EXPLORER DELUXE A-SYM FIELD REPORT
- 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
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
Name: Shane Steinkamp
Height: 5' 10" (1.8 meters)
Weight: 240 lbs (108 kilos)
Email address: shane@...
City: New Orleans (Metairie)
Date: January 3, 2003
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:
Specifications are discussed in the Initial Report.
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.
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
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
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
Snakeskins - bunched around suspension rope.
Snakeskins - deployed over tarp corner to protect rope from rain.
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
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...
The Explorer Deluxe A-sym's setup was explained in the Initial Report
/>, 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
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
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.
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
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.
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
0Day%20Packs/KISKIL%20Mithril%20Pack/> pack. In this way, the Explorer
Deluxe A-sym can be called into service at a moment's notice.
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
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
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 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.:
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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 inactuality 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
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
Examining the pros and cons of tents and tarps. (A hammock is just a tarp
with a more comfortable bed!)
tm> An essay trying to talk you into hammocking. Includes history, and
Instructions on tying the suspension knot are available by clicking here
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr. and Mrs. Hennessy,
Hennessy Hammock, and BackpackGearTest for the opportunity to participate in
Thank you for your time.
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- 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?!? ;-)
>>> 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
<mammoth tome snipped>
> LOL! I was just getting to the crux of your field reportYeah, but I was overly verbose BEFORE I was drafted into service... '-)
> 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?!? ;-)
My browser doesn't clip the report, but I'm sorry that some will have that
The whole thing is uploaded with pictures here:
Sorry about that... ;)
- 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.
At 04:28 PM 03/01/2003, you wrote:
>**************************************************### I think you should insert "the" between "reading AND Lord", i.e., "I
>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
used the lamp for camp night chores and reading THE Lord of the Rings
Aushiker - http://aushiker.com - Comprehensive resource site on hiking in
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]