October 23, 2020
Written by Luke Whitmire, Hydaway Outdoor Center Manager
Camping is a wonderful way to spend an extended period of time in the outdoors. It provides a way to connect with nature by unplugging from our daily lives and intentionally spending time sacrificing the comfort of our homes in favor of being outside. One of the best ways to enjoy this time is to utilize a hammock tent setup rather than a traditional tent. The hammock tent provides several comforts and conveniences that set it far ahead of the traditional tent.
There are several advantages that hammock tents provide. First, the hammock provides a comfortable escape from the ground filled with rocks and roots. This allows for camping in many different locations or on hills that would be impossible for tent camping. Hammocks can provide a safe haven above waterlogged campsites and critters. Additionally, most hammock tents provide a lightweight alternative to tent camping. Although high-end minimalistic tents can provide a light shelter, the average hammock tent offers more comfort at a lower weight and often with a lower price point. The hammock eliminates the need for any sleeping pad, eliminating more gear and weight from your pack. The convenience of these advantages provides many reasons why hammock camping might be the right switch for an avid camper.
Although I am a strong proponent of the hammock tent, it does not work for everyone. Despite the comfortable setup, it does not provide as much ability for socialization. In rainy weather, it forces everyone back into their individual hammocks rather than fellowship in a shared tent. In addition, a tent allows for easy storage of extra gear and equipment away from the elements. A hammock tent can provide this, but extra clips, rope, or a gear hammock is often required to suspend gear above the ground under the shelter of the rain fly. This might detract some from making the switch.
Overall, I would recommend everyone to make the switch. Although it may not be worth it the purchase for short car camping trips, it is the obvious choice for any extended stay in the outdoors, especially for backpacking trips or where space or weight capacity is in short supply. If you are looking to switch up the way you experience camping, a hammock tent will change the way you see camping.
On a whim, I purchased a Kammok Mantis Ultralight hammock tent. At a price of $259, this kit offers a hammock, sewed in bug net, rain fly, and a set of ultralight straps. This offers an all in one package that comes in just below 32 ounces (or 19 ounces without the rainfly), making it ideal for anything from a weekend car camping trip to a week-long backpacking trip. The material is light, durable, and comfortable. It is made with a ripstop fabric that helps to prevent damage to the material. Initially, I was very impressed with the size of the tent. Everything, including the hammock, straps, bug net, rain fly, stakes, and guy chords, packs down into a pouch only slightly bigger than the average water bottle. The setup is very easy and intuitive, making an easy and quick set up and tear down. I have used it around six times and have been very pleased with its performance on each trip! It has yet to fail me and provides an excellent combination of convenience and comfort in the outdoors.
Although this set up might be towards the high end of your price range, there are many cheaper alternatives that will provide a comfortable hammock tent set up. There are many alternatives that each have different advantages and disadvantages. Check out these resources for additional information: Beyond the Tent | REI | Clever Hiker