Oct 9, 2013 at 7:45 am #1308514
I've lurked about hammockforums but found that it is a deep pool to try to jump into – so many options and lots of technique approaches has left my head spinning.
I'm thinking of using my 20% off REI coupon and getting a Hennessy Hammock Expedition Asym zipper. While not the least expensive "try it out" option – I can at least return it if it doesn't work and out of the box it is a full setup. I know people monkey around with various aspects of it but the appeal of having something that is workable if not ideal out of the gate is attractive. I live in the southeast so a bug net is essential – and I prefer a side entry to the bottom entry partly because to save some money I'll use a pad initially rather than invest yet more into under quilts, but also it just seems more sensible than the bottom entry.
My motivation to try hanging is based on a few things – I find the greater site options attractive. I camp/backpack mostly with my sons scout troop and have had some subpar site experiences despite the adults getting first choice – might be nice to pick two good trees and not be as worried about slope, etc… in a group there are only so many great spots unlike small group/solo outings where you have more flexibility. I've also slept only so so on the ground. I have an Exped Synmat which has helped immensely – but the prospect of a better nights sleep makes it worth giving it a try. I also like the warmer weather possibilities – I admit to being a fair weather backpacker when it comes to issues of heat – and a hammock seems like it naturally would be a cooler option given the airflow (which works against you obviously in the cold). Lastly – with snake skins it seems like packing up is really fast – for some reason I am just not that efficient with my ground setup and seem to always be hurrying to get ready (partly due to the fog of a marginal nights sleep).
So … is the Hennessy a good place to start? Any advice for a first time hanger on the pitfalls or the top 10 beginner tips?Oct 9, 2013 at 7:53 am #2032234
@kat_pLocale: Pacific Coast
Over at HF you will probably get more kudos for Warbonnet. I own a Warbonnet Traveller, a BIAS and a HH Hyperlite. I tried the blackbird but could not reach the foot box so that was wasted on me. The Traveller is very comfortable and my go to when no net is needed. The Hyperlite is new to me and I have only slept in it about a dozen nights. Very comfortable and easy to set up. I am not very fond of how closed in I am when the net is zipped; seems like a larger area could be mesh, giving it a more open feel.
I think that trying HH out, with an option of returning it is probably a good way to go for you. I would also recommend a simple suspension to start with; you will be fiddling enough with the whole set up that having straps, carabiners or something similar would be nice.Oct 9, 2013 at 8:00 am #2032239
I made a quick, simple hammock with these instructions:
I used rip-stop from seattlefabrics.comOct 9, 2013 at 8:34 am #2032257
@dallasLocale: North Texas
I think you are on the right track. That is a good hammock to try out to see if you will like hanging.
I've hammock camped with our Scout troop for a number of years and really prefer hanging over being on the ground, for the reasons you mention plus I sleep SO much better in a hammock. My son and I took hammocks on our Colorado Trail hike and it was awesome being able to hang anywhere and not have to try to find level ground for tents.
You asked for tips, so here are a few of mine:
Practice setting it up before you go camping with it.
The stock Hennessy setup takes some practice. If you end up keeping the hammock you will eventually change to another method.
Hammocks take some practice to get the insulation systems to your liking.
On your first few campouts, take several options to see what works best for your comfort and warmth.
Your two main insulation options are in-hammock and under-hammock. In-hammock insulation you probably already have, normal camping pads can work. My favorite in-hammock insulation is a Big Agnes insulated pad and Lost Ranger bag (for cool/cold nights). Super comfy and warm.
Most hangers eventually go to under-hammock insulation. Check out Jacks R Better and some others for really good under quilts.
Quilts are better than sleeping bags. It takes a bit of practice to get into a sleeping bag in a hammock. And that is an understatement.
Tarps. The stock tarps are decent, but there are some really good aftermarket tarps that you will want to check out.
Lastly, go for it! Hammocks aren't for everyone, but if you end up liking it you will never want to sleep on the ground again.
Keep us posted on your experience.
edit: a couple more thoughts.
I'd wait on the snakeskins. It's quick and easy to roll up the hammock and stuff it in the bag it came in.
