Deciding Between A Tent, Tarp, and Hammock.

1:32 p.m. on January 31, 2013 (EST)
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I'm putting together my gear for a thru-hike of the AT next year, and I'm stuck between what kind of shelter I should get.

I've heard a lot of good stuff about hammock camping, but I think I may want to stick with something closer to a tent. Something like the tarp/tent hexamid from ZPacks looks good.

How do you decide which kind of shelter to chose for a longer trip?

5:09 p.m. on January 31, 2013 (EST)
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I usually use my free standing tent for all long hikes as its more versital for everything.

8:18 p.m. on January 31, 2013 (EST)
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I went hammock and never looked back. Hands down the best choice I ever made.

10:51 p.m. on January 31, 2013 (EST)
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Just need to decide what will give you the best protection or use for your money and the weight.  I'm trying to shave some weight, debating the Hexamid too, MLD Patrol or a myog tarp.  I just bought a Borah cuben/netting 4.3oz. bivy at a discounted price, so I'm commited to a tarp or something simple now to replace my TT floorless Squall at 1.5 lbs.  Cuben material is $26 a yard at ZPacks for the weight they use in their tarps, best price for the tape to seal is with another supplier.  I can save some money buying the cuben and making a tarp myself, then applying some tie outs on it.  I may not save much weight over just buying a solo Hexamid with netting and a beak, but it will be a little cheaper.

Duane

6:17 a.m. on February 1, 2013 (EST)
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I use both regularly, keeping in mind, you could stay in a shelter if bad weather rolls in, I would go with my hammock. Make sure you get a big enough tarp so that you can have a front porch. If you get caught away from a shelter and its pouring for a couple of days, you will def want enough room to move around and cook under cover. 9 by 9 would be the minimum sixe I would consider, I would prob take something bigger. A bigger tarp doesnt weigh much more than the smaller one, you will be glad you carried those couple more ounces of tarp before its over, I almost guarentee it.

6:52 a.m. on February 1, 2013 (EST)
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I am going to open the can'o worms again...

Tent- can pretty much pitch anywhere that offers a spot large enough for a footprint. Can also handle harsh weather(model dependent of course.)

Tarp- offers adequate protection but I personally would not want to be in one during the seasons when the white stuff is falling from above and if you wreck one of your trekking poles(and utilize them for your shelter)which can happen quite easily you might have to play MacGyver to get your shelter up. 

Hammock- Your home is in the trees. No pitching on balds, or slabs of rock being trees are part of your pitching system.

I remember many saying to me as well as many other threads that a solo tent would suck to be stuck in during a long drawn out storm or consecutive zero days. 

Even though it doesn't really bother me much(my Soulo isn't all that cramped) I would think that being stuck in a hammock would have the same effect... Maybe even more so.

...oh and before someone jumps in and screams "Tarptent" I personally do not classify this as a "tarp."

Just my .02.

8:18 a.m. on February 1, 2013 (EST)
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Rick, I agree with all your points completely. But he is talking about the at, lots of shelters and mostly lots of trees. He doesnt mention what season, I was assuming the typical summer hike of the at. In any other situation, I would prob go with a tent, but with all the available shelter and support on the at, I would go hammock. I generally sleep better in my hammock, thinking about the length of his trip I think that is a major factor. I often carry both, a small pup style tent with an oversize ground sheet, and a small hammock. I use the over size ground sheet to cover any gear that wont fit in my tent or as a tarp to keep the dew off me. I can carry both and my shelter is still lighter than my four season tent. With a hammock if you do end up in a shelter, you can prob get up in the air and out of the funk and mouse traffic. Some of those shelters are pretty rank espescially late in the season.

8:46 a.m. on February 1, 2013 (EST)
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Dependent upon season there may be quite a few others on the trail as well. Some of which one may not want to share a shelter with.

I for that very reason do not use shelters.

I also do not want to wake up to find out that my gear was part of a swap meet that I wasn't aware of.

