Name: Ernest Engman (AKA SGT Rock)
Age: 35
Gender: Male
Height: 5' 8"
Weight: 155 pounds
Email address:
City and State: Fort Polk, Louisiana
Date: 24 April 2002

Backpacking Background: I've been backpacking and hiking as long as I can remember. My first overnight backpacking trip was in the late 70's on the Appalachian Trail. Places I've hiked: 350 miles of the Appalachian Trail - sections in North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia. Bankhead Forest, Alabama. Sipssey Forest, Alabama. Pinhoti Trail, Alabama. Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky. Desert of New Mexico and Texas north of El Paso. Kistatchi National Forest, Louisiana. Slick Rock/Joyce Kilmer Forest, North Carolina. Cradle of forestry in America, North Carolina. Standing Indian Trails, North Carolina. Many more. My current gear selection is in the lightweight realm with a summer base weight between 10-11 pounds and a winter base of 13.75 pounds.

Similar products used: Net hammock and poncho tarp, Hennessy Hammock (original), Hennessy Ultralight Hammock.

Manufacturer: Hennessy Hammocks
Year of Manufacture: 2002
Phone: 1 (888) 539-2930
Listed weight: 28oz
Weight as delivered: 31oz

Location: Tests were conducted in the Kistachi National forest of the Ultralight, as well as some experience with the original hammock along the Appalachian Trail

Description of location: 90 meters above sea level in pine forests with some hardwoods. Weather conditions: Lows of 30's, highs in the 90's; adverse weather heavy rains with winds, lightning, and tornado warnings.


The Story

I will begin this review with some background information about my relationship with Hennessy Hammocks. In 2000 I was looking for a lighter shelter than a tent for backpacking. I was looking for maybe some tarp or light tent but hadn't made a choice. I was stationed at Fort Polk and had been using a net hammock with a poncho as a shelter when in the field and was very pleased with using them except for the bug problems for a place like Fort Polk.

One day while surfing the internet I found a review on The Lightweight Backpacker for a Clark Jungle Hammock Ultralight and seriously considered getting one. I did some research and found the Hennessy Hammock and after some comparisons went with the Hennessy.


Now this is where it gets interesting. About a month after I got my hammock from REI, the Hennessy Ultralight came out. I was a little pissed because I wanted an ultralight and if I had waited just a month it would have been the one I purchased. So I fired off an e-mail to the company asking if a swap was possible - and I got an e-mail from the owner Tom Hennessy! He offered me a ultralight if I sent in my standard and the difference in price - which I did promptly. We also talked about using Hennessy Hammocks in the field during Army training and about getting an ultralight in camouflage someday. I didn't hear anything else for a year and a half about that.

In the meantime I've used my Hennessy Ultralight Hammock for hundreds of nights of Army Training and hiking, in weather from freezing temperatures to temperatures over 100° Fahrenheit, in the sun, in the rain, and even in a hurricane (well it really was only a tropical storm by then) with lots of great nights of sleep. I have converted dozens of hikers to hammock users and have grown to consider it my most favorite piece of gear ever.




Then one day out of the blue I get a short e-mail:

Hi! You're one of the people we've selected to test a new hammock we've designed. What would be the best address to send it to?


Wow! What brought that on? I accepted without ever finding out what hammock model it was. I had recently heard of the Scout, the A-Sym, and the Safari models. I had no clue which it would be. Low and behold, I get an Ultralight A-Sym in the mail, and guess what. It's CAMOUFLAGE!


I was so stoked I took it to work to show some soldiers. Everyone was very interested, partially because they had seen me in my other hammock for about a year and a half enjoying myself and partially because it was cammo. That part was ultra enticing to them. We set it up and a few of them tried laying in it - wonderfully comfortable.

After that I took it out on a couple of field tests to try various set ups and test it for cold weather comfort.



The advertised weight is 28 ounces, which is about where my Hennessy Ultralight Hammock comes in at, but the A-Sym comes in at 31 ounces. Why, well we will go into the design and what has pushed the weight up.

