Hammock Camping

5:06 p.m. on April 15, 2009 (EDT)
44 reviewer rep
246 forum posts

Do any of the forum members hammock camp? I'd like to hear about your experiences, and how the whole thing differed from what you thought it would be.

I'm considering going the Hennessy route, but since they're not cheap I thought I'd stick a toe in the waters first by asking those more experienced than I. I'm also not even sure I can sleep in a hammock...

I find that I never sleep well the first night out, and usually it takes to night 3 unless I've been covering a lot of ground. That's probably a good indication that I need to try something else.

5:35 p.m. on April 15, 2009 (EDT)
42 reviewer rep
352 forum posts

There's a few pointers to a good night in a hammock i've learned from experience.

-the temp must be above 50°F or you'll get cold from below, you can use a foam pad to go down to 30°, below this you're pushing it!

-you need to sleep in diagonal

-the head can be 2 inches lower than the legs, more comfy

-you don't need to zip your sleeping bag, use it like a quilt, it's easier

 

It's also easy to make a hammock for very cheap (10$), look in the homemade gear thread. It can be a good start to see if you really like it. For ropes i use 3/8 inch hollow-braided polypropylene ropes because they don't stretch when wet.

Personally, i would sleep in a hammock all the time if i could. When you find your "sweet spot" it's just the best! I even use mine in wilderness cabins in the winter. Not at all recommended when you're drunk though ;)

6:15 p.m. on April 15, 2009 (EDT)
44 reviewer rep
246 forum posts

I went back and read your hammock post. What weight of ripstop do I need to make sure I don't wake up on the ground? (I'm about 160lbs).

Maybe I should do this with an old bedsheet or something first... that way I could test without buying anything new. Although I don't think there's anywhere to hang a hammock here (stupid town living).

The reason I mentioned the Hennessy was because I like the built-in bug net. I know you mentioned a bug bivy, though, so that might work too.

6:24 p.m. on April 15, 2009 (EDT)
TRAILSPACE STAFF
715 reviewer rep
3,169 forum posts

You should also check out Tom Mangan's latest gear maker profile, Jack Myers and Jack Tier of Jacks ‘R’ Better. They make down under quilts for hammocks, even for winter temps.

I'm not a hammock camper, but I've gotten into a few to try at Outdoor Retailer and liked them. However, I know that I'd personally be claustrophobic and panicked when I woke up in the dark. So, for me it's probably not going to happen. Otherwise, I'd like to try it.

People seem to really like the Hennessy ones, though I know there are many other options, as Franc has mentioned. Maybe you can find someone to loan one for you to try out. Good luck.

6:35 p.m. on April 15, 2009 (EDT)
42 reviewer rep
352 forum posts

The bug netting is a must. It's really hard to do without even with a strong mind and everything else. After much thinkering, i would go with a Hennessy if i had to do the whole thing again, or spend more time working on a solid netted hammock.

I've used really thin ripstop and it works, so i guess anything would do. I've also seen cuben fabric hammocks (so thin it's translucent).

A bed sheet is not long enough though, you would want something around 11 feet long. The cheapest option is to buy some cotton fabric at a discount at wal-mart or the like. Just tie a knot at both ends, do a couple of wraps with a cord below the knot and tie with 2 clove hitches and a quick release (i beleive..). If you like it, you can always go with the hennessy!

There's also the hammock camping forum on yahoo! groups for tons of info. Sgt Rock also as a good section on hammocks on his website. Speer hammock is another one to look at.

6:41 p.m. on April 15, 2009 (EDT)
TOP 10 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
2,622 reviewer rep
5,395 forum posts

I guess my hammock experiences are quite different. When we lived in Central America (when I was just a tiny kid), our beds were hammocks. After we returned to the US, we often slept in hammocks in the summertime (nights in the Arizona desert can be quite warm, so a cool woven hammock is quite comfortable). My other hammock sleeping experiences have all been when bivying somewhere half-way up a cliff in Yosemite or a Sierra peak, with the two ends attached to pitons and with a belay line attached to a couple more pitons (don't want any middle of the night surprises). Even in summer in those cases, the hammock was quite cool, so we generally carried down parkas and a pied d'elefant.

Oh, forgot about the time I had a bunch of scouts out for an overnight, while I was working as the Nature Counselor at a Boy Scout camp. I had strung my hammock between two convenient trees. In the middle of the night, I felt a hard bump about the middle of my back. Thinking the scouts were playing a trick, I shined my flashlight around and found two bright eyes staring back, above which was a full rack! It seemed that I had strung the hammock across a favorite deer trail. I guess the deer was skilled enough at running through the trees and bushes that he didn't hook me with the antlers, but still bumped me with his back.

9:44 p.m. on April 15, 2009 (EDT)
26 reviewer rep
241 forum posts

Hammocks are very comfortable and work where tents do not, eg. steep terrain make your own:

http://www.speerhammocks.com/

http://www.imrisk.com/zhammock/zhammock.htm

http://outdoors.webshots.com/photo/1190434036045831896CTQScX

sorry for the blur, it was raining:

http://outdoors.webshots.com/photo/1164170270045831896qbTCSE

10:17 p.m. on April 15, 2009 (EDT)
44 reviewer rep
246 forum posts

So I see that the Hennessy ultralite backpacker and the Speer III weigh within a few ounces of each other, but it looks like the Speer is about 90 bucks cheaper. For those of you who do this regularly, is there a compelling reason to go with the Hennessy over the Speer?

The only concern I can see is that the Speer has velcro attachment for the bug netting. I assume that's not a full-length piece of velcro, so I would imagine it would be possible to get bug leaks.

Any advice you guys have on differentiating between the two is greatly appreciated.