9:01 a.m. on February 1, 2013 (EST)
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Yea, shelters arent my first choice. I have had to spend a few nights in them tho, some are better than others. I sleep way too light for anyone to mess with my gear, so that isnt a concern for me. I have had a couple of situations in shelters that made me nervous, but for the most part I have had good experiences. In my experience, the hikers on the at are a pretty friendly community, more so than any other place ive hiked. I frequently do small sections or even hike in and out the same way to camp near a shelter to meet and hear about at adventures. It might have something to do with all the food I hump in to give away, but I have yet to meet any truly mean or aggressive people. I generally hike to the second shelter to get away from any people just out there to party, they are usually the only people I avoid.

10:51 a.m. on February 1, 2013 (EST)
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I do actually have a nice 3-season tent already, but it's not lightweight at all or very packable. I've had some decent experiences in shelters so far, but as hotdogman was saying I may very well end up with a hammock simply because if I do need more shelter there are plenty along the trail. I don't doubt that there will be at least a few unsavory characters on the trail, but I don't think that will stop me from using a shelter in bad weather.

12:48 p.m. on February 1, 2013 (EST)
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Unfortunately, when bad weather hits, the shelters are usually packed. I think thats the general idea most people have, its never been a prob for me tho.

2:45 p.m. on February 1, 2013 (EST)
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James,

This may be something that you should look into.

http://www.seatosummit.com/products/display/161

8:43 p.m. on February 1, 2013 (EST)
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I would start asking on whiteblaze.net, which is an AT forum, hammockforums.net, BPL (backpackinglight.com) and TLB (backpacking.net).

There is a thread on TLB about using a hammock on the AT. Apparently you can't use them in the shelters all the time, depending on how crowded they are.

12:58 a.m. on February 2, 2013 (EST)
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I'm for a tent all the way. You can set it up anywhere where a hammock is limited in that respect. I've tried tarp camping and they just can't protect you like a tent when the elements get nasty. I spent a couple of the worst nights of my life when I went on a 18 day trip across Michigan's UP. Storms came, water flowed, and I didn't dry out for days. And yes I set it up right. If you are thru hiking the AT you are sure to weather at least a couple stormy nights. I prefer tents to bivvy sacks because you can hang your light inside and curl up with a book. There's room for your gear if the weather is wicked. It is a place to hang out if you decide to take a rest day. There are so many featherweight tents out there that would work great.

9:30 a.m. on February 2, 2013 (EST)
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Hi James - I started the AT with a tent, got enamored with a hammock, used it for a few months, then ended up with a tarp, which I've kept. One nice thing about hammocks is that some of them can be pitched on the ground easily.  If you discover you don't liking "hanging" you can switch to tarp camping.

6:34 p.m. on February 2, 2013 (EST)
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The best thing about a tarp and hammock combo, is in fact you CAN set up anywhere that there are trees. So yes you can't set up on a bald, or open grass lands, but thats about it. You can hammock every night on the AT if you want to, its not too difficult as 95%+ has trees available. The only place where you might have an issue if you don't plan your day right is in the Whites.

The only thing i care about for site selection is trees, i don't care whats on the ground. Rocks, water, mud, brush, level, not level, side of a hill,  it doesn't matter because i can set up over it in my hammock.

Using a proper tarp for the season with a hammock offers 100% protection. I have been in some nasty weather, and have never once had a single issue.

Just last night I hiked in to do an overnighter and where i set up had a huge boulder under me that i used as a table, bunch of snow and a slab of ice, and some mountain laurel. I didn't think twice about setting up there, because its a non issue. However, in that same area with a tent, especially in the dark one would be searching easily for 20 minutes trying to find a decent spot.

Every type of shelter has its benefits, and I agree a tarp may not be the most "sturdy" shelter. But it will in fact keep you dry in all conditions if you set it up right. If your sleeping on the ground in a tarp then site selection is just as important with a tent. But with a tarp and hammock its as easy as finding 2 trees between 9 and 16ft apart, which usually has me looking for trees for about 2-3 minutes on average.

If your smart you keep your pack hanging on your hammock or tarp suspension, and so its off the ground and under your tarp, so unless your tarp blows away your gear and your hammock stay dry. Your tarp doesn't even have to be pitched all the way to the ground, because the hammock is raised up and the eves of the tarp give you lots of protecton from the worst weather mother nature can throw at you on most occassions. A river can be flowing under you and your still good to go.

Tents and tarps alone are great and all, just not my cup of tea. I just hate seeing people say that such and such a shelter wont work because of X. They can all be used pretty much anywhere under the same conditions with few extreme weather or terrain exceptions.

