Guest blog: A camping hammock convert
Is it time that you jumped on the camping hammock bandwagon?
My bivvy bag and trusty one-man tent have been my longstanding and reliable companions on many adventures, from overnight bike rides to multi-day adventures in the Alps.
So why then did I feel the need to go ahead and add to my array of overnight-adventure sleeping options and buy a camping hammock? And, more importantly, has it turned out to be a good idea?
In short, buying a DD Camping Hammock has proven to be a great decision and resulted in a number of advantages to my outdoor-based bumbling’s.
One of the best things about my hammock is that it is light – only 650g to be precise – and anything that can help keep my pack weight down is a godsend in my eyes. The lighter my pack, the further I can bike or walk in a day and the longer my body can keep going before giving up – happy times!
But an even bigger positive for me is the comfort. Now, there are people who don’t get along with sleeping in hammocks, but I love having a lie down in my green canvas cocoon. As long as it is set up well and you have a well-designed hammock, with enough space for you to side sleep comfortably, you’re sorted.
Want some advice about setting up your hammock properly? Give this helpful video a quick watch
Whilst I do love my bivvy bag, the major downside for me was the comfort. I am really tall (6 ft 4″ to be precise…), and never fitted that well in my bivvy bag (including the extra long versions on offer, from the likes of Alpkit) and even with a good self inflating sleeping mat, on uneven ground – why do I always end up sleeping on uneven ground?! – I struggled to stay comfy and get decent sleep. In my hammock I know I am going to get some decent rest, despite being over six foot tall.
And whilst a tent provides excellent shelter from the elements and proper sense of ‘home’ whilst out in the wilds, I do miss the connection you have with your surroundings once you zip the tent closed. I know a lot of people (outdoor gear guru, Chris Townsend, included) alleviate this feeling by sleeping with the door open, but I still feel a bit enclosed.
When chilling in my hammock, I am free to look up at the stars, trees and surrounding wildlife. You feel connected, part of what is going on around you and it is great fun. I know I am just a big kid, but I get a real kick out of that closeness.
The other great thing about hammocks is that even on a day walk, you can pop it in your pack and you can have yourself a nice, comfy seat (providing you can find a couple of trees…), and if the ground is soaking, a dry seat at that – what luxury!
But despite all the positives, it would be remiss of me not to point out a couple of negatives when it comes to a camping hammock, the first being your reliance on trees.
Whilst I have seen some examples of interesting setups, with hammocks strung up between stone walls/fences/old bits of machinery, most of the time you are reliant on trees. Obviously if you plan to camp out in the middle of a moor or wind-swept mountaintop, you may find yourself in difficulty! Days may have to be cut short, extended or deviated, all in the quest to string up your sleeping space for a night.
And if it looks like rain, then your’e going to have to bring a tarp along for a bit of overhead shelter (after trying a couple, my favourite is the DD Tarp 3m x 3m), and suddenly your pack starts to get heavier again.
However, I still think that a camping hammock is a great investment. Will it completely replace my tent and bivvy? I doubt it – but it is certainly going to get a lot more use this summer and in the right circumstance, provide me with the best combination of weight, comfort and openness, that will only help to further enhance my enjoyment of the outdoors.
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About the writer
A new dad writing about outdoor adventures, fitness and family life.