Hammock tents are a fun way to enhance your tent camping experience. They are quick to set up and keep you safe from animals and bugs. Most hammocks are lightweight with suspension systems that get your shelter set up in no time.
What is a Hammock Tent?
Essentially, a hammock tent is precisely what its name suggests: a hybrid between a hammock and a tent. It gives you the sleeping comfort that you get from lying in a hammock, along with the protection from the elements (and bugs) that camping tents provide.
Features to Look for in Different Types of Hammock Tents
The weight of a hammock tent depends on its construction, material, and features. When you are looking for a hammock tent, you will need to consider its weight and how it will affect your camping experience. Ultra lightweight models are ideal for hiking or if you need to carry your hammock tent for longer distances on backpacking trips. On the other hand, heavier models often have more features and tend to be larger.
Additional features like bug nets and tarps will make your camping trip more comfortable and may be necessary on many occasions. However, they will add to the total weight of your hammock tent setup.
You will need to weigh up whether the added weight is worth having these additional features. A mosquito net, for example, could be a lifesaver in some conditions. It also adds a few extra ounces to your backpack – this could make a massive difference when you are backpacking over long distances and extended periods of time.
Longer and wider hammocks will generally be more comfortable, especially if you have a bigger build. You will likely place some bags or clothes in your hammock tent. You need to make sure that it is big enough to accommodate you (and a camping buddy) along with any gear that you plan to keep in your tent. Consider looking at a two-person or double hammock, even if you will be using it only for yourself. These two-person hammock tents are often more comfortable and have a little bit more space without adding too much weight.
Look for a hammock that has an asymmetrical design. These hammocks allow you to lay straighter, with your head and feet lower than they would be in traditional hammocks. You can maximize a ‘flat lay’ if you lay diagonally across an asymmetric hammock.
Hammock camping tents have a maximum user weight. When you are looking at hammock tents, remember that the maximum weight refers to the total weight you plan to place in the tent. That includes your bags, food, and equipment and does not only refer to the physical weight of the person(s) who will be sleeping in it.
Placing too much weight in your hammock may not show immediately (i.e., you might not find yourself on the hard ground mid-slumber). However, it can lessen the lifespan of your hammock camping tent.
Hammock tents are suspended in mid-air. That means even a slight summer breeze could leave you feeling chilly during the night.
If you are planning on camping year-round or in colder climates or areas where it rains a lot, you may want to consider a tent that is weather-resistant, has a waterproof rainfly, and offers extra insulation. To ensure that you stay nice and cozy, you can sleep on top of a blow-up or foam sleeping pad. The sleeping pad will add an additional layer of insulation. The downside is that your sleeping pad could move around inside your hammock tent, making sleeping on it uncomfortable.
To counter this, you can invest in a double-layer hammock tent. These tents have a separate compartment that accommodates your sleeping pad. The pad is secured at the bottom of the hammock. This makes sleeping in the hammock tent more comfortable – because you, your sleeping bag, and your sleeping pad are not sliding around – but it also makes the tent heavier and may not be ideal for backpacking trips.
Another option for adding additional insulation is to use an underquilt. An underquilt attaches to the bottom of your hammock tent and provides insulation from the cold air. Although an underquilt is an additional expense, it is an excellent way to stay warm while keeping the weight of your backpacking gear down.
Different hammock tent models will likely have some added nice-to-have features. Whether these are truly nice-to-haves or definite requirements will depend on how you plan to use your tent and the kind of camping you will do in it. Layered flooring could be a feature to look for if you are looking for a hybrid hammock tent that can either be suspended or set up on the ground.
When more than one person will be sleeping in the hammock tent, multiple doors will make getting in and out more manageable – no one will need to climb over someone else or do tricky maneuvers to get into or out of their sleeping spot.
Other features like additional storage pockets and larger square footage will inevitably make the tent heavier. This could make the hammock tent cumbersome and more difficult to carry. However, if you’re only carrying it a short distance and setting up the tent in one place for a longer time without needing to pack it up and carry it to a new spot the next day, the extra storage space and interior room will make for a more comfortable camping experience.
