Therm-a-Rest Slacker Single Hammock

Specs

Weight 20 oz (with carabiners)
Width 63 in
Length 116 in / 295 cm
Packed dimension 7 x 10 in / 18 x 25 cm
Capacity 400 llbs

Reviews

Therm-a-Rest's Slacker Hammock is a an entry level…

Rating: rated 3 of 5 stars
Source: received for testing via the Trailspace Review Corps (Sample provided by Therm-a-Rest for testing and review)

Summary

Therm-a-Rest's Slacker Hammock is a an entry level addition to the mainstream appeal of hammock hanging. Available in single and double versions, the Slacker is best for the novice hanger looking to slack off in the backyard.

Those who have used other hammocks will quickly realize the Slacker is not as comfortable as other brands and definitely not suited for backcountry camping. Better options are readily available.

Pros

  • Softer feel than competitor brands
  • 400lb weight limit
  • Printed hanging instructions attached
  • Integrated stuff sack is large enough to hold a tablet
  • Made in the USA

Cons

  • Uncomfortable lay
  • Heavy for a single layer hammock
  • Limited suspension system without modifying

About the Reviewer:

I started hammock hanging approximately 5 years ago and now almost exclusively camp in a hammock. I have used/tested/slept in many hammocks from multiple vendors. I am 6'2” and at the time of this testing weigh in at 168 lbs.

Testing Parameters:

The Slacker was tested in the Shawnee National Forest in early May 2015. Night time temperatures were in the mid-50°F range. I slept under my DIY 40F TopQuilt, with my JRB Greylock 3 UnderQuilt for bottom insulation.

First Impressions:

The Slacker arrived neatly folded in its own stuff sack, with colorful literature promoting its selling points (~Soft ~Dries faster than nylon ~Strong [400lbs] ~Stuffs into integrated, tablet-sized pocket ~Ultralight aluminum carabiners for “easy hanging”).

The literature also promotes two add on pieces—tree straps and bug netting, sold separately.


01.jpg

Flipping the stuff sack over, one can see the strap and buckle to secure the hammock (keep this picture in mind, I will return to it later.).


02.jpg

Removing the hammock from the stuff sack, I found instructions explaining how to ideally hang the hammock. One side is in English, the other in Spanish (pictured).


03.jpg

The stitching along the edges of the hammock stood out to me as different from other hammocks I have used. I do not know if Therm-a-Rest has a specific reason for this pattern, or if it is simply for aesthetics. In either case, it was a feature that stood out to me.


04.jpg

The suspension immediately struck me as problematic in two areas.

First, the colorful literature states, “The Slacker...comes with everything you need to do absolutely nothing.” I challenge that statement, in that, tree straps are sold separately. A novice hanger is going to have to scramble to find some type of rope to hang the hammock.

Second, every other gathered-end hammock I have slept in used webbing or cordage that was girth hitched through the end. A girth hitched cord is easily replaced with Whoopee Slings or other suspension options. The Slacker's sewn loops prevent their removal without cutting them off.


05.jpg

The Slacker promotes its non-climbing carabiners as “ultralight.” However, at 1.1oz (32g) each, they are actually a few grams heavier than many climbing-rated carabiners. (Grand Trunk does this as well, and I don't understand why they don't simply supply carabiners that are lighter and ready to pull double duty.).

06.jpg

Finally, in my initial impression, I stuffed the Slacker back into its stuff sack. Remember, the earlier picture with the hammock neatly folded in the sack? That image will never occur again. I am able to stuff the Slacker back into its bag, but just barely. In fact, every time, I find myself wishing the strap was an inch or two longer in order to better clip it in. When stuffed, the entire hammock is slightly larger than a Nalgene bottle.


07.jpg

Weight & Size

With the included carabiners, the Slacker weighs in at 20 oz. That is a bit heavy for a single layer hammock. (ENO's SingleNest is 16 oz. Grand Trunk's SkeeterBeater is 28 oz, including bug net.). The 9'6"x5'3" size is nice and roomy.

Material

Therm-a-Rest markets the Slacker as being more comfortable than other hammocks. The initial writeup I received stated the unique, soft polyester fabric feels great next to skin and provides a far superior comfort than traditional nylon.”

