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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