Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Hennessy Hammock Expedition A-Sym

Initial Review

I have spent two nights in this hammock in my back yard. I am quite happy with this elevated tent.


I had some difficulty setting up the hammock.

The Knot: For starters, I had a difficult time tying the knot. Apparently this is a common problem for beginning users of Hennessys. It probably took ten tries over two nights to get it right. I can now tie the recommended knot with no slippage in about 20 seconds (four 'figure eights' and enough half-hitches to take up the rest of the rope).

Tree Huggers: These are basically seatbelt material with loops on each end. I certainly don't have any trees that can be wrapped twice with these things, which is also a common problem. I should have ordered the long ones!

The 'foot' tree was about 12" in diameter, and the strap was a bit too long to hold the hammock tight (it would slide down the tree). I remedied this by passing one end through the other end's loop and tying the hammock to the one loop.

The 'head' tree was about 18" in diameter, so there was a gap of about 8" or so between the strap loops. I used the 'stick under the strap' method to give myself room to pass the knot through, but this didn't really work well. I think I ended up just doing the figure eights around the rope in front of the loop connecting the straps. It looked odd and creaked a bit, but didn't stretch when I got in the hammock.

Outriggers: I used tent stakes as mounting points. The only problem was getting the tension right on the bungie cord straps. I think I will follow others' advice and tie a loop in the end, then place the stakes in the ground where the cords want them to be, as opposed to placing the stakes and making the cord match. This should also cut down on slippage. It is hard to remove a knot from the bungie cord, so the fewer I have to untie the better.

Tarp: The tarp seems a little small to me. Sure, if I mount it just above the hammock it covers the netting, but just barely. It looks like it would be easy for rain to be blown in the head and foot. I slept without the tarp the first night, but there was a threat of rain the second night, so I mounted it in the 'normal' position seen in most photos. It is very easy to tighten the tarp.

Tension: This was the hard part for me. I always felt like the hammock was either too tight or too loose. I tried mounting at 7'6" with steep lines as well as 5'5" with shallow, taut lines. Higher & looser seems better, but I still have not found the "magic angle" that works great.

Blanket, Sleeping Bag, Pads: I started the first night in a thin blanket on top, then added another one underneath a few hours later.

The second night was supposed to drop to 40F, so I brought out my big heavy 32F bag and two closed-cell foam pads I bought for this setup. This took a long time to set up. The pads were easy to place and, since they were foam, they stayed put the entire night. I had a hard time with the bag because it is big and bulky and has a right-side zipper. I went through the process of positioning the bag, entering the hammock, entering the bag, wiggling, out of bag, out of hammock, etc. at least four times before I was satistfied. I think a left-size zipper would have made it easier. I kept the footbox zipped, which was not too bad.


Tension & Setup: By the next morning the structure would stretch to the point where the ridgeline cord was no longer tight, and the bottom would lower about 8". This happened both nights. Hopefully the stretching will reduce as time goes on. This isn't really a problem except for two things: 1) The foot end stretched more than the head, so I had difficulty staying in the sweet spot. 2) It was very hard to get out when I could not stand up. I will lie in the hammock for 10 minutes and retension next time and see if that helps.

Bedding Materials: The first night with the blanket was fine until 3:00AM when the temp dropped to about 60F. I grabbed a second blanket I had left out and put it underneath. I was good for another 1:30, then was too cold, so I finished the night in my bed. This was a very easy setup, easy to get in and out, but definitely not for cool or cold nights.

I was very comfortable the second night using the bag and pads. I could really feel the 1/4" pads keeping the air away, but I was dissapointed to find that the temp. only went down to 50F, so it wasn't much of a challenge. I am sure this setup could go down to 45F, but 40F might be pushing it.

Finding the "Sweet Spot": These hammocks are designed to allow a diagonal sleeping position. This is accomplished by the tie-outs and extra fabric in the corresponding areas. My food always found its spot but my head never really found its home. I am 6'0", so I may be too tall for this bag, but the website indicates that I should fit fine. The first night was not too bad but the second night I was leaned against the netting. It took several minutes for me to worm myself into a good position.


I am worried that I might rip the fabric. There is a stress mark in the fabric just below the bottom of the entrance. It hasn't increased in size in the past two days but I am afraid it will sometime soon. I also feel like I need to be careful when I put all of my weight in small parts of the floor, especially suspending myself from my feet/butt and one hand, moving things around underneath me with the other hand. It hasn't failed yet but it does not seem happy when I do that.

Before I bought the hammock I thought of making one myself. I even made a model from paper to work out the ideal angles & see the stress points. After finding out that it would cost just as much as buying one, I decided to purchase it. One of the things I noticed when designing mine was that you had to be very careful with the gathering of the fabric on the support ropes. If you gathered the edges too tight then it wanted to close up on the top and hold you in a bag of fabric underneath. If you gathered the edges too loosely, it would force you away from the centerline and you would fall out if it weren't for the netting. Based on my model and my actual experience, I feel that the edges of the fabric are too loose, compared to the center. I never really felt cradled, but rather pushed into the netting.

Last Word

With all that being said, I love this product. I had two very comfortable nights, more comfortable than my bed. There is absolutely no comparison to sleeping on a pad in a tent. Once I work out the kinks I will be even happier. I want to try it a few more times to make sure it won't rip before I recommend it.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Hammock is Here

Finally arrived, but without its SnakeSkins. I unrolled it and it's in good shape. Looks really cool. Will try it out this afternoon.

Hammock, hammock, where's the hammock?