10:25 p.m. on April 15, 2009 (EDT)
26 reviewer rep
241 forum posts

My homemade Speer does not even use velcro. The netting just drapes over. Never had a bug problem. Another advantage of the Speer is that the bug netting can be left at home when bug season has passed. The fly on the Hennessy is small.

10:32 p.m. on April 15, 2009 (EDT)
44 reviewer rep
246 forum posts

I don't think I'll be doing the homemade thing. It could be that I's jut dumb as hell, but it looked like the kits were more expensive than the finished hammock.

10:50 p.m. on April 15, 2009 (EDT)
42 reviewer rep
352 forum posts

Questoutfitters has 1.9 ripstop at 6$/yard. You need 4 yards so 24$, shipping is 7$ for a total of 31$.

Their nylon have a sort of DWR coating on one side, so it is a bit heavier than non-coated nylon but i think it improves water resistance and maybe wind resistance too. My poncho is pretty small so it makes a difference to me.

Pretty cheap for a hammock! Hem the edges and you're done. You can make a little pocket on one side for storage and to put your headlamp at night.

I would disagree with rambler on the bug problem though. I tried the same set-up and got eaten alive by no-see-ums in Alberta for a full month. I ended up tucking the edges of the bug net under my sleeping bag but it's inconvenient and takes some time.

I think i will sew a very small zipper on my hammock to put the bug net. I'll post pictures soon.

10:55 p.m. on April 15, 2009 (EDT)
44 reviewer rep
246 forum posts

See, the problem is that I don't have a sewing machine. I have relatives about 2.5 hours away that I visit relatively frequently and who are crazy sewers (make dresses and stuff like that). I could probably con them into helping me.

However, the 100 bucks I quoted includes the bug net and the tarp, which I would have to buy separate if making my own.

Starting from scratch, how would you do the bug net thing? Buy the bug bivy you linked me to before? Or just buy the mesh and zipper it to the hammock? Because when I looked at the mesh before to add to my bivy, it wasn't cheap.

11:19 p.m. on April 15, 2009 (EDT)
42 reviewer rep
352 forum posts

Hummm...good question!

At 3,25 a yard times 4 it comes to 13$, not too bad. So we're up to around 50$ and you still need the tarp.

The smallest you can get away with is a 9X5, that would be 19$.

Grand total for a hennessy look-alike with shipping: 65$

Hammock 15oz with netting, tarp 11oz = 26oz.

At this weight i would just sew the netting on and use a number 3 zipper for an entry.

Here are some pictures of my hammock and tarp

They pack very small! But keep in mind i didn't put the netting on.

For someone that knows how to sew, making the whole kit would take about 1.5 hour IMO.

11:57 p.m. on April 15, 2009 (EDT)
44 reviewer rep
246 forum posts

Just for reference, do you know how the Speer net velcro works? I was just guessing that it's not a full piece of velcro... it could be that they figured something out to keep the whole edge sealed.

12:10 a.m. on April 16, 2009 (EDT)
44 reviewer rep
246 forum posts

Well, crap. Looks like I lied to you fine folks. On closer inspection of the Speer site, it appears that the hammock and bug net is 100 bucks, but with the tarp it is 200. So, it looks like it's in the same price range as the Hennessy afterall.

1:15 a.m. on April 16, 2009 (EDT)
7 reviewer rep
103 forum posts

What people will not tell you about hammocks is, there's a learning curve, and after a while, it ceases to be about the weight and starts to be about how to spend the most nights possible off the ground, or even out of the cheap hotel room bed. People hang from rocks, fence posts, trees, trucks, and hotel doors. I can tell you that for anyone willing to learn, it's worth it. I have slept sooooo much better in a hammock than I did on the ground. I sleep nearly a full eight hours, warm and dry, no probs whatsoever, in rain and wind. Hammockers get multiple tarps for various seasons, different pads, different quilts, whatever it takes to get that comfortable night's sleep. It's like a drug. Once you start getting quality z's in the backcountry, there's no going back.

Different people have different comfort zones when it comes to hammocking. Plain old blue CCF from Walmart is good to about freezing, add another blue CCF for lower temps. Speer sells SPE sleeves to add pieces of pad. Other folks use a wide evazote (Gossamer Gear sells these) pad. Others use partially inflated thermarests or down mats. I finally made the jump to an underquilt - good grief, what comfort I was missing.

What I have noticed in perusing hammockforums.net (the gold mine of information for all things camping hammock) is that people start out with an idea of hammocking, try a hennessy and then begin to add to it - an underquilt here, a bigger tarp there, a different kind of suspension.... and then they get a different hammock. You can find a Hennessy used on ebay or at hammock forums, frequently in perfect condition.

I have a Hennessy Ultralight Backpacker with stock fly. I added a 10x12 cat tarp I purchased from someone at hammockforums. Then I bought a Warbonnet Blackbird. I think that I may never sleep in the Hennessy again. Want to buy it? :D The Blackbird is less fuss to set up, more comfortable, more versatile, has a pad pocket (all Hennessy hammocks will require you to wrassle with the pad inside the hammock with you as they are bottom entry) and has a shelf - you can't imagine what a difference all the little details that make up a Blackbird makes. The shock cord tie outs are reflective; the Hennessy tie outs are black and almost decapitated me at the knee many nights. I sleep better in the Blackbird, and I slept well in the Hennessy.

I paid $179 for the Blackbird by itself, and would do so again in a heartbeat. I also have Jacks R Better underquilt and top quilt, a weather shield that is also a driducks poncho, and very often a satisfied smile as I rise, shine, make coffee, and watch the tent dwellers groan and climb out of their tents. My setup frequently packs smaller and weighs less than other people's tents, and I'm including my quilts. Do I sound like I'm bragging? Probably - but that's how very happy I am with my setup. I went from tossing and turning and not sleeping in a dome tent to blissfully sleeping through a frosty night, no tossing, no turning, and only one early morning waking to readjust the underquilt when temps dropped. I no longer have joint pain and I can hike without feeling like a total zombie.

