What a wealth of information here but unfortunately most of us don’t have the time to wade through it all.
I’m sure most of what I am posting here has been covered in great detail many times over. Such is the nature of a popular subject. When I joined back in 2010 there was great interest but it has definitely gone viral.
I have always been a camper, a terra firma (solid earth) camper, 4 seasons, solo and in large groups. I have taught bush survival, built our own 10’ x 12’ Prospector HOT tent, wilderness canoe trips, made a number of haul sleds for transporting 150 lbs of gear on remote winter trips, etc. I have slept in lean-to’s, and snow caves in temperatures as low as -42F.
When I was introduced to this site it got me thinking about some of the advantages and certainly some of the disadvantages of hammocks. I guess what intrigues me the most about the hammock is the fact that you can set up basically anywhere as long as you have 2 anchor points about 12 feet apart. You can set up on a side hill, over blow downs, boulders, water, etc. This definitely has its advantages here on the west coast rain forest. The bush here in the lower elevations is very thick, too thick for traditional camping. In the winter 10 miles from where I live we can receive well over 12 feet of snow. Difficult and exhaustive work packing down an area for a tent. With the hammock I would think it might be somewhat simpler? Another advantage as I see it , you are sleeping by yourself. You can set-up away from others if you want. I would think once you are in your little cocoon it must be quite private and peaceful. This certainly has it’s appeal.
Weight I think might be a toss-up, particularly in the cold Canadian winters. Summer might be an entirely different story. I have nothing to base this on, only by what I have experienced and read? I’m sure someone will jump in here and supply some actual facts.
Ease of set-up may be another interesting comparison. There are some pretty elaborate hammock set ups posted here so maybe someone would care to enlighten us. Again, the time of year would have a huge bearing on this.
The one point I am unsure of is the thermal heat loss of a hammock versus a tent, but I think I have it sort of figured out in my mind. I remember as a kid sleeping on a camp cot in the summer and I thought I would freeze. I think the same principal applies here. I have no doubt winter camping directly on the snow would be a little warmer than in a hammock. Under your Thermarest mattress, ground sheet and sleeping bag, the air is basically trapped so the temperature would not be below freezing while the air surrounding your hammock will always be the same, requiring a different set of rules. This would be a huge difference in sub-zero temperatures.
Cost would probably be comparable as well. I doubt there is not much difference between the two styles. You can go elaborate or basic in both cases. I do believe there is probably a better opportunity to “do it yourself” with the hammock option.
One thing I should mention, I have never slept in a hammock. The idea is totally new to me but I must say it has certainly caught my interest. If my back isn’t sore in the morning I could be an easy convert.