Starting with the basic hammock, the net and the bottom are a little larger than the original Ultralight even though they are the same material - no see 'um netting and 70D nylon taffeta 160 x 90 count. According to Tom, they were made larger because the testers mentioned the need for more room in the hammock - must have been big guys. The big difference is the bottom having an asymmetrical shape. Instead of the bottom being diamond shape, the bottom is rectangular. The sides pull out at the right near the knee and the left near your shoulder. The purpose is to make it easier to find a sweet spot to sleep in when laying diagonal to the center line of the hammock. This was always the best way to sleep in all the earlier models of the Hennessy Hammock.

The support rope looks like the rope from the original model Hammock, a nylon cord with some sort of stiff black sleeve. But according to Tom, it is the Spectra Nylon 1450 pound test cord with a nylon cover to prevent fraying which had been a concern to some owners of the Ultralight. They are also about a foot shorter at 8' long each, but to compensate the Tree Hugger Straps have gotten about twice as long at 55". The center support line for the new A-Sym hammock is the same nylon cord as the Original, not the spectra cord used on the Ultralight.

The Fly is now a rectangle, approximately 68"x94". This allows it to cover the hammock's new shape, and actually gives a slightly larger coverage area. It also is built to give you better storm coverage - the technique is to set up the hammock at about 45° angle to the wind, that way the larger area of coverage near your head also blocks out the rain and wind. Another possibility with the new fly exists. Although I am normally against adding weight to an item or making it more complicated, an idea I came up with the new rectangular fly was to put a poncho hood on it. It is almost the same exact size as an ID Sil Poncho. I recommended this to Tom, and he said his wife Ann had already suggested the same thing. Maybe it will become an option, even if it isn't you could always rig a Sil Poncho as a Fly so your fly could serve double duty.

Because of the increase in size of most parts of the hammock, the package has also gotten bigger. It's about the same size as the Original - about 6"x10", slightly larger than the 4"x10" old Ultralight model.

So, for 3 more ounces and a couple more inches of bulk, you get a larger sleeping area, better cords, better hugger straps, and a larger tarp. Not bad.


The Review

The main thing this hammock was supposed to be was more comfortable, at least that is how it was suggested to me. But after a few times in the hammock I can only say this - it is damn comfortable! More comfortable? I don't think so, but I always thought that the Hennessy Hammock was the best rack I ever got in the field (rack is Army slang for sleep - my wife didn't understand that sentence). But I did find it easier to set up my sleeping system with the A-Sym bottom than in my old Ultralight. Definitely a bonus. I'll discuss that later on under Climbing In.

Another benefit which was suggested was the better storm coverage of the larger A-Sym Tarp. The larger tarps makes a better vestibule (see tips) and the material is large enough to make sure you set it up with good ventilation in rain storms while still providing the coverage needed. I found the new hammock to work quite well during a rainy, windy Louisiana night during sever thunderstorms and tornado warnings. More on this is covered under Storm Set Up.

In hot buggy weather the hammock is great. The thin nylon bottom is enough to defeat the worst Louisiana 'skeeters, but thin enough to give you good air flow without feeling all clammy and hot. The netting allows you to sit in comfort while reading, relaxing or sleeping without worry they will get you, and the fly ensures good rain coverage and even better air flow to keep you nice and cool. Because of the great air flow, condensation is a very small concern.

As for sleeping in cooler weather - this is still the hammock's Achilles heel. Because of the thin nylon bottom and the lack of ground under you for insulation, you will have to use some sort of pad/reflector system to make it as warm as a tent on the ground. A good system that works for me is a small insulated pad for under your butt and shoulders - and a car windshield sunscreen as a heat reflector which I'll cover later under Tips.

For areas where there aren't good trees, you can also use a set of trekking poles and 4 stakes to make the hammock into a small bivy tent. I'll also cover this later under Tips.

My conclusion is this: I already loved the Hennessy Ultralight. The new A-Sym is only the logical evolution of the design. For less than two pounds you get the most versatile, most comfortable, and the most storm proof shelter I've ever used. Although it is slightly larger and heavier than the old Ultralight - I love it and highly recommend it.

Military Training

Often I have used my original ultralight hammock when doing field training at work for the US Army. Since it is light grey, I would often have to hide it deep in the woods or cover it with my poncho to remain tactical. Tom had told me when I originally e-mailed him that he had sent some of his original model hammocks made in camouflage to JRTC Operations Group to test, but I have only ever seen one being used in the field other than mine.

