The winter is coming. Some people start to complain about the cold and want to stay inside, but why should you? A good night’s sleep in a hammock can be more comfortable than in an overheated house! You just need some extra equipment. This guide will show you what you need for safe and warm winter hammock camping and what mistakes to avoid.
Winter Hammock Camping Tips For Beginners
Here are a few things that you should know before going on your first winter hammock camping trip:
- The temperature rating of your sleeping bag is only valid for sleeping in a tent. A hammock is much colder since it has no insulation underneath you, so either use a winter bag or make sure your summer bag is rated at least -10°C
- When the surface below you freezes, avoid staying there for extended periods. The ice can eventually wear down your suspension system’s integrity by forcing it to bear the weight of your body.
- Winter hammocks are large, so you might have trouble finding room for your gear inside if you camp in cramped conditions. However, they offer unparalleled ventilation and comfort due to their large surfaces, so it’s a good idea to keep them even on cold nights.
- The snow packs down much more than rain, so you might feel like you’re sleeping on a hard surface, even if there’s snow underneath your equipment.
- If possible, choose a flat spot that is well sheltered from the wind and has few or no low-hanging branches that can interfere with your tarp.
- Put your shoes close to your body so they can warm up overnight. If necessary, you can put them under an insulation mat, but make sure you take them out now and then, or the sweat they produce will freeze inside them.
- If you don’t have a sleeping pad, you can use an insulation mat as one by laying it down under your hammock.
- Use the entire length of your tarp by hanging your gear bags on it. This will help retain heat inside the hammock system and keep you warmer if there is wind or snow. Equip the gear with additional insulation to keep it dry.
- You can insulate yourself from the cold surface of your hammock by using a foam pad or clothes, but be sure to change position every so often, so you don’t get uncomfortable. Don’t forget to pack away anything you might use during the night instead of just wearing it all the time.
- Make sure you pack away anything that might get soaked by sweat or snow. When you sleep in a static hammock, there is very little space inside to store your things, so they’ll likely stay under all the insulation and get wet when it’s cold outside.
- Don’t worry if you wake up several times during the night. This is perfectly normal even for experienced hikers during cold nights.
- Just like in the summertime, you might want to bring a few snacks with you on winter trips, so you don’t get hungry and thirsty at night.
- The trees should be at least two paces apart from each other, or else your suspension system won’t be able to shift correctly, and your hammock’s surface will be uneven.
- Avoid using broad trees as they can’t bear the stress of a winter hammock suspension system and might break. Also, avoid hanging your hammock near rocks or stumps since it can damage them with your suspension lines’ hardware.
- Keep in mind that if there’s snow on the ground, you won’t be able to drive your suspension lines’ stakes all the way in. Instead, you can use skis, snowshoes, or even ice axes, depending on how much weight you need to support.
- It is not necessary to get off of your winter hammock when it’s time for breakfast or lunch since you can reach your food bags from inside it.
- If you’re camping on a slope, put all of your heavy equipment as close to the foot end as possible so that it doesn’t pull down on the head section or shift around as much as it would if it were located elsewhere.
- This might sound like common sense, but always wear enough clothes and other protection items. If you don’t, the cold will take hold of your hammock, and your night won’t be as enjoyable as it could have been.
- Although the idea of sleeping in a hammock may seem more than strange at first, it’s actually very comfortable and safe if you know what to expect. Once you get used to it, there’s no better way of getting a good night’s sleep in the wilderness.
Winter Hammock Camping Gear List
Here is a quick summary of the items you should consider taking with you on a winter hammock camping trip.
- Waterproof and windproof tarp, with plenty of room for cooking underneath if necessary
- Stout suspension systems, such as whoopie slings or tree straps
- Sleeping pad if possible (closed-cell foam also works)
- A winter sleeping bag that keeps you warm at temperatures below -10°C. Most synthetic models are suitable to 0°C, but some need a long break-in period first.
- Warm clothes and lots of them! Wool is an excellent material for this purpose.
- Warm mid-layers, like fleece jackets and pants
- Gaiters (the snow gets deep in cold weather)
- Well insulated shoes, like mountaineering boots, for example. Make sure you wear enough insulation on your feet! Socks are not good enough since they take forever to dry out.
- A headlamp with extra batteries or a lantern for cooking in the dark
- A few tea bags and some good oatmeal. Nothing tastes better than hot tea after a cold day outside.
- Emergency equipment, like a map, compass, fire starter kit, etc
- Your favorite winter book or some good music to listen to.
