Winter hammock camping: a guide to how to stay warm and cozy
Just because it’s wintertime, it doesn’t mean that hammock camping is over for the season, quite the opposite actually! Winter hammock camping is not only an amazing experience, but also one of the most adventurous types of camping.
All you need to know are a bit of tricks and tips for winter hammock camping and how to stay cozy and warm. Look at the bright side: you certainly won’t be having mosquitos all over you.
Said so, let’s find out about the beauty of winter hammock camping and some tips to make it great.
How to stay warm while hammock camping in winter
Underquilts & co.
An underquilt can be a true savior when it comes to hammock camping in cold weather conditions and it most definitely is one of hangers’ favorite options when it comes to it. However, underquilts are not the only solution, so let’s explore them all one by one.
Underquilts are made specifically for hammocks and they are the bestest when it comes to insulating them. Besides keeping you warm, they will also make a wind barrier when hung beneath the hammock, keeping you even cozier.
There are many different kinds of underquilts you can choose from. According to the kind of hammock you have, you can pick the perfect solution for you.
How to set up an underquilt? It’s actually very easy. All you have to do is to place it underneath your hammock, a bit like a shell, and then adjust it depending on to the kind of hammock you have. Your hammock will become a magical cocoon against the cold and the wind.
The reason why an underquilt works so well is that it doesn’t allow insulation to be compressed by the hammocker. Indeed, when the camper is inside its hammock, they won’t compress the insulation like in the case of a sleeping bag. The underquilt will stay at the same distance from the hammock and it will move together with the hanger.
Underquilts are incredibly lightweight and a great solution for hammock insulation.
If you want to increase insulation even more (or if you are looking for an alternative), then a self-inflating pad might help. Some of them are made of insulating material, which will increase even more the result - and let’s not forget that air is a great insulator too.
The underquilt + self-inflating pad solution is the perfect match when it comes to winter hammock camping, creating the ultimate outdoor bed. The longer and wider the pad, the more insulation it will provide. We are not talking about pads made specifically for hammock camping: any self-inflating camping mat will be a good option.
However, if the sleeping mat is your only solution when it comes to insulation, then make sure to always bring with you a repair kit: you don’t want to end up with a pierced mat right in the middle of a cold night.
What about CCF pads instead? The answer is easy: they are thinner, therefore they’ll provide a thinner barrier. Also, they don’t help to keep the hammock dry, which can be quite unpleasant, especially in winter. So our suggestion is to use it unless you really have no other option.
If you want to use something similar, but much more useful, then make your own mat by reusing insulating materials such as the insulating/sun reflecting shades used for car windows and vans. They will certainly insulate you much better than a CCF camping mat.
Last but not least, sleeping bags. These are quite popular and good solutions for insulating your hammock. Some hangers also use them as underquilts, which they don’t equal, but they are cheaper. However, as we said a few paragraphs before, they don’t make a great choice for insulation. Indeed, they compress it, reducing the capacity of the sleeping bag to keep you warm.
So one solution could be to not sleep with your sleeping bag around you, but to actually use it more like a blanket, together with a self-inflating pad and an underquilt, so that it will keep you warm without compressing the insulation.
Of course, when choosing the sleeping bag, make sure to get one that will resist extremely low temperatures, with a good hood to close around your face and protect you even more from the cold.
Needless to say that you won’t be able to sleep in just your underwear. You will have to be ready to face the cold properly, also considering the fact that you won’t be moving around and that your body temperature will drop while sleeping.
Thermal underwear is a real must, as well as a good hat and a neck warmer. We suggest to also wear a fleece jumper and possibly a pair of warm sweatpants. Socks should not be missing from your feet and in general make sure to cover yourself properly: if you feel cold, don’t hesitate to put on an extra layer.
Little tip: when you take off a clothing item to enter your hammock bed, but you know you will be wearing it the following day, then keep it in the sleeping bag with you. It will stay warm and it won’t be a freezing shock to wear it in the morning.
Luckily or not, wintertime also means snowy weather, or rain. And of course no one wants to get up in the morning soaked in cold water (actually, can you even sleep when it rains or snows on you?).
A hammock tarp is really what you need to protect yourself from bad weather conditions and also to keep the humidity away from your hammock. In general, it really is an extremely useful piece of gear when it comes to hammock camping in pretty much all seasons.
Pick the perfect spot
Every good hanger knows that the spot where you hang your hammock really makes a great difference and can make it or break it in certain conditions, especially when these conditions are more extreme than usual, i.e. cold weather and winter.
Avoid humid places, as well as places where snow might fall on you during the night. Of course, if you have a hammock tarp this would probably be less of a problem. At the same time, you want to pick a spot that is near a windbreaker, which will protect you from cold, winter winds.
This is probably going to be a harder task during this season, but it will truly pay off when it comes to bedtime.
Enjoy that warm water bottle
During the winter nights, your reusable water bottle can become a great water bag to warm up your nights inside the hammock. Before going to sleep, boil some water and pour it in the bottle, so that it will help you to warm up as soon as you enter the “cold” hammock.
Also, when you get up in the morning you can either reheat the water to make some tea or coffee, or you can use it as drinking water, so you won’t waste it.
Sleeping in the cold is not something that anyone can do. Also, it’s something you really should be ready to do and have all the right gear for it, or you might end up heavily sick, if not worst. Don’t be approximate with what you have and what you need. Don’t underestimate weather conditions and never overestimate your technique.
Make sure you know how to behave and how to stay warm. If you never went hammock camping in winter before, then give it a try in your backyard first. Set up the hammock and behave as if you were out in the woods.
In this occasion, you also have to cook and eat outside and then go straight to bed without entering the house for any reason, not even to go to the toilet. This is because when outdoors you won’t have the chance to warm up inside a room: everything will take place outside and you will be going to bed after a day outdoors, which will have already affected your body temperature by the time you will be going to sleep.