In 3-season conditions and in locations where trees are readily available — which includes nearly all of the eastern United States plus a fair portion of the Mountain West — I have concluded that a hammock is the best overall sleep system. This is especially true for mileage-driven backpackers because they need not make two critical sacrifices often demanded by ground systems:
- Camp earlier than otherwise preferred due to limited campsite availability, and
- Carry heavy camp gear (e.g. plush air mattress) to improve camp comfort and sleep.
I make this claim as an experienced backpacker who has happily ground-slept for decades. My motivation for hammock camping was curiosity, not dissatisfaction with ground sleeping. The more experience I acquired, however, the more obvious it became that hammocks were a more practical and efficient system, especially in the eastern US.
A female should develop a plan to maintain their hygiene in the backcountry before the trip begins. In this respect, it’s no different than the food you’ll eat, the shelter you’ll use, and the routes you’ll follow — it usually works out better to plan it than to wing it. The plan should account for the likely conditions on your trip, e.g. temperature, humidity, snow coverage, water availability, vegetation, group size and privacy, etc.
To me, the attraction of going further afield boils down to the differences that other geographies offer that the UK might not. On the face of it, this is an obvious statement.
But before you just stick a pin the map at random, I think it’s important to be clear about the specific reasons you might want to make an overseas trip. This is clearly a major factor in the overall equation of deciding where to go and what to do there…