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EXPLORER DELUXE A-SYM FIELD REPORT

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  • Shane Steinkamp
    Here is the field report. Please see the HTML version for images and formatting. My apologies to whoever has to edit this. I guess I got carried away...
    Message 1 of 5 , Jan 3, 2003
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      Here is the field report. Please see the HTML version for images and
      formatting. My apologies to whoever has to edit this. I guess I got
      carried away...

      Shane

      ***

      EXPLORER DELUXE A-SYM
      BY HENNESSY HAMMOCK

      Field Report - January 3, 2003

      "Personally, I believe a rocking hammock, a good cigar,
      and a tall gin-and-tonic is the way to save the planet."
      - P.J. O'Rourke

      Reviewer information

      Name: Shane Steinkamp
      Age: 33
      Gender: Male
      Height: 5' 10" (1.8 meters)
      Weight: 240 lbs (108 kilos)
      Email address: shane@...
      <mailto:shane@...>
      City: New Orleans (Metairie)
      State: Louisiana
      Country: USA
      Date: January 3, 2003

      Report Menu

      Report Notes
      Snakeskins
      Field Test
      Other Considerations
      Summary
      Additional Resources


      Backpacking background: Bit by the wandering bum disease at an early age, I
      have over 10,000 miles (16,100 kilometers) of long distance hiking
      experience. After that I lost track... I have been hiking since age seven or
      eight, which is about 26 years. I have ranged from the southern tip of Baja
      to Barrow, Alaska and from coast to coast - although most of my wandering
      has been done west of the Mississippi river, with frequent trips in Florida.
      I have experienced all extremes of weather and terrain, with the exception
      of Antarctic terrain.

      Background applicable to this test: I have been hammocking before hammocking
      was cool, usually with rigs I have built myself. I have experience in
      hammocks in many kinds of terrain and conditions, including terrain and
      conditions where hammocks wouldn't normally be used. I have seen and
      recommended Hennessy Hammocks, but until now I have not owned one, and I had
      never actually slept in one. I am a large person, and the Deluxe model
      interested me greatly.

      The Explorer Deluxe A-sym is manufactured by:
      Hennessy Hammock
      <http://www.hennessyhammock.com>

      Specifications are discussed in the Initial Report.

      REPORT NOTES

      At the time of this writing, the Hennessy Hammock
      <http://www.hennessyhammock.com> website, <http://www.hennessyhammock.com>,
      is undergoing an expansion. More information is being added, and I have
      found it to be beneficial. Visiting the website, if you have not already
      done so, is recommended.

      SNAKESKINS

      Hennessy's Snakeskins did not arrive in time to be part of the initial
      report, so they will be covered here. Snakeskins are a pair of Silnylon
      tubes, slightly longer than half the longest dimension of the rain fly,
      parallel with the ridge cord, and wider at one end than the other.
      Snakeskins, when deployed, meet and slightly overlap in the middle of the
      hammock and turn the hammock and rain fly into a long "snake" with the
      suspension ropes coming out of either end. Installation takes just a few
      minutes, and is accomplished by removing the webbing tree huggers and
      threading the Snakeskins onto each suspension rope, one on each side, then
      reinstalling the tree huggers. The widest end of the Snakeskins are
      threaded on first, and they bunch up nicely next to the ridge cord knot.

      When taking the hammock down, the Snakeskins slip over the hammock and rain
      fly, creating a very long "snake" between the suspension ropes. One of two
      methods can be used to make this process easier: Either spiral wrap (like a
      candy cane) the tie-out cords around the hammock body and rain fly after
      gathering them up to the ridge cord, or roll the hammock bed and rain fly up
      to the ridge cord. Even doing this, it is necessary to stuff the last
      little bit of the hammock and rain fly into the ends of the Snakeskins with
      your fingers because the rain fly and hammock bed gather in the center and
      create a bulge. The Snakeskins overlap one another by a few inches creating
      a uniform "snake". To set up the hammock you simply tie it between two
      supports, then retract the Snakeskins which bunch nicely around the
      suspension rope.

      At first blush, I was very excited about the Snakeskins. When I first heard
      about them, my imagination ran wild as I considered what a wonderful idea
      they are. After setting up and taking down hammocks of all kinds and having
      to fold and roll them just so while keeping the cords from getting tangled,
      I have often wished for an easier way. The Snakeskins were a real
      forehead-slapper for me and I was anxious to try them. In actual practice,
      however, they were not easy to use, being rather tight and requiring a lot
      of fussing to finally stuff every bit of the hammock and rain fly into the
      Snakeskins' overly tight tubes. Now that I have acquired some experience
      with them, their use is a little easier, but still frustrating - especially
      with gloved hands or with hands that are cold because you have removed the
      gloves in irritation. The phrase, "Like trying to drive a herd of cats",
      often came to mind.