Best hammock for winter camping
Most hammocks are not designed for winter camping. If possible, choose high-quality models that can hold up to your weight in cold temperatures without breaking the suspension system. Here is a list of winter-worthy hammocks:
- Crua Outdoors Koala 1 Person Outdoor Hammock – A great choice if you’re on the lookout for an inexpensive winter hammock. It holds up to 400 pounds and is made of ripstop nylon. Plus, it’s waterproof!
- OneTigris KOMPOUND Camping Hammock – An excellent choice for dedicated winter campers. The KOMPOUND is very comfortable and can handle temperatures down to 5°C without a sleeping pad.
- Hennessy Hammock Expedition Asym Zip – The Hennessy Expedition is an all-time classic in the hammock world. More suitable for warm weather, it offers enough insulation for colder environments when used with high-quality sleeping pads.
Best hammock underquilt – a must-have for winter camping!
One of the essential items in winter hammock camping is a good underquilt. This piece of gear prevents heat loss, holds you in place, insulates your backside from the cold ground, and even makes it impossible for snow to accumulate underneath you. Snow will always find its way through the wind, so an insulated sleeping pad is also helpful in this regard.
Winter camping with canopies is not recommended since the wind will blow underneath them, making it very difficult to set up a tarp on the outside of them. They are also harder to insulate due to their lack of structure.
It might be possible for some of you to use your summer hammocks without insulation, but this choice must be weighed against the extra weight you’ll carry. Even though it is possible to set up a hammock in winter without insulation, you will end up shivering all night long unless you’ve packed enough food and clothing to stay warm.
Using an underquilt (and having some good mid-layers) will make it possible for most of us to winter camp in comfort. It will also broaden the range of places where you can camp since most shelters are not insulated.
If you are an experienced winter hammock camper, then winter underquilts are essential gear.
- onewind Double Hammock Underquilt – Our recommended winter underquilt. It has an excellent weight/warmth ratio and is very versatile. This model can be used as a top quilt as well if you don’t need the extra insulation.
- OneTigris Shield Cradle Double Hammock Underquilt for Winter Hammock Camping – A winter camping hammock underquilt made from a high-quality water-resistant down. It is lightweight and warm enough to deal with temperatures as low as -5°C (23°F).
- Overmont Hammock Underquilt Insulation Filling Under Quilt for Hammocks – An inexpensive yet practical underquilt for winter hammocks.
Best hammock tarp – an absolute necessity for cold weather camping
A shelter is made to protect you from the wind, rain, and snow. A tarp doesn’t weigh much if you use a flat model (rather than one with many folds), but it can make all the difference when it comes to staying warm.
A high-quality hammock tarp is both windproof and waterproof. It is an investment in your comfort and safety, especially when it comes to winter camping! Don’t even think about using a cheap sheet of plastic for your shelter. It will collapse in the wind, leaving you exposed to cold gusts.
- onewind 12ft Large Hammock Tarp with Doors – Our recommended tarp for winter camping. It is large enough to protect 2 people or 3 hammocks, and it even comes with several loops on the inside that will help you tie your underquilts in place.
- FREE SOLDIER Waterproof Portable Tarp – Another great tarp for winter camping. It is made of a waterproof material, which will keep your hammock dry even in winter.
- Pro Venture Waterproof Hammock Rain Fly – An inexpensive choice that protects your hammock from water, snow, and wind. It is large enough for a double-layered hammock, and it comes with several pegs if you want to secure it down even better.
Hammock whoopie sling – for quick and easy hanging
If you’re planning to camp in a colder location, then the chances are that the trees (and even the ground) will be covered in deep snow all winter long. You can’t just wrap your hammock ropes around these objects since they’ll leave nasty marks.
A whoopie sling kit is one of the most versatile pieces of hammock gear you can own. It is used for hanging your tarp, underquilt, and even your hammock itself. You can attach anything to a whoopie sling without harming trees or rocks (and no messy ropes are digging into the snow).
- Notch T-Rex Whoopie Sling with 1 Large Ring – An excellent choice for most hammocks. It is quick to set up and won’t damage trees, thanks to the smooth ring.
- ROPE Logic Whoopie Sling Tenex 3/4″ – A solid and lightweight whoopie sling. It is a bit more expensive than other options, but it is also highly durable and easy to use.
- Notch X-Rigging Ring Tenex Whoopie Sling – A heavy-duty whoopie sling made especially for winter hammock camping. It is durable, weather-resistant, and won’t damage trees. It is also easy to set up in cold temperatures.
