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3690FIELD REPORT - Hennessy Hammock SuperShelter -Jamie D

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  • chcoa
    May 31 11:50 PM
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      Hennessy Hammock SuperShelter

      Field Report – May 31st, 2005

      Personal Information

      Jamie DeBenedetto
      31 year old female
      Height: 5' 11" (1.80 m)
      Weight: 155 lb (70 kg)
      Email: jdeben@...
      State/Country: The Grand Canyon State - Arizona, USA


      I've pretty much been what my husband refers to as a "tree hugger"
      since birth but my backpacking life started in earnest about
      seventeen years ago. These days I spend about 15 days a month in the
      outdoors either with the Canine Hiking Club of AZ or with my family.
      My backpacking style is lightweight but not ultralight. I sleep in a
      hammock most of the time and I keep my pack base weight (less food or
      water) below 15 lbs (7 kg) for three season outings of two to three
      days. I tend to gravitate toward multifunctional gear.

      Product Information

      Manufacturer: Hennessy Hammock
      URL: http://www.hennessyhammock.com
      Year of manufacture: 2004/2005
      Country of Origin: British Columbia
      MSRP for the stock SuperShelter: US $129.95 Includes the UnderCover,
      UnderPad and the StuffSack
      MSRP for the OverCover: US $29.95
      MSRP for the TorsoPad: US $9.95
      MSRP for the KidneyPad: US $4.95

      Listed Weights (according to the webpage and hangtag):
      q UnderCover - 7.8 oz (220 g)
      q OverCover – 3 oz (85 g)
      q UnderPad – 5.8 oz (164 g)
      q TorsoPad – Not listed
      q KidneyPad – Not listed
      q StuffSack – 1 oz (28 g)
      Weights as Received: (as measured on a US Postal scale)
      q UnderCover - 7.4 oz (210 g)
      q OverCover – 3.4 oz (96 g)
      q UnderPad – 5.7 oz (162 g)
      q TorsoPad – 2.4 oz (68 g)
      q KidneyPad – 1.2 oz (34 g)
      q StuffSack – .9 oz (26 g)

      Listed UnderPad Dimensions (according to the webpage and hangtag): 66
      in (168 cm) long by 30 in (76 cm) wide. Pad thickness is not listed.
      UnderPad Dimensions as Received: 65 in (165 cm) long by 29 ½ in (76
      cm) at the widest point (shoulders) and 16 in (41 cm) wide at the
      narrowest point (feet) - Pad thickness ¼ in (6 mm)
      TorsoPad Dimensions as Received: 32 in (81 cm) long by 25 in (64 cm)
      at the widest point and 19 in (48 cm) wide at the narrowest point
      KidneyPad Dimensions as Received: 19 in (48 cm) long by 16.8 in (43
      cm) wide - Pad thickness ¼ in (6 mm)
      (As of this report the Hennessy webpage does not have any details
      listed for these two pads nor was a hangtag included when the items
      were shipped to me in Feb. 2005. There is, however, a Manufacture
      Comment posted on BGT along with this review that does give a bit
      more information regarding these pads.)

      Product Description

      According to Hennessy Hammock(HH), the SuperShelter is designed to be
      a complete four-season system and is currently made to complement the
      Expedition A-Sym and Ultralite Backpacker models. It is made up of
      four parts, the UnderCover, UnderPad, StuffSack and the OverCover,
      which is sold as an optional accessory. Also sold separately are two
      additional pads, a TorsoPad and a smaller KidneyPad. A detailed
      description of each item can be found in my Initial Report.(will be

      Before I Begin

      In my opinion, the performance of a sleep system can make or break a
      trip. It can either proved a peaceful, warm and cozy night of Zzzzz
      or it can be the purveyor of a torturous, seemingly never ending
      abyss of discomfort and restlessness. I have a tendency to spend way
      too many hours contemplating my sleep system before each trip but I
      try to keep the end result of my retentiveness simple; shelter,
      clothing and insulation. Because I take these components so
      seriously I have tried to keep accurate and specific details about
      them as well as the weather conditions and how the Hennessy Hammock
      SuperShelter was used during each test for this report. Furthermore,
      for reasons of safety and since I did not know what kind of results
      to expect from the SuperShelter, I decided to spend several nights in
      the hammock in my yard before trying it in real conditions. I have
      included a few of my "at-home" experiences along with my "in the
      field" experiments below.
      **Please note that I did not receive the OverCover and the Torso and
      Kidney pads until Feb. of 2005 so field tests up to that point do not
      include these items.