Argh! It's just sitting in the Doraville UPS center. Been there since Friday. Send it out already!

$100 iPod

We finally got the rebate check from MicroCenter for buying an iPod with their Visa. Now we can chop it up. Took a while but I'm glad I bought it.

Friday, May 20, 2005

DDR: Mario

A Dance Dance Revolution game is coming to the GameCube. The song list mainly includes Nintendo songs.

Penny Stove

I've been checking out alcohol stoves for camping and have come across several "classic" home-made designs, including the Pepsi, Cat Food and Turbo V8. These are all made of the respective cans, cut, foil taped and poked as necessary. However, this seems to be the most elegant and requires no tape: The Penny. The instructions are extremely simple (haven't made it yet, though) and uses only one thing: A Heineken keg can. Amazing!

Thursday, May 19, 2005

XBox 360 Trickery

According to Jostiq, the XBox 360 will not play XBox games directly. They have to be recompiled for the new system. Hmmm...

HOW Small is the GameBoy Micro's Screen

This small! Joystiq has a hands-on picture. Teeny tiny.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

More Oblivion News

Gamespot has a nice Interview about Oblivion. Also, there is now an Oblivion store.

Chronicles of Narnia GBA

I never really got into it, but some of my friends are big fans. Well, now it's in development for the Gameboy Advance. Perfect game for the cute little Gameboy Micro.

Tasty Monkey Found

I love The Onion. They have a report about a tasty monkey recently discovered.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Ordered My Hennessy Hammock

Ordered an Expedition Asym from Hennessy Hammock. BackpackGearTest has many reviews that rave about these. I have been wanting one for a year or so. Should get here in a few days.

Their website is a little primitive and doesn't quite work right. My e-mailed receipt had the addresses all screwed up so I called to make sure it was going to ship correctly. We'll see...

Zelda News

Gamespot has a brief impression of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Link turns into a werewolf and is ridden by a buddy. Hmmm... They also have the trailer.

(update) Watched the trailer. Cool! It was moving seeing him turn into a werewolf--he obviously doesn't like it. I assume this is a GameCube title (I hope so).

Gameboy Micro

Nintendo announced the newest Gameboy: The Micro. Super tough, tiny, will fit in anyone's jean pocket, no matter how tight (their words). Plays GBA games and is basically the size of an iPod mini (2/3 lighter, just a hair larger).


Oblivion News

Here's a Gamespot article with an interview and some new shots.

Dell Inspiron 1000 Notebook $499

Dell Inspiron 1000 Notebook $499

1024x768, 256MB RAM, CD burner & DVD player.

Use coupon code 62P2D?K280T9TD. Hurry! Expires after 400 uses.

Link to the computer

Link to the techbargains info

Cute Wittle Waste of Bandwitdh

Monday, May 16, 2005

My Laptop is Happy

I just bought 1GB of RAM for my laptop (upgraded from 512MB) and it's happy! The hard drive hardly runs at all. VS seems to compile much faster and the computer seems quieter overall. What to do with the old memory? Wonder if it will work in the crappy laptop? Surely not.

Will test out WoW tonight to see if it feels better--I have been having bad load time issues whenever I go into a new area, especially a large city.

Microsoft Search?

Hmmm, adding a Google look to desktop search. Still uses Microsoft's indexing service, which slows down my PC. Don't think I'll be trying it.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Carissa's Wierd (sic) New Release!

The band with the badly spelled name has a new release, even though they broke up. Plus their first two albums are going to be re-released. Yea!


Use your PC

These pics are pretty funny. I especially liked the pet cage monitor.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Star Wars and Aliens

Alienware has created a Star Wars line (well, two cases) of computers. They are apparently all AMD processors. Choose the light side (a scene with the good guys from 4 5 6) or the dark side (Vader) for your case. The interface also has some sort of WindowBlinds-style theme for Star Wars.

Artful Idea

This is pretty neat. You create simple art and add it to the gallery. You can view other artists' creations. The neat thing is that it records the process of creating the drawing so you can play how others created theirs.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Nintendo Revolution Details

You can search yourself and probably find better info, but I wanted to document what I've found so far:

1) PowerPC (either 1 or 2) processor, ATI video

2) Gyroscopes & touchy-feely
Apparently the controller will not have traditional buttons and d-pads. Instead, it will feature some sort of twisting/tilting technology and rubbable areas. Jokes aside, I can see how swinging a sword or golf club by swiping an area with your thumb is a cool idea. There is still a need for buttons, but I don't know how that will work. It would also be great if you could twist, tilt and rotate the controller (or the parts of it) to control things.

3) POV revolution?
Apparently this is one of the big revolutions in this console. They have patented a view technology that keeps the focus for the user in a unique way, apparently warping the view to keep everything visible instead of just widening the view area. Not sure about this one...

4) Networking
Wi-fi buit in, free networking system. Cool.

Remember, Nintendo pioneered many features that are now common. Saved games on NES (first Zelda), shoulder buttons on SNES, analog control stick on N64, vibration force-feedback on N64, 3D 3rd person control on N64, camera control on N64, wireless multiplayer on GBA & DS.


Neat concept. Download games instead of buying a box. Got Deus Ex for $10! It's an old game but one I have always wanted because it is the spiritual successor to System Shock, one of my favorite games.

Another Wireless Mouse

Here's another cheap Microsoft wireless mouse. It's ambidexterous, has no special buttons and no horizontal scroll (I never use that or the extra buttons anyway). $19 after rebates & discounts ($10 mail-in rebate).