Hammock camping in the cold may sound like a chilly prospect, but when the proper steps are taken, hammocks can actually be quite warm.
However, in order to ensure that you stay toasty and don’t take any unnecessary risks, it’s a good idea to first learn as much as you can about hammock camping, and take into account a few helpful tips that will make the whole experience much more comfortable.
Line the Hammock
Whether the hammock is made of cotton, nylon, or any other material, there is generally only a thin layer of fabric between you and the outside air.
Because it’s not on the ground and air can flow all the way around it, a hammock can be much colder than camping in a sleeping bag.
For this reason, it’s a good idea to line the hammock in one way or another in order to trap heat and create a buffer between the warmth inside the hammock and the colder air outside.
There are several options available when it comes to lining a hammock. Some camping suppliers offer hammock pads, which are basically thick, soft pads that fit into the bottom of the hammock.
Otherwise, a regular sleeping bag pad can often be used. You can also layer a sleeping bag or sleeping bag liner into the hammock for extra warmth.
If you don’t have a sleeping bag pad or hammock pad, you can make your own. In a pinch, a folded-over blanket or quilt will add an extra layer at the bottom of the hammock, helping to insulate you from the cold and trap warmth in the hammock.
Use Hot Water Bottles
Because of how they’re strung above the ground, and because they’re so thin, hammocks lose warmth very quickly.
One of the best ways to ensure that you stay warm all night long is to add as much warmth as possible to the hammock before going to bed and then insulate the hammock to lock-in that warmth.
Hot water bottles are a great way to fill any open spaces in the hammock while also adding warmth.
You can use a camping hot water bottle or a hot water bottle designed specifically for sleeping bag use.
You can also create your own hot water bottle by filling any water bottle or thermos, designed to securely and safely hold hot liquids, with near-boiling water.
Hot water bottles can be placed at your feet or around the sides of the hammock. Be careful when handling them just after they’ve been heated or filled, as they can be very hot to the touch.
Choose Where You Set Up
When it comes to camping in the cold, where you set up your hammock is almost as important as how you insulate it. Trees or large rocks can create a natural windbreak.
When you’re not as exposed to the elements, particularly the wind, you’ll stay warmer through the night.
If there isn’t a natural windbreak nearby, or you feel like you could use a bit of extra protection, consider hanging a tarp vertically, either between two trees or two posts.
Make sure the tarp is angled to block your hammock from as much wind as possible.
Use a Tarp
Tarps can also come in handy in other ways when you’re camping in the cold in a hammock.
Wrapping a tarp securely around the bottom of the hammock can help to insulate the hammock, locking in warmth and adding an extra layer between the hammock’s fabric and the cold air.
You can also string a tarp above the hammock. This will help to protect you and your hammock from wind and any precipitation, such as snow, that might fall during the night.
Staying dry means staying warm, so this is essential for evenings when you’re not sure what the weather will do. Be sure to rig the tarp so that’s it’s not flat but rather has a peak in the middle.
This configuration will offer more of a shield from the wind and will also help to move water away from the hammock instead of allowing it to pool in the middle of the tarp.
Wearing several layers of clothing so as to stay as warm as possible during the night is a great idea when using a hammock in cold weather.
Wear soft, warm pants over a thinner pair of leggings, and layer sweaters or sweatshirts over your undershirt. You might also want to wear gloves and a hat when you go to bed.
If you remove any layers of clothing during the night, leave them in your hammock. This way, if you need them again in the night, they’ll still be warm when you put them on.
Layer Blankets and Pillows
An extra layer or two at the bottom of the sleeping bag will keep you warmer, but additional layers on top will make a big difference as well.
Layer sleeping bags, quilts, or blankets over yourself in the hammock to create a cozy cocoon.
You might also want to layer a few pillows in order to keep your head warmer and away from the cold air below the hammock.
Use a Hammock Sleeping Bag
Using a sleeping bag inside your hammock can keep you warmer, but what about one for outside of the hammock?
Special hammock sleeping bags are available, and they’re designed to wrap around the outside of your hammock.
This helps to insulate the hammock all the way around, locking in heat and blocking the cold and wind.
Prep for the Evening
Before heading to bed in your hammock, make sure you’re ready for the evening. Ensure that all of your clothing and bedding, as well as the hammock itself, are dry and any snow has been shaken away.
Keeping everything dry is essential when it comes to staying warm.
In very cold temperatures, you may want to generate a little extra warmth by making sure your body is warm before you go to bed.
Do some light exercises to warm up your muscles and generate heat before climbing into the hammock.
Make sure that you use the bathroom before going to bed. This will ensure that you don’t have to leave the warmth of the hammock in the middle of the night.
An empty bladder will also help you retain more warmth in the cold, as your body won’t have to work to keep urine warm.
Set Your Limits
Hammock camping in cold weather can be an exciting adventure, but make sure that you never push yourself beyond your limits.
Gradually work up to hammock camping in colder weather, and if temperatures drop below freezing, consider changing up your camping style or saving your trip for a slightly warmer time.