      At-Home and Field Test Results

      Nights #1 and #2 - End of October 2004

      Location and elevation – My backyard, 1500 ft (460 m)
      Weather and temperatures – Clear, 52 to 50 F (11 to 10 C) with a very
      slight breeze.
      Shelter Components - Ultralight Backpacker A-Sym without tarp.
      UnderCover and UnderPad attached. Additional pads or alternate
      insulation was not used.
      Clothing – Poly-wool blend long sleeve shirt, Lightweight fleece
      pullover, Cotton blend sweats, Cotton blend socks and Acorn fleece
      Inside Insulation – 40 F (4.5 C) homemade quilt and small down
      camping pillow.

      Night number one was the first opportunity I had to actually lie in
      the hammock for more than a few minutes at a time. The first thing I
      noticed was the fit of the UnderCover. It covers about 3 in (8 cm)
      of the bug netting along the sides of the hammock. Although I may be
      happy with this extra coverage during an intense rain shower in the
      future, on this night it gave the hammock a bit more of an enclosed
      feeling, which I did not like.

      A few strange things about the UnderPad were also discovered during
      these at-home trials. First, the UnderPad doesn't hang under my
      head. Obviously the numbers do not add up for the pad to fit both
      under my head and my feet at the same time since the pad is only 65
      in (165 cm) long and I am 71 in (180 cm) tall. I guess I was
      assuming the pad would rest higher on the head end of the hammock so
      if anything were not covered it would be my feet, so much for
      assumptions. Even after I examined the set up, took the pad off,
      reattached it and finally fiddled with the fly tensioner hooks it
      still fits the same way. The lack of coverage was not an issue
      during my at-home trials since I was using my little down camping
      pillow and it really wasn't that cold, but I'm concerned it will make
      a difference in more frigid temperatures.

      The other discovery came while checking the pad set up. I noticed it
      rides a little higher up on the right side, which exposes my left
      shoulder. I thought maybe this was some kind of optical illusion
      caused by the asymmetrical shape of the hammock or the sleep in my
      eyes and it would not be this way when I was actually in the
      hammock. Wrong again! Even after I was in the hammock and in
      the "sweet spot", or at least where I prefer to lie, I could tell the
      pad was still higher on the right side and not providing full
      coverage for my left shoulder. I tried to solve the problem by
      reaching through the entry slit and shifting the pad to the left. It
      moved a little and did add a bit more padding to the left side but
      the two sides were still not really even and I resolved to play
      around with it another time.

      On the first night, with the temperatures a couple of degrees above
      50 F (10 C) I was warm and toasty with this set up. On the second
      night, which was right at 50 F (10 C) I started to feel a little
      coolness on my hiney and hips after only a few minutes in the
      hammock. Had I actually been in the wilderness I'm sure I would have
      been able to cope with this small amount of chill but since I was
      home I wimped-out after a few hours and retreated to the warmth of my

      Night # 5 – Nov. 13th, 2004 – First Field Test

      Location and elevation – Sonoran Desert NE of Phoenix, 2000 ft (610 m)
      Weather and temperatures – Cloudy with light sprinkles, 55 F (13 C),
      winds 5-8 mph (9-13 km/h) with gusts up to 10 mph (16 km/h).
      Shelter Components - Ultralight Backpacker A-Sym with stock tarp.
      UnderCover and UnderPad attached. Additional pads or alternate
      insulation was not used.
      Clothing – Poly-wool blend long sleeve shirt, Lightweight fleece
      pullover, Cotton blend sweats, Wool socks and Acorn fleece booties.
      Inside Insulation – 40 F (4.5 C) homemade quilt and small down
      camping pillow.

      This trip was a little overnight car camping trip with my dad. As the
      forecasted storm rolled toward us I was pretty disappointed to see my
      little thermometer stuck around the mid 50's (10's C). I had hoped
      for colder weather to go along with the predicted rain so I could
      really put the SuperShelter through its paces. Unfortunately, the
      rain only came in as light sprinkles and the temperature didn't get
      much lower. From the results I had with my first two tests at home I
      should have been snug as a bug in a rug on a 55 F (13 C) degree night
      but I guess that's why we go into the field to test. I was not snug;
      in fact I ended up retreating to my SUV in the middle of the night to
      escape the chill.

