Camping in hammocks is a major trend right now as more backpackers try to reduce their footprint in the great outdoors. The problem is that hammocks are best used in summer, causing many of us to reach for our tents again when the winter months roll in.
If you don’t know what it takes to stay warm when hammock camping, the once refreshing idea of hammocking can quickly become your worst enemy.
The good news is that there are plenty of great ways to stay warm in your hammock, and we’re going to show you how to make the most of hammock camping, even when temperatures dip under 45 degrees!
3 Options to Stay Warm When Hammock Camping
While we’ve got quite a few tips and tricks on how to stay warm in your hammock during the colder winter months, we will start with the three basic insulation options for cold-weather hammock camping; underquilts, self-inflating and CCF insulating pads
Underquilts are great since they’re lightweight and provide a lot of insulation when you hang them beneath your hammock as a wind barrier. They’re available in an array of different temperature ranges, fabrics, colors, insulation choices, and attachment methods, so they can be used for any kind of hammock.
Underquilts, as the name suggests, are designed to be hung under your hammock so that they protect you from wind and cold air, by trapping a layer of air between you and the outside.
They work best when they’re hung snuggly against the bottom of your hammock. Unlike sleeping bags that compress the insulation, underquilts move with your weight so that insulation isn’t compressed.
The other great thing about underquilts is that they usually come with some sort of compression sack, which is helpful when you’re tight on space in your pack. Easy to store and fluff, underquilts also eliminate the need to fidget or adjust your bed each night.
Self-inflating Sleeping Pads
Inflatable pads are made with the best materials and craftsmanship, so they’re not within everyone’s budget, but they do provide a great deal of warmth and protection. While some pads rely on the hot air inside them to act as a barrier between the user and the cold air, others are fitted with insulation, and some use a combo or air and insulation.
The problem with self-inflating pads is that they can be a major pain (or cold) in the butt if they get damaged and you don’t have a repair kit on hand. Inflatable pads are placed inside the hammock, instead of underneath like an underquilt.
Closed-cell foam (CCF) Pads
Closed-cell foam (CCF) pads provide a thin barrier between you and the cold air. These are cheap options and, in most cases, they’re also exceptionally durable. Just like inflatable pads, CCF pads are placed inside your hammock.
These pads are notorious for wrinkling up and annoying hangers, and if you don’t invest in the right CCF material, you could face condensation issues too. If you don’t want to stress about punctures associated with inflatable pads, a CCF pad might be a better option.
Tips to stay warm when hammock camping
Once you’ve decided which insulation option to use (or perhaps you’ve chosen to use a combination of all three), here’s how to ensure optimal comfort and warmth in your hammock when the mercury heads south!
Don’t settle for just any spot
During the colder months, the wind is your worst enemy, which means you need to stay out of its way. Pick a camping spot that’s behind a boulder, in a dense forest, or anywhere near a natural windbreaker.
Up your sleeping bag game
If you think a blanket will cut it when the temperature dips below 40 degrees, think again! You need a mummy-style sleeping bag that’s rated to 15 degrees or less and if it’s possible, invest in something with down fill. It’s also not a bad idea to invest in a sleeping bag liner to add warmth to your bag.
Trap the warmth with your tarp
Tarps are great for keeping your dry during the rainy season, but they’re also super handy for trapping heat when hammock camping. Your tarp will help keep the heat in and the wind out.
Consider a sleeping bag pod
Sleeping bag pods are sleeping bags that surround your hammock. Unlike a regular sleeping bag, a sleeping bag pod doesn’t get compressed between you and the hammock because it’s not inside the hammock. The problem is that these can be tricky to get in and out of, and zipping it up once you’re inside will require some help from a team member on the outside.
Throw in a top quilt too!
Top quilts add comfort and yet another layer of comfort. Top quilts are basically blankets that lie on top of you in the hammock. Most of them are sown together at the end to help keep your feet warm. Using a top quilt with a mummy-style sleeping bag can help create glorious warmth!
Know when to tap out
If you’re keen on trying hammock camping when temperatures drop below freezing, don’t just blindly go at it. Do your research and make sure you’re prepared with all the right gear. If conditions get too frigid, it’s okay to turn back. Hypothermia (or worse) isn’t worth risking.
If you’re dedicated enough to combine all of our tips and tricks, the cold won’t be able to throw you off your game.
We’ve provided you with a bung of great ideas to keep warm when hammock camping, and we’re pretty sure they’ll keep you warm and toasty. Here’s hoping that nature doesn’t call in the middle of the night, forcing you to leave your toasty bed!
- 1 3 Options to Stay Warm When Hammock Camping
- 2 Underquilts
- 3 Self-inflating Sleeping Pads
- 4 Closed-cell foam (CCF) Pads
- 5 Tips to stay warm when hammock camping
- 6 Final thoughts