Disclaimer: So I very much hope none of you have been laboring under the very false impression that I am in any way an expert in backpacking or hiking. I’m am average person who only recently began to take an interest in the activity. That being said, I believe the opinion of a novice can be just as valuable as an expert, if taken with a grain of salt.
Today I want to focus on one of the most essential pieces of equipment for a backpacker: the sleeping quarters. There are many options for a hiker when it comes to how to rest your head. Some choose to bring just a sleeping pad and take their chances in a shelter or under the stars. Some a simple tarp that can be pitched. Others choose from the endless varieties of tents. Personally, I made the decision to hammock camp. If you’ve ever researched the subject, hammock campers tend to believe very strongly in this choice, I seem to fall into that camp.
So why did I choose the hammock? Well I knew I didn’t want to rely on a shelter while thru hiking, the privacy is nearly nonexistent and I wished neither to be exposed to the smell of other hikes while I’m sleeping or expose them to my nearly prolific snoring. I considered a tent, noting the obvious increase in privacy, something I found important as a woman. My decision in favor of a hammock came down to comfort. I am individual with a history of back issues and the hammock offers comfort and support that sleeping on the ground cannot.
So now down to the nitty gritty of choosing the hammock. I considered an Eno hammock or maybe an amazon cheap parachute hammock, but one brand stuck out more than the rest. I liked reading about the passion put in their products and just had a gut feeling that this was the best decision for me. So basically it was guesswork and a little magic combined with an obsessive combing of reviews that led me to choose a Hennessy hammock.
Hennessy is a company founded by Tom Hennessy that specializes in hammocks of high quality. They offer a few varieties, but I settled on the Hyperlite Asym Zip. With a pack weight of 1lb 12oz, it’s light and easy to carry. I thoroughly enjoy the asymmetrical design of the hammock. This allows me to extend or sleep on my side without feeling an uncomfortable dip in my spine. The built in bug net is convenient and creates a comfortable cocoon to enjoy without gnats and mosquitos. With bonus bug proof, water proof, and windproof features, the one year warranty was just a cherry on top.
When ordering my new hammock, I was lucky enough to receive a solid deal. As a free add on to my Hyperlite, I also acquired a Hex Asym Rainfly 70D polyester, a free set of snakeskins and water collectors, and an upgraded 72″set of straps. All this for a whopping $190. In preparing to write this review I revisited the Hennessy website and found the same hammock, with only 42″ webbing straps and no snakeskins for $279.95. I am quite happy with my lucky timing.
Despite the awesome deal I got, I would still say this hammock is worth the 280. Prior to the first backpacking trip I described in the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Part One, I had not had the opportunity to set up my hammock. So, the morning before the trip was spent in the front yard of my sister’s home pouring over videos that described fancy knots and confusing explanations for how to appropriately hang the hammock. This was confounded by the rambunctious nephew running circles around the whole operation and the refurbished Mario cart crashing into my hammock tree. It was about this point that I said fuck it, I’ll figure it out. And I did just that, the formatting of the hammock and rainfly making it almost intuitive to set up. In addition, I found my disorganized and amateurish attempts at sloppy knots had no difficulty in holding me up all night. What I’m saying is, even am idiot can hang this hammock and sleep easy knowing it’s not coming down.
The products I used to supplement my hammock set up included:
An additional snakeskin to separate the hammock and rainfly in the event of rain. This allows the hammock to stay dry.
A Klymit Hammock V, I find this to be rather cumbersome to inflate and deflate. Though I appreciate the shape and the extra comfort it provides in a hammock, I don’t see it as a necessary alternative to cheaper rectangular options. In addition, I did not get an insulated version, a decision I regretted deeply on a chilly night. I don’t think this was $100 well spent.
A Halti Summerlite +40° mummy sleeping bag. This works for now, but I am considering upgrading to an under/upper quilt. It’s not terrible quality for a $40 sleeping bag, but it’s certainly not warm enough for a cold night.
Finally, some basic lightweight tent stakes that I picked up at REI.
I have spent both overly hot and overly cold nights in my hammock, though not at the fault of product. Overall, I would highly recommend Hennessy Hammock. It is super light, well made, comfortable, and easy to use. I cannot wait to test it’s limits to find out just how well suited it is for me. So if you care about the opinion of an average Joe, take my advice, buy a hammock. (But also get some insulation, that shit is fucking freezing when it gets below 65 at night.)
Honestly, it’s probably better to check it out yourself than listen to my gibberish.