So when I received the camouflaged hammock, I saw a prime opportunity to do some more field testing! The sad part for me is I'm now a 1SG and spend most of my time with the supply trains for my troop instead of out on the line in the bush like I have been doing for the last couple of years with my other hammocks.

Since I have covered almost every aspect of using a hammock in the other sections of the review, I'll cover the following here:

1. The hammock in non-tactical field situations.

2. Use of the hammock in tactical situations in a secure area.

3. Use of the hammock in tactical situations in a non-secure area.

4. Use of the hammock with other Army gear.

5. Final recommendations.

The Hammock in non-tactical field situations.

A non-tactical situation is one where you have absolutely no enemy expectation so you set up like your car camping  This is normally in situations like a unit gunnery where you go to the range, fire your gunnery exercises, then return to a base camp for rest, refuel, refitting, etc. Often people set up tents or tarps and leave them standing for when they return.

In these situations the Hammock is a great luxury because you can get the optimal pitch site and leave it there over a few days of training. It was at one of these type of training exercises that I spent 5 days in a tropical storm in my hammock.

The Hammock in a tactical situation in a secure area.

A tactical situation in a secure area is where you are facing an enemy but are far enough back or the enemy situation is such that the possibility of enemy contact is low. In these situations you have time to dig in generators, set up and sand bag shelters, use field kitchens to prepare meals etc. Although I'm using the term "secure" you are never really secure 100%, but you have the time to set up a lot of stuff.

In case of an emergency jump, the hammock can be quickly pulled down and stuffed into a ruck to be packed correctly later.

In these situations the hammock still works fine, because in the big scheme of things, it isn't adding a lot to your set up or tear down time. A 2 minute set up or tear down is hardly a liability and with all the other stuff around you, camouflaging your sleeping position isn't a high priority considering the size of your unit footprint. Since the camouflage hammock looks military, it doesn't stick out as some sort of civilian gear brought along where it doesn't belong (at least until the Army adopts it!)

The Hammock in a tactical situation in a  non-secure area.

A tactical situation in a non-secure area is where you are out in the bush against the enemy. In these situations the use of the hammock is iffy. This can include being actually out on OP/LP, in a fighting position, or maybe deep in a hide position. Often times you sleep fully clothed with your field gear on and rifle in your hand.

 Some times you can get deep into a hide and have adequate camouflage, then the hammock works fine, but otherwise it is a liability to being able to rapidly act. In these situations, wrapping up in a poncho, or maybe a poncho and liner is all you can afford to do.

I would have to say that 90% of the time in these situations I would forbid the use of a hammock since it degrades the soldiers ability to fight when needed.

The hammock with other Army gear.

Since I'm operating in a fairly rigid military environment that includes directing what you carry, most of my other gear tends to be official issue on these outings. Sleeping bags, poncho liners, and sleeping pads that include both the Thermarest litefoam long and the good old closed cell foam pad.

Stakes - the orange tent pegs suck for rapid hammock pitching. I ended up making two pegs from a steel rod that could easily be pushed into the ground. On later trips I carried gutter nails.

Sleeping bag - the Army Sleeping bag uses a synthetic fill that is very bulky and doesn't compress well. Fortunately that is a plus in the hammock since it maintains more loft under your body. I used one successfully in the hammock into the mid 30s without a pad.

Poncho liner - when traveling light, and in the hot weather of Louisiana, the poncho liner is great. I combined it with my uniform, a filed jacket liner, and a sleeping pad to stay comfortable even in the high 40s.

Army Thermarest pad - this pad is actually a Thermarest Litefoam long in subdued colors and is now an optional piece of equipment most places and issued in some others. I found the bulk and hassle of the pad to be a negative and prefer my closed cell foam pad for hammocking.

Army closed cell foam pad - similar to the blue closed cell foam pads at Wal-Mart except they are green with built in ties. At 72"x24" and very stiff, they make a great bottom insulation layer to keep you warm in a hammock.

Final Recommendations.

