hammock vs tenting

Can you kayak campers out there tell me your preference. I have been using tents but am leaning to trying a hammock. However, the temperature variations in temperate zones where I work and play make me concerned about using a hammock. Temperature can vary greatly with some lows in the 30’s even in early September.

I use both
The upside is comfort and freedom from needing level or dry ground. There are ways to deal with the cold but I prefer a tent if it’s going to be under 60 but that’s just me. Some camp with a hammock all winter but it’s quite an investment and in my mind not worth it. Below are 2 websites of hard-core hammock enthusiasts. They’re very friendly though a bit over-the-top about the virtues of hammocking vs tenting, so read between the lines:





hammock until it gets cold
I love my hammock (Hennessey) but even with all sorts of creative add-ons, I still don’t like it in the cold. If it’s going to be below about 45deg at night I suck it up and use a thermarest in a tent.

Thermarest and hammock

– Last Updated: Aug-13-07 12:04 PM EST –

dont from what I have heard work well in low forties and below..

But a Big Agnes Insulated air mattress does..it is exactly the same size as the Prolite 3 Thermarest packed.

For the ultimate try the Exped Downmat with a hammock

That said I still havent taken the plunge into the boreal forest with the hammock but have used it in the back yard..its a Hennessy Expedition asymm.. I guess I am paranoid about not finding solidly rooted black spruce up there.

Oh yes your question was about kayak camping. Mostly a hammock willwork but there are some islands up here where there are no trees at all

hammock vs tent
I really like my Hennessy until it gets below 40F, then its difficult to keep warm. In the future I’m thinking about getting their new under cover insulating system for cold weather.

Tarps are better than tents and hammocks
We use tarps in all weather conditions and through the winter here in Southeast Alaska. Usually a 10x12 WxTex set in any number of configurations. This spring I sold my 9 lb Sierra Designs Tiros 4 season tent – last used on Baffin Island 9 years ago – and found room for a 26 oz OWARE USA floor-less Pyramid Tarp. It goes up with an Inuit paddle, handles 30 Knot winds and the rain rolls off of it like, well, rain. My tarp bag now weighs under 5 lbs and has, along with a Kitchen Tarp (8x10), a potential covering space of 280 sq feet. Take a look at http://www.flickr.com/photos/umnak/

for pictures of tarps set up in the Tongas Rain Forest

water and mosquitos
the tarp looks good, but how do you keep dry from water running under the tarp? also, what do you do about mosquitos?

Water and tarps
In the forest the ground in southeast Alaska is absorbent enough to handle the rain coming off the tarp. On beaches, we simply make sure to set the tarp so the “drainage” is on the slope away from the tarp.

The Pyramid tarp can be set low enough to the ground to avoid the problems of water coming into the tarp.

We sleep in bivies with nets.


– Last Updated: Aug-13-07 12:02 AM EST –

How much are each of those tarps approximate?

And, for those of you with hammocks for cold weather, what is the price range?

Tarp prices
The tarps we use are well built and not cheap. Then, they are not as expensive as most tents either. The 10x12 Wxtex tarp (S4) goes for around $110; we’ve used it for the past four years with no problems. The kitchen tarp (G2) is billed as a ground tarp, but with the gromets makes a great high A frame. It cost around $45. The Oware USA pyramid was about $220 in the silnylon format we have. Substantially less in 70 D nylon. You can find more expensive tarps with cantery cut or preformed styling. I’ve learned to stick with rectanges and squares. Campmor sells silnylon tarps well under the cost of most other companies. If you are an occasional camper, it is a great option. We spend 50-70 nights a year outside, so we want something that stands the test of time.

I was looking into a Hennessy, Clark or Spear Hammock. They are nice but I was concerned about cold weather. I spent a miserable night in a hammock a few years ago and I had a 0 degree bag and it was only in the 40’s.

Looking Spear’s website they had a down “peapod” that is supposed to be comfortable to 20 degrees but it’s nearly $400.

So I’ll stick with my tents for now.

I tried the tarp idea a few times, but after once being woken up by some unidentified animal running across my face and another time waking up face to face with a raccoon, I decided that I want the protection of tent.

For lightweight, solo camping I use a Mountainsmith Satellite. Only 2 lbs and if the fly is off I can sleep under the stars and still be protected from bugs and other things that crawl around in the night.

All the Hammock Answers
you will ever need, covering all the hammock brands you ever heard of and a gazillion you haven’t…


Clark Jungle Hammock
I use a Clark,cold weather model which eleminates the need for an insulating pad.It has pockets on the underside for clothes which dubble as insulation.I added some fiberfill to them and extended it to the foot end.Works great!Mine also has the largest tarp which makes a great place to cook and get out of the rain.I love using my hammock and wouldn’t think of using anything else.


And that’s not all!
It’s made in the U.S. of A.

Friend of mine has one, and I’m considering the investment…for those days when you can’t find the campsite for the forest!


other hammock advantages
1-no ground cloth

2-no sleeping pad

3-no problem with uneven ground

4-you can sit in it

5-you can use campsites tenters wouldn’t look twice at

6-no matter how deep the ground water gets-it doesn’t get to you

7-For me its very comfortable

8-you can cook under the fly


10-rocks you to sleep


Beautiful Pictures!
thanks for sharing! (tarp set up is cool too!)


There is a third alternative.
Sleep in your canoe over a spring. Just tie off between two trees; adjust your lines; adjust your gear so most of the weight will be at your feet, elevating your head slightly. Put down the air mattress, then your sleeping bag.

Why over a spring? The ambient air temp over the spring (avg. spring temp.=72*f) moderates the air temp above it. No matter how hot or cold it is over the land the temps over the spring will be more conducive to a good night sleep.

I suggest you do this in a canoe w/ a slight to moderate rocker w/ a shallow vee or rounded hull as these type hulls tend to center your weight and your not as likely to have a rude wet awakening like you would if you rolled over in your sleep in a flat-bottom hull.

Hammock All you need!
Ditto to what Turtle said. Well done Turtle! My hammock is great on my back after a long day of paddling, potaging, fire wood collecting etc. Also, When I get out of bed in the morning, I am already elevated and in a sitting position. I amke a lot less “grandpa noises” getting up . I just stick my feet out and stand up. (Henessey Hammock)


Agree with all the pluses
Love my Hennessey! But a hammock is all you need? Works great if there are trees. Not every place I go has that essential commodity. I know they say that you can put it up on the ground, but the idea of crawling through that slit to get in it is possible but… Plus, then you need a sleeping pad.

rain and bugs
good idea, gulfcoaster. But it still doesn’t address the problems of rain and bugs. If you are sleeping in a canoe and you get caught in a sudden rainshower, you are now sleeping in essentially the same thing as a bathtub!! You would need a tarp big enough to cover over the whole boat to keep water out. You would also have to figure out a way to rig up a mosquito screen to keep the bugs out. Believe me…I have tried this idea before!!