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Gear question - touring with a hammock

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Gear question - touring with a hammock

Hi all!

I'm doing a solo tour this fall and am considering buying either a Hennessy hammock or a one-person tent. Has anyone done a tour with a hammock? If so, how did you deal with dry and safe while you slept? Somehow a tent with a vestibule seems better to me because you can store your things inside, but is a more expensive (and heavier) option than the hammock.

Mary Anne

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Hammock is the best!

I sincirely recommend the hammock! It is a great choice for bike travels. I've done now three weeks and over 10 nights in the hammock. Loving it.

This is what I use myself: http://www.ticketothemoon.com/
Superlight and you can roll yourself in it for that light rain.

I also carry this if need to build a shelter and you can dress this on yourself as well:
http://www.varusteleka.com/en/product/jerven-fjellduken-original-multi-purpose-tarp/22622

So far no rainy nights on my 21 day tour and if it is raining hard I wouldn't be able to sleep in a tent either. Rather put that fjallduken on and start riding.

Hope this helps and please ask more if you need information. :)

-Aki

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Tent vs. Hammock

Hello Mary Anne,
I am not an experienced bicycle touring expert. I recently purchased a Eureka Midori 2 tent from Hilton's Tent City in Boston Massachusetts for under $130 which did include a discount coupon. I have backpacked in the past with Bibler singlewall tents. This tent goes up easily, is extremely roomy for one person, has terrific ventilation, a vestibule that easily stored my bicycle panniers and weighs about 6 pounds or perhaps less. It easily packs into my Arkel (GT-54) tent pannier sack that attaches to my rear pannier. I have no experience in sleeping in a hammock but I can wholeheartedly recommend this tent. I do hope this helps.
Don A. Holshuh

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trees

Hennessy are good quality and expensive, DD Hammocks are a bit cheaper.
both offer matching mosquito nets and tarps.

even in heavy rain, if the tarp is big enough and properly put (diagonal) water will not touch the hammock.
on a tent, the groundfloor would be soacked.

your hammock has to find trees but the ground could be rocky, steep or wet, it is above that :)
when wild camping, hammocks are usually more discrete.

if you wanna cook or choose your best outfit in the rain, a good tarp position is essential.

on a solo trip with trees around i would take a hammock.

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Thanks for the replies! I

Thanks for the replies! I think I'll have to borrow a friend's hammock before I start my tour to see if it is comfortable for me. For those of you who do tour with a hammock, what do you do with your gear? I'm worried about it getting wet and/or stolen from underneath me while I sleep.

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Camping areas good

At least when going through Europe in France/Switzerland/Germany there are lots of camping areas to stay at where you don't have to be too afraid of thiefs. Also I have a backpack which fits nicely on the top of my back cases which holds my most valuable possessions so it is easy to take with.

Honestly after starting this trip I noticed I would need only that one backpack of stuff. I can even fit a gas cooker in it.

-Aki

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tents

Advantage is you can pretty much pitch anywhere - with a hammock you are a bit stuck if you not trees or posts around! You may need to camp say in a field, or even with some camp sites there are no trees. Also by the time you add up the hammock and tarp it may well be at least the weight of a good lightweight tent.

I have a macpac microlight - about 4 pounds and a mate has a wild country tent that is 2 pounds! Mine has taken all sorts of hammering all over the world and is still perfect. It's a doddle to pitch and the poles are flexible so if it's really hideously windy, they don't snap on you like some tents!

Not sure what the mention was in relation to ground sheet being wet - they are waterproof and meant to take the wet, so if there happens to be a dip you don't notice and it puddles under the tent you are still safely dry in your tent. (unless you are not using a tent with built in groundsheet with waterproof seals of course!). It is also possible to fold the the inner tent so it does not get the fabric of the tent wet if the groundsheet was damp.

I have enough room for my panniers under the flysheet and can still cook under the flysheet if it's chucking it down.

I'd also not feel happy risking a hammock in some of the weather I have experienced in my tent-which has been so bad, now and then the poles have hit me on the head while sitting it in. Howling swirling winds and horizontal winds - mmmm.....a hammock would not be my idea of fun in that.

Just don't get a cheap tent - get a good brand and good quality one and it will pay you back with years of good service. Mine is now 17 years old and still going strong. Cheap tents are heavy, have weak poles, leak more easily, even if you treat all the seams (if not heat sealed during manufacture you can struggle to make it good enough with after market sealant), have poor mosquito mess, and often are harder to pitch, and all sorts of other irritants that become apparent once you start to use it!

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hammock

when camping I look for two trees far apart to run a rope so I can hang items Like just washed items Many times I have not able to do that. either no trees or not anywhere close to were I can camp So I would go with the tent. Buy a 3 seasons tent they weigh less and if it rains your better off in a tent.

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Decisions decisions...

Ooh, arguments from both sides, I like it! I'm a bit limited in my choices as I want to buy my tent or hammock from MEC, the Canadian version of REI. They have a pretty good selection that I can look at in their stores and also a super return policy. I'm a bit afraid to buy something online in case I don't like it and then find out that returning it will be a hassle. Thanks everyone for your input!

