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Thread: Hammock or Tent

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    Member enfer singe's Avatar
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    Hammock or Tent

    I am going to be going on a tour soon and am debating on whether to use a hammock or tent. The hammock looks convenient, lightweight, and more comfortable but I'm not sure if I will always have 2 trees to hook it to (I will be stealth camping). The tents are a bit more expensive for a decent one and heavier but they seem like they would be a bit easier to find a spot for, although likely more visible. I am just wondering if anyone has had experience with having trouble finding a spot to camp with a hammock.

    Also, when you use a hammock, what do you do with your bike? Do you usually just lock it to a tree or just leave it nearby?

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    I was trying to solve this issue recently and ended up purchasing a hammock. There is a way to rig it up as a bivy using your bike as an anchor. See here: http://hennessyhammock.com/sp-bike.html

    So far I have only slept in it in the back yard (I received it Friday). I didn't have it rigged up perfectly, but it worked well and I'm pumped for a summer of bike camping.

    You might also check out this site for hammock camping: http://hikinghq.net/hammock/hammock.html

    Hope this helps.

    bake

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    Senior Member adaminlc's Avatar
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    Hammocks do take some getting used to. I usually take a good tarp and sleeping mat as well as my hammock, that way if I can't put up the hammock I still have options. As a caveat, I hate tents and rarely use them, but I would take a hammock for touring over a tent any day.
    Last edited by adaminlc; 05-26-09 at 01:29 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by adaminlc View Post
    Hammocks do take some getting used to. I usually take a good tarp and sleeping mat as well as my hammock, that way if I can't put up the hammock I still have options. As a caveat, I hate tents and rarely use them, but I would take a tent for touring over a tent any day.
    That would be a short tour, AND you'd ruin your tent.

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    imi
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    Not sure how it is where you'll be touring, but in Europe (with the exception of Greece) campsites won't let you in if you don't have a tent... I usually sleep next to my tent in a sleeping bag on a tarp at campsites, and NEVER put up a tent when stealth camping. I like to be aware of my surroundings even when sleeping, (may sound strange but your hearing becomes very sensitive after a while to unusual sounds). Most times it's just a case of opening your eyes and checking things out, but on a few occasions I have stood up in full fighting preparedness with my bag around my ankles before I'd even realized I was awake, when surprised in the night... You can't do that in a tent. Get attacked in a tent and you're basically helpless...

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    Member enfer singe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BakeRides View Post
    I was trying to solve this issue recently and ended up purchasing a hammock. There is a way to rig it up as a bivy using your bike as an anchor. See here: http://hennessyhammock.com/sp-bike.html
    Thanks for the links. I was looking at the hennesy hammocks and missed that part of the site. I love that idea of tying the hammock to your bike. As with most touring bikes it doesn't look the bike has any support (ie. kickstand) and it being held up by the tension in the rope, so if that is the case it looks nice. I suppose though since you are essentially sleeping on the ground you would need to have some sort of sleeping mat under you.

    I will be going through Missouri on the Katy trail and then picking up on route 36 through Kansas into Denver. I didn't think that finding a spot on the trail would be difficult for stealth camping but I was worried about Kansas since I'm not sure how much they would have in terms of wooded areas as opposed to just farmland. I could hope for a bit of kindness to see if there are any farmers or such that might let me pitch the hammock like that one their land.

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    I'm not sure how cold it can get where you plan to tour, but in my experience something like +10-13C is approaching the comfort limit of a hammock, thin sleeping pad and a summer bag. In a tent, same pad and bag give me a good night's sleep well below +10C.

    It's possible to gear up the hammock to colder conditions, even winter, but it does take some consideration. A warmer bag alone will not get you far, because it compresses in the hammock.

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    Quote Originally Posted by enfer singe View Post
    Thanks for the links. I was looking at the hennesy hammocks and missed that part of the site. I love that idea of tying the hammock to your bike. As with most touring bikes it doesn't look the bike has any support (ie. kickstand) and it being held up by the tension in the rope, so if that is the case it looks nice. I suppose though since you are essentially sleeping on the ground you would need to have some sort of sleeping mat under you.

