The much-heated debate of hammock vs tent in the camping world has gained quite a bit of steam recently.
While there are sometimes where one option greatly exceeds the other in practicality, most days it can be a toss-up. So, if you’re struggling with hammock vs tent for your upcoming excursion to the woods, we’re here to help you out. We’ll go through the major points of why people love hammocks and why they love tents. Exploring the downsides of each will also prepare you for the moments your choice seems less than ideal. But, either way, we love hammocks, and we love tents. So, let’s jump into when you should use each one.
Pros of Hammocks
There are some truly marvelous upsides to the first option in the hammock vs tent debate. We’ll start with one of the most obvious. When you sleep in a hammock, you are floating in the air. This means there are no tough roots or solid rocks to poke and prod you all night long. Most campers have woken up from a night in the woods with an ache or two caused by nature is a little too close for comfort. But, if you’ve mastered how to hang an how to sleep in a hammock, then this is a non-issue for you. On top of this, a hammock is a multi-use option. You can easily unhook it and bring it with you on a hike or to the rock climbing crag for a place to sit. It stays cool during the day as you can easily take off the fly or move it. Need a chair by the campfire? Just fold in one side of the hammock and you’re all set. The hammock is truly more versatile when looking at it in the hammock vs tent debate.
Another upside to the hammock is that you truly get to sleep anywhere outside that has trees. While you can add the rain fly and bug net, you will wake up with nature surrounding you. A tent has walls closing you in, but waking up in a hammock will let you listen to the birds chirping when the sun rises. This being said, hammocks have add-ons for just about any feature a tent has. From those previously mentioned to some semblance of a gear loft, the hammock accessory options are ample. Finally, the hammock can be used at home, at the park, camping, or at a music festival. That versatility is outstanding and well worth the initial investment. Overall, the hammock has quite a bit going for it in the endless hammock vs tent debate.
Cons of Hammocks
Depending on who you talk to, many will say hammocks are great for hanging out but are near impossible to get a good night sleep in. So, if you’ve tried all the tips and tricks for sleeping in a hammock and still don’t like it, we understand. Some people need a firmer ground that only the legitimately firm ground can provide. On top of that, the hammocks don’t allow extra space for hanging out or doing necessary tasks. While you can cook in some large tents, hammocks don’t have the space for that. They are difficult to change in unless you’ve mastered the worm dance move as well. So, the tight space of a hammock can be quite constricting if you’re more into the spacious glamping style.
On top of that, the cost and usability can greatly increase if you’re family camping. When camping with a family, it is nice to know that all the kiddos are safely inside a tent and can’t roll out of it. With a hammock, the little ones might toss and turn all night or pop out without you knowing. On top of that, if you have a lot of friends or family with you, you have to purchase a lot of hammocks. Whereas with a tent, you just need one large one and you’re all set. So, there are certainly downsides when looking at the hanging option of the hammock vs tent debate.
Pros of Tents
Die-hard hammock campers will have difficulty with a few of these tent advantages, but we are sure happy tents are an option. First off, the tent provides a sense of security and roominess that many of us cherish. You have a specific place for your gear in your tent, rather than just letting it sit under a hammock. Speaking of space, there is plenty of room to change in a tent, unlike a hammock. Speaking of roominess, the tent provides room for snuggles that a hammock can’t provide long-term. Yes, there are two-person hammocks. However, a full night of sleep in a hammock simply tries to burrito two people into one, and it’s quite uncomfortable. With a tent, you can snuggle with your partner or little kiddos when you want to, then simply roll away when you don’t. That personal freedom is simply not available in a hammock.
Next up on our pro list for the tent is protection from mother nature, especially the wind. The thin fabric of a hammock easily lets the wind whip in. A tent fly will go all the way to the ground and protect you from both wind and rain. Losing heat from these elements is not an issue with any decent tent, and for that we are grateful. On top of that, you can put a tent wherever there is level ground. That can be found in most places, so you can go just about anywhere – even if there are no trees. So, if you like a little extra room, security, and you’re in a spot sans trees, you’ll want to choose a tent when debating hammock vs tent.
Cons of Tents
Tents are bulky. They take up space. If not set up in a good spot, you’re suffering all night long. These are some of the first downsides you’ll hear about the tent when you get into a heated hammock vs tent debate. Depending on the tent, they can weigh quite a few pounds when you include the poles, stakes, and all the fabric. Comparing that to a hammock and you’ll see one clearly winning the weight comparison game. On top of that, a tent needs a flat space with no rocks or roots. If you’re always a campground camper, this is not an issue. Campsites have been curated to give you nice cushy dirt spots to set a tent. But, hammocks can go anywhere there are two objects to string it between.
Secondly, one of the pros of the tent is that it gives you plenty of protection from the elements. However, the more protection you have, the less ventilation you usually have. So, in the hammock vs tent struggle, the tent can get quite muggy during the day. If it warms up too much, you won’t want to hang out in the tent and play cards. It can also take the tent quite a bit of time to cool off in the evening if it doesn’t ventilate super well. So, while the tent does provide more room, it can also not be the most comfortable space all the time.
We’ve walked you through the upsides and downsides of the hammock vs tent decision, and now it’s up to you to make this choice for yourself.
If you’re a solo hiker and want to camp on top of a mountain, the hammock is a lightweight and simple choice. It’s versatile and can be a chair as well as a bed. It keeps you cool while still providing a little bit of protection. It’s also super easy to always have in your car for a quick camping excursion. But, you will be more connected to nature if you sleep in a hammock. That being said, if you’re a family or love having a solid place to call home when you’re in the woods, a great tent is a great home. It will easily keep you safe from the wind, rain, and animals without a second thought. So, there are plenty of reasons to choose a tent as your camping option as well. But, whichever one you choose, we’re just glad you’re getting outside.
Related Article: 5 Best Tree Tents and Hammocks for Your Next Outdoor Adventure