Is a Hammock a Viable Option: Should You Carry One?
If you carry a hammock, should you carry a tent as well? Remember, you have to carry all the options you have given yourself in your pack, and weight is always a major consideration, so plan carefully if you have a choice as to what to carry.
In a survival situation a hammock is ideal, particularly if the ground is wet, rocky, or uneven. You wouldn’t have to spend a lot of time hunting for the ideal “flat spot” for a tent. A hammock can be made from a sturdy tarp and stout cordage if you find yourself in a survival situation and an additional tarp can be used to protect you in your hammock from the rain and dew.
A hammock can be rigged practically anywhere there are trees. Having the materials in your survival pack to make a hammock in a survival situation is something in which you should give serious consideration.
A hammock however, is not an ideal option in extreme cold weather, because try as you might it is hard to block the cold air from circulating under the hammock, which would undoubtedly chill your backside, and how do you block the wind from your body.
A foam sleeping pad however, could be used in the hammock to help keep your body heat from conducting away from the underside. Of course, if the only options are the cold ground or a hammock, then getting off the ground is really your only option. You could find material to help insulate your body when in the hammock.
If you could build an enclosed shelter and then string a hammock to get you off the cold ground, then you have a much better situation, but who has the time and resources to do such a thing in a survival situation.
A hammock in warm weather keeps you off the wet ground, helps keep crawling bugs on the ground at bay, and you wouldn’t have rocks or sticks poking you all night, and it would be a simple matter to add mosquito netting to keep flying pests away. Not to mention, you wouldn’t likely wake up with a snake cuddling you for warmth.
There is a time and a place for a hammock, and in a survival situation, what you have with you, is all you have to work with, but when you have options what would you choose, or do you need to choose, just carry both maybe.
Hammocks come in all shapes and sizes. You can buy tent hammocks, hammocks with pockets, with cup holders, bug netting and you can even buy hammocks that have rope ladders you can use in which to get in and out.
A tent hammock would be the best of all worlds because you are enclosed and protected from bugs, wind, rain and snow and best of all, you are off the cold ground. However, the setup can be complicated, and you do need sturdy trees in just the right places. This type of rigging would be ideal for planned adventures, because it doesn’t just fold up so it can be strapped to the outside of your pack. This type of setup would add weight and take up considerable space in a pack if it could even be stowed in a pack.
The traditional camping hammock with rigging rope is easily carried and it doesn’t add a lot weight, and you can carry one along even though you have a tent as well.
When set up and you have added your weight to the hammock, you should be about chair height off the ground. You don’t want to get to thrashing around at night and fall any great distance and then there are accidents where a rigging rope breaks and drops you, so too high off the ground is not a good thing.
Practice hanging one in your backyard before trying it out in the backcountry, because there is a “trick” if you will, to putting one up right.
Hanging one too tight between your anchor points puts too much strain on the rigging ropes and the hammock material itself, and too loose means you may end up sleeping doubled up.
It does take some getting used to, so sleep a few nights in your backyard, so you can figure out the best way to get in and out and the best sleeping position.
Carry a tarp that can be hung overhead or pitched like a traditional pup tent over the hammock to keep rain and dew off you.
Remember you do not want to hang high above the ground. You have to be able to get in and out without problems, so find a good height for your body, and go with that every time. It will take a few times of setting up and taking down before you literally have the hang of it, but anyone can do it with relative ease after a few practice sessions.