"Best Camping Shelter"
Sea Kayaker Magazine 2005 Reader's Choice Award December, 2005. The category of "camping shelter" includes all manner of tents and tarps but a hammock drew the most votes. The Hennessy Hammock makes a quick and lasting impression as a very versatile and compact shelter. The first time I saw one, I knew I had to have one (I bought three that same weekend).
You get into it through an opening in the bottom. It closes up after you sit down and pull your legs in. You can lie in the hammock parallel to it - that's a good position for reading or journal writing - but it's cut to keep your back flat when you're at a diagonal. You can even sleep comfortably on your side in it.
A canopy of bug mesh keeps the critters away, and a rain fly clips on to keep you dry even in a heavy wind-driven rain. Of course, you need some place to string it up. Trees are pretty handy in most places I've paddled, but they're not the only options. It can be easier to find a place to string a hammock than it is to find flat ground for a tent.
In the tropics, I just slept in the hammock without a sleeping bag. In cooler weather, my sleeping bag didn't provide much warmth where I was compressing the bag's insulation. The solution was to suspend a space blanket under the hammock. Tom Hennessy, the designer, is working on a foam outer liner that will provide insulation. The various models available today weigh between 4.5 pounds and a remarkable 15 ounces and are handy enough to pack for a day trip siesta and versatile enough to take on an expedition.
May, 2002 – Hennessy Hammock Ultralight Backpacker 1.5 Weight (mfr./BP)1 lb. 8 oz./1 lb. 10 oz. Backcountry camping goes airborne with this lightweight, solo hammock.
Sometimes great innovations arise not from improvements to existing equipment, but by rethinking solutions from the ground up. And when it comes to backcountry Zs, Tom Hennessy's ground-up thinking has resulted in a novel shelter that's, well, off the ground.
When I first saw Hennessy's one-person ultralight backpacking hammock, I smirked. Even on a vacation in the tropics, I tire quickly of the banana position forced upon me by hammocks. Plus the pragmatics of keeping out bugs, staying dry and pitching a hammock gave me pause. But after a few moments of examination, I was doubting my doubts.
You enter this hammock through a long longitudinal slit in the nylon taffeta floor, sit down behind the slit,and pull your legs inside. The tension caused by your weight shuts the slit(which is then held together by hook-and-loop fasteners). Now you lie in a roomy cocoon with no-see-um netting slung 18-24 inches overhead. A silicone-nylon rainfly securely covers the entire cocoon in foul weather and in fair weather, rolls back to expose the heavens. What had me anxious to test the product, however, was its comfort. No sleeping pad was necessary for cushioning, and by lying diagonally across the floor, my body was amazingly - and comfortably - level.
After several backpacking and multiday mountain-biking excursions through the wet forests of Oregon, through the dry mountains of central Washington, and the jungles of Costa Rica, I've come to appreciate the hammock's improved comfort over sleeping on the ground. What's more, my back appreciates the lighter load; the hammock weighs less than 2 pounds, and I no longer need a sleeping pad or ground tarp.
I wondered whether the hammock's reliance on trees would restrict its use. In a no-tree pinch, the kite-shaped fly(6 by 10 feet at the corners) can be pitched as a protective tarp. But I also learned that you don't need soft, flat dirt underground as you do in a tent. So you gain far more places to camp than you lose. You can sleep over steeply inclined ground, swamps, rocks and brush. As I was running out of light one evening in the Cascades, I ditched the idea of walking two miles to level ground, chose two trees on the 30 degree slope bordering the trail and was hanging in my camp 4 minutes later. What's more, you can sleep in these areas without tramping the ground below(a benefit I found particularly comforting in Costa Rica, with its 12,000 species of spiders and 17 types of poisonous snakes.)
Weather protection was impressive. In the rainforest, it poured so hard the ground turned into a bog, but I stayed high and dry in my hammock. The footprint of the fly provided enough space underneath me to store equipment, serving as a ground floor vestibule.
And the drawbacks of the Ultralight Backpacker? For starters, learning to move inside takes practice. Temperature control is also a concern - the hammock squashes the insulation halfway around your bag and if you're swinging in a frigid wind, you cool quickly. If you expect nighttime temperatures to drop below 40 degrees F, sleep on a pad or a heat-reflecting space blanket to the bottom of the hammock(the manufacturer's Web site describes how). Finally, because few of my outdoor partners have discovered hammocks yet, most of my off-the-ground sleeping is limited to solo trips.
Geographical Magazine, May 2009
Ed Stafford spent over two years walking the entire Amazon river, with his trusty Expedition Ultralight hammock. In this article about the equipment he uses, he calls it "The best hammock system available".
You can read his article here.
Boy's Life Magazine
ASK THE GEAR GUY
Hennessy Hammock any good?
