So what’s a fellow to do? I now had two different Therm-a-Rest mattresses sitting around, neither of which suited my needs adequately. Well if you guessed doing away with mattresses entirely and trying to achieve a good night’s sleep by suspending myself between two trees, you guessed right! Behold, my brief foray into hammock camping. After reading and researching a bit in to hammock camping online, and discovering that there was a shop in Tokyo that had the basic Hennessy Hammock in stock (and not with some incredible import mark up), I took the plunge.
I really like the hammock. Once you’re used to it, you can really get a good sleep in it. The Hennessy is not the lightest hammock out there, but it comes with an integrated bug net and rain fly, which is pretty handy if you’re not wanting to rig up your own tarp to keep the rain off. You can also hang it and take it down in just a couple of minutes, once you know the drill. It’s a great entry level hammock to see if you can handle the hard core hammock life. As with all things though, there are a number of drawbacks to hammocks in general, and the Hennessy in particular.
The main issue with the Hennessy that I have is that the entry is through a slit held closed with velcro that runs from the center of the hammock to the end, in the center of the hammock on the bottom. Getting into and out of the hammock was always an interesting experience. Later they released a version with a zip on the edge between the hammock material and the bug net. This seems like a much more sensible design. Regarding hammocks in general, aside from the inevitable question, “What do you do when there are no trees around???” the main issue I found was not having any kind of private place, say if you wanted to change clothes or something. Changing clothes in the hammock was a challenge. Of course, if you’re back country camping in the middle of nowhere, this is no issue, but if you use shared campgrounds, or free/wild/stealth camping in places that might have people passing by (I did lots of this in Japan), this can be an issue. Finally, to use a hammock in any kind of cool to cold weather, you need to warm your underside. So you still need a mattress or something to insulate you from the cold night air circulating under your body. There are a number of companies that offer products like this that are suitable for a wide range of temperatures. With an under quilt, you can enjoy your hammock in some low temperatures comfortably.
In the end for me concerns about always having a suitable place to hang it, not having any space other than lying down in the hammock space, and the need to have some kind of insulating pad or something under me meant that the hammock is usually not the right piece of gear for a trip I’m taking. I still use it on occasion, but not very frequently.
Hennessy Hammock Expedition Series Asym
Comfortable for sleeping
Easy to hang and take down
Tough to get in and out of
Need insulation under you
Not a lot of space
Buy it if you want to try hammock camping without splashing out a lot of cash.
Look elsewhere if you need more space to relax in your mobile accommodation.