Hammocks vs Tents

Hammocks versus tents. A comparison by Everest Active Gear

The love of nature and the out of doors draws us to spend as much time as we can among the trees, the breeze and the fresh air.

For hundreds of years, both tents and hammocks have been used as a means of shelter and sleep.

Tents have, for many years, been the go-to accommodations for sleeping outside while camping, hiking or on expeditions.

In recent years the improvements in both durability and functionality of hammocks have made them extremely popular with adventure lovers everywhere. 

Hammocks

Hammocks have been around for about a thousand years as a means of sleeping accommodations. It is believed that the Mayans used hammocks to keep themselves off of the dirty ground.

Being off the ground also provided protection against snakes, rats and other crawly critters. 

Columbus brought back examples of the hammock to Spain. By the mid-16th century, English and Spanish navies were using hammocks as a way to sleep without being dumped from their bunks in rough seas.  

By the late 1800s in the United States, hammocks were a luxury item for wealthy families.

Panama Canal army physician William Gorgas found that hammocks with mosquito netting kept workers off wet, insect ridden grounds and was essential in the fight against yellow fever. 

While the history of hammocks for sleeping has been a long one, it has been in recent years that it has rapidly gained popularity for camping. 

We’ll look at some of the reasons why. 

Size and Weight

As with tents, camping hammocks come in a variety of sizes and weights. You can get hammocks that weigh less than a pound because of incredibly lightweight material used in their construction.

Others are about the size of a grapefruit when folded inside their carrying pouch. So you can get a camping hammock that weighs next to nothing and is easy to carry with you.

You need to also consider the weight of the suspension system that you will use. A rain fly is also ideal to have in case of rain, or as a sunblock and that will add to the overall weight.

The size and weight of a hammock that you choose are really going to depend on where you go camping. 

If you often go over a weekend or can park near your campsite, then size and weight are not a deciding factor when choosing a hammock. 

If you are an avid trekker and spend days on a hiking trail, size and weight will be more pertinent in your purchasing decision. 

Whatever situation you go hammock camping in, you most likely will still want a unit that does not weigh you down, and camping hammocks can be a lightweight proposition. 

Comfort 

Hammocks deliver a restful sleep. Studies have shown that the slight swaying motion of a hammock helps to synchronize brain function and produces a deeper, more restful sleep.

When you set up your hammock properly and sleep in a “flat lay”, you are sleeping in the position recommended by doctors where your feet are slightly above the level of your heart. 

Hammocks also creates zero pressure points between the sleep surface and your body. So sleeping in a hammock can be a very comfortable sleep.

Set up

Setting up a hammock is a simple process. Once you have selected the correct site, and the right trees, it is an easy proposition to hang a hammock.

Straps are the best option as they are both easy and adjustable. Once you get the hang of it, it will take just minutes to set a hammock. 

Overall strengths

  • Comfortable to sit or sleep in
  • With the right gear, you can brave the elements
  • Less confining than a tent
  • Inexpensive, depending on what you choose
  • Setting up and putting away is relatively quick 
  • Lightweight
  • Can have health benefits in sleeping position

    Tents

    Orange tent inside view towards the forest

    Tents have been around longer than hammocks for sleeping while camping. They are great portable shelters for flat terrain and have a long history of reliability.

    Size and weight

    Tents, like hammocks, can vary in size. Tents of yesteryear were heavy, canvas contraptions that were a bit complicated to set up.

    Today’s tents are made of some of the same material as hammocks so that they are relatively lightweight and much easier to carry.  

    Just as with hammocks, there will be some extra gear such as tent pegs and a mallet for hammering the pegs into the ground.

    You will also need a sleeping pad of some type and sleeping bags. You may also want a net type of shelter from bugs and mosquitos.

    All of these will add up in weight, but as with a hammock, the weight might only be a consideration if you are hiking or trekking for long distances.

    You should expect that the weight of a tent will be about 2.5 pounds per person. So if two people are going to use a tent, the tent, rainfly, and poles will be about 5 pounds. 

    Anyone who loves spending time out on the trail will tell you that any and all accouterments will add to the weight you carry and each item is a factor to take into consideration, whether it is a hammock or a tent. 

    Comfort

    The difficulty that I always had when camping in a tent was waking in the morning to dampness underneath me. 

    Even in dry weather, and when pitched on dry ground the moisture would collect underneath my sleeping area. 