If you really want to know if a hammock is for you, get something less expensive, like an ENO or Byers. Sleep in the backyard with the pad and sleeping bag in the hammock, on the diagonal in the hammock. If you like it, worry about the "real" camping hammock purchase then. Many people do use an ENO all the time without issue. You can always add a bug net to it. Warbonnet sells simple travel hammocks and bugnets as well.

re: claustrophobia - I ended up with a hammock because I am quite claustrophobic, to the point that I was panicking in a half awake state in the morning in a two person tent. The Hennessy was not a problem, the Blackbird is even bigger and has a zippered bugnet, and sprawling, rolling around, side sleeping and using it as a chair are all much, much easier than in the Hennessy. So I do not believe that all hammocks are created equal, and the right hammock is do-able. I don't think I could use a bridge hammock, but stomach sleepers love them.

7:54 a.m. on April 16, 2009 (EDT)
42 reviewer rep
352 forum posts

Notquitethere i totally agree with you on all counts. You forgot to mention the big plus of being able to just sit up in the morning to put you boots on, and my favorite: breakfast in bed, the kind where you just get one arm out of the bag to light the stove, give yourself a push, and swing happily while you wait for the water to boil. Did i mention i sometimes take a lunch break nap in my hammock too? It does require a set of skills that takes some time to hone though.

You also have a very good unubstructed view of the world around you and that's the reason i camp out to begin with. Now judging from your comments, i have to make myself an underquilt!! i was thinking about modifying my old WM bag....

 

Stingray: you can't go wrong for 65$ homemade! I would also recommend against velcro as i'm pretty sure it would eventually catch on the netting and make holes in it.

Maybe its time you pay your relatives a little visit ;)

8:25 a.m. on April 16, 2009 (EDT)
7 reviewer rep
103 forum posts

You don't need to wait for someone to make a hammock if sixty five bucks is a fair price to you - the Warbonnet Traveler double layer in 1.1 ripstop is sixty five bucks. Top weight limit is probably 200+ pounds.

I am making a silk hammock - 10mm silk plus some silk gauze for bug netting in amounts sufficient to make a simple hammock cost me forty five bucks at Thai Silks online. I'm using the silk hammock instructions at [url=http://www.garlington.biz/Ray/SilkHammock/]http://www.garlington.biz/Ray/SilkHammock/ I will probably use small pockets and put small gear items in the bugnet edges for weighting it down, and lengths of velcro or possibly draw cords to seal the ends.

When I first set up the hammock, I test it by getting in - inevitably I wake up a bit later and have to force myself to get up to make dinner. It does make a great chair - if you have a top entry hammock. The Hennessy has to be folded on itself to avoid tearing the bugnet.

9:28 a.m. on April 16, 2009 (EDT)
44 reviewer rep
246 forum posts

Unfortunately, I live in downtown Little Rock and don't even have a yard, much less trees. With some VERY CAREFUL planning I might find a way to set it up in my room. Probably would require one of those hammock frames or something like that.

I killed a monster mosquito in here this morning... it has begun.

10:00 a.m. on April 16, 2009 (EDT)
44 reviewer rep
246 forum posts

I just spent some time bombing around the hammock forums and checking out warbonnet's blackbird hammock. Looks like more of what I'm looking for, but even more expensive yet, at 160+ for the hammock alone.

The traveler is 65 bucks, but it looks like the bug netting is another 65, which makes it not all that much of a steal compared to his other one with netting attached.

Crap. And here I was going to buy myself some Icebreaker stuff. This mental safari is getting expensive.

2:41 p.m. on April 16, 2009 (EDT)
TRAILSPACE STAFF
715 reviewer rep
3,169 forum posts

re: claustrophobia - I ended up with a hammock because I am quite claustrophobic, to the point that I was panicking in a half awake state in the morning in a two person tent. The Hennessy was not a problem, the Blackbird is even bigger and has a zippered bugnet, and sprawling, rolling around, side sleeping and using it as a chair are all much, much easier than in the Hennessy. So I do not believe that all hammocks are created equal, and the right hammock is do-able. I don't think I could use a bridge hammock, but stomach sleepers love them.

You've given me a reason to try it out now. Maybe I'll do so at home this summer.

2:18 p.m. on April 18, 2009 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
9 forum posts

Franc do you ever make the Bridge Hammocks?

3:17 p.m. on April 18, 2009 (EDT)
44 reviewer rep
246 forum posts

Franc- I think I decided to order the Warbonnet BB hammock. In the past when I tried something new like this, I frequently started cheaper and almost always ended up with about 4 different versions of whatever I was buying. I think this time I'm going to just start with the cadillac. From the looks of things on the hammock forum, if I don't like it I won't have any problem selling it there.

I still can't decide where/what kind of tarp to use. The Warbonnet guy doesn't include one, and the only one he lists on his site is 100 bucks.

3:59 p.m. on April 18, 2009 (EDT)
7 reviewer rep
103 forum posts

The tarp needs to give adequate coverage from one end of the hammock to the other, and the BB is a cadillac, as you say. :)

Look at Jacks R Better tarps and the Mac Cat tarps, and decide when you will be going out and your chances of being caught in driving rain. I have a 10x12 cat cut tarp with four tie outs on each side and just got a Mac Cat Deluxe in silver for summer use. I go mainly to the Sierras and late season rainstorms are common, so I wanted to be able to prop up a panel and cook under it while sitting in the hammock.