The first thing I should say is the storage bag is a bit of a liability since it has bright white lettering to contrast with the background for easy reading. Although it is a small thing, it could compromise the soldiers security if it was inadvertently exposed. I would recommend that a storage bag be made in OD green with black lettering. It would be harder to read, but it would still be useable. The Army wet weather bag actually has a  set of instructions printed on the side on how to make a watertight seal using the exact same color scheme.

Next I would have to say that if Tom truly wants to get a military contract, the ultralight may be too light. There are many soldiers in my unit over 200 pounds and the Expedition model may be more on the mark for a one size fits all Army. While some soldiers and some small units may be able to make out fine with the Ultralight, the real solution should be a heavier model. But I'm glad I got the ultralight to test - it's perfect for me.

Finally, because I like having multifunctional gear when going to the field, I think a military version that could actually use the Army poncho as the fly instead of making a whole new fly could be a great idea to try. I think to make this work, there would need to be some sort of quick connect system for the tie outs for the corners of the fly to be quickly added or removed from the poncho. To leave them on full time would present a problem when wearing the poncho - imagine strings always hanging off the corners.


Storm Set Up

The Hennessy is like a tarp in one way: it can be set up in more than one way. For light rains and warm weather, setting the fly up high with lots of ventilation is only logical. But if the weather ever turns nasty you will need to "batten down the hatches" so to speak. Even though a Hennessy Hammock gives good foul weather coverage, you will need to take precautions or end up wet.

1. Select the proper site. The best location is on the back side of a hill, preferably in a draw with some vegetation in the direction of the wind to help wind block, get the wind to hit at an angle to the side, with the foot downwind. Get the wide spot by your head into the wind. Hard compacted ground can cause a lot of splash and pooling of water, so look for a site over forest duff.

2. Choose the right trees. Don't get the biggest, oldest trees around. Try to find some smaller trees that do not have heavy old or dead branches over you. Lightning is a remote possibility even though you are attached to trees; you are not the shortest route to ground and are in an object that will offer resistance to electricity even if the tree were struck. The main threat is from falling braches in high winds. Another slightly more remote danger is falling trees when they become water logged and the ground supporting those gets soft in the rain.

3. Tie the hammock so that there is 9"-12" between the bottom of the hammock and the ground and the support ropes are as tight as possible. Fold the hammock over to make a seat (see Tips) and sit in it to check for stretch, and then tighten again.

4. Put the fly as loose between the support ropes as possible. Then pull the side guys down as far as possible until you can't get them down any further. The fly should be pulling the centerline down in the middle with a good deal of tension. Stake the hammock and the fly with the separate stakes on the head side, ensuring they are both centered up on each other. On the foot side, put the hammock and the fly on separate stakes so you can use the fly as a vestibule (see Tips) during the storm if you need to. Another thing you should do with the two stake method is ensure you leave some air space between the hammock fly and the net, if they are right on top of each other it will cause some condensation problems in humid conditions. The moisture from your breath will condense on the cooler tarp and then form drop into your sleeping area if the net and fly touch in any place other than the ridgeline, otherwise the condensation will simply run down the sides to the ground. Then after that is all done, pull tension into the ends that are along the support rope. Once your done, there will probably still be some fly folded over on itself on the center support line, but everything will be under tension.

5. If possible, put something over the top of the stakes, under heavy saturation they may try to pull out.


Climbing In

I am often asked how to get into the hammock, and the Hennessy Hammock web site does discuss it. My technique is slightly different.

1. Start by lying in your pad at an angle inside your hammock. 2. Then lay your bag or blanket on top centered where you want it. 3. Stick your head in and turn to face towards the floor end.
4. Sit down on the hammock and pad like a chair. 5. Bring your feet in and lie on the pad. Use a clothing bag as a pillow. 6. Cover up or zip up your bag.
7. If your a side sleeper, you can do that, just turn on your side. I sleep this way the most. Very comfortable! 8. Can you sleep on your stomach? Yes. I don't like to, and it isn't as comfortable as on your back or side. But it can be done. 9. My camp with a food bag hung (not shown) and all my gear inside. Ultralight hiking makes it possible! Check out Tips.



The Hennessy Hammock is unlike any other tent or bivy you have ever used. It has more things you can do with it that any old tent or tarp could even begin to have. Over the last couple of years lots of people have come up with cool things you can do with the hammock and tips for its use. I have collected some here which I figured out on my own or read somewhere else and tried myself.

