Any camping aficionado knows that staying warm is an essential part of the experience. You aren’t always going to go camping in ideal weather, and so you will need a plan to keep warm. This is where tents usually win out because many people picture themselves freezing in their camping hammock as soon as the sun sets.
But that is just a lack of information. The truth is, you will probably be warmer in a hammock than in a tent if you have the right gear. As with most things in life, a little knowledge and planning will get you far.
We have compiled a quick overview of what you’re going to need if you want to keep warm in your hammock in cold weather.
One way to ensure warmth throughout the night is by using a sleeping pad. You can insulate the bottom of your hammock. Using foam or inflatable sleeping pad like using a quilt that can be hung on the outside of your hammock.
Your sleeping bag doesn’t provide enough insulation because you will be lying on it. This is compressing the air, therefore limiting its insulating capabilities. Some hammocks come with a double layer at the bottom of the hammock. This is so you can put your sleeping pad inside the hammock, preventing it from moving around during the night.
If you don’t have that double layer at the bottom, then you can insert the sleeping pad into your sleeping bag. This will keep it from trying to escape your hammock during the night.
This is a synthetic or down quilt that is strung up on the bottom of your hammock to insulate the sides and bottom. People prefer these quilts to sleeping pads because they’re lightweight, compress easily and are incredibly effective. If you choose not to have the net setup in cold weather try slipping the a quilt between the mosquito net and nylon of the hammock. Our hammocks reversed make great support for adding extra layers here to keep you warm.
The only issue with quilts is that they are considerably more expensive then sleeping pads and are therefore not as commonly used.
Protection from the wind can will keep you warm considerably, A cheap blue tarp or Rain Fly can act as a wind break and will reduce the need for heavy gear when you’re packing. Cold air “wind chill” or “cold butt syndrome” can strip you of all your warmth and undo all the effort you put into insulating yourself.
All you need to do is lower your tarp to the ground, or get a tarp with doors at the end and create a little cocoon for yourself. If the wind is particularly strong, then determine the direction in which the wind is blowing. Hang the tarp to block the wind.
Staying Warm & Bundle Up
Perhaps one of the best ways to ward off the cold is by bundling up in layers. If you’re especially sensitive to the cold, then this would be a good idea in addition to all the other methods. Insulated hoods, balaclavas and gloves are a great idea for anyone who needs that little extra protection from the elements.
Most people who are accustomed to hammock camping prefer using a quilt when camping. They are easier to use than a sleeping bag, especially in a confined space. They are more convenient and make it easy for you to sleep on your side, move around or leave your hammock during the night.
Less Traditional Methods
Mylar reflective blanket: having one of these underneath your sleeping bag will mirror heat back onto you. Mylar emergency blankets are cheap and used by many outdoor enthusiasts and marathon runners because they are lightweight and extremely effective. It is thin, and will insulate your body. You can wrap it around your body or around your sleeping bag for maximum effect. You could even use it as a rainfly if you have enough.
The issue with that is that it gets very warm, very quickly. Do not use this if you are only expecting chilly weather, this is best used in frigid, winter weather.
Your car’s old sun shade: These reflective shades have a thin layer of foam that is similar to a sleeping pad. You can just use it as a sleeping pad, and it will act similarly to a Mylar emergency blanket in reflecting the heat back to you. The only issue is that it is quite loud, and would be a bad idea if you’re a light sleeper.
Use your sleeping bag: Now, I know what you’re thinking- of course you’re going to use your sleeping bag. But most sleeping bags normally have two zips, so what you can try to get more warmth is by stringing your hammock through your sleeping bag.
This will result in a cocoon-like result. This works if you have another person to zip you up, and you need to make sure that the hood is firmly attached, because if it falls loose, then all that cold air will come rushing in, and you will be stuck like that until someone can unzip you.
Hammock campers are quite familiar with the dangers of not insulating yourself properly. Because your weight is being supported by the hammock, and this strain keeps you up. You’re exerting pressure onto whatever you’re sleeping on, usually your sleeping bag which has built in insulation properties.
But your weight will render these properties useless, and will result in what experienced campers call “cold butt syndrome”. This is what happens when your rear end becomes cold because you aren’t insulated properly and will probably wake you up at some point during the night.
Besides this, getting cold is not comfortable. No-one ever did anything knowing that it was going to make them uncomfortable. Most people will do whatever they can to prevent discomfort. Fortunately, it is incredibly simple staying warm while in a hammock
You can choose between traditional and non-traditional methods, sleeping pads or your old car shade. The possibilities are endless, all you need is a little imagination and creativity and you’ll start seeing ways to keep warm in everything you do. Get out there, and keep warm.
Illustrations by Derek Hansen of theultimatehang.com