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Should You Take a Hammock or Tent on the Appalachian Trail?



A tent in the forest next to a hammock between two trees daytime.

Whether you’re backpacking for one night, a couple of weeks, or a few months on a long-distance thru-hike you will need a secure place to rest your head each night on the Appalachian Trail. Other than the shelters that are placed along the trail the go-to choices for most people are hammocks and tents. Which is better though and how can you decide? 

Thankfully thousands of people have trodden the path before you and they have experimented with almost every imaginable form of hiking and camping, some even going without a tent at all. The experiences of others serve well to determine the pros and cons of each approach. Almost everything in hiking is personal and no one person can decide everything for you. Only by weighing the different aspects of hammocks and tents can you decide if one is better for you than the other.      


A man sitting on a rock ledge during sunset.

As the sun sets on the trail you will need to know where you are sleeping that night.


Where will you be sleeping?

When you set off to hike the Appalachian Trail you can expect that most of your nights will end in and around shelters, also known as a “lean-to”. These are three walled bare-bones wooden structures studded along the trail. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) estimates there are a little more than 250 of them. Whether you have a tent, a hammock, or some other shelter you are still likely to end up around these spots on a regular basis. It isn’t necessary of course but it is important to be aware of when considering your own shelter.  

These lean-to shelters dot the trail at an average of 8-mile intervals and they are typically the target for a days hike. At least this is how many people plan their day to day walking distances. The shelters are key waypoints where hikers meet, exchange stories, socialize and rest. The shelters are also sometimes, and sometimes is the operative word here, near a spring or water source. They are also occasionally equipped with some kind of toilet, typically something a couple of steps removed from a hole in the ground. Most importantly some of these shelters have storage systems in place to protect your food from bears. That is very much an issue.    

You can’t rely on these locations every night though. The shelters operate on a first come first serve basis and during hiking season they can fill up quickly with other thru-hikers. Other times, even when the shelter is not full, you’re just not going to want to sleep in it. These places become permanent homes for all sorts of bugs, snakes, mice, and other animals. The structures can also get very run down and very dirty since they are exposed to the elements and difficult to maintain on a regular basis. 

Then there is the very real issue of other people. Depending on your comfort level around certain types of people you just might not feel comfortable sleeping in the same space with particular strangers. The trail can attract longe term vagabonds, drifters, and the homeless who all try to make use of these shelters on a more permanent basis. Most of these fellows are probably totally harmless but you have to go with your gut.   

The key takeaway here is that shelters are these focal points for evenings on the Appalachian Trail. You can benefit from their water source, nearby privy, food storage for bears and the camaraderie that occurs there. It is important to appreciate that you won’t always be able to rely on these spots though nor will you always want to stay in them. Stopping in for a quick hello and then moving on down the trail to make your own campsite isn’t unheard of. 

This means that you absolutely must bring your own form of shelter when hiking the trail. You will be needing it and using it even though the shelters are there. This does become less of a problem towards the end of the trail usually so some people do try cowboy camping at that point. Cowboy camping is where you just sleep out under the stars and hop from shelter to shelter when necessary. That’s a matter of personal preference but you’ll definitely need a shelter at the beginning and you’ll probably still want one towards the end.   


Taking a tent: pros 

If you’re going to spend an extended period of time outdoors the go-to shelter is usually a tent. There are several tried and true reasons for this. For one, tents can be very good at protecting you from the elements. With the current waterproofing and rain flies available a decent tent will keep you and all your stuff nice and dry during a rainstorm or snow. Good tents are also built with a waterproof floor that curves up on the sides to help hold out water even as it pools outside. 

With tents, you can also put a ground tarp down beneath the tent and a sleeping pad down inside the tent. This creates several layers of insulation and protection to make sleeping a lot more comfortable than just sleeping outside. An excellent sleeping bag adds the final touch to keep you cozy. If you are on uneven terrain or cold ground it is better to have these layers. All the ground layers of the tent, as well as the tent itself, also serve well to keep bugs and small animals out. Inside the tent, you can almost completely shut out the world. 