A tarp can handle snow loads just fine, they can handle wind, and blowing rain/snow. While they may not be as sturdy as a 4 season mountaineering tent, it only takes about 1  second to slap the tarp and all of the snow slides off.

It was about 9F last night, 20mph winds, and about 3in of snow fell and somehow i survived in perfect comfort in my hammock. And I didn't even bother to put up my tarp last night (i love my m90 hammock sock!).

It doesn't matter which shelter option you go with, the deciding factor in how well it will perform is site selection. Tarp, hammock, tent, or a combination of them will all fail on you in your site selection is poor. You can have a river flow through your tent or tarp. You can have a widow maker come crassing down on your hammock. Site selection is the key.

10:37 a.m. on February 4, 2013 (EST)
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TheRambler said:

The best thing about a tarp and hammock combo, is in fact you CAN set up anywhere that there are trees. So yes you can't set up on a bald, or open grass lands, but thats about it.  

Actually, quite a few other areas come to mind such as deserts, the Bad Lands, the Grand Canyon, so on and so forth...

Yes, on the AT the op should not have much trouble finding trees lol. 

At the same time this is not the case for all of the continental US nor the rest of the world. There are many areas that do not have trees. The above I posted are just a few.

I just hate seeing people say that such and such a shelter wont work because of X.

Why? Because we are pointing out a substantial characteristic of the shelter type? So what would you rather we do? Not point out the shortcomings of different types of gear and let the op find out on their own?

Kinda defeats the purpose of having threads like this don't ya think? What works for me or works for you is not the end all be all for everyone. Individual opinions matter. Stating you "hate" something is... well, let's just say that is a pretty strong statement. 

A tarp can handle snow loads just fine, they can handle wind, and blowing rain/snow. While they may not be as sturdy as a 4 season mountaineering tent, it only takes about 1  second to slap the tarp and all of the snow slides off.

I don't know about you but I do not feel like being concerned with monitoring the snow loads that are accumulating on my shelter at night. If I have to do that then it means I am getting less sleep. If I am getting less sleep then that means tomorrow's slog is just gonna be a bit harder than it needs to be. 

It doesn't matter which shelter option you go with, the deciding factor in how well it will perform is site selection. Tarp, hammock, tent, or a combination of them will all fail on you in your site selection is poor.

I think it is safe to say that there is a bit more to it than just site selection. Mother Nature could care less of your experience level or site selection. 

You could have the best site on the planet and the weather can change all of that in a hurry. 

Horizontal rain & high, shifting winds come to mind... as well as gear failures(ie. shredded shelter.)

You can have a river flow through your tent or tarp. You can have a widow maker come crassing down on your hammock. Site selection is the key.

I have been in this scenario but if you have quality tent with a bathtub floor(properly sealed,) you should be okay.

Mind you what I experienced was not a "river" as you so refer to it but was due to alot of non-stop rain and the ground(flat) I was pitched on could not suck it up as fast as it was coming down. 

When I climbed out of my tent the water in my vesti area was over the toe of my boots just to give you an idea.

Me as well as my gear were dry.

On the widow maker thing...

I had one crash down on my tent years back. I can honestly say that if I were in the tent at the time I would not be here today. 

Yes alot of it had to do with poor site selection but alot also had to do with pitching at night and not being able to truly see what was above me. 

...very high above me. 

On a side note speaking about the AT has anyone seen the movie "Southbounders?"

 

10:28 p.m. on February 4, 2013 (EST)
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It's actually quite easy to setup in areas like the Grand Canyon or badlands etc, you don't have to have 2 trees specifically, just 2 anchor points. Rocks work just as good as trees. I have hung from rocks several times. You can expand your options with some cams as well.

Rick, if your going to quote me at least use it in context to what I was speaking about. I was not referring to someone listing pros or cons about a shelter type. More so about making statements about a shelter type that are very one sided and not entirely true. One persons bad experience with a shelter type doesn't mean said shelter is worthless. Individual opinions do matter, but an opinion is just that, and not a fact. It seems to be a general assumption that a tarp can not be used in very harsh conditions, but in actuality with a little foresight and planning they are perfectly fine.

