Thursday, July 18, 2013

Hammock Camping for the Adventure Motorcyclist

Check it out, fellow Adventure Motorcyclist David Parkinson wrote this review about hammock camping and about the Hennessy Deep Jungle XL Hammock for TheAdventureBegins.tv. 
About Hammock Camping
After a long day of riding a motorcycle in a foreign country... you’re tired... you’re exhausted. When the sun starts to set, the last thing you want to think about is finding a flat and dry place to set up your camp shelter - setting up your tent, moving your gear inside and inflating your air pad. Over the last twenty months of riding my motorcycle from Seattle, Washington to Buenos Aires Argentina, I’ve spent many nights camping underneath the stars, mostly ‘stealth camping’. For the uninitiated, that means camping where there is no official campground. While I love stealth camping, it can get tiring, especially when you’re spending 20 minutes to setup and another 20 minutes to break down. After 20 months of packing and unpacking, I admit I don’t particularly enjoy the shelter setup or breakdown process. 
(Eno DoubleNest Hammock)

But when I left the States, I didn’t just have a tent, I had a hammock!  The motto of the Boy Scouts is “Be Prepared.” So, with that in mind, before I left the US I bought a Eno Doublenest Hammock and an accompanying Eno Guardian Bug Net.  During 20 months on the road, I spent about 20 nights in this setup.  While the setup process differed from that of setting up my tent, I didn’t notice significant time savings, nor did I have a good fly for the hammock, which meant I got rained on a few times.  Also, adjusting the hammock was a pain as I had to tie and re-tie knots with webbing each time.  When I lost some of my better webbing, I bought inferior nylon webbing, which resulted in me being dumped forcibly on the ground more than once. Also, it was difficult to get the knots out of my webbing once the hammock had been loaded.  I cannot recommend these for the motorcycling traveler.

I needed a better solution.  I’m currently plotting a motorcycle trip from Buenos Aires, Argentina through Brazil and Venezuela.  I did a lot of research on the perfect hammock at hammockforums.net.  The two best brands discussed  most often were Hennessy and Warbonnet.  What sets these two brands apart from the rest, other than their inherent quality, is that they each have a bug net integrated with the hammock.  This means no separate bug net at setup/breakdown time.  I decided to go with the Hennessy Deep Jungle XL for two reasons: At the time of my writing, 1. The Warbonnet hammocks required a 3-4 week lead time to purchase and receive a hammock, and one must buy a tarp separately.  2. The Hennessy hammocks were readily available and ship with a tarp.  
(Hennessy Deep Jungle XL Hammock)

Here are my initial thoughts on the Hennessy Deep Jungle XL Hammock.  I will also post a follow-up review after I’ve used it more extensively along the beaches and jungles of Brazil and Venezuela.

Features and Functions
Pack size/weight: I think I can scrunch the whole setup to the size of a football... and this package includes the fly as well!  It weighs in at 2 pounds 13 ounces, less than one half of the weight of my REI Half Dome 2 Plus tent!

Pouch in the hammock: You can hang gear like your keys, tablet and head lamp in the integrated movable pouch that hangs on the ridgeline of your hammock.

SnakeSkins (integrated stuff sack): These are basically nylon stuff sacks that you place on your hammock line that make packing the hammock a simple matter of sliding them over the hammock.  

Bubble Asym Pad: The hammock ships with an integrated bubble pad for cold weather camping.  I plan on using my hammock in hot or tropic environments so I can’t comment on this.  

Integrated Bug Net:  This saves an incredible amount of time with setup. Two zippers allow you to seal yourself in, or open the bug net and drape it. Before, I had to run a ridge line, then run clips, then hang the bug net. In addition, my previous hammock took up more space in my motorcycle panniers because the bug net was separate. 


Double Layer Hammock Material:  Mosquitos are a pesky bunch and, believe it or not, they can actually bite through a single layer of material.  When buying a hammock, I recommend you purchase a double layered hammock. 

Fly Included:  There is a rain fly included so you have a complete sleeping system.  If weight and size are not an issue, many people opt to use a hex tarp.
Fast Setup/Breakdown with Single Ring Suspension:  When it comes to hanging the Hennessy, the generally accepted model is their figure 8 lashing, which keeps their cord brand new.  The only downside to this method is that it is not adjustable.  I wanted something that’s easy to tie, easy to un-tie and adjustable for those times when one end of the hammock hangs too low or too high.  You can read more about this dilemma here.  This suspension system has made setup of the hammock no more than a few minutes.  Hennesey doesn’t recommend this system as it can lead to cord damage.  


Pros

  • Fast setup and breakdown
  • Integrated bug net
  • Great nights sleep! (I spent last night in the hammock here in the hot muggy weather of Kansas, I’m hoping it was a good test for Brazil)
  • Complete out of the box: comes with everything you need out of the box... nothing else required

Cons
  • Lacks the footbox feature of the Warbonnet hammocks.  Warbonnet hammocks feature extra material for your feet to make you lay flatter.  That being said; I slept very well in the Hennessy.  
  • Cost: it’s a bit expensive at $339.95, but the good news is there are Hennessy models starting at $99 (The Scout) I just happen to be 6’6” and needed a longer hammock.  If you compare the price of the Deep Jungle XL compared to the Warbonnet + the tarp you must purchase (if you don’t want to get rained on); these top of the line hammocks are very comparable in price.  

Closing Thoughts
I'm excited to take this gear to South America. I'll follow up from Brazil!

- David Parkinson


Read more:


No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for visiting my website and for leaving a comment. - Troy