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  1. #1
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    hammock vs. tent?

    I plan on stealth camping through Europe for just under a year beginning in june. I plan on staying around the southern, warmer portions through winter. I was originally planning on a tent, but just recently started looking at the Hennessy hammocks. Anyone care to help me out on the pros and cons of each? if you chose one over the other, why? I'm worried about two things with the hammock, namely the cold and comfort. Also, i was thinking that there may be a number of areas where i won't be able to find any suitable trees. any thoughts?

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    A hammock sounds like a horrible idea for lots of reasons: If there aren't suitable trees around, you're screwed. Much of southern europe doesn't have a lot of trees. Southern europe isn't all that warm in the winter, and you lose a lot of heat when you're hanging in the air. You will be very cold. Have you ever tried to sleep in a hammock before? Not everyone finds it comfortable.

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    hammocks are awesome. I did a solo, fully self-supported trip from Vancouver to San Diego using one. If' you're getting cold, you're not doing it right. If you are going solo, it's the absolute best way to go imo. There are a few threads here on this issue.

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    Banned Bikepacker67's Avatar
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    Word to the wise...
    Many campgrounds will not allow you to hang a hammock from their trees.

    I know there's a small but vocal contingent of pro-hammock folks on BF, but all things being equal, a good tent is a better choice. IMHO.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bikepacker67
    Word to the wise...
    Many campgrounds will not allow you to hang a hammock from their trees.
    where? I have camped in dozens of campgrounds all around the country and in europe. have never encountered this. seriously.

    the negative comments on hammocks I have read on this forum are from people who have never actually tried it.

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    anyway - I'll spare you why I think they're better and just tell you what I have used:
    a siltarp hammock that I can sandwich a sleeping pad between;
    a kelty parabolic tarp to string above it;
    sleeping bag;
    a 2oz bug net if it's gonna be a buggy destination;
    and about 40feet of nylon rope to be sure you can find the right spot to tie up.

    I also put a wad of clothing under my knees when I sleep to keep a natural bend in them. this setup also works well if you are a side-sleeper -- the inflated pad will give you a nearly flat sleeping surface.

    you can store all your gear underneath you - out of the rain while you sleep. you can string a small candle lantern to the hammock rope to read by. the options are endless, and the thing never gets muddy and you will absolutely, positively never get wet if you do it right.
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    Banned Bikepacker67's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr_Super_Socks
    where? I have camped in dozens of campgrounds all around the country and in europe. have never encountered this. seriously.

    the negative comments on hammocks I have read on this forum are from people who have never actually tried it.

    All the campgrounds in the Northeast that I've ever been to have been anal-retentive in respect to trees on their property.

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    I saw on TV this year an Aussie guy who invented a freestanding hammock. His idea was just recreational, but I could envisage it as a one-man tent if it had a fly incorporated in it. It would be awesome for storing gear under you, and can you imagine it in the tropics? It would be fantastic.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bikepacker67
    All the campgrounds in the Northeast that I've ever been to have been anal-retentive in respect to trees on their property.
    Oddly enough, I have only camped in two campgrounds in the NE! good to know.

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    I have just ordered a Hennesey Hammock and though i have not yet received it i do believe it will be awesome. My reasons:

    1. Comfort! Anyone who says Hammocks are by definition uncomfortable has never slept in a good one/sideways and is basically saying most of the indigenous people of South America had it all wrong for centuries. Nah but seriously Hammocks can be extremely comfortable if they are designed and used properly and horrid if not, just like any sleeping gear or shelter. On the Hennessey site there are many testimonials (and call me naieve but i believe them to be real) of super satisfied customers. They praise the comfort, even some people that had serious pains said they slept great on them, better than on their expensive beds!

    2. No more MUD & Sand in yer friggin' sleeping den! I just to loathe that about tents.

    3. Alledgly Hennessey Hammocks are amazing in terms of both comfort and waterproofing. Just check the independent review (and many other reviews) on
    http://www.hikinghq.net/gear/hennessey_hammock.html

    The guy that runs that site is a funny guy but also a respected and discerning hiker and millitary person (not used to shoddy survival gear) and he loves them and extensively and positively reviews all aspects of them. He even relates how he stayed perfectly dry and comfortable in a storm, while people in tents got flooded and soaked.

