Hammock Camping

I've been looking around for ideas about tents and things for touring, and increasingly I'm finding references and YouTube videos to hammock camping, and Tarp camping, which I confess I've never heard of.

The idea appeals, especially in Japan where we'd need to travel light and the nights are generally warm, but is this a 'serious' way to camp, or is it more an emergency solution if you're caught out in the rain? I notice most people advocating this are hikers rather than cyclists.

Any thoughts?
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Heltor Chasca

Out-riding the Black Dog
I use a hammock when I can. Supremely comfortable. But in Europe there are few options to use it unless I wildcamp. Most sites are in fields or on bare grass. One campsite in the UK with trees told me I couldn’t use it for insurance reasons.

I have a Hennessy and find I get cold from underneath so I use it only in the summer. You can get under blankets or use mats, but travelling with a massive blanket negates the portability aspect. And mats just slide about and have you fidgeting all night. The best solution has been a sheepskin but that was car camping with my canoe.


An Peanut
Like @Heltor Chasca I find it really comfortable and I generally get a good sleep. I have only managed to do it setup in my garden as a test and wild camping in Scotland. The problem is you need to guarantee that you can sleep in the trees, which when wild camping in England is not always easy (especially if you want to be near a pub.

I have not splashed out on an underblanket so I just use my thermarest copy, which only slides a little, but I often find my lower legs have slipped off. Ultimately my tent setup is more flexible and packs smaller so I tend to use that as my 'go to' kit. I have had a lot of fun researching ridgeline length, whoopie slings and knots but if I were to recommend one setup over another, it would be a tent.
I'm intrigued by the idea of hammock camping. Most of what I have found out is as @Heltor Chasca says above - difficulty in finding suitable locations and insulation issues leading to bigger/heavier things to keep ypu warm. I also have the idea that while a hammock sounds like a great idea, the times I have tried a (regular) hammock in real life the reality doesn't live up to the anticipation.

The tarp idea is a different kettle of fish. At its simplest a tarp and a pole (or more likely for hikers, walking poles). Simple, light but lacking comforts such as an inner to keeep bugs out. Of course, you can buy an inner if you like. "Pure" tarp tents allow you to make different designs according to your needs on a given pitch, which is very handy, especially for hikers. Let's face it, if you're on a bike you can always ride on looking for somewhere more suitable.
I've always had the idea that tarps and the like were for the real bushcraft enthusiasts, those who get a kick out of making the best camp possible. That might be different for a cycle tourist who just wants to get their head down in reasonable comfort.
I think, also, that their use requires a bit more knowledge/skills/experience to get the best out of them as opposed to standard, big brand tents.

Last year I got a Hexpeak4A tipi shelter with a one person inner. It's very light, so far strong enough, decent space inside and very usable (for 1). Of course, it needs to be fully pegged out, but there is a degree of flexibility in terms of the height I set it at to increase or decrease ventilation and the inner can be easily dropped to give me the full use of space. The inner is a bit saggy, something I might improve, but that will require a little DIY. There are numerous options on Ali-Express for different inners, some of which get good reviews.
I used it on a 3 week tour last year and it was perfect. I'm not sure if I'd use it for a long term tour, the least attractive point is that it is not freestanding.
On that basis, I'd think a tarp tent would be something of an ongoing project, making improvements as you go along. You'll see users in the States with fireboxes in their tents, for example.

I'm not sure, but most of these style tents that I have seen for 2, have a double inner which changes the set-up to inner first and reduces the usable space between the inner and the fly. Something to consider if there's 2 of you.


Legendary Member
A collegue rode from Flensburg to Innsbruck last year and used a hammock every night.

I have some ripstop nylon material and so am making my own hammock for a bit of interest. Like you, I looked on Youtube. I had never heard of Whoopie slings, but have made a couple of them. They are a clever idea.

I have no intention of camping with it. But I will let you know how it works out.

I am ex military and am no stranger to tarp camping. I use Poncho and a couple of elastics. That way the poncho has 2 uses.
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Formerly known as Woodenspoons
North Yorkshire
I use a tarp and a hammock on uk bike tours. The hammock is a Hennessey jungle job, with a pocket for a thermo mat. It’s good down to -5 with a decent sleeping bag. Has its own tarp. Sleeps one, or two light ones if very friendly. A great sleep, once you get the knack
As some of my work life involves setting up remote camps for bushcraft groups, I’m pretty used to setting up tarps. The good polycotton ones are made by Tatonka (German I think) and come in many sizes. I carry a small 3x 2 m one for camping. There is a degree of experience required to rig a good tarp to be comfy, but it’s easily gained by doing local overnights in good weather
Hammock camping is super comfy and ideal for wild camping. With a tarp, a good hammock with a mozzie net can be used as a tent inner to camp on the ground at camping places, but they won’t always let you use the trees.
Wild camping is usually easy enough. I’ve yet to not find a spot, with a bit of advance planning on a map. A camo hammock is invisible twenty feet from a public footpath. Just be sensible not to pick drug dens and dogging spots, or it can be a noisy night. I’ve camped in many odd places you might not set up a tent - main road roundabouts, wide hedgerows and little roadside copses, slung under pylons, between poles in old barns...
Don’t know culturally how Japan will take to you slinging up a hammock. Research the laws on what’s free access first. I understand from brief research for a shelved bike trip to Hokkaido that camping isn’t massive. And there are wild bears! Here, I’m trespassing at times, but the law allows me to take the shortest route out if challenged, and I never cause damage, light fires, or leave a trace. I’ve always been met with indifference by anyone with an interest in the land. And there aren’t any bears.
Tent camping is lighter and easier if you always have flat ground.
Videos on set up are abundant on the net.


I have a hammock (and a tarp and a tent)
I've slept in the hammock a few times, as others have said, in North America finding suitable trees is not an issue, however the same is not so true in Europe, we have a lot less trees.
So whilst it not impossible to use a hammock in Europe is a lot harder to find suitable places.
If by definition you are stealth camping or wild camping then you are severely limiting the number of places where you can camp with a hammock.

Unlike north America, the typical European camp site would not have a suitable place to rig a hammock.
Trees in European campsites tend to be ornamental broad leaf types located in site dividing hedgerows for sun and wind protection, which means they don't want you rigging hammocks, washing lines or volleyball nets from their trees!
I've used mine a couple of times recently, mine is just an Aldi lightweight hammock, and it does quite a job. If you travel and are used to having a lot of things with you in a tent, a hammock/tarp combo may not give you the room you need. But there is plenty of room for storage beneath you, dependent on the size of your overtarp. Here's how I rig-
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