      In all fairness, they are rather ingenious, and make things like tangled
      cords a thing of the past. You no longer have to try to fold or roll the
      hammock bed and rain fly in order to stuff it into the stuff sack. This is
      especially appreciated in wet and/or windy conditions. With the Snakeskins
      you really don't need a stuff sack at all. Once encased in the Snakeskins,
      the Hennessy Explorer Deluxe A-sym coils (snake-like) easily in the bottom
      of your pack. Using a frame pack, you can wrap it around and around the
      pack bag where the pack bag meets the frame, and tie it off, saving space
      inside your pack. The largest benefit to using the Snakeskins is in bad
      weather. When setting up, you don't have to hassle with trying to keep
      everything dry or keep the rain fly from blowing away. When taking the
      hammock down after a rain, you no longer have to worry about packing a wet
      rain fly since the entire rain fly is encased in a water proof tube.

      But, they need to be re-thought. The instructions indicate that the
      Snakeskins can be deployed in ten seconds. This is simply impossible with
      the way they fit the Explorer Deluxe A-sym. They are much too tight. My
      time to deploy the Snakeskins is about three minutes. During a few tests
      where I was blindfolded, deploying the Snakeskins took me around four
      minutes.

      If I were not using them on an A-sym they might work better, in my opinion,
      because the widest part of the hammock 'diamond' (and hence the thickest
      part of the hammock bundle) is in the center on a non-A-sym hammock. On an
      A-sym hammock, however, the widest part of the diamond (and hence the
      thickest part of the hammock bundle) is NOT in the center; it is at the apex
      of each tie-out point. The long conical shape of the Snakeskins would still
      work, but they need to be somewhat larger to work easily. They wouldn't
      have to be much larger - another half inch (13 Millimeters) of diameter
      might do the trick. They could even remain the same size, but at least the
      'mouth' should flare a bit wider and provide more of a funnel shape. Even
      with all the frustration, I will continue to use them even after the test
      period because the benefits outweigh the aggravation. If a larger set
      becomes available, however, I will order a them post-haste.

      An important side benefit of the Snakeskins is not even mentioned in the
      instructions or on the Hennessy website. One of the banes of hammock use is
      heavy rain because the suspension ropes become saturated and water wicks
      along the ropes and wets the hammock bed. The common solution is to tie
      cotton or other absorbent strings to the suspension ropes near their
      attachment to the hammock bed. The strings wick water away from the rope
      and it drips to the ground instead of wetting the hammock bed. With the
      Snakeskins, the strings are no longer necessary. Once the hammock is
      deployed and the rain fly properly tensioned, simply slide the suspension
      knot (distal) end of the Snakeskins up to the tie-off knot and the hammock
      bed (proximal) end of the Snakeskins down the suspension rope to cover the
      first few inches (few centimeters) of the corner of the rain fly.
      Protecting the suspension ropes with the Snakeskins keeps them dry. While
      the knot could still become wet and capillary action could carry the water
      along the suspension rope and to the hammock bed, I never experienced this
      with the Snakeskins deployed to protect the suspension ropes in the manner
      described. It would be nice if the Snakeskins would flare at the distal end
      for just a few (6 or 8) inches (few (15 or 20) centimeters) and functionally
      cover the knot as well.

      Bottom line: I really like them, and would recommend them, but they need to
      be larger.

      Snakeskins - bunched around suspension rope.

      <IMAGE>

      Snakeskins - deployed over tarp corner to protect rope from rain.

      <IMAGE>

      FIELD TEST

      I used the Explorer Deluxe A-sym during the Field Test period for several
      overnight trips, and several day hikes. These were mostly in the
      South-Eastern Louisiana region, with warm, humid temperatures and frequent
      rain. Four of the overnights were night hikes, wandering in the moonlight,
      three were simple hike-n-camps, and I used the Explorer Deluxe A-sym during
      a vacation in Navarre Beach, Florida, and for a three day hike in the Black
      Creek Wilderness in Mississippi
      <http://www.theplacewithnoname.com/hiking/sections/places/bc_desoto_ms/bc_de
      soto_ms.htm>. Hikes ranged from 3 to 12 miles a day (or night, as the case
      may be). Terrain was standardly flat or slightly rolling, in Cypress Swamps
      or bottom land hardwoods mixed heavily with pine.

      I had no problems setting up, sleeping in, or otherwise using the Explorer
      Deluxe A-sym - except for some frustrating sessions with the Snakeskins -
      and I have used it a lot. I set it up every weekend in the yard for my
      afternoon nap. My neighbors are used to seeing it now, and think that I'm
      crazier than ever. My boss, however, knows that I'm crazy but has decided
      that I shouldn't set the Explorer up between the pine tree in the parking
      lot and the dumpster fence and take a nap at lunch anymore...