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hammock

Hi,
I use a hammock with tarp from years. Its easy to carry and is comfortable to sleep. But in big rain or strong wind stay a little complicated... Or if you need a little privacy :) So I buy a canvas (2x3m) from construction market and use as wall and floor. Its very cheap and light. My bike is on dry place at night, near to me, i able to change clothes and shoes on dry floor, no wind...

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Light = Fast

Depends on how fast you need to go. 450g hammock versus usually over 2kg of tent. You can feel that + there are not that many tents that fit small. If I could have made the choice again before this trip I would now have no sidebags at all, just the backpack.

To my experience hammock + couchsurfing.org + warmshowers.org is a good lightweight combination for the wallet and the bike. ;)

Nuff said.

-Aki

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MEC options

Here's some advice as someone who has an MEC tent and has used it for bike trips in the past...

I got the Wanderer 2 and separate matching ground sheet. It's not particularly light, but when staked out properly, it's incredibly sound in even the worst of weather. It's very spacious. I have travelled with another person, and there's JUST enough space that if the weather gets really bad, we've fit all our bags inside the tent, and with wheels off, both bikes and all four wheels stacked in one vestibule.

I also bought a mosquito net, so that if I want to go lighter weight, I can leave the tent body at home. I can set it up with just the fly and the ground sheet, and mosquito net. It get's breezy much more quickly like that, which of course is a plus in hot weather, but not in the shoulder seasons.

I could buy something lighter, but to be honest, if weather moves in, I don't want to be in a nylon coffin, so I'll accept the extra weight to get the extra space. However, if you're being hosted more often than not, a smaller tent or hammock is probably a better option.

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Tent & Hammock

I've toured with a Hennessy Hammock (Puerto Rico, Cuba) and with a tent (many countries) and the hammock is good when the terrain is uneven (hard to find a flat spot), so you just hang up there and it doesn't matter if there are rocks or sticks underneath, but then it's sometimes hard to find a spot because you have to have trees that are not to far and not two close to each other. Also, the hammock is good for warm countries but not for cold places (in cold weather, even if you go in with your sleeping bag, the pressure of your weight against the hammock fabric eliminates any thermal insulation your clothes or sleeping bag would provide, so you feel the cold). The Hennessy hammock is excellent agains bugs; that's my experience. In cold weather, though, you're better off with a tent. The ideal thing would be to carry both, let's say a small light tent for just yourself (and leave most of the gear out under a plastic cover or tarp) and the hammock (it really is light) for those places where you're sure to find enough trees with the proper distance (and then use the same tarp or plastic cover to cover your gear). I don't really think you have to worry about thieves. In selecting a place, you should choose one where you've not been seen anyway, and once discovered, once they come after your stuff, what are you going to do, fight with them? So, I would say both 1) good tarp (as cover for gear when using the hammock), and 2) good small tent (or even a two person one, and then you can use the same tarp as footprint for the tent and bring your gear inside, which is what I do). If 3 or 4 kg total seems like too much, consider reducing your cooking gear or other stuff.

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Choices choices...

I'm leaning towards a one-person tent with a tarp to use as a shelter or groundsheet. It seems that many of the ultralight tents are similar in weight to the Hennessey hammocks, so the weight vs. comfort/familiarity debate isn't such a big deal now in my mind. Thanks everyone for all the input! You all gave me more things to think about. I'm going to head to a store soon to look at all my options in person and make my decision.

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I've been really curious

I've been really curious about using a hammock too. It seems great to sleep in the woods in a more discrete way, on a mountain side where flat terrain is hard to come by and other advantages.

But. The hammock might be light, but like you said when you think about the net, the tarp and the rope.. it ain't such a big difference anymore. Other worries for me:
Where do i put my gear? Having easy access to my bags when inside the tent is really nice. And more secure.
Wouldn't it be colder? Having no floor mat mean the only thing between that cold wind and my body is this thin tarp and a compressed sleeping bag.
What about when there is no trees?

What I'd really want to see is an ultralight tent/hammock combo that you could pitch both ways. Places for pole and pegs to pitch on the ground, and a great shape and toughness to be able to put it has a hammock.

Anyway, I've been touring for a few years with my tent and it's never been such a problem. I've got an old Rock22 from NF, it's 2 person, not so small or light, but for long-term touring the niceness of the extra space and vestibule overweight the bigger load.

Also, you might want to check rental in smaller outdoor shops, a friend of mine picked up a similar tent for 130$ (instead of 250$+) last year, it had barely been rented out once. A really good deal.

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bought a shelter!

After probably too much consideration I bought myself a shelter! I decided on a tent after all, and got a roomy 2-person because it was on sale! Hopefully it works out!

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Camping hammocks

A great book and website (http://www.theultimatehang.com) is "The Ultimate Hang" a very entertaining book by Derek Hansen on camping hammocks. It addresses all issues related to hammock camping, including sleeping in cold weather. There are other sites too, such as http://diygearsupply.com about how to make your own hammocks (not that hard) and accessories.
I sleep in my homemade camping hammock regularly, and can attest to how comfortable they are (if you sleep diagonally, as you should).