Get good at attaching it and always check what is under you. Avoid sharp rocks and anything else you don't want to fall on. I've never had the attachment system fail, but it has happened to others.Oct 11, 2013 at 3:45 am #2033045
@fortran42Locale: Western North Carolina
I've been Hanging for about a year now and here are my thoughts:
Its definitely more comfortable for me than ground sleeping BUT Its a whole lot more Hassle to setup a hammock than a tent..especially in colder weather. A Total lack of storage space, gear falling onto the ground everytime you get out and nearly impossible to truly side sleep are just a few hammock pitfalls…That said I find certain situations call for a tent and others a hammock…Keep Both in your Gear Arsenal..they Both have their place. As for a first time hammock i would try making your own simple gathered end hammock (DIY Gearsupply) from 1.1 or 1.7oz ripstop nylon..That's how i got started..otherwise get an Inexpensive hammock to start with..That way if you don't like it you haven't spent a fortune. Hammocks can get Very expensive especially when you factor in TQuilts,Uquilts, Tarps,suspensions, and other miscellany!! You can always use the cheap hammock to hang & relax in even if you don't want to use it for backpacking/overnite sleeping…
CheersOct 11, 2013 at 7:51 am #2033084
Good advice so far. Definitely try before you buy.
First there are two basic types of hammocks: gathered end (the majority) where you have to sleep on a diagonal to get nearly flat, and bridge hammocks which have spreader bars and you lay down the middle and are (at least my opinion) much flatter.
If you go with a gathered end an underquilt is a much more manageable way to insulate underneath. If you want to stick with your pad, a double layer hammock will help tremendously to keep the pad in place. Otherwise the pad often slips around every time you move. With a bridge, either a pad or UQ will work, but again having a double layer is helpful. FWIW, I hated pads in my gathered end hammocks, but prefer a pad in my bridge hammocks.
I have had 12 hammocks (6 gathered end including ENO, TTTM, Hennesy, and Clark (+2 homemade), and 6 bridge style (4 homemade, one Eureka Chrysalis and one Warbonnet RidgeRunner). I am very much a proponent of the bridge style, though granted they are inherently a little heavier due to the spreader bars (though this can be mitigated in some instances by using carbon fiber poles or (if you use them) hiking poles. Some people dislike bridge hammocks because they feel tippy, but in my experience I found I adapted to this feeling quickly and it was never really an issue. The only purchased hammock I still retain is the WB RidgeRunner.
Ultimately, I no longer hang as 99% of my camping is with my wife and she was not a proponent of hanging due to the lack of "togetherness". So I have a couple hammocks left in the gear closet (one home made no-net gathered end (single layer) and the WB RidgeRunner (netted, double layer bridge). If you'd like to try before you buy and you are a trustworthy fellow (which I have no way to verify, but you hang out here on BPL and are a member (and involved with Scouts) so I would take it on faith), I would be willing to send you both to try out. If you like one (or both) we could make a deal or you can send them back. Unfortunately, I suspect my hanging days are going to be few to none for the foreseeable future, so they might as well find a good home.
If this is of interest to you, shoot me a PM and we can discuss it further.
Don't give up on HF. There is definitely a lot of information and a lot of opinions on what is best. I spent a lot of time in the last 5 years over on HF (same screen name), but rarely check in now days. You really have to try out a few to find out what works for you. Once you decide on a system, then you can play with different tarp set ups, suspensions, insulation and whatnot. One good thing about HF is that if you do buy a hammock and then elect to change to something else, there is usually a good market for resale there.
BrianOct 11, 2013 at 9:19 am #2033118
@dwambaughLocale: Pacific Northwest
I use a Hennesy and recommend them. The tarp is okay for summer use with light wind but you will want a larger tarp for heavier weather. I did change out the suspension to use whoopie slings and carabiners and I eventually added long tree straps.
You will also need bottom insulation. You can use a 25" or wider CCF foam pad but that isn't as comfortable as other options. I use a clone of the Hennessy SuperShelter system with an undercover, open cell foam pad, and space blanket. The other option is one of the many underquilts.
Your sleeping bag will work, with a left hand zip being better in a Hennesy. You can just drape it over you like a quilt in warmer weather. If you have a quilt already, you're good to go.
