Take the 2-minute tour ×
The Great Outdoors Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for people who love outdoor activities, excursions, and outdoorsmanship. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I'm going on a multi day backpacking trip and I am planning on taking only a backpacking hammock instead of a tent. When I mentioned this to a friend of mine he jokingly referred to me as a bear taco.

Do I need to worry about bears more since I am in a hammock?

(Food will be stored safely and well away from camp)

share|improve this question
I guess it depends on how bothered you are about seeing bears and other critters coming, as apposed to being unaware of them when you're in a tent. Mosquito issues sound like a much bigger deal. –  Olin Lathrop Jun 18 '13 at 22:17
I don't want to write this as an answer, but I can't see how a hammock could possibly be any different. It's not like a tent will slow a bear down for more than 5 milliseconds if it wants to see what's in it. –  whatsisname Jun 18 '13 at 23:20
bring a role of fishing cord, and a tin cup. Fill the cup with stones. Set up trip wires all around your camp that trigger the tin cup to fall down. You will be successfully awakened by impending doom, and can try fighting the bear with bear hands. Or make like a cat and get the hell out of there :) –  anaheim Jun 19 '13 at 7:49
@Abe Miessler Hiking in bear country you want to take precautions not only of properly storing food but to be conscious of cooking methods as clothes etc. can hold the sscent and entice a hungry bear for a closer look. –  Charlie Brown Jul 1 '13 at 17:35
@whatsisname There's a definite difference: hammocks are bear tacos, tents are bear sandwiches. But seriously, as long as your food scents are away from your campsite and you aren't hanging a bear bag from your hammock, you'll be just as safe as you would be camping in a tent. –  pheidlauf Aug 26 at 12:55

3 Answers 3

up vote 16 down vote accepted

Being in a hammock shouldn't change anything. A tent is not any safer, and may be more dangerous, since you don't have visibility of the area around you. Buy or borrow a copy of Trail Life, there's a good discussion of the issues with using a tent. A tarp is my preference over a hammock or a tent, because they make for a dryer and more comfortable night's sleep for me.

The prime rule is to not cook near where you're stopping for the night. Cook and eat your evening meal a few miles before you make camp, and the bears will be drawn there instead of to your campsite.

share|improve this answer
+1 - proper handling, cooking, and storage of food is what will make a difference, not whether you're in a tent or hammock. –  DavidR Jun 19 '13 at 17:43
I agree, you should not worry any more or less. If there is anything to add it is just to keep the food sealed even in your backpack. I once had a peanut butter sandwich get smooshed into my tarp in my backpack. Even I could smell the PB for a day or two. –  treeNinja Aug 28 at 19:58

I've been using a bear fence lately:

enter image description here

Best sleep in bear country. Look it up on Internet. Does add about 3-4lbs to your kit, so get lighter somewhere else.

share|improve this answer
Seems like ridiculous overkill. I also don't see how those three little white strings are going to slow down a bear that wants to get inside for some reason. The reason this may appear to work is that bears generally don't give a crap about you and your tent, whether surrounded by a few strings or not. This really looks like a gimmick to keep your money out of your wallet, not to keep bears out of your tent. It works because you believe it does. –  Olin Lathrop Aug 26 at 13:09
@OlinLathrop would most bears not mind being electrocuted then? –  Aravona Aug 26 at 13:37
@Aravona: That's a electric fence!!? Wow, that's really overkill, and requires shlepping along a power source. –  Olin Lathrop Aug 26 at 13:54
@OlinLathrop I agree that's massive weight, but you can see the red battery, and I googled them quickly - these kinds of fences I've only ever seen used statically for horses, I was just wondering if bears do or do not notice the current as your comment gave the impression they do not. –  Aravona Aug 26 at 13:55
Interesting product, but I think I'll take my chances with the bears. –  Abe Miessler Aug 26 at 14:45

As far as I know, they can sniff edibles from hell a long way. If you take care about making sure that you don't throw eatables (specially Non-Vegetarian) around where you are camping, you should be safe in Hammock. But places where you are so close to bears, Hammocks will never be safe. Bears are known to be curious animals, so when you litter around camp-sites with edibles, doesn't matter if you are in a hammock or in a tent, you are asking for trouble. At least I wont choose to be on a hammock when bears are wandering in forest.

Now as you are saying the food has been kept well away from the campsite, there shouldn't be an issue to be worried about. But still I would emphasize a point that "Why do I really want to do this?" On Outdoor stays Tent are much safer and comfortable in fact, if its something like Alaska or even some rainforest, similar to ones that you may find in Western Ghats of India.

share|improve this answer
Why? It's way lighter than a tent, I like looking at the stars, and I find it more comfortable than sleeping on a thin "pad" to name a few reasons. –  Abe Miessler Jun 19 '13 at 15:07
Ok, Then you may do one thing. Fix you Hammock about 20 ft above from ground, build a make-shift ladder to get into it. And once you are up, make sure that the bear wont get to use it. If you manage to do so, which may take around 2 hrs (you may miss the sunset as the cost of Star gazing), you should be pretty safe from Bears, Wild Dogs, Wild Boars, Snakes and other Serpents and Insects,etc. If you are up for the task, then I would suggest you to get that episode of Man Vs Wild in which he builds such a similar thing. Another point is, will you want to burn those many calories for that? :) –  WedaPashi Jun 19 '13 at 15:24
Unless your tent is more like an airplane fuselage than a thin sheet of nylon, it's not going to protect you. Hammocks are perfectly safe, as are tarps and cowboy camping. –  Corey D Jun 19 '13 at 15:29
@ Corey D: If you can read neatly above things, you would have come to know that I claimed Tents to be safer if the food has been kept well away. If that has been taken care of, as the one who posted the question is saying, in such a case, tents are safer than hammocks. –  WedaPashi Jun 19 '13 at 15:39
Build a 20ft ladder. Got it. –  Abe Miessler Jun 20 '13 at 18:25

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.