      SETUP

      The Explorer Deluxe A-sym's setup was explained in the Initial Report
      <http://www.backpackgeartest.org/reviews/Shelters/Hammocks/Hennessy%20Explor
      er%20Deluxe%20A-Sym/Shane%20Steinkamp/Inital%20-%20Explorer%20Deluxe%20A-sym
      />, but there are a few things to add. Setup time, including staking out
      the fly and tying both it and the hammock bed out, improved with practice,
      and my best time during the test period was 1 minute, 25 seconds; although
      in actual practice my setup time is just over two minutes because I am fussy
      about having it 'right'. During blindfolded tests, I could setup the
      Explorer Deluxe A-sym under four minutes, and usually under three. While
      this probably means nothing to you, it does at least demonstrate that the
      setup is both easy and fast.

      While the hammock should ideally be centered between the supports (trees,
      etc.), and the hammock should ideally be level, I found that there is a lot
      of forgiveness in the Explorer Deluxe A-sym's design even if the hammock
      wasn't exactly level or precisely centered. In fact, there is a lot of room
      for error. I believe that the integral ridge cord is largely responsible
      for this flexibility. I found it beneficial to hang the Explorer Deluxe
      A-sym high - very high. I often hung it as high as I could reach on the
      supports (trees, etc.) Hanging it this high gave me enough room to stand
      under the rain fly. The only problem is that the bottom of the hammock
      winds up much too high - almost up to my hips. There is an inherent amount
      of stretch in the tree huggers, ropes, and the hammock itself, however, and
      I found that putting one knee into the bottom of the hammock, while it was
      in the camp chair configuration, and bearing down causes the entire hammock
      to 'settle' into a good height. This height is still higher than the
      recommended 'chair' height, but I prefer it. When the bottom of the hammock
      falls just above mid-thigh, it is very easy to get into and step out of. A
      lot of the problems people seem to have entering and exiting hammocks, and
      especially Hennessy Hammocks, is because (in my opinion) they hang them too
      low.

      I have never used hammock bed tie outs with any other hammock, because no
      other hammock has ever had them. Using the Explorer Deluxe A-sym's hammock
      bed tie outs spreads the hammock bed and makes it easier to use the hammock
      bed as a table while standing inside the entrance slit and organizing your
      gear or packing your pack. The tie outs also make it easier to put your
      sleeping pad in place, when using one. While laying in the hammock,
      however, I find that the tie outs have no real benefit, except perhaps to
      dampen the rocking motion of the hammock. Since I like the rocking motion,
      I actually find this a negative aspect of their use, and tended not to use
      them while sleeping.

      The rain fly should be centered, as much as possible, over the hammock bed.
      You can pull a little extra over the entrance end, but not much. At first
      (and often second and third) glance, the rain fly seems too small. In
      practice, it is adequate to protect the hammock bed from the elements,
      although high winds in a heavy rain will sometimes blow a fine mist under
      the rain fly. This is true of any tarp set up, and don't let this
      discourage you. Staying dry under such conditions is always challenging,
      but the provided rain fly is adequate for the task. I standardly use a 10
      by 10 foot (3 by 3 Meter) tarp, and the provided rain fly is just smaller
      than what I am used to, and I sometimes desired just a little extra -
      especially in heavy rains. Even just 4 or 5 extra inches (10 or 13 extra
      centimeters) on each side (or even just one side) would have been welcome.
      I want to make it clear, however, that there is nothing wrong with the rain
      fly, and it doesn't need to be any bigger - I'm just greedy.

      I had some other thoughts on the subject of the rain fly, and I'll share
      them here, since they are modifications that some may desire. Your mileage
      may vary... If the rain fly were a little longer on the diagonal - say a
      yard (a meter) or so - then the excess rain fly could create a sheltered
      area outside the hammock for gear hung on the suspension rope. Similarly, a
      square of Silnylon about two square yards (two square meters) in area
      stitched to one edge would create a welcome vestibule or porch, as well as a
      wind break, and add little weight.

      The above can also be improvised. I found that threading the suspension
      rope at the entrance end of the Explorer through both arms of my rain jacket
      ( Packa
      <http://www.backpackgeartest.org/reviews/Rain%20Gear/Jackets%20and%20Pants/P
      acka%20Jacket/Owner%20Reviews/Owner%20Review%20-%20Shane%20Steinkamp/>) and
      using the jacket's waist cord as a tie out allowed me to create a windbreak.
      Tying the drawstring of the hood to the suspension rope near the rain fly
      tensioner and staking the waist drawstring to the ground also provided an
      excellent windbreak on occasion. Draping the rain jacket across the
      entrance end suspension rope (as if straddling the rope, hood towards the
      support (tree, etc.)), tying the arms or hood drawstring around the support
      (tree, etc) (or passing a cord through the arms for a second set of tie
      outs), and using the waist cord as a set of tie outs (either to small trees,
      tent stakes, or cleverly running the rain fly tie out around a small tree or
      tent stake and then back to the rain jacket's waist cord and tying them
      together) created a small roof for items hung from the suspension rope, and
      a short porch. Under ideal conditions, such extra protection is not
      necessary, because your gear can be spread all around or under the hammock.
      Under adverse conditions, like rain, soggy or rough ground conditions, wind,
      or cold temperatures when the hammock contains your sleeping bag and pad and
      therefore cannot be rolled up and tucked over the ridge cord, the extra
      protection for items hung from the suspension rope is welcome.