      With the clothing I had and the underside insulation as it was I was
      too cold to sleep for more than an hour or so at a time. I kept
      waking up shivering and wishing I had brought something extra to
      place under me in the hammock to ward off the ice weasels that kept
      nipping at my bottom every time the wind blew. I could actually feel
      my body heat warming the space below me, then a gust of wind would
      blow and poof, I would feel cold again. As I feared in my initial
      thoughts about the SuperShelter, the UnderCover did not resist the
      wind all that well. To be fair I should mention that I was hanging
      between two vehicles, so although I was not in a totally protected
      location I did have a slight windbreak from my SUV.

      Night # 7 – Dec 4th, 2004

      Location and elevation – Lake Pleasant NW of Phoenix, 2300 ft (700 m)
      Weather and temperatures – Cloudy with light rain and lake effect
      fog, 40 F (4.5 C), breezy with occasional guests up 12 mph (19 km/h)
      throughout the night.
      Shelter Components - Ultralight Backpacker A-Sym with stock tarp.
      UnderCover and UnderPad attached with a lightweight fleece blanket
      doubled up inside an Adventure Medical Emergency Bivy Sack, all of
      which was on top of the UnderPad. Torso and Kidney pads were not
      Clothing – Fleece hat and neck gaiter, Poly-wool blend long sleeve
      shirt, Lightweight fleece pullover, Fleece Jacket, Lightweight liner
      gloves, Polypro long underwear, Cotton blend sweats, Wool socks and
      Acorn fleece booties.
      Inside Insulation – 20 F (-7 C) Slumberjack Zodiac sleeping bag used
      as a quilt, and small down camping pillow.

      This trip was a kayaking weekend at the lake, unfortunately it was a
      miserable weekend to be on the water, however, for a BGT tester who's
      playing with, uh, I mean seriously evaluating a shelter component, it
      was fantastic. While everyone else hunkered down under tarps and
      crowded around our bonfire, I sat in my chair grinning from ear to
      ear wishing the time would pass so I could go to bed, of all places.
      Finally the time arrived and I climbing into the hammock ready for
      the worst Ma Nature wanted to throw at me. I admit I was a little
      worried because of my hanging spot. I was with a group of paddlers
      who were either in tents or tent trailers and since they had chosen
      the camping site, I wasn't in the most ideal location for hanging.
      In fact, I think it was probably the worst spot they could have
      chosen, up on kind of a plateau over looking the lake with only
      desert shrubs for protection. I again used the one pole method to
      hang my hammock and tried to situate myself so my tarp and my SUV
      could help break the wind.

      With the weather forecast calling for potential hail or even snow and
      the less than stellar results I had experienced on the outing prior I
      brought along some extra insulation to use with the SuperShelter just
      in case. Other than the full length UnderPad, I used a lightweight
      fleece blanket wrapped up in a space blanket on top of the UnderPad
      this time. I was perfectly warm until the local coyote orchestra and
      my full bladder woke me up around 4 am. After a hasty trip to the
      land of urine and a glance at the thermometer, I climbed back into my
      cozy nest to find it a little nippy. For the most part the rest of
      me warmed up fairly quickly but once again my darn backside stayed
      icy and I wasn't really able to make my way back to dreamland as
      soundly as before. Still, I would say it was an acceptable night even
      with frosty buns.

      Night # 8 – Jan. 22nd, 2005

      Location and elevation –Kachina Peaks Wilderness, Flagstaff, AZ.
      Right around 8,500 ft (2,600 m)
      Weather and temperatures –Clear, low of 27 F (-3 C), slightly breezy
      throughout the night.
      Shelter Components - Ultralight Backpacker A-Sym without tarp hung
      inside a cheap orange tube tent. UnderCover and UnderPad attached.
      Torso and Kidney pads were not available.
      Clothing – Fleece hat and neck gaiter, Poly-wool blend long sleeve
      shirt, Lightweight fleece pullover, Fleece Jacket, Ski style gloves,
      Polypro long underwear, Fleece pants, Wool socks, Sealskinz socks and
      down booties.
      Inside Insulation – 20 F (-7 C) Slumberjack Zodiac sleeping bag used
      as a quilt, 40 F (4.5 C) homemade quilt and a full length 3/8 in (1
      cm) closed cell pad.