    4. Though their design does little or no damage when used with trees they can quite easily be used on the ground/without trees. It is not ideal but no worse than a roomy bivouac sack or a super light/extra small tent.
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  11. #11
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    1. California has a "Mediterranean" climate. The reason this term is used is because it is sunny and hot in the summer, but rainy and damp in the winter. Places like Barcelona and Naples have nearly all their precipitation in the winter months.

    2. Mussolini was famous for two "achievements" - making the trains run on time and draining the swamps. Because much of the Mediterranean region has no freezing temperatures - but lots of water - mosquitoes can be a problem. Especially by spring.
    Mosquitoes will definitely be a problem in areas of northern Europe in the summer - even more so in places where a person is likely to stealth camp.

    3. Most European countries have "Vagabond Laws" which were historically used against Roma and Sinti (gypsies) but can be used against trespassers on private property.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Thor29's Avatar
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    To each his own I suppose. But I like using a 2 person free standing tent (REI Half Dome) for solo touring - I can set it up anywhere, no guy lines needed, no trees necessary, and it is roomy enough to stretch out in. I can also put my panniers in the tent next to me for easy access at night.

  13. #13
    Senior Member xilios's Avatar
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    I second Thor29.
    I use an 18yo, 3 person tent. I have all my gear in it and dry, I have privacy, I cook in it, change to my raingear on wet mornings, stretch in any sleeping position I like (I use an XL sleeping bag and mat).
    And traveling for a long time around Europe (or anywhere else for that matter) I just think it would be beter in a tent.
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    I love my Hennessy and plan to continue using it on tour. However, I use primarily because I find it much more comfortable than a tent. When I hit fifty I started to get a little arthritis, and sleeping on a pad, even the best Thermarest, gives me hip pain. I don't have that problem in a Hennessy. If I were young, I'd be inclined to stick with a tent because of the added private space. But if you have any issues with back or joint pain, I'd definitely recommend a hammock.

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    I am not anti tent or anything, of course use whatever you like best! But just to clarify:

    Hennessey hammocks are mosquito/bug proof, they have netting on top.

    They seem to do very well in all kind of climates, even very hot and cold wheather though the latter requires you add a litte and very cheap insulation.

    The laws against vagabonds and stealth camping apply equally to all types of shelters whenever anyone is stealth camping. An advantage of the Hennessey is that it can be taken down extremely quickly, way faster than even the best tents. They come in colors that are meant to blend and their sortoff organic shape makes them hard to see when set up wisely.

    I also opted for the Hennesey because there is no way i could buy any tent of comparable weight (1175 grams) or quality for the price (under $ 120). For that price i i also got some really nifty add ons (see offer on site) too.

    I have done a lot of tent camping and one thing i never liked much was waking uo in the morning feeling like you are in a steam cooker, tent is hot and moist, supposively Hennesey's don't have this problem and are still wheather proof. Sleeping with other people. Typically there might be at least one person that went to the toilet a lot, slept fitfully, went to bed earlier or got up earlier etc etc. Of course you could all take single person tents but that is reather ineffecient in terms of weight and bulk. In a Hennessey you have a private shelter. I do of course enjoy the camaderie of being in the outdoors together so it would be fun to bring a big tarp to all sit, eat and talk under before bedtime. The Henneseys' can then double as "chairs".
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    Mr_Bill is talking about stealth camping, so forget about campground rules. Also, he's talking about using a hammock in the winter in southern Europe, not the Yucatan during the summer (where the hammocks are both traditional and a smart way of sleeping comfortably in that climate). I personally have seen snowflakes fall along the Mediterranean in the winter. The idea of trying to sleep every night in a hammock at temperatures dropping to near freezing sounds completely crazy to me. And nobody has addressed the lack of trees in some area. I'll add another thing: steath camping near the Mediterranean will not always be easy, whether it's a hammock or a tent. The coast is overbuilt and population density is very high.

  17. #17
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    I am aware that Hennessey hammocks have mosquito netting and a rain fly - - but I am thinking about the hundreds of times I have had to spent more time than just sleeping in my tent - - i.e. when it is raining or when the bugs are fierce. I read a book, write cards, plan my route - all nice and dry without having to swat at mosquitos.

