Previously I did a blog on My Bedding. Sleeping Bags and Bivys

I got some great comments from Bushcrafters Neil and Benjamin about hammocks. I decided to try it out. Here is what I found.

This Queens birthday weekend I honored Her Majesty by going bush for two days and killing possums. Last time I slept one night on the ground cushioned by my inflatable mat and some fern leaves. It took a week till the last of my back aches were gone. Getting off the ground for good seemed to be an intelligent idea. I saved some coin and got a Hennesy Expedition Hammock from Top Gear in the North Shore, Auckland.

I bought it late last year and have been itching to test it out. Some times we really have to fight for our bush time. Now I mark a date on my calender and put off anything that tries to interfere with my planned outing.

In the late afternoon I drove to Puhoi Village where friends have some property. I top up their poison bait traps for the possums and get to camp out on the land. I stopped by their barn and picked up a bag of sleep-forever-possum-pills, slung my knapsack, shouldered my back pack and headed across the farm land for the bush. It only takes about ten minutes walking into the native forest and I am in thick bush where no one has walked in a decade. I spent that night practicing skills. The next day was possum baiting then overnighting in the hammock again, finishing on the last morning with some map reading.

The complete Hennesy Expedition includes the hammock with mosquito netting, rain fly, tree hugger straps and carry bag with instructions printed on the outside. It is a complete package but extras are available. I picked the Expedition because it was within my budget and has a smaller rain fly which I prefer in New Zealand's close bush.                                                                             

Setting up camp was straight forward. First I trimmed back the bush for a hammock space, set up the hammock and fly, processed some fire wood and kindling, then set a fire and cooked up a feed. The hammock set up took me about 25 minutes. This is hugely longer than it should take but with minimal practice I took my time and tried out different methods and heights. About 7.30pm, after a feed, it was time to climb in and test it out for sleeping.

Getting in and out of the hammock is easy enough. Entrance is only on one side through the full length dual zippers that attach the mosquito net to the hammock. The other side has the mossie net permanently sewn on. Once I was inside and lying down there was some work involved. I needed to get into my liner, sleeping bag and bivy bag while lying down in a small space. I eventually got it sorted. I had forgotten how confined hammocks can be. Next time I may carry a piece of a tarpaulin for standing on the ground, step into my sleeping bag kit before sitting back into the hammock.




I am just over 1.7 meters tall, about 5 foot 7 inches, and I found the hammock had plenty of room if I stretched along its length (which means sleeping a little bent like a banana), but was a little cramped if I laid diagonally (recommended for a flatter sleeping surface). I was comfortable if I bent my knees. Camping out usually brings on bad back pain for me. Not this time. After two nights with minor back ache I reckon it is money well spent.

The biggest issue was the cold. Some sort of thermal barrier is needed to stop body heat traveling from me, through the sleeping bag and hammock and straight out into the night air. My SOL Escape Bivy bag over my sleeping bag did a reasonable job as a thermal layer but it was still a bit too cool for me, others might be ok with it. This is not a negative against the hammock, I just need to find a better thermal barrier. Does anyone else have similar problems? Any ideas?

Breaking down and packing the Hennesy took a couple of minutes and everything fit into the supplied bag.



Overall I am very happy with my new hammock. I think it is well worth the money. Bad back pain from sleeping on the ground seems to be a thing of the past. One of the many things I enjoy about bushcraft is researching, buying then tailoring my equipment to suit me. I will be doing this with my new hammock to sort the cold issue and to make set up quicker.

I have not gotten into much detail about setting up, customising and other details but two Youtube channels I find helpful for hammock information are blackoracle69 and jimmy mcsparron. If you check them out please be sure to Like and Subscribe to them.

Please comment with ideas and suggestions.


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Comment by Dave. Southern Land Solo on July 3, 2014 at 22:47

Great tips. Thanks Kev

Comment by Kev Webb on July 2, 2014 at 22:52

Good to see you trying new things. I've used a hennessy hammock for a couple of years now and love it. I have the older centre entry style, should have got the zipper, but you live and learn.

