Are you preparing a trip and do not know how to sleep? Are you hesitant to carry a tent or bivouac sheath?
I will try to clarify the ideas a little so that you know what to choose depending on the situation. But I’m going to get a little bit into your head with other ways of sleeping in the open air: the awning or tarp and the hammock.
Each has its advantages and disadvantages. You should know them well to choose the right one according to the type of trip that you are going to realize.
Tent technology has evolved a lot in recent years, from heavy, bulky Canadian tarpaulins to light, compact igloo tents. Although we can not forget the revolutionary Decathlon stores that are assembled in 2 seconds, although to save them must make a master in origami.
There is a lot to be said about the world of tents, but I will dedicate a post to that another day. Today I just want to comment on the advantages and disadvantages of using them.
You have a little house in the place that you want.
You are protected from all inclement weather.
There are many sizes, models, prices, colors … It is easy to find one that suits each person.
You can have all your things safe from the rain.
If you are in a camping you can put padlocks on the zippers when you are not.
You have privacy.
You’re protected from insects .
It is illegal in many areas of Europe.
Light tents (less than 2kg) are expensive.
You can not see what happens in the outer world when you are inside.
When they are mounted they are bulky and can call attention.
It takes time to mount and dismount .
It is disgusting to use them when they are wet.
You need a large surface to mount it.
A bivouac sheath is basically a sheath of a durable and waterproof material (and if it is good, also breathable), which is used as protection for the sleeping bag . It serves to protect it from dirt, friction with plants and stones and, above all, moisture and rain.
In the right conditions they are a great alternative to the tent.
Lightness. The heaviest sheaths are around 700 grams.
More contact with nature. You can enjoy the stars and nocturnal animals.
Smaller volume. The smaller covers can be put in a pocket.
It’s legal to bury practically anywhere.
It hardly occupies space once opened, so it is very discreet.
They are not a barrier against insects.
Lack of intimacy. If you go to sleep in a campsite or accompanied by more people.
You are more exposed to inclement weather.
A good case is expensive (more than 150 €).
But these are not the only ways to spend a night under the stars. Although less commonly used, these other options may also suit you. Know them and keep them in mind for your next adventure!
Toldo O Tarp
A tarp is basically a tarpaulin (normally rectangular) that, fixed in a suitable way to trees and stones, serves as an awning under which to protect against rain, humidity, wind …
If it is of good quality, it is light and takes up little.
It can be put to different heights (it allows you to stand).
There are many sizes and prices, so it is easy to find the one that best suits each one.
You need a suitable place to mount them.
It does not protect from insects.
It does not protect the bag.
A good tarp can cost you as a mid-range shop (between 100 and 200 €).
Interior and exterior of my home awning made with a poncho (France, year 2013).
Normally we relate the hammocks with a vacation in the Caribbean, hanging between two palm trees next to the beach. But they are becoming more popular among travelers as an alternative. I myself have wanted to have one on several occasions, in which I spent hours looking for the right place to camp.
You can sleep away from the ground , which is very useful if it is not flat, it is wet or snowy, it has a lot of vegetation, insects …
Weighs and takes up little.
It can be combined with a tarp and made rainproof.
There are built-in mosquito nets.
You need two strong anchor points to mount it.
You can not change posture easily.
It is uncomfortable for two people and one dog
There is no place to put things.
They do not insulate well from the cold below.
I have traveled for a long time without a tent, only with a bivouac sheath and a poncho that I used as a tarp when the weather did not go with it.
Thanks to this, I have seen many wild animals at night: foxes, deer, wild boars, badgers … And I do not remember how many times I fell asleep counting shooting stars.
When it was bad weather, I always found somewhere underneath it: a bridge, an abandoned house, the interior of a pipe, the eaves of a building … And if the rain caught me in the middle of the night, the sling was capable of Protect me from the water until the next morning.
On the last trip, the North Cape Expedition , I have added a tent and a hammock to the equipment I transport in my saddlebags.
Regarding the hammock, it is rather a luxury. I have slept several naps and have spent some night in it, but if you want to carry a minimalist luggage, it is totally expendable.
However, although I initially refused to use the store, I have to admit that the experience with it I liked.
We have not used it every night, much less. We only rode it when it was really necessary: when it rained, there were insects or we wanted privacy.
It became our little refuge at the end of the day to disconnect, rest and forget the rain and the outside world.
Depending on the type of trip you are going to take, its length, climate, insects, etc., you must assess which option or options are best suited to your case : tent, bivouac, awning or tarp and hammock .
If you are traveling in an area with a stable climate, warm and insect free, you do not need to bring a tent.
If you are preparing a great trip of several months for different areas, I recommend that you do the same as I did: take a tent and a bivouac sheath. This way, you can go alternating or combining the options depending on the day.
In addition, you can also use the bivouac sheath when you are inside the store: as a supplement when it is very cold or only as a sheet if it is very hot and you do not want to use the bag. This last only in case that your case is totally breathable, otherwise you will wake up soaked.