With a good tent, you will stay warm. In addition to the ground layers acting as insulation, your own body heat will build up inside the tent. The further north you go later in the season the more important this will become. There is nothing quite like pervasive cold to slowly chip away at your resolve. Having a warm tent to retreat into can be such a relief.

Tents are also an excellent option because you can set them up almost anywhere. This is perfect for any backpacker trekking through the backcountry. You just need a mostly flat area big enough for your tent to fit and there you go. You can even set your tent up inside a shelter to give yourself some privacy or to make an otherwise run-down shelter livable. Tents beat hammocks on this point because a hammock requires two points from which to hang it while a tent does not. Anywhere can become your next campsite, even wide open prairies or old buildings. 

As a corollary of a previous point, tents are great for protecting your stuff as well. You never know what or who is lurking while you sleep and with your whole world stuffed into one backpack it is best to keep it inside and in your line of sight. Tents aren’t really a defense against bears though so you should still make use of a bear box if present. Also, this isn’t to say that you need to hike in a state of constant apprehension of others. If anything people on the Appalachian Trail are more likely to give you the shirt off their back, literally, than they are to take something from you. They are great people with great traditions. A tent can just give an added degree to your peace of mind. 


Two tents in the forest with sunshine.

Tents have many benefits but they have their downsides too. It is important to understand both.


Taking a tent: cons 

The biggest downside of lugging a tent everywhere is often the weight. The tent can easily be one of the heaviest and bulkiest things you carry due to the tent poles and stakes. If you have the money to spend there are some high-end ultralight tents available that are made with lightweight and high-grade materials. These are nice but there is still some weight on them. Anything under 5 lbs can get quite pricey. For example, the 2 person 3 season Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 Tent weighs only 3 lbs but it will cost you around $450. As the price drops the weight goes up! 

Tents can also become very uncomfortable depending on the climate and what you have. All the body heat that a tent traps is great during cold weather but during the summer it can become unbearable. It then becomes important to ventilate your tent well and keep it breathable so you don’t cook alive inside of it. Tents that breathe better can also be pricier than those that don’t. Condensation is another issue. Hot humid and rainy environments all combine with the water vapor of your own breath to create damp and moist areas inside the tent. Again, ventilation is key as well as a good rain fly to help prevent condensation

Relative to other forms of camping like hammock camping or cowboy camping the tent can be a real chore to set up and take down. It isn’t too much of an issue for the first few days but doing it every evening and every morning for months can become a bit laborious. There will be times when you just don’t feel like it and even contemplate just passing out on the ground, especially when thru-hiking. It helps if you hike with someone else and you can work together or take turns with camp setup and breakdown. Otherwise, if you’re solo, the smaller the tent the better.    


Hammocking: pros

Depending on what you spend and what you get your hammock gear can be much lighter than a tent. Saving that weight on your back can translate into huge energy gains that make your daily hike more enjoyable and boost your mileage. Even if you spend big money on the higher end and splurge for something like a Hennessy Hammock Ultralite you will still spend less that you would for a tent. That Hennesy Ultralite weighs in at only 1 lb. 15 oz. and costs around $230. Sure, that is pricey but when compared to the $450 Big Agnes Copper Spur tent mentioned earlier it isn’t that bad. 

Of course, you don’t have to spend that much. It’s just important that you have the essentials. For bug-filled summer nights, you can stay cool and protected with a bug net and for rainy nights you will want a good rain tarp. You need the whole hammock system including an underquilt for insulation. With those equipped, you can get through most climates fairly well in a hammock. 

Hammocks are usually more comfortable than tents too. It does depend on preference and how you sleep but laying in a nice hammock up above the ground just might be the best sleep you get on the trail. During the summer months especially a hammock is nice. Unlike with tents, the hammock won’t trap your body heat as much so you can stay cool in the heat of the night.

Set up and takedown are also a nicer experience when you are camping with a hammock. You just need two trees, posts, or hooks far enough apart to hook up to. In the morning you release these and you are on your way. Easy as pie. What’s also nice is that hammocks work in places that tents never could. After heavy rain when shallow spots become flooded you can just sleep above them. The same goes for really rocky and uneven ground, just string the hammock overtop and you are good to go.          