      This weekend trip was one of firsts, my first snowshoeing adventure
      and the coldest night I have attempted to sleep in my hammock. I new
      the temps would be pretty chilly so I changed my shelter strategy
      just a bit for this outing. In addition to the SuperShelter I
      brought along a closed cell foam pad for inside the hammock. I also
      left my tarp at home and instead enclosed the hammock in a tube tent,
      which I duct taped closed at one end. I wasn't sure what the weather
      would bring and I wanted to create a more element resistant space
      around the hammock. I do not own a larger tarp so the tube tent was
      an inexpensive alternative. I was very comfortable and warm in this
      set up. The wind picked up at some point during the night but this
      time around I did not get chilled. The added barrier of the tube
      tent did the trick so the UnderPad could keep its insulation.

      I did make a few mental notes about the SuperShelter's set up
      procedure and packability on this trip. I left the UnderCover
      attached to my hammock this time around and that was very convenient
      during set up. Conversely, I found having to attach the UnderPad
      each time a little tedious. It would be nice to have the option of
      leaving the UnderPad attached along with the UnderCover. I think
      this could be done but I would need a much larger stuff sack for all
      the items and I'm not really sure if it would be good for the more
      delicate UnderPad.

      Nights #10 & #11 – March 12th, 2005 & May 14th, 2005

      On both these outings I used the additional SuperShelter pads along
      with the UnderCover and the UnderPad. I dressed almost the same as
      on night #5 with the exception of the cotton sweats. On night #10 I
      wore Nylon hiking pants and on night #11 I had fleece pants on in
      addition to the Nylon pants. Temperatures were 45 F (7 C) and 55 F
      (13 C) respectively with very light wind on occasion throughout both
      nights. Although these two outings took place in different months
      and in different locations, my results were fairly similar; I was
      cold by early morning and I needed extra insulation underneath me.
      Luckily I had a ¾ length closed cell foam pad, which I used inside
      the hammock to augment the other SuperShelter pads. This did the

      On both occasions I found the extra pads easy to pack. The open cell
      foam compresses really well so I just rolled the new pads up with the
      UnderPad and put them all in the stuffsack. It's a pretty snug fit
      but it does work and I like having all the pads together in one
      place. I have come to really appreciate the duel openings on the
      stuffsack as they make removing the pads quite easy. I just reach my
      hand in one side and hold on to the pads then with my other hand I
      pull the stuffsack away. The Silnylon material of the stuffsack is
      so slippery it comes off without too much work.

      Final Word on Testing Thus Far

      In several attempts to sleep using the HH SuperShelter I have had
      mixed experiences regarding temperature performance. Right now it
      looks like the lowest temperature the UnderCover and UnderPad alone
      can take me is about 55 F (13 C) without wind. Windy conditions seem
      to be a big hurdle for the system. Unfortunately, I really haven't
      had enough nights with the two new pads to say whether or not they
      will be able to move me below the 55 F (13 C) degree mark so I'll
      just have to wait and see in the months to come I guess.

      I also have not had a chance to use the OverCover but do anticipate a
      few opportunities in fall and early winter before my Long Term Report
      is due in mid Dec.

      As for the UnderCover, I truly enjoy the way it's designed to stay
      attached to the hammock. This feature adds so much to the overall
      convenience of the system and it does not detract from the
      packability of the hammock. It's comforting to know the hammock body
      is always protected. Humidity, mist and light rain have not have an
      effect on the cover as far as I can tell. To my knowledge I did not
      experience any condensation build up and it did appear to keep the
      bottom of the hammock protected from the elements, although I don't
      think the kind of rain I have experienced thus far was really a true
      test for this component.

      I haven't had any material failures or set up problems with any of
      the SuperShelter pieces other than the location of the UnderPad,
      which I would rather have more equally distributed under both my
      shoulders. This placement issue has not created any cold spots on my
      upper body to this point however. In fact I really have not paid
      attention to it other than the original night I discovered the
      predicament and unless I start getting the cold shoulder from the pad
      set up, I'm content to keep it as is and not monkey around with it.

      Thank you Hennessy Hammock and BGT for the opportunity to be part of
      this test series.

      Jamie DeBenedetto
      May 30th, 2005
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