Hennessy Hammock Ultralight Backpacker Asym
Source: I bought it new at Trail Days, at a special event price
Perfect for the solo backpacker in areas where there are lots of trees. Most comfortable sleep this side sleeper has had in the outdoors.
- Easy setup
- Extraordinary comfort
- Don't need a flat spot, just two trees.
- Bit of a learning curve
- Need to invest in specialized insulation
- Limited to those < 6' and 200lbs
I had been hiking the Appalachian Trail, in long sections, using a lightweight solo backpacking tent. I came to realize that there are no flat tent sites in the mountains. Maybe a bit of an overstatement, but I often woke up to find myself bunched up in one corner or another of my tent, my old hips hurting from side-sleeping on the ground.
I began to see these hammocks, purpose built for backpacking. The asymmetrical design allows one to lay a bit on a diagonal, and flat! Side sleeping is absolutely not a problem (and your hip bone won't be grinding into the ground.) They have integrated bug netting held overhead by a ridgeline, and a tarp over the whole thing for inclement weather. Hang it from the right height, and it is the ultimate camp chair
They do need insulation underneath. A sleeping bag provides almost no insulation underneath you once you've compressed the insulation. True on the ground as well as in a hammock. There are many options, but the trick setup is to have an "underquilt" suspended under the hammock, and snugged up to the feet and sides, and a top quilt, or sleeping bag inside the hammock.
I hiked into Trail Days in Damascus to find Hennessy Hammock, Jacks R Better Tarps, and Dutchware set up together in the vendor area. I bought the Ultralight Backpacker Asym Zip, had some simple modifications done by Dutchware to be able to rig the tarp separately, and bought an underquilt from Jacks 'R' Better. I downloaded the kindle version of "The Ultimate Hang: An Illustrated Guide To Hammock Camping" by Derek J Hansen to my smartphone, read it twice, practiced hanging the hammock a couple of times, and mailed my tent home.
My first nights back on the trail provided me with raging thunderstorms. I stayed dry, and learned a bit about tarp camping in the process. I had previously replaced my sleeping bag with a HammockGear top quilt to lighten my load, and together with the underquilt, I was warm, dry and comfortable. Within a couple of days, I was hanging my hammock as quickly as I had ever pitched my tent. The hammock and tarp pack down to roughly the size of my tent, and the quilts together packdown to the size of my equivalent temp-rated sleeping bag.
The Hennessy Hammock Ultralight Backpacker Asym is excellent out of the box with appropriate insulation. It is definitely built for one. Hennessy specifies a max weight of 200 lbs. It serves well as the basis of a modular system of tarps and quilts to provide year-round backpacking comfort. And there is a robust online community of owners, and of cottage-industry manufacturers, to help you achieve whatever goal you have in mind.
I subsequently hiked 438 miles with this system, with no apparent wear or failures. I ultimately purchased a new, lighter tarp, with greater coverage from HammockGear. When I get back on the trail this spring, I will be packing my Hennessy Hammock.