One of my best outdoor equipment upgrades thus far has been from tenting to hammocking. The tent we were using was a cheapo, Walmart, junior scouts tent that has actually held up really well and has done more than we expected it to. We now use it for friends who want to come along but don’t own all the necessary equipment, such as a tent. We woke up one rainy, late September morning in the DAKS with little patience for repacking our slightly wet tent. With a few words of encouragement from my outdoorsman uncle, we later decided to purchase a Hammock and I couldn’t imagine backpacking without it; two years and 10+ trips later, I STILL LOVE MY HAMMOCK and it is still holding strong!
We got a great deal on an Eagles Nest Outfitters OneLink Complete Hammock System, double version online ($160.00 on sale through REI). I LOVE THIS HAMMOCK. As long as you have two trees between 9 and 15 feet or so apart you’re in the clear. Reasons to switch to hammocking…
- is so comfortable! The only way you can’t sleep is on your stomach and honestly, it’s not necessary when you’re cocooned in an ENO Double Nest Hammock.
- it genuinely fits two people comfortably; getting out of it in the middle of the night for a bathroom beak has the potential to get annoying but in my experience, it’s not too bad.
- you can set up in places that are uneven and you don’t need to carry a ground tarp because you’re not on the ground. Just make sure your opening is on the side with higher elevation.
- it’s light. The double weighs 4 pounds 8 ounces with the hammock, rainfly, bug net, suspension system and aluminium stakes. I understand this isn’t actually light for all you ultralight backpackers out there but there’s something about comfort and convenience to me that’s worth a few extra ounces.
- you’re off the ground. This is great for bad weather, rain especially. Also, if you aren’t a fan of finding a slug in your sleeping bag at 3:00 AM, I suggest a hammock « that actually happened to me the first time I ever slept in a lean-to…
Obviously, there are benefits to tenting that override hammocking for some, but not for me.
The Hammock comes with all its core components in separate bags which all fit inside a larger, water-resistant bag. The hammock actually wraps up into it’s attached side pocket (to hold important things in the middle of the night), the suspension system wraps up and goes into its own bag, the bug net wraps up into itself, and the rain fly and stakes have their own separate bags. It seems like a large bit of gear but it fits nicely in my 35-liter pack with my bear can and essentials; it takes up virtually no space in my 70-liter pack! Since this purchase I have gone on to expand my setup with the ENO Ember 2 Underquilt. This product is designed to trap air between your sleeping body and the quilt, similar to a sleeping pad, and allows you a warmed nights sleep. I’ve also turned this quilt around and put it OVER my body and sleeping bag
The set-up is quick and easy with one person, but even faster with two. I find it easiest to put the bug net around the hammock, then I hang the hammock. Next, I put up the ridge line for the bug net about 2 to three inches above the hammock suspension and make sure it’s tight. Then I clip the bug next to the ridgeline. If the weathers going to be great and you want to sleep under the stars leave as is; if not put the rain fly up next. The rain fly ties to the trees at or above the ridgeline and then using the aluminium stakes (or nearby trees) you can adjust the sides to be as wide or as close to yourself as you’d prefer. It seems like a pain, however, it takes about 5 minutes to set up once you know how to do it/develop your own system. It’s even more simple to take down!
We love our double nest and couldn’t imagine camping without it. Hope this helps and convinces you to run out and purchase a hammock… if you’re looking for a sleep upgrade.