Tarps are so slick and pitched at such an angle that snow rarely accumulates very much. A tent is typically a mellowed angle and accumulations will be a little higher. But like u said in the event you do need to address the issue a quick slap of the side takes care of it and your back to sleep. I sleep just fine and very rarely have to worry about it. I do slap the tarp in the morning though. You don't really have to worry about a tarp breaking from snow load because there is nothing rigid like a tent pole to break. The tarp just sags and stretches the guy lines(why you should use self line tensioners )Snow load and a tarp is really a very minimal issue. Unless it is truely a very massive amount of snowfall, in which case even most tents would need to be cleared off every so often as well.

Well barring the ever so rare "act of god" event, really the most important thing is site selection. Site selection will eliminate or greatly reduce or help mitigate a large variety of factors/conditions.

So you have experienced the river and made it through. See that is one of my points, if you were in a hammock under a tarp in that same spot you would have been fine as well.

My main point here is to choose a shelter option that best fits you, your style, the most comfortable etc. As long as it works for you, you can almost always find a way to make any type of shelter work in any conditions with enough foresight, planning, and experience. Please note I said type of shelter and not a specific model. I only carry a 4 season tarp for example, but someone carrying a smaller minimal coverage one can only do so much with it no matter what. Whereas with a 4 season tarp you can basically do anything that someone with a tent can do within reason. Same principal with a lightweight 3 season tent and a 4 season mountaineering tent. Big difference being that a 4 season tarp is only a few oz heavier than a 3 season tarp vice a 4 season tent being usually lbs heavier than a lightweight 3 season one.

Southbounders is a decent flick, saw it on Netflix a few months back.

11:30 p.m. on February 4, 2013 (EST)
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Uggghhhh... Ya kinda missed my point. It was basically the same one ya made with your last post.

Maybe I didn't convey my message correctly.

N/m.

4:52 a.m. on February 5, 2013 (EST)
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Maybe im weird, but I like tarps better in the winter. I guess the bugs and liking my fire are the reasons. Ive got a couple of nice tarps for my hammock, but I use a big poly tarp in the winter. I dont care if the fire pops and puts little holes in it, plus its square,or a rectangle. My hammock tarps are cut for a ridgeline, not a lean to. I can fold my tarp under me and my gear and stay dry in any weather conditions. I have set up tarps for years, for someone with less tarp experience might have more issues and less pitching options. A tent will always be easier, espescially on older, well traveled trails. People have camped at the flat spots for hundreds of years, long before hammocks or ul camping. Easier, not lighter, a hammock and tarp can be very light, and very easy as well. Once you have used your hammock a few times, lookin for a spot becomes second nature, just the way ground sleepers evaluate tent spots. This is just my opinion, I use tents, tarps and hammocks. Its about the old saying " havin the right tool for the job" for me, they all have their place. I still vote hammock and tarp for the at, during the normal at season. Not a hammock cut tarp, a rectangle, with lots of coverage. The tarps cut for a hammock are great, for a hammock. If you have to go to the ground for any reason a more traditional tarp is easier to deal with, in my opinion. Depending on his pace he might want a tent for the last leg, really nice to get away from those black flies in maine. I can deal with mosquitoes, bug spray works, those black flies just dont care. Most people have some support on that hike, lots do gear shuffles, he should be as light as possible at the beginning, again, my opinion.

5:28 p.m. on February 18, 2013 (EST)
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May I give this discussion a new perspective with my recent thoughts ? I like hammocking but without trees you might wish you brought a tent instead. Wouldn't it be nice to have the best of both words ? I saw a guy in Finland using a MLD Trailstar as a tarp for his hammock. Although quite lyric about it the pics weren't exactly convincing me. I also thought about which tarp could be the THE tarp for my hammock as well as serve as a tarptent if need be (and use my hammock as a bivy sack with bug netting). I was wondering whether the Patrol by MLD might be the right candidate but it is hard to figure it out. Any thoughts on this or other suggestions? Hermit

9:38 p.m. on February 18, 2013 (EST)
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Darn near any tarp can be pitched in a ground configuration as well as an elevated one for hammock use. My Superfly tarp is essentially a big A frame tent with doors on the ends.

I have yet to have the no tree situation if evn a little planning goes into my trips. I have practiced seting up using rocks as anchor points too, which does work well with a little practice and ingenuity.

