How to Hammock Camp in Colder Weather

Living in Texas, I don’t have too many opportunities to go camping in cold weather, and it sure is a treat. Despite popular belief, Texas does experience chilly temperatures in these winter months. I prefer hammock camping, and while my friends take nearly an hour to set up their ground tents, I’m equally as cozy in just minutes with my hammock camping set up. If you’re a skeptic that hammock camping in the cold doesn’t work, try these counter arguments out for size:

Will your back be cold?

If you’re going to be hammock camping in temperatures 60°F or lower, you’ll definitely need an underquilt. You’d think that plenty of layers on your underside in the hammock would work. However when insulated material is compressed, especially down, it loses its effectiveness. An underquilt is not compressed, and instead hangs underneath your hammock. It attaches to either end, and hugs the underside to block those bitter cold gusts of wind from getting to you.

Another alternative would be using a sleeping pad in your hammock. Some people don’t mind using their ground pad - however a regular sleeping pad can tend to shift around in your hammock, and therefore leaving cold spots. There are some pads designed for hammock camping, and a few great ones launching in 2019 (wink wink).

How many layers will I need to be warm?

Necessities: Top quilt and underquilt. Depending on how cold it is and what the temperature rating is on the gear you’re using, you may need to add more. Also important is what you wear. I’ve made the mistake of wearing sweatpants on top of leggings, and a t-shirt, sweatshirt, and down jacket all at the same time. I end up just shedding the clothes throughout the night. One layer of warm clothing will work fine without you sweating in the middle of the night. Oh, and don’t forget to keep your top and bottom toasty with a beanie and pair of wool socks.

Can you use a sleeping bag in a hammock?

You certainly can. Some people say it’s challenging to get in and out of it while laying in a hammock. I personally use my sleeping bag and liner in my hammock when the temperatures get down to 30° or less. Other than that, for ease of getting in and out of your hammock, use a top quilt. Operating just like a blanket in bed, a top quilt will lay on top of you, and pairs nicely with the underquilt to give you 360 warmth.

What if it’s windy or rainy - is it time to resort to the tent?

Don’t pack up just yet! There are weather shelters designed for hammock camping in such situations, like Kammok’s newest hammock weather shelter - the Kuhli Pro. I’ll never leave home to go cold weather camping without it. Not only does it shield you from the elements like your standard shelter, it has an aluminized interior that absorbs heat. And with the shape designed to shield a suspended hammock from every angle, it’s a win-win in all directions, rain or snow.

No matter where you sleep outside, whether it’s Texas or Alaska, I hope this helps you stay elevated in warmth next time those temperatures drop.

Words: Stephanie Derkowski