      Under good weather conditions, I found that I preferred to throw one side of
      the rain fly over the ridge cord and sleep in the open. If I suspected that
      it might rain during the night, I ran a piece of nylon string from the tie
      out point on the side of the rain fly that I had thrown over the ridge cord,
      then brought the string over the top of the hammock, around a small tree or
      tent stake, and then into the entrance slit. If I wanted to deploy the tarp
      in the middle of the night, I just pulled on the string and tied it off to
      the ridge cord. Two seconds after it started raining, I could have the tarp
      in place without ever leaving the hammock.

      Gear can be stowed inside the hammock, although it must be hung from the
      ridge cord or secured in some way to keep it from gravitating to the center
      of the hammock bed and against your body. The major problem with hanging
      heavy things from the ridge cord is that they tend to gravitate to the
      center, sliding along the ridge cord, when you'd much rather have them
      tucked up into the ends of the hammock. In lieu of anti-gravity spray, a
      short cord of the same material as the ridge cord, about a foot long (30
      Centimeters) or even a little longer, protruding from the knot bundle where
      the hammock bed meets the suspension ropes and extending a short distance
      inside the hammock, would be very welcome. Ideally, for me, there would be
      one cord in each end, and have a plastic hook on the end of each cord just
      like the hooks that clip the rain fly to the suspension ropes. Gear could
      then be hung from the ridge cord and secured into the ends of the hammock by
      wrapping this short cord around the hooks suspending the gear (I actually
      use little key ring 'carabineers') and then clipping the hook back to the
      cord, forming a loop. This would eliminate the tendency for gear to slide
      down the hammock bed and into the sleeper. I finally used a safety pin
      through the hammock bed and attached a short cord to it in order to secure
      my camera bag after it repeatedly abused my face one night. I didn't want
      the camera to be damaged, and my face looks bad enough as it is. I imagine
      someone with IR goggles would have gotten a kick out of watching me SHOVE
      the case back into the end of the hammock, only to have it slide back down
      and SLAM into my face several times in the dark...

      An important benefit of the Explorer Deluxe A-sym is that it can be set up
      where no tent could ever be pitched. Below is a photo of just such an area.
      While it may not be apparent, the hammock is pitched on the edge of a
      secondary (flood level) river bank.

      <IMAGE>

      Several alternative methods of setup are available, including on the ground
      as a tent or bivy. The Hennessy Hammock website
      <http://www.hennessyhammock.com> has some photographs of this method.
      Trying it out, I found that the Explore Deluxe A-sym works well in this
      configuration, and I wouldn't hesitate to carry it in lieu of a tent under
      most conditions.

      Shown below are two alternative setups using a 10 by 10 foot (3 by 3 Meter)
      tarp. While I always used the provided rain fly during the field test,
      these alternative setups were done as an experiment in my front yard, and I
      think that such setups would be useful in very rainy or windy conditions.

      <IMAGE>

      <IMAGE>


      CARRY

      While backpacking, my preferred method of carry is to coil the hammock, with
      the Snakeskins deployed, like a rope (or a snake). I then secure this coil
      with a short length of parachute cord and then either tie the coil to my
      pack or stow it under the top flap. My favorite method is to coil it and
      then wrap it in my sit-pad and secure that bundle under the top flap of my
      KISKIL Mithril
      <http://www.backpackgeartest.org/reviews/Packs/Frameless%20Backpacks%20and%2
      0Day%20Packs/KISKIL%20Mithril%20Pack/> pack. In this way, the Explorer
      Deluxe A-sym can be called into service at a moment's notice.

      USE


      <IMAGE>

      My most common use of the hammock, besides sleeping, is to set it up at rest
      breaks and use it as a luxurious camp chair or lounger. When it comes time
      for a break, I simply look for a suitable spot, step a few feet off the
      trail, and rig the Explorer Deluxe A-sym between two trees. I find that
      setting it up for the lunch break, kicking off my footwear, and having a
      nice reclining lunch while swinging gently in the breeze is not only
      comfortable and refreshing, but deeply satisfying on an emotional level as
      well. When I come upon a nice view, a babbling brook, or even just an open
      place in the sun, I know I have found a good spot to hang the Explorer
      Deluxe A-sym and have a nice break. If the weather is good, I just throw
      one side of the rain fly over the back of the ridge cord and let it dangle.
      When the weather is bad, I just tie the rain fly out and have an instant
      shelter. The Explorer Deluxe A-sym's integral ridge cord is a real blessing
      in this regard, making setup faster than with my home-made rigs with a ridge
      cord that has to be strung separately.