10:30 a.m. on February 19, 2013 (EST)
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Thats what I like about the hammock,tarp combo, its versatility. You can hang or pitch the tarp on the ground. Lets see you tent guys sleep in your tent, hangin from a tree.

6:22 p.m. on February 19, 2013 (EST)
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hotdogman said:

Thats what I like about the hammock,tarp combo, its versatility. You can hang or pitch the tarp on the ground. Lets see you tent guys sleep in your tent, hangin from a tree.

Well, I have yet to see(or hear about for that matter) of a hammock pitched on a summit push but I would like to see 24hr footage of one pitched at a high camp on lets say..... oh Everest or maybe even Rainier for that matter. I suppose one could be used in the Arctic. Ummm, nope, nix that one. Salt Flats/barren desert?

You get the picture. ;)

Tent on the other hand....

Well, it can pretty much be pitched wherever w/o limitation as long as it is used within the scope for which it was designed. 

I can pitch my Hille inner only(standard fabric or optional mesh) with a Hille tarp(or other tarp) no problem.

Or I can always opt for the Mesh Box or Mesh Ridge as seen courtesy of the link below....

http://www.hilleberg.com/home/products/shelter.php 

Also keep in mind another well known phenomenon that occurs here regularly.

Up-rooted trees. Large, small, medium? It doesn't matter. I clear these blasted things off the trail all the time. I've had them fall within 100yds of me in high winds and can be quite nerve racking at night. 

I typically pitch around large enough rocks(most of the time) so I don't have to worry much about them smashing me like a gnat on a windshield. 

Out of curiosity, has anyone ever heard of a hammock being attached to a tree that was up-rooted?

Not really being a smarta$$ but this is something I have wondered about for quite sometime.

Trust me, there is a reason I carry an axe and a saw on my pack. As a trail maintainer/ridge runner I sometimes find my hands full with dropped monsters. 

8:15 p.m. on February 19, 2013 (EST)
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James, maybe my wife and I may see you on the AT next year!

I could never sleep in a hammock, and of course I like to sleep with my wife so they are right out for me. 

'Bout the only hammock advice I got is to try a cheap one ( or borrow one ) before you drop a pile of coin on an expensive one. Some folks think they are the best things since sliced bread, and some folks just don't sleep well in 'em.

My wife and I will probably take a Tartptent Rainshadow 2, a big three man non-freestanding single wall tarp tent. Nice and big and compfy and only about 2-1/2 pounds, lots of room inside for all our gear. Seems like a good shelter for a couple to spend the summer on the trail in.

Eh, we would probably never, ever, not once sleep in a shelter because we'd rather be alone in the woods.

Ya might wanna take a look at the tarptent web site, lots of great shelters there. We also have a Tarptent Squall 2 which is an identical tent only smaller. It works for two but is great form one feller.  At two pounds its what I'd probably take on a solo hike - Or maybe just a tarp because I also like tarps -

Whatever ya pick I'm sure you'll do fine.

  

  

10:12 a.m. on February 20, 2013 (EST)
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Rick, I have two probs with what you said, first were talkin about the at, second if everyone could afford a hille or two maybe we would be more tent only as well. I wouldnt recommend taking a hammock any of the places you mentioned, but for the at it makes sense. An inferior tent is heavy and more prone to fail than your great tents. With cost and versatility in mind a hille prob isnt his best bet, if he has no budget or a high budget, then how could he go wrong with a hille.

11:34 a.m. on February 20, 2013 (EST)
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I wanted to say something about the shelters on the at. I think they and shelters in general get a bad rap. I dont stay in them often, but I camp close to them all the time. I like the idea of it being there, some are nasty, some are real nasty. If you camp near one, most have tent sites around them, the people that do stay there have great stories. Sitting around a fire with new friends is a part of hiking/camping that you will miss if you stay alone all the time. I go on solo trips too, away from everybody and everything. Shelters are a gathering place on the trail, also a place to go if your gear is lost or damaged, plus the logs can be entertaining. I highly recommend staying near one on the at, the water is close to them and people come by often, if help is needed. Mostly its the stories and info about trail conditions that I like about shelter dwelling. Yea, ive had mice buggin me all night, but the torrential rains and heavy winds could have been worse. For anyone hikin the at, take a few mouse traps, they weigh next to nothing and are worth their weight in gold in some shelters. I have seen a guy catch so many mice it was unbelievable. You can use live catch traps if you are against killing vermin. Most people who use them set them up on arrival, and by bed time the mouse population is either scared or eliminated.