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Go with the hammock I did a

Go with the hammock I did a tour in the summer in my Eagles Nest hammock and I wouldn't have it any other way. Yes having two steady stable attachment points is not always as easy but the hammock is more comfortable and weighs less. You are removing tent poles and sleeping pads and extra material that a tent needs to be a tent. That is all space and weight. Plus if storage is important get the Underbelly gear sling that ENO makes and you have a hammock for your gear plus you can get a mosquito net and rain fly. Plus hammocks minus those rope ones are quite comfortable and provide a better sleep and you are off the ground which is nice if it has rained or something.

I can say this I was on a tour with friends this summer and myself and one other friend both had hammocks and slept like babies the other folks had tents and couldn't get much sleep.

Set up is a breeze, I just slap my straps around the tree and hook up one end of the hammock via carabiner and then do the same on the other side. The rest of it (mosquito net and rain fly) are also pretty easy and no fumbling with tent poles.

My only regret was getting the Double Deluxe hammock which so far has only slept me so there is a bit of extra fabric and weight I am schlepping but it is useful for just hanging out as I can fit more people in the hammock.

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Some more comments

There are pros and cons for both the tent and the hammock. I also like the idea of taking both (or as one said -if there was one- the ultimate combination of both)... A tent is clearly more comfortable in terms of space, but the hammock is easier in the wild (less space, any terrain, more hidden). A lot of good things have been said already. Just to add a bit:

You do not necessary need trees...
You can find yourself alternatives:
http://fietsvakantie.reismee.nl/fotos/133876/la-palma-dag-1-tm-3/2038046/
Or you create yourself a quite comfortable tent:
http://fietsvakantie.reismee.nl/fotos/134097/la-palma-dag-6-en-7/2041979/

When traveling with a hammock you just leave your stuff on your bike. You might need to think about having finished cooking -if you do- before it's getting too dark. If it makes you feel safer, put a cycle alarm on it...

The combination destination-night temperatures is definitely the most important things to think about, including what gear you need inside. You definitely need isolation as a layer between tent and body as a lot of cold comes from the ground. This is much more an issue with a hammock than with a tent. Don't underestimate it...

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rope

Has anyone used kiteboard string? This stuff looks like string, weighs next to nothing just like string, but is made to hold beefy people in the air as they perform stressful bouncy tricks.

Typically you would use 4 lines with your kiteboard and I only use one with my hammock. I'm a smallish woman so I'm a bit hesitant to give a big unqualified endorsement but I regularly swing in my hammock for an entire season and even though I'm using dead lines no one would use for their current kite boardset up, and it's frayed by the end of the season, they've never let loose on me.

They are small, lightweight, and in my experience quite up to the task of a hammock situation

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I have been using my dd

I have been using my dd hammock and tarp for nearly a year now and I can say like everyone who uses hammocks, I'll never go back to a tent anymore. first of all,I have a bad back and sleeping in a hammock gives me full support and no stiffness or numb limbs. Second is the fact I can cook using my petrol stove when it's raining. I also put my bike and gear underneath against the rain. When there's no trees around,I just set up the tarp in a variety of ways and just sleep on the ground. I'll use the mosquito net when there are a lot of bugs or when it's cold.
I have been through some extreme weather where the ground was simply too wet to put up a tent and have been fine.
Also I feel my stuff is more secure from people and especially animals because i'm sleeping above it all and if something would disturb me it definitely wakes me up. Haven't had any problem with people, just rats and possums really.

The hammock is great in the tropics, less so at temperatures below zero.

Also the price of the dd hammock and tarp combo can't be beaten, especially if you think that the tarp is 9 square meters.

I use 3mm dymeema rope from which I have made whoopee slings and carabiners to hang the thing up.

As you might see, I can go on forever praising my hammock.

Paul

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Hammock Positions and Tree-Less Options

I know this question is ancient, but my comments are timeless.

I have a '3 person' (roomy for 2) ultralight tent and an ultralight camping hammock that also functions as a tent in almost every way.

The hammock is much more comfortable for me, but I spend regular time on the patio on weekends 'learning' how to relax enough to actually sleep in it (I'm a very light sleeper). It really is a learned skill to sleep. I think some people coming from a hard flat bed tend to fight a soft flexible hammock since they don't know how to hang it, or how to lay flat in it, or how to stretch out in it, or how to roll in it, or how to lift their legs and arms around to positions that are unnatural in a flat hard bed. Its more like sleeping on a couch with lots of big pillows, where you have many unusual options for sleeping positions.

Tree-less: I made a bipod from 2 shower curtain rods, bolted together at one end, and pinned in the middle to prevent collapsing. Very light weight so is good for cyclotouring, though at 4 feet long maybe a little bulky for back packing. Eliminates 1 tree/post. I can hang my foot-end from the bipod, hang my head-end across the rack of my trike, and sleep with no trees at all, fully suspended off the ground! The secret is using dead-man stakes at each end to tie it down, since normal top-stakes just pull out with that much stress.

I made dead-man stakes from 16 inch plastic 'Y' stakes, cutting off the 4 weak inches from the pointy end, attaching small-gauge wire rope at the middle for connection to the hammock strap.