"Q. I have heard about the Hennessy Hammock and it sounds like it is a very good hammock, but is it as good as it sounds?"
"A. Like you, I too had heard about the Hennessy Hammock but I’d never used one myself..."
"So, is the Hennessy Hammock as good as it sounds? I’d say: yep. The hammock itself seems durable, it’s easy to set up, and I can attest to the supreme comfort of hammock camping. The Hennessy is also ultralight compared to most backpacking tents and at $140, more affordable too. Sure, there are some situations when pitching a hammock is tough (no trees) but in many wilderness situations the Hennessy would make a great shelter choice."
HENNESSY EXPEDITION HAMMOCK — USA Today
What we liked: Most hammocks are claustrophobic cocoons that require gymnastic skills to enter. The lightweight (2.5 pounds) Hennessy Hammock has a unique bottom-entry slit that's easy to use: Just poke your head and shoulders through the hole, facing away from the slit; turn 180 degrees and sit down on the hammock; pull your feet into the hammock and lie back. The hammock is totally enclosed, with a bug-proof mesh top. It also comes with a weather fly that's easy to attach.
What we didn't like: You can't fish from it.
Retail price: $119.
''The coolest tent in the world.''
dwell Magazine - Dec, 2002
"Roughing It In Style" by Sam Grawe.
There are two kinds of camping: car camping and real camping. The former, with its battery-powered TV's, kegs, coolers, and mayonnaise-laden salads, offers an outdoor experience that's more akin to a pagan grocery store-fueled ritual. Which is not to say you shouldn't do it this weekend. On the other hand, there also exists a kind of camping and backpacking, generally undertaken by the hardier, granola-crunching co-op types, which, away from the 21st century amenities, offers people a rare opportunity to be awed by the natural world [and avoid bathing]...
[ Allan Farkas and John Eagleston of Farkas Eagleston Architects, both experienced architects and backpackers, reviewing best designed camping products.]
Hennessy Hammock A-sym Ultralite - $169 [US]
John: ''The coolest tent in the world.'' This is really a clever bit of engineering.
Allan: It has a nifty way of getting into it. You enter from below, and as you sit in it and lift your legs up and in, it closes itself. Just the geometry of the fabric is such that when you lie back it closes. So you end up in your little cocoon. And it's probably the lightest way that one person can carry their shelter into the back country.
September 29, 2003
Next Frontiers: Cool Stuff - Land, Snow and Water: NEWSWEEK searched high and low for the latest in adventure-travel gear - lightweight fabrics, must-have gizmos and a few big-ticket items for the athletically insane. Here are our picks... 1. Ultralight Backpacker Asym by Hennessy Hammock. Great for warm-weather camping or snoozing by the sea, this tent, which is also a hammock, weighs just under two pounds and has won accolades from Soldier of Fortune and dwell Magazine. $169.US
Jan. 10, 2004
"Coolest Tent in the World"
And here's a Canadian invention — a versatile hammock/tent to take along that's gotten rave reviews from just about every outdoor/ adventure magazine, including Dwell Magazine that called it "the coolest tent in the world."
Hang the Hennessy hammock between two trees, get in and your weight snaps it shut to create a comfortable cocoon for sleeping. Netting protects you from bugs and the nylon canopy protects from rain and sun.
An integral ridgeline maintains the same comfortable shape to keep your back straight and level and the "Never-Flip" safety design eliminates the danger of injury from losing your balance getting in and out.
You can use it as a lounger and a chair or put it on the ground and use it as a tent. Requires no ground levelling, trenching or staking, so it's environmentally friendly too.
The canopy is made of PU-coated Rip-stop nylon and there are several weights and lengths. Europe Bound sells one version for $189.99. Call 416-601-1990 for locations.
Visit Hennessy's Vancouver-based Web site at http://www.hennessyhammock.com or call 1-888-539-2930 toll-free.
HINTERLAND HANG-UP Love camping, but hate sleeping with rocks wedged between your shoulder blades? Check out the Hennessy Expedition Hammock. Instead of resting on the ground, this one-person tent hangs between two trees to make you feel like you're slumbering on a cloud - and the rain fly keeps you dry. Sets up in less than three minutes and weighs a measly 1.16 kg in your backpack $179 Cdn from Mountain Equipment Coop stores.
Reviews and reports at backpackgeartest.org
More than 100 gear test reports and owners' reviews of Hennessy Hammocks.
Check out this review of the Expedition Classic in the French cycling publication Carnets d'Aventures
Field & Stream
Field & Stream's 4th Annual "Best of the Best" Awards have honoured the HENNESSY HAMMOCK as "one of the 19 best outdoor products for 2001"
At 2 1/4 pounds, the Hennessy Expedition Hammock is a survival shelter, a comfortable alternative to a tent - particularly in wet or rocky country - or a cozy place for a streamside nap before the evening hatch. With its rain fly and built-in bug netting, the hammock will admirably isolate you from weather and uninvited guests.