12:08 p.m. on February 20, 2013 (EST)
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I use a self supporting tent which when the weather is nice (no rain or bugs) I use the rain fly alone without carrying the tent. The ends of the poles fit into the edges of the fly where the stakes go holding it up. Then I use a tarp underneath for a floor, reducing the weight down to about 1 1/2 lbs from 5 lbs with the tent/rain fly and tarp.

I always carry the tarp 8x4 ft as sometimes I sleep without the fly or tent if carrying both and just sleep on top of the tarp. And/or use the tar as a ground cloth and pull it over my sleeping bag if a unexpected rain or snow shower comes through. 

I have never had a hammock but guess if you sleep where there are two tree's together they could be nice. I often am out on open slick rock/stone (utah) where there are few trees. That's why I like the self supporting tent as I am often on rock or sandstone where stakes would not work, sometimes I can use rocks and stones if they are available to hold the tent down in high winds.

Bivy bags are nice too if you don't want the inner space of a tent or use a tarp. It just covers your sleeping bag tho some have a lil extra head room with a wand pole holding a fly above your head area. I used to have a Gore-Tex one 30 years ago.

4:56 p.m. on February 20, 2013 (EST)
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hotdogman said:

Rick, I have two probs with what you said, first were talkin about the at,

I understand that as far as the op goes but at the same time I was referencing your "versatility" comment in regards to hammocks in general that one should keep in mind when making a purchase of a hammock. Their versatility is solely dependent upon terrain. So with that being said if the op is going to hike the AT or areas like the AT in regards to features then a hammock will do just fine. Anywhere else and one may find them self up a creek...

second if everyone could afford a hille or two maybe we would be more tent only as well.

So lets say the OP wants to take a trip or trips somewhere down the road that isn't hammock friendly...

They may find that they end up purchasing a tent anyway for these trips. so if one is on a budget this would be harder on the old piggy bank than buying a tent in the first place. 

I referenced the Hille because that/these is/are my "go-to" tent(s) at the moment. I have also owned Big Agnes, Eurekas, TNFs, SDs, MHs, and a whole slew of other tents. Some were good, some were total crap.

Nevertheless... 

It is really not that hard to find a bomber of a tent if one keeps a lookout on sites such as Craig's list, Steep & Cheap, Gear Trade, etc. 

(as an example here is a $370 Nemo & footprint that sold for $200:)

http://www.geartrade.com/item/302706/nemo-losi-2p 

There is also a SMD Lunar Duo lightly used for $210:

http://www.geartrade.com/item/302675/lunar-duo-ultralight-explorer-2-person-tent 

Bomb Shelters?

Mountain Hardwear Trango 2 for $320 NEW and retails for $590:

http://www.geartrade.com/item/299748/mountain-hardwear-trango-2

This was just from a quick search on Gear Trade.

It isn't what you buy it is how WISELY you buy. 

One doesn't have to have deep pockets...

Sometimes it just takes patience and one can snag up a bomber tent at a serious savings. 

The BA Copper Spur 1 that I owned and paid $350 for was recently being sold for a little over $200 out the door because it was last years design. 

I wouldnt recommend taking a hammock any of the places you mentioned, but for the at it makes sense. An inferior tent is heavy and more prone to fail than your great tents. With cost and versatility in mind a hille prob isnt his best bet, if he has no budget or a high budget, then how could he go wrong with a hille.

I think you should take a better look at the Mesh Box & Mesh Ridge w/Tarp setup I mentioned and linked a bit closer. 

They are designed to be used with tarps. 