The colorful literature states, “Soft, 100% ripstop polyester adds comfort.” I agree the material feels softer than nylon. However, had this feature not been brought up in campaign marketing, I am not sure I would have noticed the difference, especially as I usually sleep fully clothed.

The Lay

Note: For anyone unfamiliar with how a hammock lays, please review to my Hammock Hanging 101 tutorial at the bottom of this review.

Here is where the Slacker loses 2 stars. I am not sure if polyester just does not lay as well as nylon, or if the cut of the hammock is wrong. In either case, the lay is awkward.

I experimented with multiple ways to hang the hammock—from the right way to the wrong way. I slackened it past the traditional 30-degree angle. I tightened it up. I flipped the hammock inside out. I tried both a left and right lay. I used the Slacker's carabiners; I switched over to Whoopie Slings. None of these techniques gave me the comfortable lay of a nylon hammock.

In the photo below, notice how the body of the hammock is bunching up between my left elbow and my hip. That should not be occurring, and it is a result of uneven tension on the hammock. In fact, my left elbow and right foot are resting in wells of slack in the top third of the hammock's body.

Over night, the stuff sack I use under my feet to keep them warm fell out of the hammock as I slept. (I was using a 3/4 underquilt, meaning I needed something in the hammock for my calves and feet to stay warm.)


DSCN1173.jpg

Worth the money?

At $70, the Slacker is $10-$15 more expensive than comparable products from ENO and Grand Trunk. This may be because the Slacker is sewn in the USA (made with domestic and imported materials). Still, the later hammocks are definitely more comfortable.

Someone who has never slept in a hammock is going to love the Slacker. But compare it with another mainstream company, and you'll see the deficiency (For that matter compare a mainstream hammock to DreamHammock, Clark, etc, and the mainstream is left behind.).

For the money, I would recommend starting your entry level hammock with another brand.

=====================================================================

Hammock Hanging 101

As I regularly encounter folks who don't know the optimal way to lie in a hammock, I thought I would start with a bit of tutorial. Most new hangers climb into a hammock and hang folded like a banana. They put their head at one end and their feet at the other, lying in a straight line. This is how I started sleeping in a hammock, and I complained about my sore back.

The right way to sleep in a hammock is at a diagonal slant to the hammock. This lay flattens the hammock out, making for a comfortable night's rest. Hammock hangers call this the "Sweet Spot." During winter hiking, I have spent as much as 12 hours lying in a hammock (sleeping, reading, etc.) without any of the discomfort I find in lying in my bed too long.

Here's an illustration I made up for you visual folks:

Hammock-hanging.jpg
No, I'm not very artistic.

Some folk attempt to get a flatter lay by tightening the hammock so it is already hanging flat. However, this puts too much sheer force on the hammock, lines, and trees. I have read several accounts of folks ripping out an overly-tight hammock. Derek Hansen has a terrific tool to help you figure out the right angle for hanging your hammock over at his website: http://theultimatehang.com/hammock-hang-calculator.

Alicia MacLeay TRAILSPACE STAFF

Thanks for the helpful hammock review and info, Goose.


5 years ago
Alicia MacLeay TRAILSPACE STAFF

Thanks also for including the weight, as I couldn't find it listed by Therm-a-Rest.


5 years ago
Ashleigh

Nice review, G00SE.


5 years ago
G00SE

@Alicia--I throw everything on the postal scale these days, as manufacturers tend to understate product weight.


5 years ago
Daniel Oates

Definitely a newer name in the hammock game. I guess Therm-a-Rest is trying to dip their toe in several different sleep systems. Thanks for the info, G00SE!


5 years ago
G00SE

@Daniel--companies follow the money. I'm surprised other big names haven't jumped on ENO's success.


5 years ago
Steve James

I have been sleeping in hammocks since the early 1960's when I was a kid. I have owned dozens of hammocks and even made my own. I even designed though never made a hammock with an integral roof and no-see-um netting which could be also used as a stand alone tent. My back was so bad from my bed I slept in one of the own design hammocks for more than a year. I slept in hammocks backpacking long before the term "no trace camping" was coined. I did it because worth a hammock you have the same sleeping surface night after night which you don't have with a tent.


