suspended

After every Boyscout campout, airsoft overnighter, and shared campsite on hikes, I find myself answering questions about hammock camping. This has become my form letter on the subject. A continuation of this conversation, as well.
……..

Dear [person who asked],

You suggested you might be interested in looking into camping/backpacking hammocks. Here are a few links that might help, that I have had experience with.
Claytor Mosquito Hammocks   www.mosquitohammock.com

Very reasonably priced, and has some good features, such as the double bottom and zip-open mosquito netting. I have the “Expedition” model. Taller people prefer the “Jungle”, which comes with a tarp (heavier, better for car camping). The Claytors come with simple nylon suspension with has to be untied and retied in order to adjust it. For this reason, most people replace the nylon webbing with no-stretch polypro straps (such as utility tie-down straps), carabiners (fora attaching to trees), and ring buckles (for adjusting). Even so, this is one of the best bangs for your buck in terms of features. I might be able to sell you one of these, used, with the suspension mods. Or loan you one if you want to try it out,.

Warbonnet Blackbird  by Warbonnet Outdoors. http://www.warbonnetoutdoors.net/
Pricier, full featured. Custom made to order, with various options. Very large and comfortable, yet light weight. Comes with very long straps and tri-ring cinch buckles – you add carabiners. Very comfortable & near-flat lie due to “foot box”. Has an internal “shelf” for items. If your budget allows, this is probably the best all-around model out there. Also the most comfortable. This is my current model.

Other models are Hennessy, Eno, (both available at REI) Speer, Jacks-R-Better. Hennessy is by far the most popular model, but they have a weird bottom entry that makes it difficult to get in and out of sleeping bags (thus many end up using down quilts instead). And the netting does not zip off. Consider buying a cheap netless hammock to try a few nights, if you are reluctant to go all-in on the first try.

You’ll also need a tarp or rain fly, a lightweight one if using for backpacking. I have the Claytor Small rain fly – a good bang for the buck at $50, but is a little bit bulkier and heavier than something out of Silicon Nylon. Good all-around siltarps are : Warbonnet 3-season Hex and the OES MacCat line . All of those models are cat-cut (curved edge) so that they don’t flap in the wind.

Anyway, further research and everything you always wanted to know or ask is here: http://www.hammockforums.net/

The main “thing” with hammocks is that they are cooler than sleeping on the ground. For most temps into the low 40’s a simple foam mat is adequate insulation for the bottom of the hammock. That is why a double layer bottom (like on the Claytor and the Warbonnet) is desirable. If you camp in cooler temps you have to start doubling the bottom mats, or look in to underquilts. That can get complicated and expensive. I just keep my camping to 40+ though I’ve been down to 35 with a double mat, with tolerable comfort and polypropylene pajamas.

I love it, and being the “talk” of the camp site or boy scouts campout is pretty cool too. I usually take an ultra-minimalist approach even to car camping.  I have also found that my complete backpacking kit fits easily in to my motorcycle panniers with room to spare, for an added dimension to “car” camping.

-D.

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