This is a problem I have been dealing with since I first became more involved with the whole camping, outdoor thing. I know a lot of outdoor types deal with this in many different ways. What to do. Yep ….
Making the choice to either Tent camp or Hammock it. I struggle every time I decide to go camping. Whether it is a short quick overnighter or for a couple nights. I know, for me and I’m sure many others it depends on when, where and weather. When I decide to go, I go. No matter what the weather decides to be on that day or days. Obviously I check the weather before I go, And although I tend to pack days before I plan on leaving (I tend to over do things and l end and up over packing , then spending the rest of the time cutting back before leaving.) I check the weather updates every day for changes in the forecast. I seem to believe the weather people, some times to my peril. They are by no means accurate and the further way I check the more changes I make as I get closer. I would be better off just waiting to the day before, having everything laid out and pack the night before. But I don’t. Why because playing with my camp stuff is one of my joys.
Not only do I enjoy my time around my equipment I also spend time checking everything out. I just don’t want to be caught out there and find something does not work or missing parts etc. Something we should all consider doing. I check my “stuff at the change of seasons. Ok, I check them way more than that, but that’s just me . Its the playing with my goodies thing.
Back to the Dilemma. Tent or hammock. Which to take? I refer to the 3 W’s.
Based on this, Lets look at my decision making process for my up-coming camping trip.
I have a camp site booked for a 2 night weekend. Its a local State park I have camped before although a different site. I wanted to go back and Kayak the lake as last time that was a disaster. I had not checked and secured my kayak drain plug and lost it on the drive to the camp site. This time I intend to spend a day on the lake fly-fishing from the kayak. (Hobie outback). It is a drive in camp site but as I usually do, I pack as if I am walking in. I am still fighting the over packing and try to keep myself as limited as possible. I am by no means a micro light backpacker. But I am of a mature age (read I’m getting to old to lug a heavy load over any distance). So I am trying to lighten my backpack load. I have yet to be very successful but I persist. I feel the only way I will succeed is to go “totally bush crafty”. Carry a tarp, blanket and pad as asleep system. And reduce my other tools of the trade to get down to a small pack. Some thing around about 35 liters. Not as easy as it seems.
Back to my trip. The weather so far is predicted at 30% chance of rain showers. That I can deal with. As long as they are not thunder and lightening storms. Being out on the water on my kayak is unsafe. So rain is expected. That for me points towards a hammock. For a couple of reasons. The ground will be wet, a trap to sit under. (especially my DD hammocks 3×3) is pleasant in a rain shower. Plenty of cover and open sides. Better than sitting in a tent. I can use my MSR pocket rocket to cook under the tarp. A win-win situation.
Although my tent ( French army 2 man pup tent) is water proof I dislike being closed up in it. Its roomy but I prefer the views offered by a tarp. Set up right, the tarp is the best option. Because its not winter and the days are hot and humid, the nights fairly cool. I can get by without needing the under blanket for the tarp. a good thing as its bulky and takes up a lot of room in my pack. Ill just have the bug net, hammock, tarp, snug Pak blanket, light sleeping bag and sleep pad. All these pack smaller and lighter than the tent. This setup with cook set, change of clothes, first aid kit, things bag (possible’s pouch) and water are the lightest option I have been able to pack in my Ozark trails 45l backpack. Its about (without water) 30lbs. Packing the tent adds about another 6-7 lbs. And makes for a tight fit. So its the hammock option. If it was winter the tent is the best option, as it provides better shelter from the very cold winter nights in Minnesota.
As I said its a drive in site and that allows me to take my kayak and fly-fishing stuff with. If I was kayak camping it would probably be the hammock. But if I am unfamiliar with the locations I would take the tent. There is always dirt to setup on, not always 2 tree to put up a hammock.
There it is! How I deal with the Tent vs Hammock dilemma. I really do not have a personal preference on the hammock or a tent. For me I enjoy both ways to camp and can make the most of both options. The down side is making the wrong choice can be a hard lesson to learn. I have slept on the ground using my hammock as a ground sheet and setting up the tarp on one tree (small spindly thing) as the over head cover. I was uncomfortable but it was not the end of the world. All because I didn’t do due diligence on scouting the area before going out on a camp. A lesson learned and was a great way to test out my adapt or die knowledge and skills. The few I have learnt.
Watching the weather closely right now and we have had a lot of rain these last days. Hopefully it will pass and the days will be pleasant and the fishing great. No matter what its the outdoors and that’s why I go.
Till next time .
Remember knowledge is a survival skill. To learn is to survive.
The Novice survivalist