Hennessey Safari Deluxe 3.4 first test report
- Hennessey Safari deluxe 3.4
You'd think I'd be used to the way that Tom Hennessey ships out his
hammocks by now, but I was still scratching my head at the bloated
envelope in which the new Safari arrived before I figured out what it
was. Everything I get from REI or Campmor comes in a cardboard box -
usually a trashed cardboard box, because they never put enough packing
material in the dang things. I guess they figure that whatever's inside
is fairly ding-proof.
That's the case with the Safari, and actually the envelope (some
ultratough petroleum-product-derived material originally designed to
withstand small nuclear weapons) is probably better because those boxes
usually have a hole in one side or the other, so I'm usually digging
into them while the delivery guy is still there, to make sure that
nothing wandered out the hole on the trip.
The Safari (like the Ultralight Backpacker 1.5 before it) doesn't have
much to break. Like the Ultralight, the Safari comes in a stuff sack
that has "Hennessey Hammock" in 2" high letters screened across the
front. On the back is a set of instructions that essentially says "wrap
the ends around a couple of trees and tie it off." Okay, it's more
complete than that, but there's not much complex about a hammock, after
all. Nobody seems to proofread these things, however, since this set of
instructions identifies the sleeping end on a diagram as a "hammiock."
The Ultralight's tag called its canopy coating material "silicione" so
maybe it's just a keyboard somewhere in the company that likes to insert
This is a hefty hammock. The Ultralight was just that - a 1.5 pound
silnylon wisp that was guaranteed to support only about 225 pounds, but
which will handle much more than that (according to my personal
experience). The Safari 3.4 weighs in at a bit more than the claimed 3.4
pounds - closer, on my scales, to 3.5 (58 ounces). It's not only made of
heavier fabric, but it's supposed to be longer, too, by at least 2 feet,
and wider (though the label claims the same 6? x 10? for both). What's
notably different is the support webbing (the Ultralight uses a very
tough "Dyneema" support rope attached to short pieces of light webbing).
This is macho stuff - 2" support webbing the whole way. There's no
maximum weight specified on the Safari, and I'm thinking the only thing
that could challenge it is a water buffalo, which I resemble closely.
Inside the nice hide-me-in-the-woods dark green stuff sack are two
same-color wads - one rolled-up larger one and another "Z-folded" about
half the size. The larger turns out to be the hammock, constructed of
what looks like a pretty heavy-duty urethane-coated nylon
(non-ripstop) and black bug netting. The smaller is the canopy - a sort
of dedicated diamond-shaped tarp made of urethane-coated ripstop that is
supposed to keep the rain off.
Like all Hennessey Hammocks, you enter from the bottom. Actually,
through a slit that runs from one end to nearly the center of the
bottom. The experienced will learn to set up the hammocks with the top
at about shoulder height. By the time you actually get into the hammock,
sag will bring the bottom of the hammock down to around chair height. So
you enter the hammock through the slit, sit down in the middle, pull
your legs up and close the slit. On the ultralights (and on the others
Hennessey's that I've seen), the weight of your body in the hammock
pulls the slit edges together, and strips of velcro allow you to close
it off to keep bugs, etc. out. I'm always asked if you can accidentally
fall out of the slit
in the middle of the night. If you're even a reasonably normal sleeper
(whatever that is), the answer is no. Unlike previous Hennesseys,
however, the Safari has a zipper to close the entry slit. This looks
like a big, beefy zipper, and it's got a lot of reinforcing here and
there, so I don't anticipate problems. The bad news is that while I
could just push on the opening with a foot to get out of the other
hammocks, this one is going to require me to rise to a level of
consciousness commensurate with operating a zipper when I need to emerge
in the middle of the night for whatever reason.
Inside the hammock, there's a "clothes line" that runs the length of the
hammock that does triple duty - it also supports the bug netting and it
carries a nice set of net pockets for things like gloves, flashlight,
etc. On the sides of the hammock are a pair of guy-outs, and these are
nearly as important as the support webbing. These maintain the hammocks
shape, so they need to be staked out (or tied off to nearby trees).
There's a doubled length of bungee-type cord that acts as a sort of
suspension and allows the hammock to sway or move around a little
without pulling out the stakes (or tearing the fabric).
The canopy is also supported with a 1" webbing on the ends, with an
adjustable side lock clip to mount it directly to the 2" webbing that
supports the whole hammock. There are two side guy-outs on the canopy as
well, and these are as important as those on the hammock for
insuring that the canopy maintains its shape (and keeps water off of
you). These need to be staked out and tightened first. After that, the
end webbing is tightened to center the canopy and give the whole
overhead a nice tight pitch.
The real test on this evaluation will be to see how much more room this
hammock has over the one that I already have. There will be two testers,
both over 250 and both over 6?. We're looking to see how much of this
hammock will have that "nearly flat" sweet spot for sleeping.
And hopefully, we'll be able to find some weather to try out the
protection capabilities of the overhead canopy. We've pretty much
figured out how to stay warm in colder weather in a Hennessey (see
previous tests of the Ultralight) and this one figures to make things
easier, since the fabric isn't as slippery.