Thoughts on Hammocks

I know this has the potential to be controversial. I believe many people are passionate about and comfortable with hammocks. Please don’t take this as an attack; this is just my personal opinion. While hammocks may be right for you, I’ve simply determined them to be wrong for me.

Also, I wrote this last Friday on the last day of a week-long bike tour. I woke to a thunderstorm at 05:00 and it didn’t let up enough for me to move to the shelters until 08:30 or 09:00.

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Hammocks are great when all is perfect for them. To be honest, I say they’re great because others say that. I’ve never slept in one all night so I can’t really say they would be great for me. But the point is that I think they are just a pain when all is not perfect. Here’s what I don’t like about them.

First and foremost, you must have trees (or poles) or they’re no better than than a tiny little tent. That’s probably not a big deal in the eastern half of the U.S. On our 7 night bike tour, we only stayed in one place where it wasn’t possible to tie up a hammock and that was because the State Park did not allow attaching anything to the trees.

Second, I like having my important gear inside the tent with me; or at least in the vestibule. Maybe I’m neurotic, but I don’t like having my gear strewn all over the campsite; not even in a pile underneath a hammock. I like it close at hand; especially if the weather turns to crap.

Fourth, I like having the extra room of a two man tent. Yes, you don’t need that much room just to sleep. But having a place to change clothes is a nice thing. And being able to stretch out and watch a video on my iPad to wind down from the day and get sleepy is a nice thing. Ok. I guess you can do both of those in a hammock. But the room to move is a huge plus for me.

Fifth, some times the weather turns to crap… like right now. We’ve been waiting out a rain storm for 3.5 hours now. Would you rather wait out a storm cramped in a hammock? Or would you rather have room to move around, cook some breakfast in your vestibule, and blog-gripe about hammocks on your iPad? My mind is made up; I’ll never look longingly at another ENO One or Hennessy Asym again.

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