New Gear: Hennessy Hammock

June 8, 2010 by cynick | Posted in gear

Some of my bike rides this summer will very likely take longer than a day. It always bothers me to stay in hotels when all I really need is a roof for a few hours (it’s a pity the capsule hotel hasn’t taken off in this country), so, with that, and the fact that I don’t have any income at the moment, I’ve been investigating stealth camping.

The general idea is to bike until it gets dark, and then find a place in the woods some distance off the trail, set up a shelter, sleep, and tear it all down and leave as soon as possible the next morning before anyone notices you are there. The finer points of such camping (eg., avoiding high traffic paths that will teem with deer, rabbits, drunk teenagers, and other creatures all night long) are readily found via a few google searches; for me, though, I had to decide what kind of shelter I wanted to get.

The search boiled down to either a Hennessy Hammock or a Sierra Designs Light Year 1 tent.

I eventually settled on a Hennessy Expedition A-Sym.

Some of the benefits of the hammock over a tent:

  • The whole thing – hammock and rain fly – easily rolls up into my Brompton bag, and it only weighs 2.75 pounds.

  • If handled properly, it will never even touch the ground, so there are no worries about finding dry, level, rock-free ground.

  • No damage is done to the environment, which is line with the photographer mantra, “Take only photos, leave only footprints”

As it turns out, my colleague (and Scout  Master) Ry4an has had one of these things for many years, and has used it extensively, in both fair and foul weather. So, I think I chose wisely!

I’ve been practicing setting it up in various tracts of woods around Saint Paul. I immediately found some of Ry4an’s advice to be true: it is best to set it up, sit in it to stretch out the cords, and then completely retie it.

Yesterday afternoon, while hanging out in the thing in Mounds Park, just watching the clouds roll by, it occurred to me that it is really a kind of portable screened-in porch! I’ve never before been able to simply sit in woods and enjoy their sounds and sights without constantly worrying about ants, mosquitoes, spiders, and other (perhaps) imagined interlopers – until now.

Since the thing is so easy to set up, I don’t see anything wrong with making it a regular part of my gear, and setting it up for short periods of time just to take a nap or read a book whenever I feel like it.

I plan on having a test overnight adventure soon; then we shall see in fact how bug-proof it really is. First, though, I have to do some homework on lightweight cooking gear.