A blue hammock in between two trees daytime.

Hammocks can bring you closer to nature, they are not perfect though.


Hammocking: cons

The great benefit of an easy setup is also part of the downside of hammock camping. It is only easy, and possible, to set up if you have the right kind of place to do so. You can’t just set up camp anywhere like you can in a tent. You have to search for the right spot that has adequate support and enough space to hook up your hammock. This isn’t always possible and with no backup, you’ll be sleeping on the ground. 

Another consideration, not so much a con to hammock camping necessarily, is that hammocks aren’t always lighter than tents. You have to keep in mind that the hammock still requires a rain fly and bug net along with all the straps to hang it. That weight can add up depending on the quality of the hammock. 

Also, even with all the right equipment, a hammock will not protect you from the elements as well as a tent can. Since a hammock does not trap body heat it is very cold during the winter and on chilly nights. You can set up an underquilt or Therm-a-Rest and that insulation can help. It can also get very wet when it rains hard enough. Even with a rain tarp set up the water still finds a way to you. Most hammock setups are not totally isolated from the outside world so there is always room for outside climates to get in. 

You must also consider that hammocks are typically big enough for you but only you. This means you can’t keep your gear inside the hammock with you for one. Rainy nights present a challenge then for keeping you and your stuff dry. They are also best suited for people who sleep on their back and sometimes side sleepers can have trouble getting a good night’s sleep. 


Why not mix it up? 

There is no rule stating that you have to finish the trail with the same camping equipment you started with. You could easily start at the southern terminus with a hammock and then switch to a tent as you go along. You could even transition entirely to cowboy camping at one point as you get more comfortable in the outdoors. Some Appalachian Trail campers have done exactly that. 

It all depends on your degree of experience, comfort and when you are hiking. Regardless, mixing things up in terms of how you camp each night can add a nice amount of variety, and learning, to the overall experience. Your first time camping without a hammock or tent can have a bit of a learning curve in terms of finding comfort and rest but it is worth trying. 


Two person sitting in a green hammock over a creek in the woods.

There are some places you can sleep in a hammock that you never could in a tent.


Final Verdict:

When your hiking the Appalachian Trail hammocks and tents can bothe be good options depending on your preferences. If you favor a warmer more climate protected place to sleep at the cost of weight and relative comfort then a tent might be right for you. Otherwise, if warmth and climate barriers aren’t more important than weight and comfort sleeping a hammock may be the better choice. The pros and cons extend beyond these as you’ve read and it is important to really weigh both before making a choice.  


Bonus tip: Join one hiker on the Appalachian Trail as he explores and discusses the shelters there!




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Outdoor Blog

Living Life on the Edge: Embracing Adrenaline-Fueled Moments



Life is an adventure, a journey filled with countless opportunities for thrill and excitement. For some, the idea of living life on the edge, embracing adrenaline-fueled moments, is an exhilarating concept that fuels their passion for adventure. This article delves into the world of adrenaline-chasing, highlighting the benefits and experiences of such a lifestyle.

Kitesurfing: Riding the waves of excitement

The first step to living on the edge is stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something new. Kitesurfing, a water sport combining wakeboarding, windsurfing, and paragliding elements, is an excellent example of an adrenaline-fueled activity. The activity entails utilizing a sizable maneuverable kite to capture the force of the wind, enabling the rider to traverse the water on a board specifically designed for kiteboarding. There is nothing quite like the exhilaration of soaring through the air, feeling the breeze caress your cheeks, and mastering the art of maneuvering a kite. Kitesurfing is a remarkable adventure that captures the spirit of embracing excitement and pushing boundaries.

The psychological thrill

In addition to the excitement of the tangible experience, embracing a daring lifestyle offers a mental rush that is just as stimulating. Engaging in these activities provides an exhilarating experience that stimulates the production of endorphins, the body’s innate pain relievers. This results in a profound sense of joy and an overwhelming feeling of invulnerability. The thrill of this frenzy can become habit-forming, compelling thrill-seekers to pursue fresh and increasingly demanding adventures consistently. 

