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Re: [BackpackGearTest] REPOST Long Term Report Hennessy Hammock Expedition Asym Long Term Report Marc Pfenning

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  • Michael Wheiler
    Thanks for the additional information Marc. Hope your father is doing well. He certainly should be your first priority. When you have a chance, some edits of
    Message 1 of 2 , Dec 2, 2003
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      Thanks for the additional information Marc. Hope your father is doing well.
      He certainly should be your first priority. When you have a chance, some
      edits of the repost follow.


      > Long Term Testing

      > My nights in the hammock included mild dry nights, light rain, and
      howling storms with heavy winds. I almost always stayed dry, but on two
      occasions when it was really storming ***,*** the prussik knots ***(which
      are used to tension the tarp)*** loosened up during the night and rain
      started entering the hammock. It was easy enough to retension the knots, but
      by then the damage had been done***.*** ***My*** sleeping bag was wet and
      the rest of the night was pretty miserable. I don't know how the tarp could
      be tensioned differently, but it's clear to me that there must be a better
      solution. Still, that was twice out of about 50 nights in the hammock,
      which is an excellent record as far as I'm concerned. Some other testers
      have mentioned tying short pieces of rope to the support lines to redirect
      water away from entering their hammocks, but that would be of no avail in
      this situation. The water wasn't running down the support lines; the tarp
      had loosened enough from the prussik knots
      slipping that the wind had actually blown it aside and it was raining
      directly inside the hammock.

      ***new paragraph

      The aspect of the hammock which most impressed me was the ease of finding a
      camping spot. Puddles, rocks, and roots were all irrelevant. Two trees and
      I was high and dry, sleeping very comfortably, and totally bug-free.
      Resting comfortably inside the hammock while watching the bugs trying to get
      at me always gives me a certain perverse pleasure. I especially enjoyed
      setting up near running water and letting the sound lull me to sleep. I
      realize that camping right near water is frowned upon but I don't see this
      as an issue with the hammock. I was always careful to walk well away from
      the water before answering nature's call or cooking a meal, and after I
      struck camp there was no
      sign that I had ever been there. Hammock camping has a very minimal impact
      on the environment compared to tenting, where the ground cover is disturbed
      to remove rocks and branches, then compacted by the camper while sleeping.

      ***new paragraph

      One afternoon I took an extended break at the White Rocks cliffs and set up
      the hammock, without the tarp, a few feet away from the cliff's edge. I was
      able to enjoy a wonderful view of the miles I had already hiked while
      resting, refreshed by a cool breeze. I found a few sites with excellent
      views which were not where I wished to camp, but I made notes in my journal
      and intend to return to each of these spots soon
      and spend a night. It's great to wake up in the morning and enjoy a
      fantastic panorama before I even get out of bed!

      ***new paragraph

      I found that the size of the trees I used was pretty much a non-issue, as
      long as they were stout enough to support my weight. On a few occasions, I
      was able to wrap the treehuggers around the tree three times, ***but***
      often the trees were so large that I couldn't even get ***the tree
      huggers*** wrapped fully around once. I never experienced any slippage when
      I added my weight to the hammock, but once I used trees that were too small
      and when I got in the hammock sagged until my back was resting on the
      ground. Whoops!

      ***new paragraph

      Tom Hennessy is obviously a genius! His patented bottom entry, the overall
      design and quality of the hammock, and especially the ***Snakeskins*** (more
      on them later) all qualify him for the Outdoor Products Hall of Fame. This
      hammock is very lightweight for a complete shelter system, VERY comfortable
      to sleep in, and extremely versatile. It's not only a shelter, it's also a
      very comfortable camp chair (as long as I use my wind jacket as a pillow to
      protect my neck from the ridge line).

      If the weather is clear the tarp can be left off, affording a wonderful view
      of the night sky. If there is a chance of light rain, the tarp can be guyed
      out in such a way that there is lots of ventilation but still adequate
      protection, and if it's real stormy the tarp can be guyed in such a way that
      the system is battened down securely. Setup is so easy that after only a
      few tries, I was able to set it up quickly by only headlamp light.

      ***new paragraph

      Before sleeping in a Hennessy, I found it hard to understand the ardor of
      the hammock converts like Shane. Now, however, I can totally relate and
      have been 'preaching' to all of my backpacking friends. A Hennessy hammock
      is ***the closest I have ever come to finding*** the perfect shelter for my
      style of camping. I doubt that I will ever again carry a tent for solo
      camping, except for during the winter. I met four other thru-hikers who
      were using hammocks. They were all ***using Hennessy hammocks***, and
      without exception the ***hikers*** were thoroughly thrilled with their

      ***new paragraph

      One quirk of hammock camping which took a little getting used to is the fact
      that if my body is touching the hammock material in any spot, that part of
      my body WILL be cold *** due to convection cooling. On hot summer nights, I
      was able to use this phenomenon to my benefit, but in September in
      Vermont***,*** it required careful attention to not wake up chilled. I was
      able to address this problem fairly easily due to the unique nature of the
      foam pad system I was using. The GVP pack uses a Z-rest foam pad as the
      'frame' of the pack. I bought a full-length Z-rest and cut it into two
      pieces, one of four sections and one of six sections. I used the larger
      piece in the pocket provided on the pack, and put the smaller one inside the
      pack, with two sections of pad across the back of the pack and 'wings' of
      one section on each side. This gave the pack some shape, made for a very
      comfortable carry and
      (most relevant to this review) gave me two pieces of foam pad to use inside
      my hammock.