I think you will be happy with the BB - Brandon is a hammocker who knows what little nuances make the hammock work. Getting the double layer will make it easier to use your sleeping pad in it, too. The suspension is aces - very easy to hang just about anywhere.

Here's a funky hang in a canyon bottom. Note the strap on the left - it's about two feet from tree to hammock, and about 10-12 feet from foot end to that poison-oak-covered tree on the right. (I used a trekking pole to get the biner over the strap.)

 

This is easier with the BB than it would have been with the Hennessy, unless I modded the HH suspension to include straps and rings - I'd have been standing in that brush trying to do figure 8s with the HH rope, and the rope on my ULB is not long enough for a hang like this. I'd also have head to toe poison oak instead of that little spot on my arm that went away with application of Tecnu.

You will find that the straps and the hammock may stretch a little the first few times out, but this will not continue. It's really hard to be uncomfortable in this hammock. Have fun finding new and unique places to hang. :) Don't forget to pick up a couple of climbing carabiners to use with the suspension.

4:10 p.m. on April 18, 2009 (EDT)
7 reviewer rep
103 forum posts

NotQuiteThere said:

re: claustrophobia - I ended up with a hammock because I am quite claustrophobic, to the point that I was panicking in a half awake state in the morning in a two person tent. The Hennessy was not a problem, the Blackbird is even bigger and has a zippered bugnet, and sprawling, rolling around, side sleeping and using it as a chair are all much, much easier than in the Hennessy. So I do not believe that all hammocks are created equal, and the right hammock is do-able. I don't think I could use a bridge hammock, but stomach sleepers love them.

You've given me a reason to try it out now. Maybe I'll do so at home this summer.

 

Avoiding claustrophobia in a hammock means making sure you avoid "shoulder squeeze" - the hammock needs to be wide and long enough. Gathered end hammocks like the ENO, you need to make sure you go diagonal enough that you are lying flat. Hennessy cuts hammocks to shape them asymmetrically without needing to use tons of material like the ENO. The Blackbird is not asym, but has a footbox to allow you to more comfortably lay along the diagonal.

Bridge hammocks tend to be narrow, so I haven't tried one. The Clark hammocks look closed in and therefore also not on my list of possibilities. I debated getting a Claytor but then the Blackbird popped up and hey! that looked perfect. Glad I went with it even though, as has been mentioned, it's expensive - it's going to save me trying any more hammocks.

4:25 p.m. on April 18, 2009 (EDT)
42 reviewer rep
352 forum posts

pheonix,

It's the first time i hear about a bridge hammock, but it looks like it would be easy to make. In my mind simpler is always better, and i like the fact that with a standard hammock you can change your leg position to make different kinds of pillows. I would like to try it out though!

stingray,

your most versatile option is an 8X10 tarp (sil-nylon, plastic, whatever). You can use it for bivy camping and above your hammock too.

Your cheapest ultralight option is a 9.5 X5 homemade sil tarp from Quest outfitters for 30$ with shipping. Nothing to do, just hem the edges and sew some ribbon in the corners. It's a very versatile, dependable and long-lasting piece of gear, that's what i did and i never regretted it.

4:36 p.m. on April 18, 2009 (EDT)
44 reviewer rep
246 forum posts

Not quite there-

I'm not sure I understand how a carabiner is used, since I haven't actually seen pictures of how the darn things are hung up. I thought I read that Brandon sent the hammocks out with some sort of proprietary hanging hardware.

Did you just tie a bowline or something to the biner, wrap it around the tree, then clip it back to the line? THAT makes sense to me, but if it's something more complicated it might require an explanation.

Also, how do you hang the tarp on the BB? Do you run the ridgeline to your hammock lines, or do you tie off a whole 'nuther line to the trees?

6:25 p.m. on April 18, 2009 (EDT)
7 reviewer rep
103 forum posts

The strap has a loop sewn in the end. Slip the biner through the loop, pitch the strap end around a tree, snap the biner over the strap. Then you adjust the strap length at the rings and tie a slippery half hitch or other stopper knot in the strapping just above the rings to keep the strap from sliding through when you are in the hammock.

Tarps are best tied directly to the trees, even with a Hennessy which by default has hooks on the hammock suspension. The HH I have, when attached to the hammock lines the tarp would sag and flap in the slightest breeze. Tie off to the trees and you can get the tarp taut. You can use nit-ize figure 9's on tarp guy lines. I frequently use the Hennessy figure eight wrap on the tarp at the tree ends, simply because it has always worked.

A couple things: tie the tarp to the tree below the hammock straps. Silnylon tends to loosen a little; many of us put tarp tensioners on the guy lines especially if wind is expected, prevents torn tarps.

Shug's videos show off some tarps and a Blackbird hammock. Here's his tarp talk vid:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pkp4GILyU9U&feature=related

And his review of the Blackbird:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yxevtxnkmkk

(He's a performer, so he adds vaudeville to his hammock vids.)

7:16 p.m. on April 18, 2009 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
37 forum posts

here is a good forum for tips on making hammocks if your interested...

http://www.hammockforums.net/

7:30 p.m. on April 18, 2009 (EDT)
44 reviewer rep
246 forum posts

Good god... perhaps I'm in the minority, but I almost can't stand to watch his videos for all the nonsense. Good information, but it's buried in crap :)

7:39 p.m. on April 18, 2009 (EDT)
7 reviewer rep
103 forum posts

He's over the top, but he does showcase the features of the hammock better than still pics will show.

There are also subforums for tarps and for specific brands of hammock like the blackbird at hammockforums, where all your questions have already been asked by others walking the same path.

