Sunday, 8 May 2011
Although my 1st attempt at using a hammock wasn’t a success I was still interested in giving it another go. I’d looked at hammocks in the past, in particular the DD Hammocks so decided to have another look at what they had to offer. I’d decided that I wanted a hammock with side entry as I felt it would be easier to use with a sleeping mat and could if circumstances required it be used on the ground as a bug net under a tarp. The 1st one I considered was the DD Hammocks Travel Hammock, a single side entry with a sewn in midge net, double layer base , the outer being waterproof and with a zip opening to allow a sleeping mat to be inserted between the layers. The 2nd was the DD Hammocks Frontline, similar to the Travel Hammock but with zipped access on both sides and a non-waterproof base. As there was no difference I price at £49.99 I tried to make up my mind but while I liked the idea of zips on both sides on the Frontline I wondered if the waterproof base on the Travel Hammock would be the best option if I intended using it on the ground.
Still undecided I had a look on ebay and apart from sellers in the Far East I found 10th Wonder Hammocks in the UK. They had a variety of styles all based on the double layer, single side entry style similar to the DD Travel Hammock. Again there was almost too much choice and the price was similar to the DD Hammocks. There was one cheaper option though, the 10th Wonder Jungle 1 at £29.99 which had a non waterproof base, single side entry and no means of inserting a sleeping mat between the base layers.
In the end I reasoned that a waterproof base wasn’t an essential, I’d primarily use the hammock off the ground as intended and in any case the groundsheet of my tent is no longer waterproof, I simply use a footprint and it hasn’t caused me any problems. With regard to placing a sleeping mat between the base layers and only having a single side zip I felt that if I was saving £20 by opting for the cheaper 10th Wonder Jungle 1 I could live with it, I wasn’t even sure that I’d actually like a hammock anyway. I had a quick look around the various Hammock and Bushcraft type forums for reviews of 10th Wonder hammocks and all seeming well and having managed to convince myself I went for the cheaper option and ordered the 10th Wonder Jungle 1. The seller sent an e-mail with hanging instructions and the hammock arrived next day so that was a good start.
While I’d been trying to decide on a hammock I’d been reading up on hammock stuff on Hammock Forums and Ralph who’d let me try the Hennessey Hammock had sent me a link to some Youtube videos but to be honest most of it didn’t mean much, in fact with talk of things like Dutch Clips, Marlin Spike Hitches, Whoopie Slings and so on just to get the hammock hung I was starting to think that an awful lot of folks were making the seemingly simple task of tying a hammock up between 2 trees way more complicated than it needed to be. Undeterred I watched the videos again and it started to at least make sense even if it did still seem like a very complicated way of hanging a hammock.
Having received the hammock I checked it over and it seemed fine so at the 1st opportunity I took it out to try it. The hammock comes with 2 lengths of 20mm webbing which run through a tunnel on each end of the hammock to tie directly to the trees. The midge netting has 2 short lengths of alloy tubing to hold the net out to provide a bit of space.
To lift the midge net 2 lengths of shock cord are attached to webbing loops where the alloy tubing is fitted and attached to each shock cord is a length of fine cord. The side zip has a double puller and I was surprised to find that it did in fact have a double layer base although there’s no zip or opening to allow a sleeping mat to be placed between the layers. Finally on the inside a length of cord is attached to loops at each end for hanging small items such as a light although there isn’t an inner pocket.
Having hung the hammock a few times I picked up on some thing that I wanted to modify and some of the stuff I’d read on the hammock forums regarding hammock suspension started to make sense. Although I can easily place a CCF mat in the hammock it doesn't fit very well, a 3/4 lenght mat or a lightly inflated Self Inflate may work better but failing that there's always an underquilt.
Of the modifications I’d like a mesh pouch to hang from the inner ridge line, I’d also like some way of securing the midge net out of the way if it isn’t needed. When it comes to suspension tying the webbing directly to the tree is the most minimal approach but it means untying and retying to get the hammock hanging just right so I’ve decided to adopt some of the techniques I’ve read about and seen on Youtube although I haven‘t quite decided what method I‘ll adopt. I haven’t yet tried sleeping in it although once it hanging and properly tensioned it’s comfortable even for a side sleeper. I have a few days off work coming up though so I’ll try to get out for an overnight.
As far as I can see it looks like a perfectly useable hammock and for anyone curious about hammocks it’s a relatively low cost way for trying it.