Last year, I bought a Hennessey Hammock. It’s a lightweight hammock supposedly suitable as a replacement for a tent. Initially I was a little skeptical; I camp out a lot, and my trusty North Face tent is one of my cherished possessions, but the hammock is good too. Very good.
At $200, it was quite a bit of cash to plonk down on an experimental replacement for a tent, but since it’s first outing I haven’t looked back. This summer I took the hammock bike-camping in Europe and it worked for me every night I needed it. The tent stayed at home.
The best part about the hammock is it’s comfort.
People often assume that hammocks can’t be good for sleeping all night. Surely your back will ache, and you can’t sleep on your side. I was worried about this, but it just hasn’t been the case. When you sleep diagonally accross the hammock the mid-part comes under tension and you lie much more horizontal. The Hannessey Hammock is sewn ‘asymmetrically’ to help this effect. Still, even though it’d be feasible to sleep sidewards, I find myself sleeping on my back, with my head cocked to the side… it’s surprisingly comfortable, and I dare say, even more comfortable than my plush bed at home.
In a tent, I’d frequently wake up in the middle of the night with a numb arm or a rock pressing against my back. With the hammock, I never want to get up! :
- It’s less conspicuous than a tent.
The olive drap colors don’t bring attention and people don’t really recognize it. I don’t feel weird about pitching up in a local park and taking a nap in the middle of the day.
- It’s off the ground, so racoons and ants aren’t going to find their way in.
- It’s light… At just over 2lbs, it’s half the weight of the tent, and much smaller.
- It has an inbuilt mosquito net
Now, there are a few downsides :
- You need two trees… 15-25ft apart. In my bike ride through Europe, this was easy enough to find, but it’s probably not going to work if you go trekking in Nevada or Jordan.
- It takes a little longer to set up than a tent – Usually there is some messing about with finding the right trees, and adjusting the height and lines. Now that I’ve got the hang of it, it’s getting much faster.
- You need insulation below you. It’s easy to get cold as your ass is in the wind. Hennessey sells an insulation kit, but I prefer the Jacks-R-Better underquilt. – It add’s another $200, but it’s absolutely necessary if you camp out below 12C/55F. Thermarests slide around in the hammock and aren’t really a very viable solution.
- Two people can’t sleep in it, so if there’s two of you, you won’t save on weight, and it might cramp your style.
You might also be wondering how it stands up to the elements. Check out this video of me still smiling after several hours of pouring rain.
All in all, I think hammock camping is so good that I’ll be doing it for some time to come. Two thumbs up.
Hennessey Hammocks :