Its unique feature, however, is a lateral, Velcro-sealed entrance slit. Stick your upper body through the slit, sit down in the hammock and draw up your legs. Tension keeps the slit closed while you are sleeping, and the Velcro dissuades the bugs from getting in when the hammock is empty.
Actual set-up time is under three minutes. If you stretch the hammock tight and stabilize it with its two lateral guy lines, you don't need to sleep in the typical hammock fetal position but can stretch out, sort of catty-cornered, and sleep deep... ZZZZzzzzz. Priced at $119 from Hennessy Hammock, 888 539 2930 ; hennessyhammock.com
National Geographic Adventure
"The Airborne Tent"
September issue of "National Geographic Adventure" By B. H.
Eight years and 52 prototypes ago, Tom Hennessy hunched over his mother's 1949 White sewing machine and began to stitch his first Hennessy Hammock, desperately trying to replicate a much-loved World War II canvas-and-mesh design he'd had as a kid. "It's' safe to say I was obsessed," the longtime backpacker and traveler says. "That old hammock was a huge part of my childhood."
What Hennessy ended up creating was something entirely unexpected – a full-fledged airborne shelter with the comfort of a traditional hammock and the rain fly, mosquito netting and storm proof construction of a three-season tent. After the hammock's debut in the spring 1999 REI catalog, everyone from jungle trekkers to Eco-Challenge racers took notice. Sales, though still modest, are quadrupling annually, and the hammocks are now being shipped as far away as the Australian outback.
Hennessy's 5 hammock models including the 2.5 pound Expedition ($119; 888-539-2930 hennessyhammock.com) can be suspended in less than 3 minutes. You enter the Expedition through a bottom side slit that automatically Velcro's together once you're inside. And you can sleep anywhere there's a pair of trees, over almost any terrain, including the sharp rocks, steep slopes, fetid swamps, and steaming buffalo dung that typically foil tents. Unlike backyard hammocks, the Hennessy has a proprietary "integral ridgeline" design that maintains the shape of the hammock and helps you sleep level on your back and just as comfortably on your side. The Hennessy Hammock is shy on floor space and pretty much useless above tree line, but for solo campers who trek in forested terrain, its birth may mark the end of tent bound nights.
Soldier of Fortune Magazine
by Don McLean
Among the legions of self-serving tinhorns who parade by with a sandwich board claiming they have built a better mousetrap, a few actually have. Now, such genuine improvements are thinly sprinkled through the stew of human inventiveness, and if something really is better, you can expect to pay more for the upgrade. Sometimes, a lot more, even more than the improvement is worth.
Although in general, something that performs better is worth more, and the difference in investment can be money well spent. Only rarely is the upgraded item actually cheaper.
Once in a great while, someone who really understands a need combines a talent for design and a knowledge of modern materials and comes up with something that is well worth paying more for. It's usually somebody who has had a lot of experience with the competing stuff that "sort-of'' worked. For instance, the Hennessy Hammock: the best thing to come between two trees since people got tired of sleeping on the ground thousands of years ago.
This is another of those rare, "well, it's about time; why didn't I think of that?'' masterpieces of functional design that address an ill which has probably bugged bazillions of people for hundreds of generations, but has never been corrected because the problem wasn't life-threatening.
And although not a design feature, one of the best aspects of the Hennessy Hammock is, even though it is twice as good as the competition -- it costs about half as much. The maker says the Hennessy Hammock is half the weight, half the price and has twice the features of other quality personal shelters. Immodest, but spot on.
There are a number of unique features, any one of which would prompt this fern hopper to opt for the Hennessy. For instance, just getting into a regular hammock is a hassle – especially if you want to drink your cuppa cawfee or eat your dinner in peace and try and take it with you. Or if you try and remove your muddy boots rather than jump in with them on; try sitting on the edge of a common hammock to do this and invariably it flips and dumps your gear upside down -- or out in the mud: The Hennessy, however, is an "easy enter'' through the bottom. You simply walk in to the middle of the hammock, turn around, sit down, lay back, and lift your feet inside. It features a "snap tight'' zipperless closure, where your weight automatically tensions the entrance, which automatically snaps closed behind you. User friendly? As good as it gets.
