Cold weather hammock camping can still be fun. Wanna know how to stay warm at night in your hammock? I take it you also want to stay cozy, comfortable and creepy-crawly-free, too? In this article, I’m gonna show you how to do just that.
Because the last thing anyone wants to do is give up hammock camping just because they couldn’t get warm, right?
Camping hammocks are ace. They give you freedom, a fantastically comfy night’s rest under the night stars, and they keep you away from all the ugly bugs.
Plus, camping hammocks are also nice and light, which makes it super easy to travel from campsite to campsite. They’re hassle-free, and arguably the best way to chill out.
But the thing with camping is that, whether you’re sleeping in a hammock or a massive tent, how sweet your night’s sleep depends on a few variables. You can’t for example control the weather. If you’re sleeping in a hammock and things get chilly, it’s going to disturb your night’s rest.
Worse still is when you wake up with a bug on your face! As awesome as a hammock is, it can’t protect you from bugs by itself. It needs help.
So what do you do in the face of such variables?
Fortunately, there are answers. If all you want is the best night’s sleep ever in your hammock, let’s take a look at a few awesome ways to stay comfortable when hammock camping.
The 7 essentials for cold weather hammock camping
A Sleeping Pad
You can apply the same principle as you would to tent camping here. Basically, when you sleep in a tent, you just need to place a sleeping pad beneath your sleeping bag.
Air pads and foam will actually work in a hammock, but we recommend foam sleeping pads because they’re less expensive. They’re also more durable, which means they’ll last longer, saving you money in the long run.
The biggest disadvantage foam has when compared with an inflatable pad is usually comfort. But think about it: You’re sleeping in a hammock, so you’re already pretty damn comfortable. You’re not on the ground. You’re suspended in the air, gently rocking from side to side. As such, when it comes to purchasing a sleeping pad, your choice should not be determined by comfort, but by price and size instead.
There is one common problem, though: Lots of people report difficult when it comes to sleeping on top of their sleeping pad. Because of the nature of a hammock, the pad slides out of position whenever you move your body. My solution to this is to slip the hammock pad inside your bag. When you do this, you’re free to toss and turn as much as you want. The sleeping pad will not move out of position.
Another common complaint regarding sleeping pads is that only the underside of your body is kept warm. What you really need is a roomy hammock, such as this one from Dilly Outdoors, that doesn’t enclose you in. When you’re enclosed, your shoulders can get cold at night.
As well as purchasing a roomier hammock, you can also resolve the problem by adding wings to your hammock pads. These wings flare out at the dies, keeping your arms warmer.
A Reflective Blanket
Adding a reflective blanket beneath your sleeping bag reflects the heat back at you – which is ace. Reflective blankets are inexpensive, and if you want a ringing endorsement as to their quality and effectiveness, consider this: Marathon runners use them.
Outdoor enthusiasts just like yourself add reflective blankets to their kit because they’re lightweight and provide awesome heat retention. A reflective blanket is essentially a slender, plastic material which shields your body from the cold night air.
All you need to do is jump in your hammock, slip into your sleeping bag and wrap the reflective blanket around your whole body. If you’ve got enough of it, you can even put together a rain fly with it. The benefit of this is that you don’t get wet while staying nice and warm and comfortable.
A Sun Shade
This technique is very DIY, and it might be a bit of a long shot for some of you. But if you have an old sun shade from your car lying around, you can use it as a replacement for a sleeping pad. Alternatively, you could ask a pal if they have one you could use.
Although it’s not as protective as a proper sleeping bad (its layer is not as thick as foam), it still has a lining of reflective material that reflects ambient heat back onto your body – which is exactly what you want.
A car’s sun shade actually does a pretty stellar job, and won’t cost you a dollar if you already have one. The only problem is that the material does make a lot of noise, especially if you move around a lot in your hammock. Still, it’s only a minor concern.
A Good Spot
More common sense here: Choose your camping spot with good sense. Put your thinking cap on and think like a wise man would. The last thing you want is to give Old Man Wind a chance to really shake you up at night by pitching up in an exposed area.
For a warmer night’s sleep, set your hammock up in a dense area of woodland. Maybe even behind a boulder if possible. Natural windbreakers are your friend.
A sleeping bag
It’s common for a sleeping bag to have a pair of zippers. One is used to open and close the sleeping bag, while the other is to be found at the bottom of your bag.
You can open this base zipper a tiny bit – just enough to let the hammock run through it. Why? Because doing this you’re creating a sort of hammock-sleeping bag wrap where the hammock and yourself are actually inside the bag and all its insulating layers.
Basically, you’ll look and feel like a toasted burrito. Sweet!
You’ll get the benefits of both an under and top quilt.
Setup is a tad tricky, though, and it’s a bit of a pain if you’re camping alone. If possible, get someone to help you out (don’t wake them up, though!) because zipping it up by yourself once you’re inside isn’t easy. Moreover, you’ll find it hard to tighten the ends, too.
But the biggest obstacle is securely fastening the bag’s hood to your hammock.
This one is just basic common sense, but it’s not something we often think about when packing during the fairly warm day. So hot are we that we forget how cold things can get at night.
More than anything, though, it’s important that you always wear warm sleeping clothes. Hammocks expose you to the elements, and things can get decidedly nippy even inside your sleeping bag.
Be smart and take some warm sleeping clothes with you. You shouldn’t need to buy any new ones; just take what you’ve already got.
A Bug Net
If bugs really creep you out, I definitely advise that you buy and always pack a bug net.
Going hammock camping without a bug net is just a big fat No-No. It’s something you just don’t do. Mosquitos chomping away on your face all night while you dream? No, thanks.
If you don’t fancy packing a bug net, you can pick up a bug net face mask instead. But you gotta take something.