The benefits of embracing the edge

Embracing a daring lifestyle goes beyond pursuing excitement; it presents many advantages. Participating in thrilling adventures can enhance physical well-being, as numerous pursuits demand robustness, stamina, and skill. Furthermore, they have the potential to enhance one’s emotional well-being by offering a means to alleviate tension and unease. Engaging in these activities demands concentration, which can effectively alleviate mental clutter, resulting in a serene state once the surge of excitement diminishes.

The balance of risk and reward

While living life on the edge can be exhilarating, it’s important to remember the balance of risk and reward. Adrenaline-fueled activities often involve a certain level of risk, and it’s essential to approach them with a healthy respect for safety. Proper training, equipment, and precautions can help mitigate these risks, allowing you to enjoy the thrill without unnecessary danger. 

Always research your activities and location. This understanding can help you decide if the risk is acceptable and if you have the skills and equipment. Check and maintain your gear, and never sacrifice safety. Finally, embracing adventure with a responsible and safety-conscious mentality lets you enjoy high-risk activities without risking injury.

Living life on the edge embracing adrenaline-fueled moments, is a lifestyle choice that offers a unique blend of thrill, excitement, and personal growth. Whether kitesurfing across the waves, scaling a mountain, or skydiving from a plane, these activities provide an escape from the mundane, a chance to challenge oneself, and an opportunity to experience life at its most vibrant. So, step out of your comfort zone, embrace the adrenaline, and start living on the edge. After all, life is not meant to be lived in the slow lane; rather, it’s about experiencing every thrilling moment it offers.

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Renewable Energy Farms That Make Beautiful Hiking Trails



Wind farms and solar panels are not just alternative means to get our natural resources. They have now combined with another industry and are making some unexpected news. 

The tourism industry has marked renewable energy farms as hiking trails, and hikers are here for it. You can read more about renewable energy sites. Although you might not think of hiking on a wind farm as beautiful as hiking along a famous mountain trail, you might just be in for a surprise. 

Let’s discuss the benefits that renewable energy farms have as hiking trails. 

Why are Renewable Energy Farms Important? 

Renewable energy farms are important for the future of civilization. These farms provide an alternative to our natural resources, such as wind and energy. 

The most important benefit of renewable energy is that it doesn’t produce any greenhouse emissions and reduces the air pollution other traditional processes create when providing natural resources. 

These farms also allow for the creation of the country’s own resources without having to import natural resources from another country and save their limited natural resources. 

Here are some of the reasons why energy farms are important: 

  • Allows for sustainable rural development 

This will allow landowners to make an extra income by generating energy. 

  • Test new technologies 

Providing the opportunity to test technologies to find new ways to create renewable energy. 

  • Improving the effect of climate change 

Climate change has left the environment filled with toxic pollutants, which has led people to become sick and breathe in harmful air. 

Renewable energy can change this by lessening the number of pollutants that are released into the atmosphere and providing much safer, cleaner, breathable air. 

  • This leads to job creation 

Job creation within the renewable energy farms industry is plentiful as there is a need for skilled workers such as construction, maintenance and manufacturing to build the necessary infrastructure that is needed to generate these wind and solar farms. 

The Benefits of Renewable Energy Farms As Hiking Trails 

Renewable energy farms have many benefits for both the environment and people who love spending their time outdoors. 

Embracing the Use of Green Technology 

Since wind farms and solar plants are located in areas that are unpopulated, they make for great hiking trails. 

By visiting these sites, people get to experience green technology, and by integrating them into recreational spaces, people can visit these sites and embrace green technology by seeing how they work and the positive effects that it has on the environment. 

The more people embrace the shift to green technology, the easier it will be to use it. 

Energy Farms Offer A Unique Experience For Visitors 

Visiting energy farms means you will have a unique experience while there. You will get to see how these large devices work and how they replace the basic resources needed to survive. 

Tours can give visitors more information on the background of the construction of devices, their environmental impact and why it is important for us to switch to sustainable energy resources. 