    I also have some concern about damage to trees. Yes, the Hennessey uses straps, not nails, but if a tree has thin bark it could be ringed when full weight is exerted on the strap thru the night.

  18. #18
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    How about a silnylon tarptent with bug netting? About the same weight and pack size as a hammock but provides considerably more room and no issues with cold weather. My own feelings are that I think I would get pretty tired of sleeping in the tight quarters of a hammock in a short time.

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    Reading, writing cards, looking at maps this is not a problem at all in the Hammock from what i gather. Maybe it is important to point out that this Hammock is almost nothing like 'normal Hammocks'. In essence it is a lightweight small tent that is suspended and doubles as a sleeping platform (so you don't need a sleeping mat anymore either in warmer weather). It is also not at all like the hammocks made from netting or the ones that are too small or designed to lie in straight/like a banana and
    that will hurt your back.

    The tight quarters thing, sure i could see that, i think the Hennessey is relatively roomy (dimensions 100" x 48") but a tent is different of course. Personally i prefer using a tarp and possibly a fire (concealed/dug in when stealth camping) in order to not get claustrophobic, but i am camping with a few people and it makes sense to carry the tarp.

    As for the other comments, not to be obtuse but i wish people would read a little sometimes before writing.

    The lack of trees (and possibility of setting up a Hennessey without them) has already been adressed.

    Additionally just because something sounds crazy does not mean it is not perfectly feasible. In fact cold wheather use of the Hennessey has been done by many hikers and comfortably.

    Of the site i referred to (and the temperatures mentioned are extremely cold for the parts of Europe we are discussing and will probably never have to be endured btw):

    "Update 17 December 2000

    I recently returned from three weeks in the field using my hammock in temperatures down below freezing, lowest about 30 degrees. I experimented using both an Army synthetic 30 degree bag, and my 20+ year old down bag that is on it's last legs. I recommend the following tips:

    1. Go ahead and take some stakes. I carried four, but never used more than two. It was convenient to have them, and for about 1oz in weight, they were worth it.

    2. I tried my car sunscreen heat reflector with great results. I tried it outside the bag which seems to be warmer but harder to control, and inside the bag which was easiest to control but not as warm. Apparently to work well, there should be some insulation between you and the reflector in order for it to trap warm air created by your body and reflected by the sunscreen. I was warm everywhere except my butt which was the point of greatest compression on the sleeping bag. Next trip I intend to try my foam pad that has been trimmed down to 20"x36" on top of the reflector, all under the bag. I also think it's time to get a new bag!

    3. For best weather (wind and rain) protection, set up in a draw. I set up in a draw with the windward side uphill, the hammock parallel to the draw, and not at the bottom where the runoff will go in case of a hard rain. It was pretty warm and dry under the hammock while changing clothing, cooking, etc.

    4. For best sleeping and centering of my body in the bag, I found it helped to set up the hammock with the head 3"-4" lower than the feet.

    5. I was contemplating getting a 8'x10' Siltarp to use instead of the standard one, but I found this to be unnecessary after some experimenting. The weight it would have added would be about 8oz for the tarp (leaving the fly behind), 6 stakes - 3oz, and some cord - about 2oz.

    Conclusions: For my thru-hike, the ultralight will meet my requirements as shelter and sleeping system once I get a new sleeping bag.

    The guy that wrote that review is a hardcore hiker that has used some of the nicest, best and warmest tents. I find it hard to believe he would designate the Hennessey his shelter of choice if he was cold or uncomfortable in it.
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  20. #20
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    No one should be dissuaded from using a hammock by cold temps. I've kept warm with a closed cell foam pad down to the low 30s. There are readily available underpads/underquilts that will work at even lower temps.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Palmer
    No one should be dissuaded from using a hammock by cold temps. I've kept warm with a closed cell foam pad down to the low 30s. There are readily available underpads/underquilts that will work at even lower temps.
    +1
    I have camped in the snow below 10degF in my hammock - with a thermarest pad and a good mummy bag, cold is simply not an issue - at least no more so than for a tent - unless you are doing arctic exploring or something.

