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.

1 comment:

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