Visitors Get to Enjoy Natural Beauty 

The sites for these renewable energy farms are often located in areas that are surrounded by natural beauty, such as large landscapes. 

Natural pathways can be used as hiking trails without the need for carving out new roads and damaging the ecosystem. 

Visitors can even discover native plant life and explore the natural wonders that are located at these energy farms, as they are often placed where no infrastructure has been built on the property before. 

Providing Health and Wellness Benefits 

Hiking has many health benefits, such as reducing stress, improving fitness, and helping aid mental well-being. 

Energy Farms have Community Benefits and Increase the Economy 

These hiking trails can help boost economic sales, bringing tourists to the community. This will give the local people the opportunity to expand their businesses. 

This can also help increase employment within the community as these sites will be visited frequently and lead to new business openings to cater to tourists. 


Renewable energy farms greatly benefit both the economy and the people who want to spend their time on them. These farms are especially important for transitioning from natural resources to newer energy resource power plants. 

From learning how to embrace green technology to getting health and wellness benefits to enjoying nature’s natural beauty and finding job opportunities within the market. 

Spending time on these renewable energy farms can be educational and recreational for anyone who visits them. To find more renewable energy farm hiking trails, you can visit


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Outdoor Blog

Top Recommendations for RV Window Maintenance



Much like other sections of your RV, the windows sometimes need a bit of maintenance. It is essential to clean off dirt and insect smudges and also make sure they are adequately sealed to avoid leaks and water harm.

If you have a broken RV window, then you may want to consult Van Isle Glass. However, if you wish to know more about simple measures to ensure your RV windows stay spotless and secure, you are in the right spot! Continue reading below.

Polish Your Windshield Using Ultra-Fine #0000 Steel Wool

Numerous RV enthusiasts have praised the use of the finest grade of steel wool #0000 for removing stubborn bugs and water marks from their windshields. Before proceeding, first test the #0000 steel wool on a small portion of your windshield. Apply it with light, circular motions. Sweep away any remaining steel wool bits with a microfiber towel. Next, spritz the surface with a residue-free glass cleaner and wipe it down with a separate cloth.

Steel wool is also great when used with a spray lubricant for cleaning tires, maintaining grills, starting campfires, and repelling mice. A gentler alternative is cleansing dish pads. These pads are versatile, suitable for cleaning various materials such as wood, porcelain, stainless steel, chrome, painted areas, and glass.

Apply a Sealant to Avoid Leaks

Silicone sealant is effective in stopping leaks in areas like your windshield, RV windows, sunroof, and vents. It penetrates tiny gaps, creating a robust waterproof barrier. Ensure the surfaces are clean before application and do not have old caulk, dirt, oil, and other residues.

Furthermore, clear away any standing water on windows to prevent hard water stains. Make sure the inside of your windows stay dry to avoid condensation and mold build-up. If there is significant condensation on your windows, consider getting a small dehumidifier.

Use Tools to Access Difficult Regions

Using cleaners with long handles can prevent you from straining to clean those distant parts of your windshield. Windshield cleaning tools often feature a lengthy, swiveling triangular head that is ideal for getting into corners and spots difficult to access manually.

Opt for a Residue-Free Glass Cleaner

A high-quality glass cleaner will maintain the clarity of your windows and windshield. A great glass cleaner performs well on both standard and tinted windows, making sure to remove streaks or leftover residue. Another option is a natural concoction of half vinegar and half water, with a touch of lemon essential oil.

Steer Clear of Cleaning RV Windows in Bright Sunlight

A sunny afternoon may feel perfect for washing your RV windows, but the warmth can speed up the drying of the cleaner, resulting in streaks or spots. It is advisable to tackle your RV window cleaning during early morning, late evening, or when stationed in a shaded area for the best outcome.


Keeping your RV windows clean and clear is not only about aesthetics, but is also vital for safety. The subtleties in cleaning, like steering clear of the sun and using the appropriate products, play a key role. Adhering to these guidelines will help you maintain a pristine view during your various journeys.

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