 2012 9:45 am

The people I know that use hammocks swear by them. Almost a cult. :). On the other hand, in heavy use areas, if everybody used a hammock, you would quickly run out of live trees.

Another word of advice: Once you go tarp, you will never go back. :)
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Re: Backpacking (tents vs. hammocks)

Postby ismellbacon » Thu Mar 08, 2012 9:59 am

FrankJ wrote:The people I know that use hammocks swear by them. Almost a cult. :). On the other hand, in heavy use areas, if everybody used a hammock, you would quickly run out of live trees.

Another word of advice: Once you go tarp, you will never go back. :)


Thanks! Can you elaborate on the "tarp" method?
Yours in scouting,

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Re: Backpacking (tents vs. hammocks)

Postby FrankJ » Thu Mar 08, 2012 10:32 am

Tarp camping is more of a culture than a method. A 8x10 silnylon tarp weighs less than a pound. The ways to set it up is almost limitless. Stake it low for storm protection or high for good ventilation. You get to practice ropes, not tying, & ingenuity in adapting your tarp to the terrain. The only place where a tent is actually better is where there are a plethora of bugs.
Frank J.
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Re: Backpacking (tents vs. hammocks)

Postby ronin718 » Thu Mar 08, 2012 10:33 am

I'm one of those hammock guys. Depending on the type you get, the hammock may not be lighter than a backpacking tent, but you don't have to worry about rocks, drainage, or other ground-level terrain issues. And since you're here in VA, you know there's no shortage of trees. You do need to know your knots, but other than that, they're a great option. I use mine in a 3-season mode, but I know you can do year-round with a hammock with the right gear.

The only complaint I have is it's hard to get dressed in a hammock. They're not really conducive to changing clothes since you're pretty much on your back the whole time. :D
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Re: Backpacking (tents vs. hammocks)

Postby ismellbacon » Thu Mar 08, 2012 11:06 am

FrankJ wrote:Tarp camping is more of a culture than a method. A 8x10 silnylon tarp weighs less than a pound. The ways to set it up is almost limitless. Stake it low for storm protection or high for good ventilation. You get to practice ropes, not tying, & ingenuity in adapting your tarp to the terrain. The only place where a tent is actually better is where there are a plethora of bugs.



That is what I thought you were talking about! And, I hear ya about the bugs...

I remember in the Infantry (two life times ago) sleeping under the stars with just a poncho over top of me. The bugs sleep too, around 3 to 4am I discovered.
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Re: Backpacking (tents vs. hammocks)

Postby ismellbacon » Thu Mar 08, 2012 11:08 am

ronin718 wrote:I'm one of those hammock guys. Depending on the type you get, the hammock may not be lighter than a backpacking tent, but you don't have to worry about rocks, drainage, or other ground-level terrain issues. And since you're here in VA, you know there's no shortage of trees. You do need to know your knots, but other than that, they're a great option. I use mine in a 3-season mode, but I know you can do year-round with a hammock with the right gear.

The only complaint I have is it's hard to get dressed in a hammock. They're not really conducive to changing clothes since you're pretty much on your back the whole time. :D



Yeah, I wouldn't use it in the winter either. I have a nice 4 season tent for that.

You raise in interesting question: how do you change clothes in a hammock??? ...for those of us that do change on occasion when camping.
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Re: Backpacking (tents vs. hammocks)

Postby cdwscout » Thu Mar 08, 2012 11:38 am

Hammock guy here: I love them.

On staying warm: Hennessy (hennessyhammock.com) sells various models, with their most popular (the expedition) at $150. They also sell an insulation system for $140, as well as a radiant bubblepad for $30 and OverCover for $35. They have various degrees of tarps available. This system (hammock, insulation system, bubblepad, and overcover) has been proven to be good in the Arctic Circle (assuming you have a good sleeping bag or quilt).

On bugs: Most hammocks come with mosquito netting that will stop any bugs. I to live in an area prone to bugs (South Texas), so mosquito netting is a must for a hammock. Some companies sell hammocks without netting, and they are designed for California or some other less-buggy place.

On changing clothes: I can (awkwardly) change pants in a hammock, and change shirts outside (assuming you're a guy). Or, you can just borrow someone's tent.

Bottom line: (Good) hammocks aren't cheap, but once you invest in them, you can stay warm, bug-free, and VERY comfortable. It's worth the extra expense. But, don't get caught into the $50 "GI" style hammocks. They're heavy than most hammocks, have a annoying-to-stake-out rainfly, and don't work with an insulation system. Put the money into a good, Hennessy or other brand name hammock.

EDIT: Down here, three-season tents are usually good for four-season, so I don't have much a dog in the pit for warmth.
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Re: Backpacking (tents vs. hammocks)

Postby ronin718 » Mon Mar 12, 2012 9:44 am

CDW nailed it on the clothes changing. Doable, but it's a lot of "fun" doing the wriggle and pull. Sometimes I just put the pants around my ankles in the hammock, drop on out and pull them up at the same time.

Yep, gotta love the Hennessy's!!! Definitely want to swap out the basic fly for a hex fly. The hex covers so much more area and provides better protection.
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