    I would put a tarp down first and my sleeping bag on top of it so that I didn’t wake up in a damp bag, but it was never my favorite thing about a tent.

    An inflatable air mattress helps keep the moisture at bay, so it is a workable option.

    As was stated earlier, tents have been around as a form of protection for longer than a hammock.

    People like the ability to sleep in the same area, to be protected from wind and rain and to stow their gear.

    With the right sleeping equipment, a tent can be a cozy and comfortable place to spend the night.

    Set up

    It used to be that pitching a tent was a complicated venture that entailed a lot of poles and adjustments and at least two pairs of hands.

    Today's tents are much less complex in set up and weigh less, which also makes them easier to pitch. 

    An average size tent constructed out of today’s materials should be able to be set up by one person. It will not be an all-day struggle but a straightforward, doable task.

    As we recommend with a hammock, if you are new to the process or to the equipment, try it first at home until you are proficient.

    This will save a whole lot of hassle and frustration when you are at your campsite. 

    Overall strengths

    • With the right provisions, can be comfortable to sleep in
    • Gives protection from the elements
    • Inexpensive, depending on what you choose
    • Relatively easy to pitch
    • Depending on the size, a tent can be fairly lightweight

      In Conclusion

      There are valid pros for both hammock and tent camping. Everest Active Gear leans towards hammock camping as it leaves less of an impact than a tent does.

      Hammocks are very lightweight, simple to set up, even for a brief rest and make for greater mobility when adventuring outdoors.  Plus it is just a fun swing! 

      That being said, we want to encourage you to get into nature in whatever manner you choose to do so. Nature is our therapy and visiting nature on a regular basis refreshes our minds and bodies. 

      Hammock in thick forest

      Interesting Hammock Trivia

      A Hammock Cafe!

      Located in Tokyo, the Mahika Mano is a hammock-themed cafe. There are no chairs, just bunches of hammocks suspended from the ceiling. 

      The menu has a variety of delicious food items and there are often lines in front of the cafe waiting to get in.

      Seriously?

      Hammocks are relatively inexpensive, except if you are purchasing a Petiole. It can block UV rays while giving you plenty of space for viewing the surrounding scenery.

      It has a cool, curved design and a futuristic look. And all this can be had for the low price of just $35,000.

      A Hammock or A Hot Tub?

      The Hydro Hammock happens to be both! Made in Oregon, the Hydro used a sealed synthetic high-tensile-strength fabric.

      It can hold up to 50 gallons of water and two adults.  It can be used as a suspended pool, a hammock hot tub, or as a liner for sand or snow. 

      If you choose, you can add a portable water heater system that will heat the water to make it comfortable no matter where you are. And if you are going for a Hydro hammock, why wouldn’t you add the heater?

      No Thanks!

      Yes, Theory is a group of young men who set out to conquer their fears while video documenting the experiences. 

      Setting their sights, and one large hammock, 800 feet above the ground off cliffs in Utah, they fully trusted (except for one of them) their suspension lines and the hammock as they hung in between the gap of two cliffs for an overnight stay.

       

      FAQs

      Does sleeping in a hammock at work improve performance?

      Hammocks induce a deep sleep that results in longer hours of rest due to its swaying motion and angle that supports your body correctly. Deep sleep, enhances one's mood, improves memory and mental performance. If you won’t forget to set your alarm, sleeping in a hammock might give you a higher chance to be the next employee of the month.

      What’s the highest hammock in the world?

      A group of four men called Yes Theory, who produce contents where they conquer their fears. Setting their sights 800 feet above the grounds of Vancouver, fully trusting their carabiners and hammocks as they hang them in between the gap of two mountain peaks.

      Do hammocks made of recycled materials exist?

      Recycled hammocks are produced by several manufacturers globally. Some are composed of 2 dozens or more of recycled plastic PET bottles along with discarded cotton textiles. Since the product needs not to use high-end material for its entirety-- making it not only earth-friendly but also affordable

      How’s your weight distributed on a hammock?

      Distribute your weight more evenly by spreading the hammock fabric out behind you as you sit down. You are making it also more comfortable for both you and the hammock.

      What is the biggest hammock in the world?

      King Digital Entertainment, a video game company, installed the 65 feet by 31 feet hammock as a promotional gimmick. Located at Jersey City, New Jersey, they successfully claimed the Guinness World record title of World's Largest Hammock.