I’ve got this super light TarpTent Contrail that weighs 25 ounces (1.5 lbs), but I’m considering taking a hammock with me to Southeast Asia instead.
The general wisdom that I’m reading online on bike touring blogs and forums is that camping in Southeast Asia isn’t common, and in some of the countries, it’s illegal. I’m going to be odd enough as an ugly white man cycling around with my big helmet, I’d rather not have locals feel even stranger about me if I’m wild camping out in a field. And apparently, there are lots of very cheap guesthouses ($5-$10/per night).
But what if it gets dark and I’m many miles from the nearest accommodation? And how about having an adventure? Stealth camping is more about the experience than about saving money.
That’s why I’m thinking about bringing a hammock instead of my tent.
- It might be more culturally appropriate than a tent. Hammocks were really common in Central America, and I imagine they are in Vietnam too.
- Snakes and ants are less likely to bother me if I’m off the ground.
- Hammocks are less bulk and less weight than tents.
- You don’t have to worry about finding level-ground.
- It would be perfect for chillin’ beach-side.
Amazon’s got some Grand Trunk hammocks that look really good. The Grand Trunk Ultralight Camo Hammock is 12 oz, packs down to a softball size, and is only $15. The Grand Trunk Ultralight Skeeter Beeter Hammock is 20 oz, comes with an integrated mosquito net, and is $60. I’m ordering both so I can see them in real-life and compare.
There are some disadvantages to a hammock compared to a tent.
- You need to find two trees that are an appropriate distance apart. With a tent, you just have to find some level-ground.
- There’s no shelter for rain.
You can purchase an additional rain fly for a hammock, or just bring a tarp, but I don’t want to carry that extra stuff. If it’s going to rain, I would want to find a guesthouse. I only want to sleep in a hammock if I’m pretty sure the weather will be nice.
The Travelling Two bike touring blog has answered some really good practical questions regarding bike touring in Southeast Asia.
[Our camping gear] turned out to be a heavy and fairly useless load. We toured Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, and Laos for 6 months and we used our tent precisely twice.