      In muggy weather, it is nice to be able to have a place to get out of my
      rain gear, strip off, and dry out. I like to hang the Explorer Deluxe A-sym
      high enough to be able to stand upright under the rain fly. This allows me
      to stand inside the entry slit and use the hammock bed as a table to unpack
      and organize my gear. Wet rain jacket ( Packa
      <http://www.backpackgeartest.org/reviews/Rain%20Gear/Jackets%20and%20Pants/P
      acka%20Jacket/Owner%20Reviews/Owner%20Review%20-%20Shane%20Steinkamp/>),
      boots, socks and undergarments (if any) all get hung on the ridge cord to
      dry. Once I get out my lunch, I repack my pack and sit in the hammock to
      eat. After lunch, I stretch out in the hammock for a nice siesta. A twenty
      minute power nap gives me the extra oomph and endurance on up-hill days. In
      the above photo I am having a nap next to a small river (obscured by the
      hammock) where no tent could ever be set up. The rain fly simply dangles
      behind the hammock, and my boots are slung over the ridge cord. To use the
      hammock as a lounger, simply fold the hammock by reaching under and grabbing
      the centermost end of the entrance slit and pull it towards you while
      pushing the hammock bed tie out point to the other side. If you sit in this
      newly formed cradle, you have a camp chair; if you lean over and pull your
      feet up, you can have a quick nap just like this. You aren't actually in
      the hammock at this point, you are on the outside. When inside, you lay
      flat, not in the banana shape caused by the lounger configuration.

      You should be warned, however, that doing this when hiking with a group of
      people who don't have hammocks will cause some people to become insanely
      jealous. This is true especially in bad weather when those persons are
      sitting on the wet ground, or wet logs, using inadequate ground sheets.
      When you doze off for your nap, they might even leave you behind - and you
      may pick up the trail name "Sleeping Beauty".

      One memorable lunch break was one taken while hiking solo when a heavy, but
      brief, downpour caught me by surprise. The rain came on suddenly, just as I
      was cresting a little hill, so I decided to stop. I rigged the Explorer,
      climbed in, and broke out my lunch. Another hiker came up two or three
      minutes later and asked if he could pitch his tarp next to mine, since the
      little hill was a good spot to stay dry. I said, "Don't set up your tarp,
      just stretch out under mine." He pulled out his sleeping pad, and laid it
      under and slightly to one side of my hammock and sat down to have his lunch.

      "So", he asked, "am I in the basement, or on the first floor?"

      "You're on the ground floor", I replied, "and I'm in the loft. This is a
      two story tarp. It even has an attic because I can tie things to the ridge
      cord."

      I had done this kind of tarp sharing before, but not with the Explorer. The
      Explorer Deluxe A-sym, however, lends itself well to tarp sharing, and you
      could have someone in the hammock and one or two underneath if the rain
      isn't being blown by the wind.

      It is possible to sit inside the hammock in several different ways; with
      legs dangling through the entrance slit; tailor fashion (cross-legged),
      Lotus position, and a few others. I personally preferred to recline, and if
      you scoot as far as you can into the head end and lie with your body's axis
      along the ridge line, you wind up in a position that is very much like
      sitting in a comfortable recliner.

      All of this comfort is actually a real drawback to carrying the Explorer
      Deluxe A-sym, because - like chocolate - the Explorer is an irresistible
      pleasure. You will from time to time get sick and tired of the weather
      and/or a steep uphill climb, and start daydreaming about being in the
      cradled comfort of the Explorer. This temptation may be so strong that you
      actually set the Explorer up and take a much longer break than you should if
      you are going to reach a preset destination at a preset time. Worse, you
      may decide that you are so comfortable, and camp is mostly set anyway, that
      you will just stay in the hammock and take a zero day. If you are the kind
      of person that can't resist temptation, and you really need to be somewhere,
      then you might be better off not carrying the Explorer. If you don't have
      it, you'll keep going, because it's better to keep hiking in the rain rather
      than lay on sharp rocks...

      SLEEPING

      Sleeping in the Explorer Deluxe A-sym has proved to be very comfortable -
      even more comfortable than some of the home-made rigs I have used over the
      years. I attribute this to the generous hammock bed and the integrated
      ridge cord. The design features of the Explorer Deluxe A-sym make it hard
      to screw up the set up. I am primarily a side sleeper, but I successfully
      slept in the Hennessy Explorer Deluxe A-sym on my back, on my front, on my
      side, and in the fetal position. Again, the integral ridge cord has a lot
      to do with generating the perfect 'sag' in the hammock bed, which greatly
      improves comfort. On a whim, I laid my pad down on the ground and took half
      a nap, and then switched to the Explorer and took the second half. I find
      that the Explorer Deluxe A-sym is not only much more comfortable than
      sleeping on the ground, but also more comfortable than some other hammocks
      that I have used in the past.