The Hennessy has 18 square feet of no-see-um or tropical netting, and the waterproof canopy may be tilted to any angle, rolled up above, or removed. Although a scant 2.5 pounds (about 1 kg), and rolling up to only 6x10'' for stowage, the Hennessy opens to 6 x 10 feet diagonally. And why do we care what the diagonal dimension is? Because with the Hennessy's "Perfect Set Comfort Curve'' integral ridgeline that maintains the same shape, if you sleep on the diagonal, you can sleep with your back straight. That is pretty important to old coots who maintain until lunchtime, the same shape they slept in. If you're the age of this observer and walk like a Cro Magnon after a night in a sling, this is another feature that by itself would have you knocking the dust off your wallet.
The Hennessy is designed for one 250 pound occupant. With proof of purchase it can be returned for refund or credit if it does not please you. Normal wear and tear can be repaired at a reasonable cost. The Hennessy Hammock is made from top-quality oxford weave nylon and coated ripstop in Woodland camo. It comes in a handy little stuff sack with drawstring, and it sells for only USD $109, plus $6 UPS delivery in the U.S. Beat that! Delivery is prompt from their Seattle warehouse. They also have an Ultralite Backpacker model that weighs an incredible 1.5 pounds (567 grams).
Inventor gets into the swing of things
Tom Hennessy makes hammocks. Not the kind for backyard reading and gin sipping on a sultry afternoon, but ultra-light models for trampers, campers, cyclists and back-country skiers. He makes extra-tough models for soldiers and disaster relief workers. He makes little ones for Girl Guides and big ones that support 158kg, two-metre tall wapiti hunters. Hennessy Hammocks are bug- proof, windproof, waterproof and warm. Taking less than three minutes to set up with the users’ body weight automatically closing the entrance, their design could not be simpler. And they are manna from Heaven for campers who suffer from back pain and cannot bear to sleep on the cold, hard ground. Hammocks, hard ground and back pain: Hennessy knows about these. The Canadian bought his first and only hammock when he was a kid in the 1950s, when his ‘‘Earth Mother’’ introduced him and his four siblings to the joys of camping. Their gear came from an army surplus store. ‘‘I saw a box of things for $3 and found a military jungle hammock with a mosquito net,’’ he says. ‘‘I hated sleeping on the ground.’’
He used it on hiking and biking trips for the next 12 years.While studying design in the United States, he lent the hammock to a university friend about to embark on a long- distance cycle trip. ‘‘It never came back,’’ he says. ‘‘I could not find a replacement. I knew that I was going to have to make one or else my tramping days were over.’’ But after graduating from university, Hennessy became less of an outdoor enthusiast and more of an entrepreneur. During the 1990s, he was running six separate businesses at the same time.
Hennessy admits he was driven to success because he was afraid of failure. ‘‘Then I was rear-ended by a drunk driver,’’ he says. ‘‘I was seriously injured with back, neck and head injuries. My body needed to heal.’’ No longer able to run his businesses, he needed a simple project to work on during his recovery.
Making a replacement hammock seemed a great idea for a man with limited abilities. An even better idea would be to do this at home during the summer and at his mum’s Florida home during Canada’s bitter winters. ‘‘I would lay them out on her carpet and assemble them in her garage,’’ he says. ‘‘Before I finished the first one, I found flaws and started a second one the next day. I made 50 prototypes in six years.’’ The obsession had to end once and for all. Hennessy bought a sewing machine, rented a van and a Florida caravan site. He laid a plywood sheet on a picnic table to cut fabric. He sewed the hammock and slept in it that night. The following morning, he made an improved model and slept in it. He repeated the process for two weeks, until he could find no more ways to improve his hammock. He turned his hobby into a business called Hennessy Hammocks and patented his inventions.
He approached REI, America’s three-million member camping co-operative with 80 stores, to sell Hennessy Hammocks. Their first reaction was: ‘‘No’’. ‘‘But I had been a member for 30 years, and I said I wanted to give them first grab.’’ Hennessy demonstrated his hammock in the REI carpark. The co-op sold more than 2000 in the first year.Today, big orders are made in China. Hennessy says either he or his staff goes to China and inspects every part of each hammock before it goes out the door.Hennessy also controls every aspect of manufacturing, sales and distribution from Kiwi, Australian, Canadian, American and British warehouses. His attention to detail has paid off. Relying on word of mouth and what he describes as a ‘‘great website’’. The company won Sea Kayaker magazine’s readers’ choice Best Camping Shelter award in 2005. In 2001, Field and Stream magazine described Hennessy Hammocks as one of the top 19 outdoor products. Splitting his time between Canada and Stewart Island, Hennessy continues to design hammocks and hammock accessories: funnels that collect raindrops dripping from the hammock’s fly to replenish water supplies, insulated foam pads for sub-freezing conditions, nylon straps to protect tree bark. Hennessy attributes his success to letting go of his fear of failure. ‘‘After the accident, I was not afraid of failing,’’ he says. ‘‘The fearlessness paid off in a big way.’’
Michele Taylor, the Christchurch (New Zealand) Press