About a year and a half ago, I was in Portland and REI had a sale on Hammocks. I was in the middle of my Tour of America’s and was tempted by gear lust and really wanted to try a Hammock for my camping setup. I had been using a Nemo Obi 2P tent for the past several years, including a Bike tour thro SE Asia and the Te Araroa, a Thro Hike in New Zealand. I have been pleased with the tent setup, but the idea of Hammock camping was just something I had to try.
REI had a Sale on both Hennessy Hammock and ENO’s and after a bit of deliberation, I decided to go with the hennessy setup. I would think the separable Mosquito net situation of the ENO is a pretty awesome idea, but overall I liked the simplicity of the Zipped, Always on situation of the Hennessy. I got the standard rainfly, a set of snake skins and the webbing straps along with the hammock. After a few weeks of use, I added a couple of additional ropes to my kit. I suppose the standard ropes are long enough, but I figured in the rare situation I’s better to have additional ropes anyway (I did use additional ropes about 5% of the times).
There are fantastic resources online for hammock setup and my favourite is the Ultimate Hang. While researching online for hammock hacks, one always ends up with forums where one passionately supports Hammocking or Tenting and the discussions lead nowhere. Suffice it to say that both systems have their benefits and quirks and one has to just spend enough time with either to get comfortable (sic). I toured with both my Hammock and Tent from Portland to San Diego and after the initial learning curve, I got comfortable with hammocking and slept in it pretty much every night. A couple of nights at some KOA campgrounds, there were no trees and instead of Bivying in the hammock, I decided to use the tent. After I got to SD, I decide to go all in and shipped my tent to my brother to shed weight.
Then I got into deserts of Baja California and had to get creative sleeping in the hammock. Many nights, I ended up using the hammock as a bivy. Though it wasn’t as comfortable as a 2P tent, it worked in a pinch. I’ve been using the hammock as my Primary sleep system all over Latin America for the past 15 months and ave used it to sleep in random restaurants, Fire stations, occasional camp grounds, farms, etc. In the tropics, I have never had an issue finding a place to hang. However, as I head south from Ecuador (where I am writing this), the high deserts of Bolivia and the Southern Andes might pose a challenge for hammocking and I might have to bivy more often or might end up switching back to my tent again. Lets see.
Now onto the specifics of the Hennessy hammock… I was surprised at first that the hammock material and the ropes could hold my weight reliably. But props to the modern materials I suppose, light weight and durable. Neat. The Zippered mosquito netting is a really neat design and though I have to be careful while getting in and not stress the mosquito netting too much, its been reliable and has had no holes or any other issues. I really like the ridge line inside the hammock that holds up the mosquito netting. They have installed a nice bit of gear pouch on the ridge line and a couple of carabiner clips to hang stuff. I often end up hanging bits and pieces of clothing when I go to sleep.
While camping in camped areas, especially in small restaurants or fire stations, I do not have the option to use the side pull cords much. It’s obviously a lot more comfortable when the sides are pulled out, but I can sleep fine without them too.
The rainfly design is pretty sweet, the whole things is a breeze to setup. However, the tarp would slacken and though there are guidelines to keep the tarp tensed, it seems like it would be really nice to setup a ridgeline for the tarp. I setup a ridgeline and also added ropes to be able to setup the tarp independently. This setup works well when I have to setup my system in teh rain. I set my tarp up first then setup my hammock under it in the dry and then attach the tarp to the hammock for extra stability. It would be nice if they supplied the tarp as such, but I suppose marketing the setup on weight, they prefer not to provide additional ropes. The supplied webbing straps are pretty reasonable length, and often times I have preferred to have longer webbing (again I suppose they try to provide short ones to demonstrate the low weight of the package).
Overall I’ve come to enjoy camping with the Hennessy Hammock as my primary system. There are quirks to be aware of and adjustment has to be made when switching from a tent to a hammock, but honestly, either you have a tent or a hammock, the important thing is to be out and about. One gets to adjust and learn the system and the only thing I would say that determined the choice of one or the other is the terrain you are at. If you are in places where there is absolutely no place to hang, then a tent would be in order, for everything else, I prefer my hammock!