      While I was comfortable in all temperature ranges, it would be beneficial to
      have the Explorer Deluxe A-sym bed made from a windproof material if your
      primary use is in cold temperatures. In temperatures above 70 degrees
      Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius, 294 degrees Kelvin), I was comfortable in
      the hammock alone (nude), using a Neat Sheet <http://www.theneatsheet.com/>
      (with the corner weights cut out) instead of a sleeping bag. Between 50 and
      70 degrees Fahrenheit (10 and 21 degrees Celsius, 283 and 294 degrees
      Kelvin) I used a closed-cell Polyolefin pad under me, and a Neat Sheet
      <http://www.theneatsheet.com/> instead of a sleeping bag. Below 50 degrees
      Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius, 283 degrees Kelvin), I used a closed-cell
      Polyolefin pad under me, and an adequately rated sleeping bag.

      My most recent hike included a night of freezing temperatures. I was using
      an experimental pad of my own design and manufacture; this being a full
      length, 24 inch (61 Centimeter) wide Polyolefin pad (Wal-Mart variety)
      wrapped in a Mylar space blanket. The Mylar blanket was taped in place
      around the pad. This configuration was then wrapped in a Neat Sheet
      <http://www.theneatsheet.com/>, which was secured with safety pins. In
      addition to this I was using an inexpensive (read cheap at $19.95!)
      synthetic fill sleeping bag rated (who are they trying to kid?) at 20
      degrees Fahrenheit (-7 degrees Celsius, 266 degrees Kelvin).

      The night of freezing temperatures, I went to sleep on my back in the nude
      (except for a watch cap); but immediately noticed that the small of my back
      was cold even though the temperature was only 38 degrees Fahrenheit (3
      degrees Celsius, 276 degrees Kelvin). I slipped my sit-pad, a Polyolefin
      pad 22 inches (56 Centimeters) on a side, under my sleeping pad at the small
      of my back and this cured the problem. In the early morning, I began to
      feel chilly, though through no fault of the pad - my cheap sleeping bag was
      to blame. When I checked the thermometer at 3:00 AM, the temperature was 29
      degrees Fahrenheit (-2 degrees Celsius, 271 degrees Kelvin), and I felt
      generally cool. As a precaution at this point I slipped on my silk liners
      and some socks, and slept very warmly the rest of the night. On the
      following night, the temperature went no lower than 36 degrees Fahrenheit (2
      degrees Celsius, 275 degrees Kelvin), and despite my cheap sleeping bag, I
      remained warm. On both nights the humidity was 65% and the wind was only an
      intermittent light breeze. On both nights I successfully slept on my back,
      on my side, and on my front; my favorite being a 'three-quarters-front'
      position with my face snuggled in a flannel shirt for a pillow.

      There are some caveats and tips that should be offered, however, lest the
      reader think that all of this is fantastically easy. While using the
      Explorer Deluxe A-sym normally is fast, easy, and fun, using a pad in the
      Explorer - and indeed any hammock - changes a few things and can be
      challenging. Of course, the pad is only needed during cold weather. Here
      is my view inside the hammock when using a pad, taken on that freezing night
      at about 11:00 P.M.:

      <IMAGE>

      This was taken after dark, and the flash makes the bug netting look opaque,
      but it is really very translucent. (Any light inside the hammock at night
      makes the bug netting opaque.) You can see that I have hung my boots and
      sandals from the ridge cord, and that the asymmetrical design provides a
      wide flat space inside the hammock for the pad. I could point my toes and
      not touch the edge of the hammock. I could actually scoot quite a bit
      further back, but I found that I had plenty of foot room and preferred to
      stow my gear at the head end from the ridge cord. I would have taken a shot
      towards the head end, but my camera's battery died in the cold and this was
      the last shot I got. I will include one in the Long Term report.

      The 'problem' with using a pad in the Explorer Deluxe A-sym is that a full
      length pad traverses a portion of the entrance slit, a small portion of
      which can actually be seen in the above photo just below the heel of my
      boot. This makes it difficult to enter the hammock and situate yourself
      properly on the pad without some advanced planning. I found that the
      easiest way to accomplish this was to put the pad in place, sit on the side
      of the entrance slit near the pad (left side in the photo), lay back on the
      pad, then bring your legs and feet over onto the pad. If you do this wrong,
      and lay back onto the bug netting instead of onto the pad, something strange
      can happen. While it is impossible to fall out of the Explorer Deluxe
      A-sym, I found that it is possible to roll out of the hammock bed and onto
      the bug netting. While the bug netting did (surprisingly) support my
      weight, I cannot imagine that it is a good thing to do this as you risk
      damage to the netting. If you do it right, the pad winds up in the right
      place, and you wind up perfectly on the pad without too much fuss. Once on
      the pad, I found that using my sleeping bag as a quilt by tucking my feet
      into the foot box then tucking the edges of the bag between my body and the
      pad was a simple process. The entire process of entering the hammock,
      situating myself on the pad, and arranging my sleeping bag takes less than
      30 seconds. Exiting is just as easy - scoot off the pad, put your feet
      through the entrance slit, and exit the hammock normally.

