User Review: Hennessy Hammock Expedition Asym
Price Paid: $139
I bought the Hennessy Hammock for solo backpacking trips and so I could avoid sleeping with 3 other guys in a tiny tent on canoe trips. I'm a 3-season camper in Ontario, usually go on 3-4 multi-night trips per season, so the Expedition model seemed perfect for me, and the reviews were generally good, so I thought I would try it out.
I tried it out in my backyard first to make sure I was comfortable setting it up and to avoid any surprises on the trail. I spent a night in it, but it was hard to make a solid judgment in the suburbs- there's still lots of light and noise including the neighbour's sprinkler system going off right beside me at 4am.
Two important points before the trip: get very familiar with knots, and bring lots of extra rope, as the ropes are not very long and I wanted to have lots of options for picking a site.
On the trail it was nice saving the space and weight from the 2 man tent I normally bring. Setup was fairly straightforward. Strength is required to pull it tight so it doesn't sag though. After I set it up on the first day I felt a lack of having a 'home base', as my clothes, bag and gear were scattered around when they would usually be tucked into my tent or vestibule. There was no rain, but I imagine it would be difficult to keep your gear dry- I brought an extra tarp just in case.
My trip was delayed until October this year (approx 15 degrees C daytime, down to approx 5 degrees night), and I packed enough to stay warm, including my insulated sleeping pad, as I read that its necessary as there is no insulation on the bottom from the wind. I woke up freezing the first night as the wind picked up, causing the fly to flap and let wind in. I got up and wrapped a rope around the hammock, tying the flaps down, which stopped the wind from getting in.
The problem that created however was condensation building up on the inside, making it quite damp in the morning. It was pretty cozy around the face, which probably didn't help the ventilation after being tied shut.
These issues were completely tolerable and didn't bug me (I just included them in case they are deal breakers for others), the only real problem is that I didn't sleep very well. I'm a side sleeper, and tend to shuffle around a lot in my sleep. I could manage to get into a comfortable position on my side, but adjusting was very difficult, I would struggle and shuffle around in the dark trying to keep my sleeping pad under me as the hammock would rock back and forth, not accomplishing much. Every night (3 total) I would wake up and be wide awake until I got up, and had to go for a midnight stroll.
I ended up returning it and getting a lighter weight tent, but still think its a fantastic product- just not for me. If you are a back sleeper, or don't shuffle in your sleep, it would probably work perfectly for you.
To finish off on a few of the more positive notes, I was very impressed with the asymmetrical construction. Basically a pocket is built on opposite ends, and opposite sides of the main support rope for your feet and head, to allow you to lay more flat. The bottom entry worked quite well too, and there was some space inside to keep my book, hat, mitts, and harmonica.
Pros: Very lightweight, flatter than typical hammock, well constructed
Cons: Lack of 'home base' feeling, hard to adjust sleeping position