Mesh Ridge:

http://www.hilleberg.com/home/products/mesh/meshridge.php 

Mesh Box:

http://www.hilleberg.com/home/products/mesh/meshbox.php

7:04 p.m. on February 20, 2013 (EST)
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Your right, those are cool. I didnt see any price listed, do you know how much they are? I was being pretty at specific when I recommended a hammock. He can try a hammock, tarp combo for well under a hundred bucks, then sell it for more than half of that. If he shopped online he could be in a decent set up for fifty bucks. Lots of starter hammocks for thirty bucks on ebay, lots of diy plans online too. Im not against tents in any way, I just sleep better, on longer hikes in my hammock. On the at the campsites will be everywhere, of course not on balds, but almost everywhere. A hammock has almost zero impact on a campsite, if you use proper hanging straps on the trees. I can hang my hammock in half the time it takes me to pitch my tent, ive been using a hammock for two years and have had the same sd tent for five years, its just easier for me to hang my hammock.

10:33 p.m. on February 20, 2013 (EST)
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Most areas in the US are perfectly fine for hammocking, just take a look at the geographic diversity over on hammockforums for example.The only areas that in theory are not good for hammocking are areas above treeline, and true desert or grassland. That's it, and even in those areas a lot of times you can find a way to hang with a little ingenuity.

For most people, you will be able to hang a hammock everywhere you will ever hike. In probably 75%+ of the US it is a non issue, in 15% it takes prior planing, 5% it takes some good ingenuity or unorthodox methods, and 5% of areas are just not possible to hang in.

hammock straps go around rocks just as well as trees. carry two cams and you can practically hang anywhere in the US.

In actuality the areas where you would not be able to hang are very minimal in the grand scheme of things. People have done all of the major long distance trails with hammocks the while time except the desert section if that tells you anything. AT,PCT, CDT, LT, SHT, CT, AZT, ADT and many more. That is ALOT of terrain and geographical areas being represented on all of those trails.

7:22 a.m. on February 21, 2013 (EST)
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TheRambler said:

That is ALOT of terrain and geographical areas being represented on all of those trails.

I guess that is somewhat true if you are one who looks at it from an "as the crow flies" perspective.

I could get into the whole breakdown of the continental US by a terrain feature percentile but it is becoming a mute point at this time and honestly I need to get to work...

All I am saying is one can pitch a tarp or a tent in all the same places(or remotely close if one is pitching above rocks) one can pitch a hammock as well as those you can't.

So on a level of "versatility" a tent or even a tarp(model dependent of course) offers one MORE versatility than a hammock w/less limitations. 

With that I am bowing out of the thread for the fact that it seems some just don't want to accept that. 

Regardless of what the OP(or others choose) the big thing is just get out there, hit the trail, and enjoy yourself.

On a side note, would a portaledge be considered a hammock if one were to hang it from a tree? ;)

Then again would the $50K tree tent quite possibly be considered a portaledge, a tent, or a hammock hybrid:

http://www.bornrich.com/entry/camping-with-the-50000-tree-tent/

8:18 a.m. on February 21, 2013 (EST)
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hotdogman said:

Your right, those are cool. I didnt see any price listed, do you know how much they are? 

Mesh Ridge-$180

Mesh Box-$195

8:58 a.m. on February 21, 2013 (EST)
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Those prices arent too bad, if I still lived in a buggy area I would have to get one of those. I have a tarp cut to pitch like the ridge, with zip up doors on both ends. Pretty much the same but not mesh, I use it a lot, over my hammock and on the ground. Would you consider these a tent or a tarp, I think the line has kinda blurred over the years. I think terrain has a factor when we are talking about versatility. In southern nh, where I live and hike, it is easier to find two trees than to find an open flat spot for my tent. Other areas, or if I stayed on trail, a tent would prob be easier. I wish I could figure out a way to hang my hammock in my tent, that would be the best of both worlds. Im not against tents, I love my sd tent. Rick, have you ever camped or slept in a hammock? Its a diff experience and not for everybody. I sleep much better in a hammock than on the ground. That being said, I do tent and tarp camp on the ground quite a bit. I try to take the sleep system that fits my enviroment, the right tool for the job.

6:29 p.m. on February 21, 2013 (EST)
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Get all three decide before you leave and take the others back if you want.  I have a hammock(asym ultra light), a free standing tent(half dome 2 Rei), a tarp tent(I use a foot print for this) , a tipi(kifaru 8 man) and a bivy((new) integral designs nestor) I love them all and use them all. 

 

You can never have enough gear.

12:22 a.m. on February 22, 2013 (EST)
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get a big hennessy hammock and when no trees worthy of hanging then use it as a tent

11:43 a.m. on February 22, 2013 (EST)
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or just man up and sleep on the ground, under a rock, standing up, whatever your dealt....Jack Bauer would.