1:01 p.m. on April 19, 2009 (EDT)
44 reviewer rep
246 forum posts

Well, I put in an order with Brandon for the whole package (including one of his tarps). I figure that if I made my own (at a cost of $60 or 65 and a lot of time I don't have), I would either like it and end up with a BB or not like it.

Either way, I'd be stuck with a $65 hammock of mediocre workmanship with a lot of man-hours tied up in it, and I probably wouldn't be able to get rid of it. This way, if I decide I like it, I got in at the top. If I decide I don't like it, I figure I can sell it to one of the forum members and get most of my investment back.

2:20 p.m. on April 19, 2009 (EDT)
42 reviewer rep
352 forum posts

Stingray,

you're stepping foot on the one-way road to tree-hanging, congratulations! Even if you have to invest of few nights of questionable sleep don't give up! the rewards are well worth it. As shown in NQT's picture, you can hang out in places no tent will ever fit...

2:40 p.m. on April 19, 2009 (EDT)
44 reviewer rep
246 forum posts

When I was a kid (heh... some of the guys like Perry probably still consider me a kid) living at home, I had a hammock in my room. I didn't really like to sleep in it all night because it was one of those string hammocks and it dug into you, but I did take many a nap in it.

Franc- most of my outdoors sleeping is of questionable quality already. When I moved to the "big city" for med school, I got to where I couldn't sleep without earplugs in. I grew up in BFE, and the noise of the life flight helicopter flying past my dorm window every night was too much.

Being such a light sleeper, I never have been able to sleep well outdoors (even way back in my boy scout days) until about the third night of a trip when I'm dead tired. I've always been afraid to wear earplugs in the backcountry because I usually go by myself and I'm afraid I wouldn't hear something important (like a scrounging bear or troublesome elk).

I already camp where tents can't go, because I'm a bivy convert. The problem is that here in the ozarks there isn't nearly as much dirt as there is back in good 'ol IL... I don't seem to remember all those rocks and roots back home. Maybe getting up off of them will improve my sleep. Maybe I'll just have to move to some sort of sleep aid like earplugs or Crown. Although I seem to remember you cautioning me about mixing alcohol and hammocks...

At any rate, this sure didn't end up cheap... about $275 bucks. If I like it I'm going to have to sell my Tadpole 23 to finance the change.

3:05 p.m. on April 19, 2009 (EDT)
42 reviewer rep
352 forum posts

Definitly don't drink and swing, the result is pretty predictable! It's like when you're in China:don't drink and squat or you'll have a splash!

What i like most is that your food is out of the way of critters if you hang it on one of the lines. You can also very easily look all the way around while under your tarp, so it's reassuring. Have fun!

8:31 p.m. on April 19, 2009 (EDT)
2 reviewer rep
17 forum posts

While I am obviously a bit late to this thread. I have been reading it with fascination and appreciate all the information.

A hammock would probably be a good thing right now. The ground here in Maine is completely soaked, but the mountains are gorgeous with still bare trees and animal sign everywhere

8:49 p.m. on April 19, 2009 (EDT)
MODERATOR REVIEW CORPS
998 reviewer rep
3,561 forum posts

Hi east,

I used a hammock for a couple years back when I was thru hiking some. You will probably love it under the right conditions, I loved mine until it got really cold out. I sprang for the underquilt and all that jazz, but by the time I got it all set up in cold weather I could have pitched two tents. Biggest problem with a hammock is getting froze from below due to your body compressing whatever insulation you happen to have. An underquilt will solve this problem down to about 20 degrees in my experience. There are those hard core hammock folk that will tell you it is possible to survive in sub zero temps, but trust me you had better have a large box to drag all that stuff in. Just my opinion, I love a hammock in decent to chilly weather, but not below freezing.

Also east, don't let anyone tell you you can't turn a decent size tent into a hammock in a pinch. You just need some para cord and a couple trees. I've seen it done before on the AT.

Probably not good for the tent though, and you see a lot of weird crap on the AT, like the guy I passed who made his own backpack out of Tyvek. Don't get me wrong, I think homemade stuff is cool, but his didn't look as though it was gonna make 2000 plus miles.

9:10 p.m. on April 19, 2009 (EDT)
44 reviewer rep
246 forum posts

I noticed that by the time you add up all the gear, you're not really saving much weight over a tent, and not at all over a bivy. I just accepted right off that the goal of this whole endeavor is comfort.

I question just how cold I'll be able to sleep in this thing, since I enjoy winter camping more anyway.

Trout- you make it sound like you don't use a hammock at all anymore... was it not all you expected it to be?

2:04 p.m. on April 20, 2009 (EDT)
TRAILSPACE STAFF
715 reviewer rep
3,169 forum posts

Avoiding claustrophobia in a hammock means making sure you avoid "shoulder squeeze" - the hammock needs to be wide and long enough. Gathered end hammocks like the ENO, you need to make sure you go diagonal enough that you are lying flat. Hennessy cuts hammocks to shape them asymmetrically without needing to use tons of material like the ENO. The Blackbird is not asym, but has a footbox to allow you to more comfortably lay along the diagonal.

I actually am in possession of an asymettrical Hennessy hammock, so that's what I'd try for sure. I'll put it on my to-do list for this summer.

5:36 p.m. on April 20, 2009 (EDT)
MODERATOR REVIEW CORPS
998 reviewer rep
3,561 forum posts

east stingray asks:

"Trout- you make it sound like you don't use a hammock at all anymore... was it not all you expected it to be?"

 

I have a Hennessy Hammock, I do like it and I do use it for fair weather trips. I do enjoy sleeping up off the ground in a hammock. However, I also like winter camping a lot and it is harder to stay warm in a hammock than a tent, plus in a tent you can spread out a little more and access your gear easier. If I'm gonna get trapped in my shelter by a sleet storm I'd rather be in a tent.