The key thing about the cold is once you lie in your sleeping bag you compress any insulation underneath you, thus removing it's insulation value. You thus have a number of options:

  1. A thermal layer - foam or quilt slung underneath the hammock to keep the cold away. Hennessy sell these.
  2. A more solid wool blanket or closed cell foam mat under your sleeping bag inside the hammock.
  3. A commercial version (from Hennessy) or  a cheap version - a bubble plastic and foil windscreen heat reflector under your sleeping bag.
  4. A regular sleeping mat or thermarest under your sleeping bag.
  5. A sleeping mat inside your sleeping bag

The problem with anything inside your hammock under your sleeping bag is you tend to fall off it in the night and get cold. Number 5 is a good option to keep things together. My favourite that I now use is a half bag with down only on the top and a sleeve for the sleeping mat underneath. I now use a thermarest X therm which has a R rating of 5.7 (which is higher than a pink batt!) and most nights is amazingly warm.

I'm more than hooked on my hammock, more comfortable than a tent. No back problems, you can sleep on your side or front as well. lightweight and quick to put up and take down. but they do take some getting used to. Now after much se I have no problem getting changed inside the hammock or getting into the sleeping bag. I often hang my boots from the ridgeline or put them under the fly so they are easy to find when you have to get up in the night.

A few mods I've found worth doing.

  1. a length of 1mm cord from one end of the hammock to the other under the fly  and pulled tight lifts the fly off the hammock and gives more space (psychologically).
  2. A carabiner attached to either tree band makes it easy to put it up. the cords are tied using an italian hitch which makes adjustment really easy. Be sure you use the carabiners the right way though.

Lastly really key is the ability to hang the hammock level - you regret it if there's much of a slope and you slide to one end or the other during the night!

Keep on hanging out!

Comment by Vinícius Monteiro Bezerra on June 14, 2014 at 0:17

Nice! Don't forget to tell us if it worked the way you're expecting.

Comment by Dave. Southern Land Solo on June 13, 2014 at 10:49

Great. Thanks guys. Looks like a mat is the way to go. I have a couple at home so will trim one down a little and try it out.

Comment by Vinícius Monteiro Bezerra on June 9, 2014 at 16:01

First of all, thank you very much for sharing all this info with us. You described everything pretty well and I really liked your comments about the hammock. As soon as I reach NZ I'll look for one of those. 

Here in Brazil I saw a friend using a tarpaulin to stand next to his hammock without his boots. I thought that it was pretty clever. He has a friend who cut a EVA foam in a rectangular shape so he can use it as a mat (also a good idea). I hope it works for you. 

About your isolation issue, I'd like to suggest a thermal foam mat. They are very cheap here in Brazil and I think it will be cheap there as well. You just have to stretch it in your hammock and jump in. It also helps you for a flatter sleeping surface. 

Thanks. See you! 

Comment by Dave. Southern Land Solo on June 8, 2014 at 23:34

Thanks for the good info fellas : )

Comment by Simon Amos on June 8, 2014 at 20:06

Mate, in the two situations you described, body heat was lost through convection and conduction. Insulation is the key to preventing heat-loss by convection (through helping to keep a layer of warm ai rnext to your skin) and through conduction (by preventing your contact wih colder surfaces). Both the previous suggestions would go some way to putting things right for you. But then so would naturally-occurring materials (springy, leafed branches; grasses, leaves etc) piled into a matress arrangement - although vegetation in a hammock might prove to be a bit of a problem. The 'Rule of Threes' (3 weeks without food/three days without water/three minutes without air/three seconds without hope) can be applied here (as it can to gathering fire wood!). Always make your insulation/matress three times thicker than you think you'll need. Always gather three times more wood than you think you can burn. It pays to be warm and comfortable in the Wops!

Comment by Dave. Southern Land Solo on June 8, 2014 at 1:53

Thanks for the tip. I may try cutting down my thermal pad and seeing if that works.

Comment by b willi jones on June 7, 2014 at 23:27

im no expert, but i think you need to ditch the bivy bag, maybe the liner as well, and either get an under quilt or use a sleeping pad/mat underneath you

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