    I will be going through Missouri on the Katy trail and then picking up on route 36 through Kansas into Denver. I didn't think that finding a spot on the trail would be difficult for stealth camping but I was worried about Kansas since I'm not sure how much they would have in terms of wooded areas as opposed to just farmland. I could hope for a bit of kindness to see if there are any farmers or such that might let me pitch the hammock like that one their land.
    The photo of the bike propping the hammock was from my trip. With the front brakes locked, and the cord hitched through the saddle, the bicycle is extremely stable. Western Kansas is pretty much just like you imagine it to be, flat, windy, and covered in farmland. The good news is that most towns have a park where you can camp for free. Some even have showers. I recall a lot of sleeping on or under picnic tables.

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    I love my hammock!

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    Senior Member DuckFat's Avatar
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    For cold weather (<45*) or terrain that may be devoid of trees I take a tent. For warm weather and normal conditions the hammock is more comfortable and lighter weight. The hammock is also much better for stealth camping.

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    afoot and lighthearted Boondock's Avatar
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    on HammockForums.net, there is a ton of DIY designs and tutorials. That's how I made mine. You should "hang-out" there sometime.... (pun intended)

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    Senior Member carkmouch's Avatar
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    I toured last year with my hennessy hammock and it was perfect for solo stealth camping. It was fairly comfortable and set up well nearly anywhere in the woods. However, I decided to order a lightweight 2-person tent to use this summer as I want to try a tent as well. They both seem to have their advantages/disadvantages.

    The main reason I decided to go for a tent is
    -have a 'room' to sit in and sort stuff, get dressed. room to move around, adjust, store stuff.
    -the chance i may have some company
    -can set up in feilds and more traditional camping spots easier

    I still plan to keep and use the hammock some, as it's perfect for stealth camping and fun to use. I just think going with a tent will be more comfortable in some ways.
    Touring is in tents

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    I have been using a hammock (mostly for backpacking, recently for touring) for years. I will never sleep in a tent again if I can help it. I have a design I rigged up myself...I use a 'Mosquito Traveler' from Byer of Maine



    Along with a 5x7 silnylon tarp for rain. If there aren't trees, I can use the tarp on it's own and use the mosquito net from the hammock in case of bugs. I like this hammock better because it is a 'Brazilian' style, which means you end up lying nearly flat. I found if you bring a foam pad and put it inside the hammock, you can use it nearly year round. Just lock your bike to a tree nearby (I bring a u-lock as well as a cable lock, so if there are no trees, lock your wheel to the frame with the u-lock and the cable lock to the hammock, if someone touches your bike it takes down the hammock)

    Now that my advertisement is done...if you want to know more about my design send me a message

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    i would say that unless you have a tree boat, i would go with a tent.

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    Senior Member Cyclebum's Avatar
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    Kansas? Western Colorado? Where you gonna hang a hammock? Take a tent.

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    Intrigued by the hammock concept I surveyed each camping spot I chose on my just ended tour from San Diego to Lander, WY. In 35 days there were only eight sites with trees the requisite distance apart. IMHO, for the desert and the western mountains a tent is more practical.

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    Just reading this thread makes my back hurt. I made the mistake of taking a hammock on a camping trip once, I learned my lesson and have used a tent since. It took weeks for my back pain to go away, plus it was very cold. A good thermarest pad and a tent = good nights sleep.
    Those voices in your head aren't real, but they have some great ideas

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    Member enfer singe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclebum View Post
    Kansas? Western Colorado? Where you gonna hang a hammock? Take a tent.
    That is actually what I was a bit curious about. The first few days I will be in Missouri along the Katy trail and figured there wouldn't be much trouble finding a spot to stealth camp with a hammock because it appears to be mostly wooded. Kansas was the part I was concerned about but the idea of rigging the hammock up to the tent, although not the greatest solution, seemed to be an option that might work. (I will be in Eastern Colorado by the way).