      The other problem I had was with condensation - but this was entirely my own
      fault. Usually I tied the rain fly in such a way that there is a gap of
      just a few inches (few centimeters) between the rain fly and the bug
      netting. It is, however, possible to tie the rain fly so that there is zero
      distance between the rain fly and bug netting. This causes a closed
      environment between the hammock bed and rain fly - and condensation occurred
      because there was no ventilation. Because this was on a night of freezing
      temperatures, the condensation froze to the bug netting.

      OTHER CONSIDERATIONS

      The knot recommended by Hennessy Hammock was not my first choice for
      suspending a hammock, but I felt it was necessary to use the recommended
      setup during the test period. I have found, after tying it many times, that
      the 'Hennessy Hammock knot' has grown on me. It's simple and fast -
      although that isn't apparent from the instructions on the stuff sack. I
      have prepared a page with a video and a slide show that details the knot.
      It is available by clicking here
      <http://www.theplacewithnoname.com/hiking/sections/gear/shelter/hknot.htm>.

      I have been pleased with the color of the Hennessy Explorer Deluxe A-sym.
      The hammock bed is a dark green, and the rain fly is an earthy shade of
      brown. These colors blend in to the background and are very easy on the
      eyes - and the psyche; although you should be sure you can find your
      campsite if wandering away from it as the Explorer disappears mysteriously
      at even short distances and will not provide a visual cue that is easy to
      find in some kinds of terrain.

      The asymmetrical design of the Hennessy Explorer Deluxe A-sym 'forces' the
      user to sleep with the torso left-of-center. I prefer to sleep
      right-of-center, and sometimes I am bothered by this, but it isn't a major
      concern. Over time, I have adjusted nicely.

      The size is just right for me. During the field test I borrowed a friend's
      Safari model, and tried the Explorer side by side. While the extra room in
      the Safari is nice, I find that I don't really need it. Your mileage may
      vary.

      SUMMARY

      THINGS I LIKE

      1. Well executed out-of-the-box sleeping solution.
      2. Excellent construction and high quality materials.
      3. Various configuration options make the Explorer much more adaptable than
      other solutions.
      4. Little details well thought out and well executed.

      THINGS I DON'T LIKE

      1. Large number of 'defects' in bug netting. (No problems so far, even
      when accidentally laying on the bug netting.)
      2. No way to secure large pieces of gear (such as a pack) inside the
      hammock. (A pack could be hung from the ridge cord, but it would gravitate
      towards the center.)
      3. Small, if adequate, canopy. (Would be nice to have the option to
      purchase hammock alone, without tarp, allowing user to purchase tarp of
      desired size.)

      RECOMMENDATIONS

      1. Cord (with or without hook) at the foot end (or both ends) of hammock on
      interior to allow stowage of large items.
      2. Eliminate the canopy tie-out string entirely and replace the hammock bed
      tie out with a longer and slightly thicker shock cord. Use the shock cord
      to go around a tent stake or tree and then tie the canopy off to that.
      3. The simple directions on the stuff sack are adequate for experienced
      backpackers. New users may require more detailed instructions on setup and
      adjustment. The Explorer Deluxe A-sym is such a dynamic system, that a
      video should be developed showing it's setup, proper adjustment, and various
      configurations.

      BOTTOM LINE

      As my young nephew would say, "It doesn't suck!" I think that's teenage
      lingo for, "It's really good.", but in my day the common term was,
      "Bitchin'!". Contemporaneously, however, I think the proper M-TV term is,
      "That's fire, dawg!"

      In all seriousness, I have spent many, many nights in hammocks of all kinds
      - mostly my own manufacture. I find that the integrated solution offered in
      the Explorer Deluxe A-sym to be superior to many of my early experiments,
      some of my later home-made solutions, as well as most of the commercial
      systems I have tried, in many ways. The Explorer Deluxe A-sym is an ideal
      shelter system for beginners and experienced hammockers alike. The setup is
      fast and easy, and the Explorer is easy to use. Some level of complexity is
      added when using the Explorer in cold weather, but this is not
      insurmountable - or even very difficult. The Explorer Deluxe A-sym, and
      indeed all Hennessy Hammocks are modeled after the 'original' Mayan Hammock
      design, which is the system I like best.

