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You don’t need a lot of equipment to camp in the wild, and some people actually prefer a hammock over a traditional tent when they venture out into the backcountry.

A tent or a hammock are just two of many options, but for many occasions these are actually perfectly fit to keep you comfortable and warm throughout the night.

We’ve asked the experts and conducted a large amount of research, in order to make this comprehensive tents vs. hammocks side-by-side comparison.

If you’re in the market for either a tent or a hammock, and wondering what to pick, this guide is for you.

Tents – why (and when) are they great?

Coleman Green and Gray Sundome tent
Tents come in many shapes and sizes, and provide high comfort and convenience. Check out this Coleman Sundome tent, that comes in sizes suitable for up to 6 people.

Nothing beats a tent on its level of comfort and convenience, but it comes at a price. For most tents, there’s no way they fit into a backpack along with your sleeping gear, cookware, foods, water, clothes, and other essential equipment for your trip.

Pros

  • Relatively easy to set up and use.
  • Keeps you warm and dry in most weather.
  • All personal belongings fit inside the tent.
  • Tents come in many shapes and sizes, suitable for more than one person.
  • Keeps insects away from you.

Cons

  • Heavier and bulkier than most hammocks.
  • Doesn’t go well with hiking into the backcountry.
  • Requires a flat, dry surface.
  • Doesn’t always stay dry if it rains a lot.
  • Risk of collapsing during heavy snowfall.

Our take

Tents are great for those seeking comfort and convenience. If you’re planning on visiting established camp grounds only, tents are easy to set up anywhere in the designated areas, and keep you and your group warm and dry. They don’t work well for backpackers venturing out into the backcountry due to the weight and space required to set it up on, and they’re usually more expensive than hammocks.

We recommend tents for leisure travellers, but they also work great for motorcycle camping.

Hammocks – why (and when) are they great?

Black hammock for outdoor camping
Hammocks such as this one from Wise Owl come in many shapes and colors, and they both lightweight and comfortable.

Hammocks are ultra lightweight and consists of a shelter and bed in one compact unit. It fits most backpacks easily, and works extremely well for those venturing deep into the woods. It doesn’t provide as much comfort and convenience as a tent though, and you do need a couple of trees to hang it from.

Pros

  • Ultra lightweight and easy to carry in any backpack.
  • Bed and shelter in one piece.
  • Hammocks usually come with a mosquito net.
  • A tarp can be suspended over the hammock to provide cover from rain and wind.
  • Very comfortable to sleep in.
  • No risk of flooding as you’re suspended above the ground.

Cons

  • No room for storage of personal belongings.
  • Only limited protection from wind, rain, and snowfall.
  • Fits one person only.
  • Trees required to suspend the hammock from.

Our take

We do agree with Outdoorser that hammocks are great for many purposes, and work very well for those seeking a lightweight shelter when camping out in the wild. Hammocks have a few obvious advantages over tents, and they do indeed outperform tents in many areas. They don’t have room for storage though, and they only provide limited protection against bad weather. You can upgrade the hammock easily by adding a tarp to your packing list though, and many people do actually like sleeping in their hammock due to how surprisingly comfortable it is.

Is there a winner?

You’re probably wondering if there’s a winner since this is a “tents vs. hammocks” comparison.

We don’t think so.

Tents and hammocks are great for different purposes, and as such there’s actually no competition between them.

If you’re contemplating on getting one or the other, you can let these questions help you pick the right one for your needs:

Are you planning a camping trip into the backcountry?

  • Yes: Hammock
  • No: Tent

Do you want to travel as lightweight as possible?

  • Yes: Hammock
  • No: Tent

Are you going to walk hundreds of miles during your trip?

  • Yes: Hammock
  • No: Tent

Do you know your camp spots beforehand, and are they tent-friendly?

  • Yes: Tent
  • No: Hammock

Are you venturing into the woods, or do you have plenty of trees on your route?

  • Yes: Hammock
  • No: Tent

Are you travelling in a group?

  • Yes: Tent
  • No: Hammock

Do you prefer to have someone nearby while sleeping?

  • Yes: Tent
  • No: Hammock

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