Hammock sleeping pad – extra insulation for a cold night’s sleep
A sleeping pad is a great way to increase your thermal comfort while camping in a hammock. It adds an extra layer of air between you and the cold ground, ensuring that your body heat doesn’t escape into the earth.
The most suitable choice is a winter camping hammock pad, which is 3-4 times thicker than a regular camping pad. It provides you with good insulation while weighing only a few pounds.
- KLYMIT STATIC V LUXE Sleeping Pad – A thick and hot winter camping hammock pad. It features 67 cells that offer a lot of insulation all along your body.
- Gear Doctors ApolloAir – An inexpensive but comfortable sleeping pad. It is thick and insulated enough to keep you warm in a hammock.
- KLYMIT Hammock V Sleeping Pad – The first air pad created specifically for hammocks of all kinds: it provides the Sleeper 180 degrees of insulation, lowering the amount of body heat lost.
- Hikenture Self Inflating Camping Mattress Pad – appropriate for all seasons, cold or hot weather. It is ideal for use in a hammock.
Outdoor headlamp – for a safe and easy nighttime hike
A flashlight may be bright enough to let you find your way in a dark forest, but it won’t be helpful when you need both of your hands. If there are some obstacles on the ground or if you want to set up camp before sunset, then a headlamp is the only thing that will let you see what’s in front of you and still be able to use your hands for other tasks.
- ENERGIZER LED Headlamp Flashlights – An excellent choice for most users. It is affordable, comfortable, and easy to use even with cold fingers.
- Coast XPH30R 1000 Lumen USB-C Rechargeable Dual Power Headlamp with Twist Focus Beam and Magnetic Base – A compact and powerful headlamp that comes with a rechargeable battery. It has three light modes, is extremely durable, and can be attached to almost anything thanks to its magnetized base.
- Princeton Tec Apex Pro LED Headlamp – A lightweight and comfortable headlamp with a large focus beam. It is exceptionally bright, waterproof, and uses energy-efficient LEDs to prolong the battery life.
- Nightstick XPP-5462GX X-Series Dual-Light Headlamp – A long-lasting headlamp with a powerful magnetic base. It is designed for professional and military use but can be used for camping too.
- Ledlenser H5R Core Rechargeable Headlamp – A quality headlamp made of durable and lightweight aluminum alloy. It is waterproof and comes with a rechargeable battery.
Winter Hammock Camping Tips
Some simple rules will keep you warm and safe in your hammock during the winter.
Use a good winter hammock
To keep your body heat inside a hammock, you mustn’t lose any of it from underneath you. A good winter hammock has some insulation built-in. If you already have a summer hammock or use, for example, a camping mat or couch to sleep on, put it underneath your sleeping bag. If you don’t want to spend money on a new one, use a thick fleece blanket instead.
Suspend your winter hammock correctly
Trees are great in summer, not in winter. Snow can collect on the branches and cause them to break. Also, the temperature underneath a tree is often colder than on open ground due to a lack of sunlight. It’s best to stay at least 1m above the ground (use multiple suspension lines) or sleep next to rocks, walls, or buildings.
Use a tarp to keep the wind and snow away
Hammocks are very breathable by design, so condensation is one of the biggest problems during winter hammock camping. The less cold air that comes into your hammock, the warmer you will sleep. A good tarp makes sure wind and snow don’t come underneath your hammock and deflect the wind, which can become a problem if there is no wind protection nearby.
Stay away from the moisture
Your breath contains a lot of water which can condensate on cold surfaces. If possible, brush off frost in the morning before you pack up your equipment. Always make sure you have a way to cook your food and have a clean place to do it. Otherwise, you might find yourself sleeping in a wet hammock!
Have some good insulation under you
Being 100% dependent on sleeping bags is not what you want in the middle of winter when they eventually lose their ability to keep you warm when wet or when it’s -20°C. A sleeping pad will not only warm up your hammock, but it will also make you more comfortable as well. To save space, you can even use a thick closed-cell foam (like the kind used in river kayaks). Air pads are also suitable for insulation, but they offer less stability than solid surfaces.
Wrap up and keep on sleeping
If you have a good winter hammock and some extra insulation on the bottom, there’s nothing you can’t do. You can even sleep outside when it is -30°C. Make sure your sleeping bag is rated for cold temperatures (most summer bags are not), and remember to cover everything that might be wet to insulate it.
There are some essential things to think about when winter hammock camping, but it’s just like any other outdoor trip once you have the right equipment. There’s no excuse not to go hammock camping during winter, and if anything, the scenery is even more beautiful when it’s covered in snow.