Winter Camping With a Hammock? Here’s How to Stay Warm

December 14, 2020

winter hammocking in the snow during the winter season

Ah, the hammock. The greatest relaxation invention since the massage chair. While many of us assume that we have to put the hammock away the second a leaf falls, I’m here to tell you that this is far too early. 

Not only can we use our outdoor hammocks year round, we can camp in them. That’s right. It’s like relaxing, but better. And what’s stopping us from taking it a level further? Why not camp in a hammock...in the winter?? 

THAT’S RIGHT. WINTER CAMPING. IN A HAMMOCK. 

This is the mark of the ultimate adventurer. There is no better way to enjoy the winter scene you’re in than by sleeping in it without the suffocating walls of a tent. 

Now, this might sound a little intimidating to you, especially if you’re a beginning camper (or, even if you’re a seasoned one). But rest assured, camping in a hammock is not only easy, it’s an exciting and fun challenge that I feel everyone should do at least once. 

So, how do you camp in a hammock in cold weather? Well my camping companion, we’re going to go over all of that: how to stay warm in a hammock, the hammock gear you’ll need, and some pressing questions you might have! By the end of this, you’ll wonder why you don’t just spend all of your time outside in a hammock. Maybe you’ll start. Up to you. 

Let’s get swinging, baby! 

Is a Hammock Good for Winter Camping?

Yes, of course! ...But, you have to be prepared. Winter is a cold season, and you need the right gear to handle it without a supportive and insulated 4-season tent. (If that sounds more your speed, check out our blog on how to insulate your tent for winter camping!) Normal humans can’t camp comfortably in under 30-40 degree F temperatures without the proper winter camping gear, much less hammocking in the winter. 

Staying warm in a hammock requires much more thought, preparation, and basic understanding of the winter hammock setup you’ll need. Luckily for you, I’ve got all of these things prepared in a handy-dandy step-by-step guide: 

How Do You Camp in a Hammock in Cold Weather?

Here are 4 simple steps to follow to ensure you sleep warm and comfortably in your hammock camping setup. Make sure you follow these steps to get the most out of your winter camping experience! 

Step 1: Choose Your Spot Wisely

If there’s any enemy to the hammock, it’s wind. Wind can turn your calm, relaxing cold weather camping experience into a hellish rocking nightmare that never ends. For this reason, you’ll want to…

  • Choose a spot with dense forest, or behind a boulder. Honestly, just try to find a spot to hang your portable hammock that gets the least amount of breeze. Not only will this keep you warm, it will prevent you from losing the heat you’re trying to retain in your little hammock-cocoon. 
  • Secure your hammock straps tightly. Even if you find a place with little wind, that doesn’t mean the wind won’t find you. That’s why you’re going to want hammock tree straps that don’t break or budge! Try these hammock straps - they’re reinforced with ripstop material, work with any hammock, and take less than a minute to set up. 
  • Dig the snow out from under your hammock. This will not only prevent snow from touching your back when your hammock lowers with your weight, it will also help you retain heat! 

Step 2: Get the Right Accessories

Now that you’ve chosen your spot, it’s time to get the right hammock gear that gets you through the night feeling comfy and cozy. Here’s a list of the basic equipment you’ll need while hammocking

  • A hammock (duh!). But not just a regular hammock. You can’t use just any hammock while you’re winter camping - a lot of them are not waterproof and won’t retain heat nearly as well. Look here for the best camping hammocks out there - from kids outdoor hammocks to hammocks for two 
  • A hammock underquilt. This is the #1 overlooked but required but overlooked thing on any winter camping enthusiast’s list. Underquilts retain heat way better than any normal hammock without one - all while being exceptionally comfortable and cozy. 
  • A cold weather sleeping bag. Get one with goose down or an alternative to make sure you stay insulated and ready to face the frosty elements around you. 
  • An outdoor blanket. Not only can you use this as a makeshift picnic blanket, but you can wrap it around you for extra protection and warmth! 
  • A tent footprint (for rain or snow). While these are amazing for heat retention in tents, you can also use this as a waterproof tarp that both captures heat and protects you from the wild weather you might be facing down. Weather while winter camping is unpredictable, so make sure you stay prepared! 
  • A waterproof bag. Protect your clothes, equipment, and valuables from that devilish bastard we call water while you’re having some serious winter fun. This one has tons of space, and is guaranteed to keep your stuff nice and dry! 
  • A waterproof phone case. How are you going to take pictures and show everyone what a badass thing you did if your phone gets too wet and breaks? This set includes a universal waterproof phone case that you can wear around your neck, as well as a fanny pack that can keep all your money/IDs dry. 

Step 3: Bundle Up

Time to get to the coziest part of this blog! You’re going to need more than just gear to make you feel like you’re sleeping on a cloud. Luckily, there are warm blankets for winter camping (and even portable pillows) to take with you on your hammocking journey. Here are some great suggestions: 

  • A camping blanket. This one is a must-have for those who need to know how to stay warm in a hammock on a budget.  It’s insulated, cozy, AND waterproof. All of that, in one lightweight package that’s easy to hike with and easier to carry. 
  • A portable pillow. These come in a couple different sizes and colors (for those who want aesthetically pleasing hammock accessories). They’re super easy to hike with (making them the perfect winter hiking gear), they’re made of memory foam, and they also retain heat so your noggin doesn’t get too uncomfortable on those cold, cold nights. 
  • The right clothes. Make sure you have a winter hat, waterproof gloves and socks, goggles and glasses (for sun protection), a buff or a scarf, a warm and breathable non-cotton base layer, an insulating windbreaker for a middle layer, a breathable and waterproof outer layer, and good quality snow boots. Don’t skip on any of this unless you don’t want to sleep warm

Step 4: Use Hot Water as a Heat Source

Our feet lose heat super quickly, and there are very few ways to keep them warm. One of the best ways to keep our feet (and hands) warm is with this super helpful trick. Here’s another method on how to stay warm while camping in a hammock

  • Boil some water, and fill a Nalgene bottle with it. These kinds of bottles retain heat super quickly, and maintain that temperature for a while. Boil some water over a fire and fill it up. Be careful not to burn yourself, as the surface will get hot quickly! 
  • Place it by your feet or under your hammock pillow before you go to sleep. This is one of the best ways to stay warm in your camping hammock without risking injury or dampness. It should retain its heat for at least a few hours - when you’re ready to reheat, just re-boil the water! 

FAQs

Can You Use a Regular Sleeping Bag in a Hammock?

Not in the winter. Unless you’re in a consistently hot climate, you’re going to need an actual sleeping pad or bag with insulated layers to protect you. You can’t just brave the elements with your regular sleeping bag from whatever summer camp your parents made you go to 12 years ago (as much as we wish you could). 

Is Sleeping in a Hammock Warmer Than the Ground?

No. That’s why you need the right gear to go hammocking in the winter! Don’t skip out on any of it, or you’re going to have a frozen back and maybe even catch a cold. If you have the right gear, though, winter camping in a hammock can be way more fun than camping in a tent! 

Do I Need a Mat Under My Sleeping Bag?

You don’t need it, but it can help! Getting as many layers in your hammock as possible can be great for insulation, comfort, and protection. Just make sure you get a big enough hammock to support all of your layers, blankets, and pillows! 

Final Thoughts

Once you know how to stay warm in a hammock, the sky’s the limit. So, now that you know what gear, clothes, and attitude you need, I say this to you: 

GET OUT THERE AND GET ADVENTURING! Don’t let this season’s icy hands stop you from seeing the best nature that our nation’s winter has to offer! 

Now go hang out (literally)! 

Contributing Writer: Aurora Detor





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