5 years ago
Steve James

Sorry hit the wrong button, twice. Anyway the point I was going to make was 2 fold. I found that the only issues I had with hammock camping was cold seeping through from the bottom. I found an ensolite pad wore not laying all that great worked well to keep me warm below.


5 years ago
Steve James

The hammocks that made for myself are really only suitable for sleeping or relaxing at home, on sailboat, or beach under palm trees as it is not really packable. I made it out of canvas and designed it with stretchers so that it works best stretched as tight as you can reasonably make it. Canvas is cotton. Cotton stretches unlike nylon or other man-made fabrics. This allows the hammock to quickly form a pouch which lowers you're center of gravity below the tipping point but allows the hammock to remain relatively flat. This means you can easily sleep on type back, either side, and for short periods on your stomach. The pouch keeps you from falling out easily. I slept for a number of years in the first one I made, on a sailboat (stretched between mast and forestay) in Red Hook, St Thomas.The ferry boats coming into the harbor come in hot throwing a 4 foot wake. This sets the hammock swinging violently from side to side. I never came close to falling out. The only down side to this type of hammock is it will break down in a few years if you leave it out in the weather. I think I had that one for about 6 out 8 years but it was out in the weather for the first 2-3. The one I have now is 10-15 years old and still mint. My early designs had stretchers which could be easily removed to make it easier to transport. The current design has non removable oak stretchers since I found that I rarely removed them. The current one is 48 inches wide. You can cut the canvas to length but you have to buy the width you want. This design is a take off of the old Navy hammocks. Baby hammocks didn't use stretchers though. Canvas comes in a variety of weights. I used very heavy weight canvas,much heavier than blue Jean material which I think heavy weight jeans use 13oz denim. I used braided nylon cord woven from a 3 inch ring through about 13 grommets. You can adjust the total hang length required by shortening or lengthening this cordage. I made my current one extra long and wide. It's more comfortable, plus there is room to share. Hahaha. Pretty easy to make and you can enjoy it for years. I highly recommend putting some hammock hooks on your porch if you have one. That's how I got started sleeping in hammocks. We moved into a big old house that had hammock hooks for 3 hammocks. We bought simple canvas navy hammocks from the army-Navy store and slept out all summer long the whole time we were growing up. We kept changing things, modifying them to make them better and more comfortable. I hope I haven't twisted your ears. Haha


5 years ago
Steve James

If I can figure how to post pics here I will.


5 years ago
DonP

Goose, good review as always. I've been hammocking for about 3 years now and this hammock strikes me as more of a backyard on a stand hammock, than a serious backpacking hammock. Personally, based on other reviews as well as this one, I think Thermarest should stick with making pads which is something they excel at. If they want to get into the hammock world, they should start making underquilts, or even design a pad that is hammock specific.


5 years ago
G00SE

@Don--I agree. @Steve--you can't post pics in comments, but you can start a thread in the forums section.


5 years ago
Alicia MacLeay TRAILSPACE STAFF

@Steve, here's a link to our community forums, if you'd like to share pics in a discussion. Thanks! https://www.trailspace.com/forums/


5 years ago
Seth Levy NONPROFIT REP FORMER STAFF

Thanks for your detailed and thoughtful review G00SE!


5 years ago
Bill Wilson

Maybe things have changed since this review was written, but the Slacker hammock I just purchased was very easy to stuff into the pocket with enough room left over to also hold a pair of 15' kevlar tree straps (Dutchware) and 50' of Zing-it line. I wasn't even being that careful; just roughly folded, rolled, and stuffed.


2 years ago
Alicia MacLeay TRAILSPACE STAFF

Welcome to Trailspace, Bill! I hope you'll share your own review of the Slacker here for others to read.


2 years ago
Bill Wilson

Thanks @Alicia. I will review it once I've had a chance to use it... hopefully very soon, in that beautiful window between "freezin' butt off" and "eaten by blackflies".


2 years ago
Alicia MacLeay TRAILSPACE STAFF

Sounds good, Bill! Yes, using it first would be key to reviewing it (ha ha). Have fun out there!


2 years ago

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