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)

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    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. Commented Jun 18, 2013 at 22:17
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    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. Commented Jun 18, 2013 at 23:20
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    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
    Commented Jun 19, 2013 at 7:49
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    @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
    Commented Aug 26, 2014 at 12:55
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    I was eaten by a bear unfortunately
    – brh
    Commented Jun 5, 2016 at 17:01

3 Answers 3


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.

  • 12
    +1 - proper handling, cooking, and storage of food is what will make a difference, not whether you're in a tent or hammock.
    – DavidR
    Commented Jun 19, 2013 at 17:43
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    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
    Commented Aug 28, 2014 at 19:58

I've been using a bear fence lately:

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

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    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. Commented Aug 26, 2014 at 13:09
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    @Aravona: That's a electric fence!!? Wow, that's really overkill, and requires shlepping along a power source. Commented Aug 26, 2014 at 13:54
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    Interesting product, but I think I'll take my chances with the bears.
    – brh
    Commented Aug 26, 2014 at 14:45
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    This looks like a great way to piss a bear off. zap, RARRRGHHH!
    – Bruce
    Commented May 24, 2016 at 22:56
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    I hope you don't wake up in the middle of the night, going for a pee whilst forgetting that you put that fence over there. It might hurt.
    – Ben
    Commented Jun 5, 2016 at 16:58

One of the best things about hammocks is that you can elevate them as high as anchor points allow. That means you can sleep with the woodpeckers and squirrels up high. It's actually a lot of fun to do, but it isn't for the faint of heart, or those who sleepwalk. Getting up high among the branches lets you hang all sorts of stuff and have an arboreal campsite, it's especially good to use where you have concerns about the ground...swampy areas, gators, snakes, rabid coyotes, meth addicts stumbling around in the woods.

If you hang your gear away from your hammock and haven't cooked and eaten right underneath, you should be fine. And yes, bears can climb trees. They aren't ninjas though, and if you aren't awakened by the sound of them clawing their way up a tree a few feet away, you might as well sleep on the ground and not worry anyway. If one does go through the trouble of climbing a tree after you wake up and start yelling at it and shine a light on it, you still have recourse to a sidearm or using a pre-placed bailout rope to swing away like Tarzan. Makes for awesome selfies too.

I usually prefer tarp/fly shelters and sleeping on the ground, and have done plenty of that while hunting in bear country. In bear country just try to give yourself a protected space...like setting up in blowdowns with trees/logs piled on three sides. And then you have built in alert/protection (noise to climb over, barrier) in three directions and one approach to worry about. Pile brush to narrow it, and build your fire there. People have used that technique for millennia.

Really, don't worry. Just sleep with your pistol and knife. All smart bear tacos are armed tacos.

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    You're going to tackle a bear with a pistol or a knife?? Good luck. I'll stick to bear spray, I think. Commented Jun 3, 2016 at 21:07
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    Bear spray is a shoot-and-point weapon: you can walk your fire onto the bear's face. Good luck even getting off a second shot, much less an aimed one, with a pistol powerful enough to stop a bear.
    – Mark
    Commented Jun 5, 2016 at 8:22
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    Firearms have been proved less effective than bear spray time and time again. Have you considered how much stopping power you're going to need against a 600-pound grizzly? And how many shots you're going to get in the half second it will take for that bear to close the gap between you? Commented Jun 5, 2016 at 21:58
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    Anecdotes aside, the data show that bear spray has proven far more effective than handguns in the field. In fact, the odds of serious injury doubles when firearms are used as compared to bear spray. fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/mammals/grizzly/… Commented Jun 7, 2016 at 14:48
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    Anecdotes? You mean actual, real deadly bear attacks and the results, both with knives and bear spray? There are those with firearms too, that fly in the face of claims of effectiveness. Data shows that in 2% of cases where bear spray is used it fails to work at all. When a rare life-threatening event is occurring, a built in 2% chance of failure and likely death is not your friend, regardless of popular wisdom. Anyone can deploy a knife or pistol faster than bear spray, even untrained people--and folks who own either are familiar if not trained with their use, compared to bear spray. Commented Jun 7, 2016 at 23:22

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