      Taking the hammock and rain fly separately, the hammock bed and its
      suspension system are a real joy. My entire experience was very positive.
      >From time to time, I desired a slightly larger rain fly, but did not in
      actuality need one. If I ever did feel the need for a larger rain fly, I
      could simply substitute any one of a number of tarps already in my kit and
      be on my merry way. The Snakeskins did not, however, work to cover the
      larger fly I tried, but they will deploy over just the hammock bed.

      Considering the Explorer Deluxe A-sym in its entirety as an integrated
      shelter/sleep system, I can only say that I have had a very positive
      experience. While a few minor refinements would be nice - like the gear
      retaining cords - I have no complaint with any structural or major design
      aspect of the Explorer Deluxe A-sym. At no time during the field test did I
      experience any failure of any component, despite using and abusing the
      Explorer Deluxe A-sym a lot. In one fell swoop all of my other hammock beds
      are obsolete.

      My only major disappointments are that my wife will not let me install
      hammock anchors in our bedroom walls, and she doesn't let me sleep outside
      most nights.

      ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

      Shelter <http://www.theplacewithnoname.com/hiking/sections/gear/shelter.htm>
      Examining the pros and cons of tents and tarps. (A hammock is just a tarp
      with a more comfortable bed!)

      Why hammock?
      <http://www.theplacewithnoname.com/hiking/sections/gear/shelter/whyhammock.h
      tm> An essay trying to talk you into hammocking. Includes history, and
      other things.

      Instructions on tying the suspension knot are available by clicking here
      <http://www.theplacewithnoname.com/hiking/sections/gear/shelter/hknot.htm>.

      ***

      I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr. and Mrs. Hennessy,
      Hennessy Hammock, and BackpackGearTest for the opportunity to participate in
      this test.

      Thank you for your time.

      Shane Steinkamp

      shane@...
      <mailto:%3cshane@...>www.theplacewithnoname.com/hiking
      <http://www.theplacewithnoname.com/hiking>




      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Dennis Shubitowski
      LOL! I was just getting to the crux of your field report and the message was clipped by my web browser for being oversized! A first for me that I usually only
      Message 2 of 5 , Jan 3, 2003
      • 0 Attachment
        LOL! I was just getting to the crux of your field report and the message
        was clipped by my web browser for being oversized! A first for me that I
        usually only see on digests. Excellent and thorough read thus far
        though. I didn't see and edits at first blush. Are you a moderator or
        something like that?!? ;-)

        Dennis

        >>> shane@... 01/03/03 02:06PM >>>
        Here is the field report. Please see the HTML version for images and
        formatting. My apologies to whoever has to edit this. I guess I got
        carried away...

        Shane

        <mammoth tome snipped>
      • Shane Steinkamp
        ... Yeah, but I was overly verbose BEFORE I was drafted into service... -) My browser doesn t clip the report, but I m sorry that some will have that
        Message 3 of 5 , Jan 3, 2003
        • 0 Attachment
          > LOL! I was just getting to the crux of your field report
          > and the message was clipped by my web browser for being
          > oversized! A first for me that I usually only see on
          > digests. Excellent and thorough read thus far though. I
          > didn't see and edits at first blush. Are you a moderator or
          > something like that?!? ;-)

          Yeah, but I was overly verbose BEFORE I was drafted into service... '-)

          My browser doesn't clip the report, but I'm sorry that some will have that
          problem...

          The whole thing is uploaded with pictures here:

          http://www.backpackgeartest.org/reviews/Shelters/Hammocks/Hennessy%20Explore
          r%20Deluxe%20A-Sym/Shane%20Steinkamp/Field%20Test%20-%20Explorer%20Deluxe%20
          A-Sym%20-%20Shane%20S

          Sorry about that... ;)

          Shane
        • Andrew Priest
          Hi Jason Thanks for your final report on the Ion. This is my List Monitor s post five days edit, as your test monitor does not appear to have edited your
          Message 4 of 5 , Jan 12, 2003
          • 0 Attachment
            Hi Jason

            Thanks for your final report on the Ion. This is my List Monitor's post
            five days edit, as your test monitor does not appear to have edited your
            report. My comments follow:

            ### You need to include the manufacturer's information section. Please
            refer to the Survival Guide for further details.

            My only other comment is below.

            Thanks
            Andrew Priest
            List Monitor


            At 04:28 PM 03/01/2003, you wrote:

            >**************************************************
            >BLACK DIAMOND ION HEADLAMP TESTER REVIEW #3
            >
            >LONG TERM TESTING RESULTS
            >
            >I used the lamp for camp night chores and reading Lord of the Rings before
            >bed.

            ### I think you should insert "the" between "reading AND Lord", i.e., "I
            used the lamp for camp night chores and reading THE Lord of the Rings
            before bed."


            --
            Aushiker - http://aushiker.com - Comprehensive resource site on hiking in
            Western Australia.

            A thought: "Every time I feel the urge to exercise, I lie down until it
            goes away" - Mark Twain


            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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