Some hammocks are not sold with straps – these will need to be purchased separately. Whoopie slings make it easy to hang your hammock tent. They use a loop and knot system that tightens when you place weight inside the hammock and relax slightly when there is no weight placed on them. This feature makes them easy to adjust when they are not under pressure.
Hammock straps are usually just two strong straps with multiple small loops. The tree straps are wrapped and secured around a tree, and your hammock then clips onto one of the loops. You will need to secure two straps – one for each side of your hammock to secure to. Hammock straps are easier to set up and lighter than whoopie straps. Still, they are also heavier and more challenging to adjust.
Look for longer straps. This will give you more options when you are looking for a place to suspend your hammock.
Benefits of a Hammock Tent
Hammock tents bring a little sumthin’-sumthin’ to any camping trip. Here are some benefits that camping in a hammock tent has:
- It is comfortable. Sleeping in a suspended cocoon keeps you off of the hard and rocky ground. Add a rain tarp and mozzie net, and you have the perfect combination to what may be the best outdoor sleeping experience you can get.
- Versatility. Hammock tents, especially hybrid hammock tents, provide you with multiple options of where you can set up your tent. They are lightweight and easy to pack – great for a day at the beach or even just for setting up a comfortable spot in your backyard.
- Easy to set up. Most hammock tents are easy to set up. In many cases, they are even more straightforward and less time-consuming to set up than a traditional tent and dealing with confusing tent poles.
Types of Hammock Tents
Daytime hammock tents
Daytime hammocks are great to take on a camping trip. These ultralight hammocks don’t take up a lot of packing space and can even be taken on a backpacking trip. Daytime hammocks are more ‘hammock’ and less ‘tent,’ designed to give you a relaxing hang-out spot when you are camping. Although they are not explicitly intended to function as a shelter, you can get aftermarket bug nets and tarps to build a makeshift tent out of it.
Parachute hammock tents
Parachute hammock camping tents are slightly larger than standard camping hammocks and can accommodate one or two people relatively comfortably. Parachute hammock tents are reasonably priced and lightweight. Keep in mind that they don’t always come with a mosquito net, camping hammock cover, or rain tarp, and these will need to be purchased separately.
Ultra lightweight hiking and backpacking hammocks
Ultra lightweight backpacking hammocks are great if you are planning on carrying your hammock around – a lot. They are usually smaller than standard hammock tents, which makes them great for hiking and backpacking. That said, you will likely forego comfort (and in some cases durability) in the process.
Thru-hiker hammock tents
Thru-hiker hammock camping tents are durable and comfortable with adequate weather protection. They usually have an asymmetrical design and include guy-lines, bug nets, and rain flys. These elements all add to the total weight and price of the hammock system, however. Thru-hiker hammocks are suitable if you plan to use your camping hammock frequently or for extended periods of time.
Hybrid Camping Hammock Tents
Hybrid camping hammock tents can be suspended like a hammock or set up on the ground as a traditional tent. This makes them a highly versatile piece of camping equipment as they can provide shelter no matter what the terrain. They are heavier and more expensive than parachute hammocks.
Jungle hammocks are extremely strong and durable, with mosquito netting and rain flys. They are designed for hard-core trekking and camping in more extreme weather conditions.
What if there are no trees?
Depending on where you go, there may not always be two perfectly spaced trees from which to hang your hammock tent. You could essentially suspend your hammock between any two solid and secure points. This could be a combination of cars (if you are doing car camping), trucks, posts and poles, and even buildings.
If you plan on heading to a place where none of these are available (as one does when venturing out into the great outdoors), you can invest in a portable hammock stand. Portable hammock stands range from ultralight backpacking stands to heavier and more permanent stands that you can use in your backyard.
Whether you are backpacking and moving around a lot or planning on camping in the same spot for a few nights, a camping hammock kit will be sure to make for a more comfortable experience overall.