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CanoeBlue
2003-01-19, 05:20
Hammock Camping – by Ed Speer

Ed Speer has probably spent more time camping in a hammock than anyone else in the current hiking/camping industry. As an exploratory geologist he traversed the globe, hiking and camping along the way, and privately he has logged more than 10,000 miles of solo hiking and paddling, including a couple of end-to-end hikes of the AT.

Fourteen years ago he embarked on a 1600 mile solo kayak trip up the coast of British Columbia to Alaska. As he would be traveling in bear country he took the advice of “hang your food” one step further and hung himself as well – sleeping in a hammock hung high in trees and from rocks. His first hammocks were heavy and cumbersome but he has been camping in them ever since.

In developing the “Speer System”, Ed Speer has separated the various components of a hammock camping and uses them or doesn’t use them as the situation warrants. Of course the hammock is the core of the system, but bug netting is handled as a separate component (if the bugs aren’t biting – why carry the netting?), as is the fly, which is hung separately from the hammock (something that I have found preferable with a Hennessey Hammock). Aside from some padding in the hammock for mild weather, he moves under-body insulation outside of the hammock where it achieves maximum loft. For cold weather he has developed the “Pea Pod” which completely encircles the hammock – below and above. He too, has experienced condensation and while he will use vapor barriers close to the body (sleep in your rain suit) he uses DWR (Durable Water Repellent) finished of fabrics that can “breathe” on the outside of the hammock.

A lot of us have adopted hammocks fairly recently and will find that while a lot of the information in this book is directed at setting up the Speer Hammock System, there is some good information here and most of it applies to other hammock systems as well.

As a hiker/camper/paddler committed to making my own gear, I also appreciate the simplicity of the Speer System. While making a Hennessey or one of the other commercially available hammocks would be beyond my abilities at the sewing machine, with the possible exception of the “Pea Pod” quilt, making the Speer Hammock System, ie. Hammock, Fly and Bug Net should be within the capabilities of anyone who sets their mind to it. The book includes extensive and easy-to-follow instructions for anyone who wants to try it.

For me the only downside of the book is an annoying “oversell” of the advantages of Hammock Camping. A lot of readers of this book will be, like myself, already committed to camping/hiking with a hammock and will be reading the book for tips and information on how to do it better. Those readers will find themselves thinking, “yeah Ed, I know it’s wonderful – so let’s get on with it”.

There is a lot of good information in this book and for anyone interested in trying Hammock Camping, making their own, or improving their use of a hammock that they already own, it’s definitely worth the price.

It’s available from Speer hammock at: http://www.speerhammocks.com

SGT Rock
2003-01-19, 12:24
I just started it, thanks for the review. One thing I have noticed is that a lot of what I'm reading I already know. Not that I know a lot, but that this book is more for someone that may have never used a hammock camping. I think you nailed that exactly. I was hoping to find out some cool tips and secrets, but so dfar nothing yet - I'm still hoping!

flyfisher
2003-03-28, 14:39
Agree with the review in all details! Great information is in this book. It is the only place I know of where you can learn so much about hammock camping in one place.