      ***new paragraph

      After some experimentation, I found that the setup which works best for me
      is to position the larger piece sideways under my shoulders and upper back,
      with the shorter piece extending downwards in a 'T' under my lower back and
      hips. I then used spare clothing or the empty pack under my lower legs and
      feet, and used my sleeping bag unzipped as a quilt, with the footbox still
      zipped. This allowed me to sleep very comfortably in temperatures down to
      freezing. One night I set up next to the tent platforms beside Cooper
      Lodge, which is located just below the summit of Killington. That was a
      very cold and windy night; the only time I wasn't able to get a good night's
      sleep. That was entirely due to my poor choice of a campsite, though, and
      not to any fault of the hammock.

      ***new paragraph

      A comfortable night makes it much easier to push a few extra miles the next
      day. I found the hammock to consistently be at least as comfortable as my
      king-size bed at home, and never suffered from a backache after sleeping in
      the hammock. I can't say that about the wooden bunks in the shelters. I
      usually tied off the treehuggers at the same height and found this to be the
      most comfortable. However, if I ever wanted either my feet or my head to be
      elevated, this was very easy to customize by adjusting the height at which
      the treehuggers were secured.

      Tom offers an accessory which he calls Snakeskins ($19.95 USD), which truly
      set this shelter system in a class by itself. These are, quite simply, two
      tapered silnylon bags which are threaded over the support ropes. When the
      hammock is in use, they stay on the ropes and are not in the way at all.
      When it's time to strike camp, however, their true value becomes apparent.
      I simply leave the tarp attached to the
      hammock, untie the guy ropes from the tree or tent stake I had them attached
      to, bundle up the guy ropes together and roll the hammock up from the
      side***.*** ***I*** then pull the bottom Snakeskin up to just past the
      center of the hammock, pull the top Snakeskin down to overlap generously,
      then untie the support ropes from the trees I used, and stuff the whole mess
      into the stuff bag, where it fits quite easily. This process is reversed to
      set up camp, and it allows me to set the hammock up even in the pouring rain
      without the interior of the hammock getting wet at all. What a great
      accessory! By always pulling up the bottom Snakeskin first and overlapping
      the top one, I even know which end of the hammock will be the head and which
      the foot end.

      Speaking of hammock accessories, during my testing period I devised a pretty
      useful accessory myself. When my 16-year old son tried the hammock, he was
      very surprised at how comfortable it was, but felt slightly claustrophobic
      inside it. I thought about that for a while, then decided to do something
      about it. I took an old wooden folding carpenter's rule, broke off a three
      section piece, and wrapped surgical tape around both ends as a little
      cushioning. I then took a keyhole saw and put a shallow slot sideways in
      the center of the middle
      section, attached another small piece of surgical tape over the slot, and
      VOILA - instant spreader bar! In use, I bring the spreader bar into the
      hammock with me, unfold the sections to form an 18" (.5 M) spreader,
      position the slot over the internal ridgeline and secure it with the
      surgical tape. This keeps the no-see-um netting well away from my face, and
      makes the hammock much less claustrophobic. When not in use, the spreader
      folds down to 6" (15 cm) long, weighs practically nothing, and fits easily
      in the stuff sack with the hammock and four tent stakes (just in case there
      are no convenient trees or roots for guyout points). I'm currently looking
      into the costs involved in having this accessory produced in Lexan, and
      making it available to the growing community of hammock campers.

      <photos of spreader bar here>


      All in all,I believe that the Hennessy Hammock is the most practical shelter
      currently on the market for my style of camping. The combination of light
      weight, low volume, extreme versatility and unmatched sleeping comfort all
      add up to an indispensable shelter system. Finding an appropriate campsite
      is a no-brainer, and ease of pitching and striking camp is unparallelled.
      Many thanks to Tom and BGT for making it possible for me to test this fine


      light weight
      weatherproof (almost always)
      ease of finding a campsite


      prussik knots sometimes slip at the most inconvenient times
      the tarp is too small to be a practical cooking shelter in a rainstorm

      Thank you Marc. Well done. I really like the additional personal
      experiences with the hammock. I think that information added to the depth
      and flavor of the report. Make whatever suggested edits you feel
      appropriate and upload.

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