But hey that's just me, what works best for me, may not be the best set up for you. Everyone is different, we each have to experiment some to find our optimum set up. I like a 2 man tent for general backpacking, a bivy for fast & light trips and my hammock for camping locally on the islands we have here on the coast.

I do not think there is a single correct answer. I would encourage you to pursue your interest in a hammock. Even if you decide it does not meet all your needs for every trip, you will have added a valuable skill set that you can use to enjoy the outdoors for many years to come.

6:22 p.m. on April 20, 2009 (EDT)
44 reviewer rep
246 forum posts

Cool. One thing I'm concerned about is that I'm one of the weirdos that actually PREFERS to camp in the winter. If this whole business is as comfortable as the guys over in the hammock forum make it out to be, maybe it'll be worth it to me to haul around a truckload of gear to stay warm in one.

10:45 a.m. on April 21, 2009 (EDT)
7 reviewer rep
103 forum posts

I do not camp in snow, or subzero temps, but have been warmer in the hammock down to freezing than I ever was in the tent. I got to about 35F on a blue ccf pad before starting to feel cold on my butt.

You do not need a truckload, but you do need to be geeky about it. Overcovers and undercovers, space blankets, quilts... yep, we're crazy about the lengths we go to - but I can sleep a sound eight hours in a hammock. Maybe I got two hours total in a tent. I can go outdoors and not be so tired I can't think - worth the price of entry for that.

There are some crazy winter hammocking setups, for sure - titanium wood stoves, hammock huts that look like little houses with a chimney hole, peapods and winter quilts... but many people with setups like that use a pulk. I'm not that dedicated to winter camping, but if I went out in snow, the pulk would be next on the gear list.

7:56 a.m. on April 27, 2009 (EDT)
170 reviewer rep
99 forum posts

Couldn't resist adding my two cents. Over the years I've used a Vietnam era coffin shaped hammock, a camo Blue ridge hammock, and of course a dozen tents. The two hammocks were of the type with the spreader bars at either end and a lot of sag in the middle. They were ok. Not great, not what I'd want to use long term, but ok. We all know about tents. Now, I have just spent my second weekend in my brand spankin' new Clark Jungle Hammocks NX-200, and Oh-My-Goodness! I will never voluntarily sleep on the ground again. (Unless there are no trees around, then...) Unlike the Hennesey and most of the other hammocks it seems, you don't have to sleep at a diagonal to be able to sleep almost perfectly flat. The designed it in such a way that the "body bag" part of the hammock is suspended by the sides of the hammock and lets you lie almost flat once you get inside it. Of course it has all the goodies. Enter from either side. A full coverage weathershield for extra wind protection. A GIGANTIC tarpfly that without the hammock attached you can fit 4 or five persons under comfortably. Six HUGE pockets on the outside. Each of which is large enough to hold a large (55 Liter+) backpack. Waterproof drip rings, tie-off tabs everywhere. A grab hoop inside the hammock for if you do slide down to the middle. (Only if you set it up wrong.) There's more that I can't remember off hand right now. Ooooh! And my Pacific Outdoor Equipment InsulMat All Out Lite fits the hammock like they were made for each other. Me so very happy! And so very UBER comfy. I never imagined anything so wonderful in thirty years of camping.

Clark Nx- 200 Jungle Hammock

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3405/3476312956_76b9ddce4f_o.jpg

Pacific Outdoor Equipment InsulMat-All Out Lite

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3615/3476312870_85c3e1d941_o.jpg

I'd post pix, but this forums pic posting system sucks.

Ta for now!

Peace!

9:18 a.m. on April 27, 2009 (EDT)
3 reviewer rep
23 forum posts

Hennessy does make the winter system for some of their hammocks now, have not tried it yet, though. I just ordered one for my son, he thinks he wants to try camping in one. Personally I think I will stick to the tent, I might try sleeping in his once, just to see what it like, but I don't think hammocks are for me. 2 weekends ago we went camping and someone slept in a clark NX-250 which he had reciently bought. (the reason my son now wants a hammock) The night temps reached as low as 31 and he had a exped pad partually inflated under him and used a sleeping bag for a blanket. He claims he can sleep on his side and even on his stomach(as long as his arm are tucked under him). I went with the hennessy for my son, because it is cheaper and right now you get a free scout hammock when you buy a hammock, I figgured as soon as he got his my daughter would want one, so she can have the free one. If they get here in the mail this week we will probably camp somewhere next weedend to try them.

10:02 a.m. on April 27, 2009 (EDT)
7 reviewer rep
103 forum posts

Hennessy does make the winter system for some of their hammocks now, have not tried it yet, though. I just ordered one for my son, he thinks he wants to try camping in one. Personally I think I will stick to the tent, I might try sleeping in his once, just to see what it like, but I don't think hammocks are for me. 2 weekends ago we went camping and someone slept in a clark NX-250 which he had reciently bought. (the reason my son now wants a hammock) The night temps reached as low as 31 and he had a exped pad partually inflated under him and used a sleeping bag for a blanket. He claims he can sleep on his side and even on his stomach(as long as his arm are tucked under him). I went with the hennessy for my son, because it is cheaper and right now you get a free scout hammock when you buy a hammock, I figgured as soon as he got his my daughter would want one, so she can have the free one. If they get here in the mail this week we will probably camp somewhere next weedend to try them.

It sounds like you don't believe hammocks are a viable camping shelter. You have a lot of company out there.

