The ground can be a dangerous place. Whether you’re out in the wilderness, the jungle or on a tropical beach, sleeping on the ground can bring many unfortunate circumstances to worsen your current survival situation. Mother Nature can cause havoc during the night with unexpected rainstorms that can basically wash away your camp, resulting in lost or damaged gear. You could also experience hypothermia from lying on the cold ground, causing your core body temperature to drop to dangerously low levels.

Also, as you sleep, local wildlife may take an interest in your camp. After a long day of traveling, the last thing you need is to find yourself face to face with a hungry bear or wolf, biting insects, scurrying rats or a snake that coils itself within your sleeping gear.

Sleep is a necessity to heal and recharge your body, and without it your motor skills and mental sharpness can be severely affected. The simple solution to these avoidable issues is to think upwards, as in sleeping well above the ground in hanging tents or hammocks designed to give you a great night’s sleep while protecting you from everything that the surrounding environment can potentially throw at you.

Hanging Tents

Hanging tents are exactly what their name implies—a tent elevated off the ground for one or more occupants. Like a typical ground-level tent, a hanging tent shares most of their same characteristics: a waterproof exterior shell, insect protection mesh, internal pockets and storage spaces, and plenty of room to get a great night’s sleep. The obvious difference is that these tents can be suspended high above the ground in trees, over cliff sides, overlooking rivers or anywhere a typical tent would dare not to go.

This option allows you immense freedom when setting up your campsite. You no longer have to spend precious time scouting and searching for the most practical area for camp. As long as you have secure points, such as thick trees or large boulders to anchor your tent to, your choices of locations are virtually endless. Hanging tents vary by size and added extras. Some are simple to set up and provide the basics of outdoor enclosed sleeping. Others are more complex, with some having several entrances, multiple storage compartments and the ability to reconfigure their rain and mosquito protection panels based on the current environmental conditions.

The few downsides of using a hanging tent is they tend to add more weight and bulk to your backpack. And they often contain more accessories than a hammock which increases setup time and can be detrimental if urgency for cover is required. But, once erected, the rewards of a properly built hanging tent certainly outweigh their drawbacks.


Hammocks accomplish the same goal as a hanging tent, yet they have several specific differences. First, a hammock is usually more lightweight than a hanging tent. This is beneficial for those who either want to travel light or have very little room to spare in their packs. The drawback is that a light hammock usually means translates into being “no-frills” hammock, and you may have to face the night without rain or mosquito protection and limited comfort.

Also, they are usually intended for one person, whereas a hanging tent can fit two to three occupants, so each member of your group would need to carry their own hammock, increasing the need for numerous anchoring points for the group with the campsite. However, investing in a no-frills hammock would be appealing if you plan to use it strictly for gear storage. As long as it’s sturdy, you can rig up a hammock and secure your packs, food and other essentials out of the reach of both humans and animals up in the trees.

Comfort while within the hammock varies by manufacturer. Economy hammocks, though easy on your wallet, will usually constrict your movement, and unless you’re a sound sleeper, you may wake several times during the night twisting and turning trying to get comfortable. Premium hammocks will give you more space as well as overhead protection, but you will pay more for these added benefits.

Finally, those susceptible to motion sickness may find hammocks not their first choice for elevated sleeping. Even though the movements are minute, the slight swaying of the unit may affect some people, and dealing with nausea during a survival situation would not be a pleasant experience. Most hanging tents avoid this problem by attaching to three contact points that basically eliminate any sway.

Both sleeping structures can be your solution to the majority of problems that can occur if camped on the ground. The one to choose, however, is entirely up to you and your particular situation. There are numerous variables that must be considered when selecting an elevated sleeping structure. Consider the weight, storage, the number of people in your group and the cost before you pull out your wallet to make your purchase. But once completed, you can definitely look forward to many nights of peaceful sleep no matter what plan Mother Nature has in store for you.

More Information Hanging Tents & Hammocks

Cacoon Tent

Treez Omega

Treez Alpha

Stingray Tree Tent

Luminair Tree Tent

Single Lightweight Hammock (Camo)

Rothco Super Hammock

Rothco Jungle Hammock

Superlight Jungle Hammock

Frontline Hammock

This article was originally published in spring 2017 issue of “Ballistic” magazine. To subscribe, visit

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