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    Ah thanks for chiming in with experiences from the field. I think it is clear then, camping in a (Hennessey) hammock in the cold is not crazy it is just fine. I suspect it may even be warmer than in a tent (with a bit of padding under your back) my reasons:

    The nearer you get to the ground the colder it is, when i am lying in a tent and it is cold out i can really feel the cold being drawn up into my body/radiating upward from the soil. The Hammocks interior is smaller which may (not sure about this) mean that your own body heat will have more effect and reduce the cold in comparison with a tent.
    http://www.rhizomes.nl/twenty.html
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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by v1nce
    Ah thanks for chiming in with experiences from the field. I think it is clear then, camping in a (Hennessey) hammock in the cold is not crazy it is just fine. I suspect it may even be warmer than in a tent (with a bit of padding under your back) my reasons:

    The nearer you get to the ground the colder it is, when i am lying in a tent and it is cold out i can really feel the cold being drawn up into my body/radiating upward from the soil. The Hammocks interior is smaller which may (not sure about this) mean that your own body heat will have more effect and reduce the cold in comparison with a tent.
    It is the dead air both of the sleeping pad and within an enclosed tent that will conserve your body heat. Even the solid ground underneath the pad will result in less heat being drained away than the continuous air movement around a hammock. Why do you think it feels so stifling in a hot, non-air-conditioned room indoors compared to sitting outside in the same air temperature? It's because of the air movement outside. That's why a hammock works so well in tropical weather. But here we're talking about cold temperatures. A tent will conserve a lot more heat than a hammock. The air moving around and thru the hammock will drain your body heat away much faster than if you were within a fully enclosed space, such as a tent. Remember, we're talking about "just under a year" including the entire winter in a non-tropical climate.

  24. #24
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    I live in Wyoming - I've camped in frigid conditions - down to 0 - and must stress that regardless of choice of sleeping arrangement - the fundamental factor in heat loss is area of exposure. The second factor - wind speed - diminished considerably in the area closest to the ground. Air has mass and it creates friction. Thus, a wind speed of 10 mph at 5 ft may be half that at 2 ft. That's why deer curl up and find low (but not the lowest) places to bed down in the depths of winter. Any given tent of similar insulating quality to a hammock will offer superior insulation. When you start adding other items - like pads and reflectors - you get to the point of wondering what weight or space savings the hammock might offer.

    From this discussion, I could very well see the advantages of using a hammock for short tours in appropriate areas. But for a long tour such as the original poster suggested, a tent would offer the greatest flerxibility. There are, of course, a few who will prefer the hammock in almost any situation - and others who would never use one - but I believe most people on an extended tour would be best served by a good, lightweight tent.

  25. #25
    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by axolotl
    It is the dead air both of the sleeping pad and within an enclosed tent that will conserve your body heat. Even the solid ground underneath the pad will result in less heat being drained away than the continuous air movement around a hammock. Why do you think it feels so stifling in a hot, non-air-conditioned room indoors compared to sitting outside in the same air temperature? It's because of the air movement outside. That's why a hammock works so well in tropical weather. But here we're talking about cold temperatures. A tent will conserve a lot more heat than a hammock. The air moving around and thru the hammock will drain your body heat away much faster than if you were within a fully enclosed space, such as a tent. Remember, we're talking about "just under a year" including the entire winter in a non-tropical climate.
    There are insulated "undercovers" for Hennessey hammocks that are suspended below the hammock and provide the dead air space for insulation. From what I have read, most, if not all, of these are somewhat primitive and require a bit of fussing to get things aligned properly, close up any air gaps, etc. A better solution may be to simply pitch the hammock on the ground and use a sleeping pad when it's too cold for the hammock by itself. Or forget about the hammock and just pitch the tarp that comes with it and sleep under the tarp.

    However, even if cold were not an issue, I suspect that unless the OP is a dedicated hammock camper, he may quickly tire of the hammock life. Regardless of it's size, when you are in a hammock it is rather confining as the sag prevents you from moving around and everything must be hung from the cord above or left outside. A traditional tent, or tarptent provides much more useable living space.

    The worst thing about a hammock though may be that you can't easily share it with someone of the opposite sex.

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