Let your son log in at hammockforums.net, so he can read up on how to get the most out of hammock camping, and I can guarantee he'll have a great time out there if he's motivated to work his way up the learning curve. I have no doubts your friend is able to sleep on his side or stomach - I can, too. 90% of my camping experience tells me that tents are not comfortable for me - the rest of my backpacking days will be spent getting the sleep I need to get out there for as long as I can, as often as I can. Since I don't need weeks to recover from sleeping on the ground for four nights in a row, it's a lot easier now.

If you let them keep using the hammocks, I suspect the kids will be wanting a tarp other than the stock Hennessy, if you go out in rainy weather much. The smaller tarps aren't adequate all weather coverage.

10:42 a.m. on April 27, 2009 (EDT)
26 reviewer rep
119 forum posts

You guys are just trying to get me to spend another $500 aren't you. I'm gonna have to start ignoring this thread :p

2:03 p.m. on April 27, 2009 (EDT)
44 reviewer rep
246 forum posts

In all fairness Trav, I just totally splurged on what the guys over at hammockfourms consider the "cadillac" and the "cadillac" tarp to go with it and it was all under $300 even with lots of extras that cost a bit more.

3:37 p.m. on April 27, 2009 (EDT)
3 reviewer rep
23 forum posts

I did order him an over cover as well as the supershelter system to go with it. I didn't get the extras for my daughter though, I don't see her actually using hers very often. She will probably just use it in the woods at home on nice nights, when we go camping she will probably still sleep in my tent, I don't see her carrying extra gear.

12:12 a.m. on April 28, 2009 (EDT)
7 reviewer rep
103 forum posts

You guys are just trying to get me to spend another $500 aren't you. I'm gonna have to start ignoring this thread :p

 

I'm beginning to think that hammocks are like potato chips - everyone at hammockforums seems to have 3-5 types of hammock, in different colors, with various tarps....

Not me - I did a Hennessy secondhand, and got the Blackbird, and that's where the road to Too Much Gear ends for me. Two hammocks, a large tarp (Mac Cat Deluxe) and a larger tarp (10x12 with flaps to close down in inclement weather, for shoulder seasons) to choose from depending on expected weather conditions, and guylines. All told, I think I've spent maybe 275 on hammocks, 140 on tarps, and 500 on JRB quilts without regrets as I expect this gear to last me a good, long time, with only occasional partial gear replacement due to normal wear and tear on the suspension.

I console myself that I know people who have spent five times this amount on ultralight tents. :D

10:18 p.m. on May 2, 2009 (EDT)
44 reviewer rep
246 forum posts

Well, I sent the money today (which I think means that Brandon has everything made and ready to ship out). It ended up being crazy expensive because Brandon kept mentioning other little goodies that I couldn't live without. I ended up with his hammock, one of his big tarps that can convert to a shelter for winter, cordage, extra stake-out points on the tarp, carabiners, and a down 3-season underquilt.

He made me great deals on all that stuff, but it still came to over $400. I wasn't planning on spending that much, but he told me at the last minute that he had some prototype underquilts that he'd sell me for a steep discount and, well.... I just couldn't help myself!

11:24 p.m. on May 2, 2009 (EDT)
7 reviewer rep
103 forum posts

Advanced hammock-itis, a modified strain of gear accumulation disease - too bad that stuff they give you for lyme doesn't cure it. But that wouldn't be half as much fun, would it? :P

11:36 p.m. on May 2, 2009 (EDT)
44 reviewer rep
246 forum posts

I guess not... but if this turns out to be the cat's meow for me, I hope I can find someone to buy my ground-dwelling equipment.

11:47 p.m. on May 2, 2009 (EDT)
7 reviewer rep
103 forum posts

In this economy there's always a market for good used gear. But trying to sell a tent on hammockforums just gets you laughed at.

12:28 a.m. on May 3, 2009 (EDT)
44 reviewer rep
246 forum posts

That's what I figured. I'm a member over at whiteblaze too, although I don't really spend any time there. I always have trouble parting with gear, because I take care of it almost to an OCD level, and I never can seem to get what I really think it's worth.

Plus, over at wb they probably don't want my gear anyway since it's not an UL bivy or tarptent.

1:01 a.m. on May 3, 2009 (EDT)
7 reviewer rep
103 forum posts

The classifieds here or the backpacker magazine forum might be good places to post stuff for sale. Or ebay - though I have had mixed results there....

1:12 a.m. on May 3, 2009 (EDT)
44 reviewer rep
246 forum posts

Yeah, ebay is so commercial these days that I don't even like to go to the site anymore. My results have not been good in the last few years. I liked it a lot more back before everyone and their brother was trying to make a living selling stuff on ebay. It's like the Wal-mart of the internet now.

4:31 p.m. on May 3, 2009 (EDT)
MODERATOR REVIEW CORPS
998 reviewer rep
3,561 forum posts

Glad to hear you got your stuff on the way east stingray!

Also, you'll be glad you got the underquilt I think.

Now of course you know you are gonna have to post some photos of your most awesome set up, right?

Well, either that or tell me where you're headed next time. I'll see if I can sneak up on 'ya.

I'm happy for you my friend.

7:06 p.m. on May 3, 2009 (EDT)
44 reviewer rep
246 forum posts

Trout, your enthusiasm (and mine... I'm a gearaholic...) slightly lessens the sting from the price tag. I'm in the middle of two weeks of brutal nationial exams right now, and when we're done (next Saturday) I'm taking a canoe trip on the Buffalo River with my family. Brandon worked hard to get it to me in time, so it looks like I'll be able to hang on this trip! I'll definitely put up pictures!

7:38 p.m. on May 3, 2009 (EDT)
MODERATOR REVIEW CORPS
998 reviewer rep
3,561 forum posts

Good.....more than one way to hang ten eh?

Do you think you will try it out in a hurricane?

