Are Hammocks Lighter Than Tents? (The Real Truth)


I always enjoyed lounging around in my hammock during the day when I was camping. One day I decided to turn it up a notch and sleep overnight in my hammock. I thought to myself “hammocks are light and comfortable, this could be a great alternative to tent camping” and boy was I shocked by the results.

Are hammocks lighter than tents? Hammocks tend to be much lighter than tents. A typical nylon hammock alone usually weighs less than 2 pounds. Whereas a typical nylon car camping tent weighs around 10 pounds for a 4 person tent.

If you are planning on using a hammock for camping then it is important to note that you will need some other gear besides the hammocks itself. If you are into lightweight minimalist camping then you need to try hammock camping. It delivers some exceptional benefits over tent camping.

By the way, If you are in the market for a new hammock, then you should click here to see the one I recommend on Amazon.

Comparing the weight of hammock gear vs the weight of tent gear

It’s hard to make a complete comparison given that you can find super lightweight (and expensive) gear for both tents and hammocks. At the same time, you can find heavy-duty (and heavyweight) versions of both too. As far as generalizations go, I would say that for the middle of the road good quality gear designed for an avid camper that hammocks and their associated gear is going to be more lightweight than a tent and its associated gear.

That generalization is mostly for car camping. If you are backpacking then things get much more complicated as there are very innovative and super lightweight tents and such. You also need to keep in mind that if you are car camping then weight usually isn’t an issue anyway. So the extra weight of a tent over a hammock doesn’t matter much. In my opinion, bring both and set both up so that you have options.

What is more versatile? Hammocks or tents?

To be versatile, the equipment must be able to adapt to many different situations. On the surface level, it would seem that tents are more versatile right? Anywhere there is a floor you can lay your tent right? For a hammock you could say anywhere there are trees you can set up a hammock. Of course, the real answer is somewhere in between since there are always variables that influence the situation.

The case for hammocks

Hammocks appear very versatile on the surface, but really they do have their limitations. For the most part, you do need trees that are certain lengths apart to make your hammock work. You can always get longer hammock straps to increase versatility and make your hammock usable even between longer trees. If they are the right size then it is also possible to use rocks and other non-tree objects to hang up your hammock, it just requires a bit of creative thinking.

The case for tents

Tents are a shelter that is all in one and one that takes a lot of worry off your mind since all you need is a somewhat level ground to pitch it on. All developed campgrounds are going to be suitable for tents, obviously. Tents are heavier than hammocks, but if you are camping close to your car then it shouldn’t be a big deal. It might make a big difference if you were backpacking though. You just can’t go wrong with tents, so even if you are planning to camp in your hammock I believe you should bring a tent just in case plans change.

The verdict

I believe tents are more versatile than hammocks. They are quick and simple to set up and only need a cleared level surface to make a suitable shelter. I wouldn’t count out hammocks for just this reason though, as you can easily bring them along and try camping in them if you find a suitable place to set them up.

What delivers a better sleeping experience? Hammocks or tents?

Of course, this is going to be subjective to who is doing the sleeping, but from my own personal experience I can fall asleep quite fast inside of a hammock in the middle of the day (naps) but it takes me upwards of 30 minutes to fall asleep inside of my tent. I never nap, and yet hammocks almost force me to nap if I am resting in one, they are that comfortable. For me, the better sleeping is with a hammock given more ideal temperatures and weather.

The only way to know for you is to try it out. If you are into camping then you must already have a tent. It is advisable for anyone trying to get into camping to start with a tent. You can easily try a night in a hammock to see if you like it. You can get away with just getting a good quality hammock for a low price and using a deflated sleeping pad and your regular sleeping bag to stay warm. Most people I know say that hammocks deliver some of the best sleep they have ever gotten, so what are you waiting for?

What is more cost-effective? Hammocks or tents?

Cost-effectiveness always depends on the brand, quality, etc. Of the gear that you plan on getting. This does make it difficult to compare because there are so many options out there for you. The good thing is that you can take similar brands that offer each product and compare them head to head. Here is how I would make comparisons of equivalent gear items:

Tent = Hammock + Mosquito Net

Tarp = Tent Footprint

Sleeping Pad = Under quilt

Sleeping Bag = Top quilt

So if you are purely tent camping you would need to buy: tent, footprint, sleeping pad, and sleeping bag. If you are purely hammock camping you would need; hammock, net, tarp, under quilt, and a top quilt. A similar amount of gear, but which option costs more?

Prices are always changing of course but what I have seen is that tents are more expensive than hammocks. Hammock tarps are more expensive than tent footprints. Under quilts are more expensive than sleeping pads. And finally, Top quilts are more expensive than sleeping bags. Again, this all depends on the particular product you are after. The top quality brands of any item are going to be pricey and there are always going to be cheaper alternatives out there. The best course of action is to look into the products and reviews yourself and base them against your needs and budget.

Which one is right for me? Hammock or tent?

I wish that I could answer this question for you, but I can’t. In my opinion, I would go with both! I have both and thoroughly enjoy using one or the other depending on how I feel and the circumstances that I am in. If you already have basic tent camping gear like a sleeping pad and sleeping bag then you could get away with trying out a hammock using just those. Deflate your sleeping pad and use it as your bottom insulator. Unzip your sleeping bag and use it as a blanket.

This set up is not optimal, but it can give you a taste of what it’s like to camp overnight in a hammock. If you are more intrigued then you should consider getting gear like a hammock under quilt. This provides bottom insulation to keep you warm and is much more comfortable than a deflated sleeping pad. If you are worried about bugs then consider getting a mosquito net to keep them away. Trying out a hammock can turn on a switch in your head and make you fall in love with the cocooned comfort that hammocks can offer you.

Related Questions:

Are hammocks warmer than tents?

Hammocks are not warmer than tents on their own. In fact, they are significantly colder than tents all on their own because of the wind chill factor. They can be made just as warm as tents with some basic gear. I wrote in-depth on this topic of keeping hammocks warm in this article

Are hammocks safe to sleep in?

Hammocks are definitely safe to sleep in providing you have the proper gear. You will need to make sure you can stay warm. You will need to make sure that you can keep the bugs off of you, and you will just have to make sure it is securely set up correctly. Additionally, you can get a great night’s sleep and it won’t hurt your back.

My Favorite Camping Gear

  • Air Mattress: click here to check out my favorite on Amazon.
  • Tent: click here to see my favorite tent available on Amazon.
  • Sleeping Pad: click here to check out the one I love on Amazon.
  • Sleeping Bag: click here to see the one I recommend on Amazon.
  • Camping Stove: click here to see the best camping stove on Amazon.

Zachary Smith

Zach is an avid outdoorsman that loves going camping with his Prius every chance he gets. He also regularly enjoys hiking and fishing. When he's not outside you can probably find him writing about it on this website. See his full bio here

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