Tip #1 - The Vestibule:

Because the hammock has a large fly - bigger than some tent vestibules, you can use this to your advantage. Instead of needing to carry the extra weight and bulk of a separate vestibule a tent user has to pack, just do this:

1. On the head end use two stakes. One for the Tarp and one for the hammock. 2. After you put your gear in the hammock, pull up the hammock stake and move it to the other side. 3. Now you have the entire area as a vestibule - gear in a loft above! When it's bed time move the stake back.

I figured this out about a week into using my first Hennessy Hammock. I used this one a lot on the rainy AT in the summer of 2001. Cooking, washing, dressing, etc. Who needs a trail shelter?


Tip #2 - The Chair:

I saw this one on the Hennessy Hammock Web site. It was so obvious I can't believe I didn't figure it out myself!

1. Just grab the center of the bottom of the hammock and fold it in half over itself, now you have a sling chair. You can still put a fly over it in the rain. 2. If you want to lay out without getting in, just swing your feet up. Nice way to relax and eat a lunch on the trail! 3. From the Hennessy Hammock Web Site. John Nigeboer of "Seals Action Gear" in Calgary, Alberta using the hammock as a chair. See it here.


Tip #3 - Bivy Tent:

This is also one I figured out about a week into owning my hammock. I posted the original pics back in 2000, and before I knew it, the idea was all over the internet. It eventually made it to the Hennessy Hammock Web Site.

My original hammock pictured as a bivy - October 2000. Same hammock without the fly to show sleeping position. The picture from the Hennessy Hammock Web Site.


Tip #4 - The Heat Reflector:

Pads together in the hammockThere are a lot of different set ups for making the Hennessy Hammock work in cold weather at BackpackGearTest and at the Hennessy Hammock Web Site. My system was this: A shortened piece of an Mt Washington Evazote® foam pad. I cut it to about 40" - just long enough for under my butt and shoulder which are the areas of greatest compression for your bag, thus the coldest spots when sleeping in the hammock. Under this I added a car windshield sunscreen to serve as a heat reflector. Mine is a foam type for trucks that is about 24" or so wide, and about 6' long. The pad part is white 1/8” polyethylene foam and the reflector side is Mylar laminate which is shiny on both sides of the Mylar. I added small patches of Velcro to keep them both linked together inside my hammock. Total weight for all this is about 11.1 ounces. I've used this down to about 30° Fahrenheit with good success.

But after saying all that, I have really begun to doubt the efficiency of the heat reflector. After reading some posts from the more educated, doing some experiments of my own, and a little reflection into what was successful and why, I have come to the conclusion that the reflector would be very inefficient. Here is why:

The four main ways you loose heat are from convective heat loss, conductive heat loss, radiant heat loss, and evaporation. Heat and cold are not opposites. Heat is the presence of energy, and cold is the lack of that same energy. Heat transfers from sources of energy to sources lacking energy. Your body is the source, and the air or any objects around lower than your body temp is where your heat tries to migrate to. So in order to reduce heat loss, we must fight all these. I'll discuss each separately.

1. Conductive heat loss occurs when some conductor provides a conduit between the source and where the heat is going. Mylar actually serves as a conductor if in direct contact. Lying directly on a Mylar reflector can actually serve the exact opposite of what is intended. That is why using my reflector shiny side down has some benefit.

2. Radiant heat loss is how the heat from the sun transfers to the earth without a conductor or air currents to get it here. Basically it is heat seeing the cold spots and transmitting the heat energy. If you were to stand naked in a freezer, then you loose lots of heat from radiant heat loss. And your body is an excellent transmitter of heat which would allow your heat to rapidly dissipate. But if you were to surround your body with a close Mylar curtain, it would drastically (about 50%) cut down this heat loss - that is the theory behind the radiant heat reflector like a space blanket. Unfortunately for most of our systems, you must have space between you and the reflector, touching it negates the benefit.

But there is a better way - wear clothing. If you put on long sleeve clothing you would dramatically reduce radiant heat loss (about 98%), and the clothing itself makes a poor source for radiant heat loss (about 5% effective as your skin). To add to this, each layer you add further cuts this effect down. So by just wrapping yourself in a hammock and a sleeping bag you negate the need for a reflector.