8:03 p.m. on May 3, 2009 (EDT)
44 reviewer rep
246 forum posts

I truly believe that this hammock will stand up to hurricane force winds.

8:49 p.m. on May 5, 2009 (EDT)
3 reviewer rep
23 forum posts

Good luck with your new hammock, my son tried his new hennessy hammock last weekend and really liked it, I think I like the clark one better though, but for the price and beings that he is only 11 if he thinks it is good, it will work.

9:19 a.m. on May 6, 2009 (EDT)
7 reviewer rep
103 forum posts

ES, have fun on the canoe trip! I wish the rivers in my usual territory were amenable to boat travel, but I'm not into being bashed on boulders. :P You'll have to post pics when you get back.

10:46 a.m. on May 6, 2009 (EDT)
44 reviewer rep
246 forum posts

ES, have fun on the canoe trip! I wish the rivers in my usual territory were amenable to boat travel, but I'm not into being bashed on boulders. :P You'll have to post pics when you get back.

The only thing I love more than backpacking/boating is posting pictures about it when I'm done :D

This river is not one that you can comfortably take a canoe down just any time of year. You end up dragging it through all the rapids if you try to go anytime other than the wet season. I've done it, and I still enjoyed the trip, but I felt like an Ox pulling a covered wagon.

11:04 a.m. on May 8, 2009 (EDT)
44 reviewer rep
246 forum posts

Wow... I got all the stuff from Brandon yesterday, and the quality of this gear is unreal. Forget sticker shock... I don't care how much it cost. This is easily the highest quality gear I've owned.

2:55 p.m. on May 19, 2009 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
6 forum posts

i have a Clark North American Jungle Hammock. It's the only thing i use. it's been out in the snow, -10 temps (not a good idea to spill water at that temp), and in rainstorms. It's amazing and truly is a 4 season tent. and it's small, with a built in stuff sack. only problem- it's purely a solo tent, so now i'm shopping for a tent that me and my fiancee can use.

3:22 p.m. on May 19, 2009 (EDT)
3 reviewer rep
23 forum posts

Clark does make a 2 person hammock, I don't know anything about it though.

9:36 a.m. on June 2, 2009 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
6 forum posts

they do have 2 person tents, but i can't pay that much for a tent, and finding the right tree configuration is a royal pain when you need three trees. I just got a little MSR Zoid 2 on sale to use as my 2 person.

4:52 p.m. on June 6, 2009 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
33 forum posts

Although I have not tried hammock camping, I greatly appreciate the information from everyone. I had a friend who raved about them. I heard a great podcast on the practical backpacker (episode 30) from the maker of Clarke Jungle Hammocks. They seem to give you space below the hammock to add insulation to camp out in colder temps.

http://www.junglehammock.com/

http://www.practicalbackpacking.com/blog/

12:05 p.m. on June 17, 2009 (EDT)
3 reviewer rep
23 forum posts

The hammocks finally got used in the rain. Both the hennessy and the clark worked well, no one got wet.

7:38 p.m. on June 17, 2009 (EDT)
7 reviewer rep
103 forum posts

Although I have not tried hammock camping, I greatly appreciate the information from everyone. I had a friend who raved about them. I heard a great podcast on the practical backpacker (episode 30) from the maker of Clarke Jungle Hammocks. They seem to give you space below the hammock to add insulation to camp out in colder temps.

http://www.junglehammock.com/

http://www.practicalbackpacking.com/blog/

You can use insulation under you in any hammock. I used a pad in my Hennessy down to freezing and was comfortable. Any hammock type will be more versatile than a tent.

Hammocks are like alcohol stoves - many people don't get past the "fiddle factor." It's a learning curve to get the hammock to work for you. Otherwise there wouldn't be forums devoted to getting your hammock habit going. you don't see tent forums about tweaking or customising your tents for various weather conditions... it either stands up to the weather or blows away, and then you're in the market for a different tent. Hammocks can be whatever kind of shelter you need, put it on the ground for a bug bivy, hang it from rocks, fence posts, cars or trees, throw a huge tarp over it in winter and a smaller tarp in summer then use the trekking poles to make an awning.... On an early season backpacking trip, my fellow hikers were coming to sit under my tarp to boil water as I had the only dead air space to sit in with the stove. You can't cook in a tent. So I very much appreciate the versatility of the hammock setup.

11:42 p.m. on June 17, 2009 (EDT)
112 reviewer rep
1 forum posts

While hammockforums.net is an excellent site, I'm surprised no one mentioned Ed Speer's speerhammocks.com. He literally wrote the hammock camping book. His hammocks have are quite versatile. The bugnets are fastened with velcro so you can take it when you need it and leave it when you do not. He also has lots of products and tips for staying warm on the bottom other than just using a pad. He even has a DIY section. Hammockforums.net is an excellent resource, but Ed Speer wrote the book.

That being said, in addition to my Speer hammock I have several different cheaper hammocks. The Speer hammock is my "go to" hammock. I've used it from lows in the 80's F to lows near - 20 F. There is a learning curve for hammock camping, but once you've gotten the hang of it ( no pun intended ) you'll love it. Sleeping in a comfortable hammock without being on the hard ground is a no brainer. Camping site selection is also much easier when you do not have to find a flat place with no roots or rocks. I've set mine up on a steep slope over rocks next to a waterfall before. Try that in a tent. You can't even cowboy camp on a 30 % slope.

December 25, 2014
Quick Reply

Please sign in to reply

 
More Topics
This forum: Older: patagonia alpine guide pants, women's - fit question Newer: A day pack to zip onto my MacPac Genesis
All forums: Older: For Sale: Wanderlust Gear Nomad Lite Newer: For the New guy. How do you slow down on the water consumption?