You can buy simple symmetrical hammock bodies like a BIAS Weight weenie or Warbonnet Traveller. These are good options if you have a large tarp already. The are good as is for hot summer naps and day hikes, but need a separate bug net and aren't as easy as one with an integrated net like a Hennessy or Warbonnet Blackbird. The assymmetrical hammocks are more comfortable IMHO.
The stock suspension is fine for starters, but you want to be patient and give yourself time for experimentation. Getting the tension of the hang right calls for a little practice and an easily adjusted suspension aids that. A couple inches can make a difference in comfort. Once you know what to look for it is easy. The challenge in the field is that the distance between the trees varies and you need to vary the height and tension of your hammock to match. I put up a couple stout 4×6 poles at home to practice on.
The rest of hanging a hammock is easy: two side lines and stakes (or bushes), four stakes for my tarp, hang my bottom insulation and I'm ready. That allows camping wher the ground is rocky, muddy, uneven, and crossed with roots— places where you wouldn't dream of pitching a tent. No worries about water runoff and creepy crawlies. Use your trekking poles to hold up one side of your tarp and you are in "porch mode," with your hammock as chair and you can sit and cook or read with a view. You can stand up to get dressed. Ventilation is unequalled.
Stowing your grear is as simple as hanging your pack at one end of the hammock, high and dry, and away from small animals. Shoes too.Oct 15, 2013 at 2:40 pm #2034396
Many thanks everyone – I did not pull the trigger on the Hennessy for fear of not liking it (although I could return it or sell it I suppose – but the different types make me wonder…).
BER – I very much appreciate your offer – I'll touch base with you offline to discuss?
Lots to consider but I'm learning!Oct 18, 2013 at 1:17 pm #2035345
Byer of Maine has a very affordable Moskito hammock. I think the most inexpensive place to buy it right now is Academy for $39.99. If you want to try it out first before making major decisions to spend more money check this out.
http://www.academy.com/shop/browse/_/N-0?Ntt=moskito+hammock&Ntk=All&Ntx=mode+matchallpartialOct 18, 2013 at 2:54 pm #2035370
I have two of these in my collection of hammocks and often give one to first-timers who want to try sleeping in a hammock. One of the really nice things about it is that you can flip it over (so the netting is on the bottom) if you're in a place where you don't have to worry about bugs.
Take note – When I bought mine they did NOT come with any kind of a suspension, so you'll still need to add tree huggers and some sort of line. Byers sold one that used 3/8" nylon rope and a large aluminum toggle but they were expensive and a pain to adjust.Dec 23, 2013 at 8:37 am #2057063
Well apparently my son (and daughter but mostly my son who I camp with) wanted to give me a hammock for christmas – my wife wisely asked before buying something so I told her to get a Grand Trunk Skeeter Beeter pro – seemed like a good compromise of price and features (and I had not seen the post on the Byers model unfortunately).
Apparently the suspension is marginal but I can get something else easily enough (likely whoopie slings) – but will need a tarp – any recommendations for a relatively inexpensive tarp to get started that is lighter and more compact than the blue Wally World standard issue stuff?
I'm excited to give it a try – but likely it will have to wait a few trips as I don't have good insulation unless I can use my Exped synmat 7 or UL7? If you use an inflatable with insulation like that do you fully inflate the pad or leave it a little squishy to accomodate the flex of the hammock?Dec 23, 2013 at 8:41 am #2057065
Phillip, you might find the following thread useful: http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=68876&skip_to_post=588932#588932Dec 23, 2013 at 9:08 am #2057074
@byeagerLocale: New England
I use an inflatable pad in my Hennessy, I like the flexibility, weight and cost. You will definitely want to leave it soft. That will let it mirror the curve in the bottom of your hammock and make it much easier for you to stay on top of the pad. Keeping the pad in place is really the biggest challenge you will have. I am looking to add a DIY pad pocket before next season to make things a bit easier. You will want to make sure the hammock is flat or the pad will migrate to head or foot.
I think you will really enjoy the switch to hanging. My favorite aspect of hanging (which you will also appreciate on the east coast) is that you can set up camp anywhere in the woods. You will never need to worry about finding a campsite again. I think finding a spot to hang a bear bag is much more challenging than finding a perfect spot for my hammock.
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