How to Stay Warm While Hammock Camping
One of the biggest drawbacks associated with hammock camping is that you are more exposed to the cold. While most people opt for tents once temperatures start dropping to near or below freezing, there are some simple things that you can do to stay warmer in a hammock despite the chill in the air. Let's look at a few practical solutions to help you enjoy the comfort of your hammock even in conditions that are less-than-ideal.
There are a number of accessories that you can add to your hammock to provide an extra layer of protection against the elements. One is to use an under quilt. This is basically a special blanket that can be attached and wrapped around the hammock. This serves two purposes. It helps to prevent cold air from entering the hammock while it also helps to prevent your body heat from escaping. There are many different types of under quilts out there, so it won't be hard to find the perfect match for your needs.
Another option is to layer the inside of your hammock with a Mylar blanket or padding that is similar to what you see with windshield sun-protectors. Both will reflect heat back onto your body, and this thin material is surprisingly effective. Best of all, Mylar is inexpensive, lightweight and easy to pack and transport.
You can also use a rain tarp to shield your hammock from the elements and prevent wind and rain from drawing heat away. Generally speaking, all you need to do is string a line above your hammock, drape over the tarp and tie it down with some cordage and stakes as you would with a tent. These are also very lightweight and inexpensive, and you can either choose products designed specifically for this purpose, or use any suitable material that you have on hand for this purpose.
One of the best ways to stay warm in a hammock is to avoid complicating the simple. Use a good sleeping bag that you can cocoon yourself with. Wear thick socks, a hat and sleep dressed in layers. Use a hammock that can be zipped or tied closed to trap body heat. Consider adding some warm water bottles or using emergency heating pads if you have some extra on hand. Place the hammock behind a barrier that will shield it from the wind.
It is really easy to over-think how to stay warm in a hammock, when in all reality there are are a million and one different options at your disposal. The trick is to think ahead, do a little bit of experimentation, and let your experience guide you as you learn to adapt. Finally, while hammock camping has its advantages, it also has its limitations. Sometimes it just makes better sense to stay in a tent or other form of shelter when it gets too cold outside.