    Speaking of which, has anyone biked route 36 through Kansas? Any interesting info or things I should know?

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    tent
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclesafe View Post
    Intrigued by the hammock concept I surveyed each camping spot I chose on my just ended tour from San Diego to Lander, WY. In 35 days there were only eight sites with trees the requisite distance apart. IMHO, for the desert and the western mountains a tent is more practical.
    I tend to agree. On the tours that I have done I think a hammock would have been a poor choice. We went days without seeing a tree.

    Pitching a hammock on the ground as a bivy sounds like a poor compromise that I wouldn't want to do with much frequency.

    I have done some backpacking in places where it would have been wonderful though. I think it depends to a large extent on where you camp. A few places I backpacked there was nothing resembling a flat rock free spot. That is not typically the situation when bike touring. I did not spend a single uncomfortable night in my tent on the entire TA or my other tours. The majority of the time I camp in small towns. It is usually easy to find a spot to camp for free in a city park, at a church, in someones yard, at the community pool etc. A tent is ideal most of these places.

    I can see the hammock being nice for stealth camping in rocky wooded areas, but I really don't see the attraction to stealth camping in general. I will do it in a pinch, but would much rather either get permission or camp in plain site on public land. Showing up late and leaving early is OK some of the time, but I tend to like to start early and knock off early most days using the afternoon and evening to see the town. There are days that I like to ride all day, but that means either hanging out somewhere mid day or doing 125-160 mile days. I did one such long day on my latest tour, but I sure don't want to do them every day. Also a really long day is the day I am inclined to get a room if I do it at all on the trip.

    Still I can imagine trips where a hammock would be nice. I think they are the exception rather than the rule for me though.

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    Senior Member Cyclebum's Avatar
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    My bad. Eastern Co. Just as treeless as Kansas.

    IMHO, a hammock is mostly a gimmick. Oh sure, there are ppl who swear by them, but for most, they are just not very comfortable. Besides, a tent can be pitched nearly anywhere, a hammock not. If you can't get a good nights rest in a tent on a Thermarest pad, then you just haven't ridden long enough that day.

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    Sorry everyone, I don't chime in here often at all but I gotta speak up. Most people that poo-poo hammocks have never actually used one on the trail. And the person that said they aren't allowed in campsites in Europe is just plain wrong. I spent 3 weeks in France and 2 in Ireland with only a hammock. Only 1 day did I not find a suitable spot to hang. I just slept under the tarp on my pad that I carried. Worst night sleep of the whole trip. I stayed in many campgrounds as well as stealth. No problems. Where there is a will there is usually a way.

    Hammockforums.net is a very useful resource.

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    Senior Member Newspaperguy's Avatar
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    Around here, I see a lot of touring cyclists with tents but I haven't yet seen anyone with a hammock instead. There are probably some who will go that route, but they'd be in the minority.
    Life is good.

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    Member enfer singe's Avatar
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    Well, my main reason for the hammock was that it was cheap, light, and easy to carry, but it appears that a tent is the better option. I am on a budget (college student) so I am looking to find something that isn't complete crap but isn't expensive either.

    Some I have been looking at (all 2 person):

    Cabela's XPG - cheap and lightweight and overall it has good reviews
    REI Sierra Dome - Cheap, basic, and even lighter than the first. I don't see a footprint for it though.
    Eureka Apex2Xt - Another fairly basic/cheap tent. This one has vetibules on 2 sides which could be useful but it might just be a gimmick for me because I will already have extra space in a 2 person tent.

    Anyway, any input on these tents or any other suggestions would be great. I haven't really heard any discussion of any of these ones on here although I know there are a lot of fans of other rei dome tents. Also, do you usually carry a footprint? I know it just takes one bad setup but is there much of a risk of ruining the tent on a week and a half long tour? Thanks so much guys and girls.

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    Recovering mentalist Randochap's Avatar
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    Hammocks kill my back. Never could get a good night's sleep when I used them on wall climbs.

    I use a very light, one-person tent and feel very cosy. Have spent 2-months on the road w/ it.
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