Hammock Camping in the Cold

FrostWe’re experiencing a little cold snap here in Northwest Arkansas. Sub-freezing temperatures are enough to scare most people away from camping, but we know that there are still plenty of folks who are willing to tough it out just to be outdoors. Cold weather camping can be tough no matter what type of shelter you have, but it can be especially difficult in a hammock.

Hammocks have become extremely popular because they are so lightweight and compact, but they’re lightweight and compact because they’re isn’t much to them. This is ideal for backpacking in moderate weather, but when temperatures dip, you need protection.

Hammocks don’t offer any type of insulation. You’re looking at super thin and breathable ripstop or parachute nylon, suspending you between two trees with nothing but air above or below you. Thin and breathable aren’t exactly what you’re looking for when it comes to cold weather, and there’s no way to retain body heat if you’re simply suspended in cold air.

While hammocks on their own aren’t suited for cold weather camping, you can modify your setup to be warm, cozy, and comfortable.

A good sleeping pad is absolutely necessary. Not only will this add a little support, it will put a much needed barrier between you and the freezing cold air. The higher the R-value the better. A sleeping pad helps you retain body heat while simultaneously blocking out the cold air.

Sometimes a sleeping pad isn’t enough all on its own. You might need to keep toasty with an underquilt. Underquilts are designed specifically to fit underneath a hammock to block our cold air and trap in body heat. These can be made of synthetic or down fibers, and can mean the difference between you getting a good nights sleep and tossing and turning from the bitter cold.

Setting up a tarp above your hammock is a good idea to keep out any precipitation that may fall, but it will also help keep you cozy. Warm air rises, so even if you’ve got a sleeping pad and an underquilt you can still get cold. A tarp will help keep your body heat from escaping into the sky leaving you shivering.

And of course, you want to have a good sleeping bag. Keep in mind whether you’re a warm or cold sleeper, so you know how warm your sleeping bag needs to be rated for.

Even though hammocks are designed for cold weather you can still enjoy hammock camping in the fall and winter. You just need to make sure you have the right setup!

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