12:48 a.m. on February 24, 2013 (EST)
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Having had many years to try different shelter types I would probably go with a hammock, however I have only done sections of the AT in three states - GA, TN, NC.

I am not a trail shelter kind of person, I always preferred to be self reliant / self contained (have everything I needed) and avoid bunking up with strangers. I like making friends just not while I sleep.

Mike G.

3:20 p.m. on February 24, 2013 (EST)
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Callahan said:

get a big hennessy hammock and when no trees worthy of hanging then use it as a tent

 Most(quite a few) hammocks can do this, you do not have to get a hennessy to have this option.

9:05 p.m. on February 24, 2013 (EST)
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TheRambler said:

Callahan said:

get a big hennessy hammock and when no trees worthy of hanging then use it as a tent

 Most(quite a few) hammocks can do this, you do not have to get a hennessy to have this option.

 Yep.

My first hammock was a Hennessey Assym with bottom entry, these are harder to use on the ground than the newer ones with the side entry zipper design.

My current hammock is a War Bonnet Black Bird (WBBB) with a side zip entry.

My hammock & tarp set up is actually lighter than my older tarp & bivy set up and the hammock is roomier on the ground than using the bivy, but my hammock bottom is not waterproof like the bivy (a piece of plastic ground sheet fixes this).  I still carry the bivy alone as an emergency shelter for winter day hikes and would probably do the same on the AT if I liked using shelters.

Mike G.

9:25 a.m. on March 10, 2013 (EDT)
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Here is a good read on the whole hammock thing from Andrew Skurka's site:

http://andrewskurka.com/2012/hammocks-advantages-disadvantages/

Read some of the comments. The Ga. state park mgmt saying "no hammocks" kinda made me wonder a bit.

I am not a hammock hiker but I know many who are.

Is this a regularly experienced issue in other states as well? 

8:11 p.m. on March 10, 2013 (EDT)
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Thanks for the link Rick, lots of good info there. Thats the only no hammocks rule I have seen. I wonder if tree damage is the reason. You have to use straps, espescially with softer barhed trees. I like to stealth camp sometimes, maybe thats why I like my hammock. I agree with most of his points, but the cost comparison wasnt the best. He compared the most expensive hammocks and tarps on the market, but didnt list the most expensive or heavier tents. I have way less money in my three hammocks, and tarps than he listed for one kit. The eno hammocks are very comfy at between $45 and $65 depending on the model. That is my only prob, otherwise he kinda made some of the points I couldnt convey as eloquently.

8:21 p.m. on March 10, 2013 (EDT)
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8:44 p.m. on March 10, 2013 (EDT)
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I read all three, there is a link at the bottom of the first two so you can continue. Its really small before the comments.

9:19 p.m. on March 10, 2013 (EDT)
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I guess I am all for "simplicity." ;)

11:33 p.m. on March 10, 2013 (EDT)
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A decent article, though I think he kinda missed the mark on cost and weight comparison. You can't compare a hammock+tarp+underquilt to a tent+pad. of course the hammock setup will be more in that scenario. You would have to add at least the price of your sleeping bag or quilt to the ground setup. down is expensive, thus many underquilts are expensive. When comparing, IMO it's best to just compare hammock+tarp to tent. The insulation side of things varies a lot person to person. Some people use pads and a sleeping bag in their hammock, and others use underquilts an top quilts. A set of quality quilts compared to a good quality down sleeping bag is about the same.

For a full cost on comparison you hve to add it all: hammock+tarp+underquilt(or pad)+ top quilt (or sleeping bag)= X tent+pad+sleeping bag(or quilt)= Y

In many cases they are pretty close, especially if everything isn't all high end.

11:37 p.m. on March 10, 2013 (EDT)
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Hammocks have a bad rap because idiot a-holes like to hang with ropes which causes damage to trees. Thus many high use state parks In different states have said 'no hammocks', however I and others have found that talking to them and explaining that you are using tree straps usually ends with them saying its fine for you to hammock.

A properly hung hammock with tree straps leave no mark on a tree whatsoever.

9:22 p.m. on March 11, 2013 (EDT)
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good to see you practice lnt hammocking!

September 22, 2014
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