3. Convective heat loss is from air currents carrying away the warm pockets of air your body generates - wind chill is a way to understand the effect. To reduce wind chill, you must reduce the air flow to the point where you have no large drafts of wind, and reduce the amount of tiny air flow - basically build spaces of dead air around your body. That is exactly what down sleeping bags do with their loft and the tight fit of a mummy bag. Convective heat loss is the main problem with a hammock. You have a space under you where your loft gets compressed the most, thus it is ineffective, and to compound the problem, it provides a large surface area for air to circulate around you. In hot climates, this is a huge plus for keeping cool, but in colder weather it is a large problem that must be dealt with.

The best way to stay warm against convective heat loss in a hammock is to have a thick pad under you that resists compression, is closed to air flow, and is wide enough to prevent cocooning of the hammock around you and/or also provide insulation to the sides if it does.  Some heat reflector ideas are actually reducing the air flow around your hammock or body by surrounding either in non breathable materials, thus actually serving the purpose of a convective insulator.

This is supported by a couple of my experiences. In one, I used my Army sleeping bag which is made from a synthetic material that doesn't compress very well. In it I stayed very warm in my hammock down into the 30s - must be because it resisted compression. In another I slept comfortable down in the 40s with just a poncho liner and an Army foam sleeping pad with my uniform on. Besides the clothing helping create dear air, the foam pad is 24" wide, 72" long, and made from a dense closed cell foam pad.

4. Evaporative heat loss occurs when you breathe or sweat. You can't stop breathing, so forget that, but you can use a vapor barrier to reduce heat loss from your body. The best way to do that would be to sleep naked inside a trash bag inside your sleeping bag. Different people have different experiences with vapor barrier, so I won't recommend this as a blanket solution for everybody.

To summarize all this, I have come to the conclusion the reason my system worked so far is this: My sunscreen had a little foam, so it provided some insulation against convective heat loss, and since the Mylar side isn't breathable, it also provided some further protection against Convective and evaporative heat loss, but only under my body where the insulation sits. The Mt Washington foam pad and my 15 degree quilt were doing most of the work.

Based on all this information and my experiences, I believe the best insulation system for a hammock would be a 24" wide closed cell foam pad. 24" wide would prevent cocooning and/or provide side insulation in case the sides of your bag get some compression, and since it is closed cell foam, it is lighter than the self inflatable and prevents convective air flow from the pad. In colder weather, just add layers of padding. Since lighter is better, a 24" wide Evazote® pad would be best, since a 24"x60" piece should weigh about 8 ounces. A source for Evazote® pad this wide is Oware. Although the product isn't yet listed on their site, you can get 40"x60" pieces there.

Another option that may work would be a quilt to hang under the hammock made from down Polarguard 3D, Pirmaloft, or some other insulation. The main problems I see with this option are:

1. The quilt would be exposed to the elements such as dew and rain. It would need to have a very, very good DWR outer shell to protect the insulating material from getting wet. Using a synthetic may be more logical because it wouldn't need baffles, and if it got moisture there would be some performance advantage over down. But the the primary concern would be to prevent it from ever getting wet.

2. The weight of the quilt could be pretty high if you consider that it would need to be about as big as a Nunatack Backcountry blanket to cover the sleeping are correctly. You would basically be carrying two sleeping bags to hike with. The weight of a high end synthetic is about 2 pounds, while the weight of an Evazote pad is about 8 ounces.

3. Price. Since you are basically buying a high end quilt to go under your bag, it would be like buying two synthetic sleeping bags to hike with, while a Evazote pad only cost about $15.

To finish off this section, I highly recommend a blanket as a sleeping system for inside the hammock. Because most highly compressible loft bags do not offer any real insulation under our body, why waste your time. A blanket is easier to get into inside a hammock and your pad can serve as a draft tube if you use the old turn and tuck maneuver to cover up. I use a Nunatak Backcountry Blanket.


Tip #5 - Hammock Camp Site

A new question was asked of me so I decided to cover this here: how do you set up your campsite with a hammock instead of a tent. I think the main question is: what do you do with your gear? Not a bad question and one I can answer fairly easily.

1. I start by selecting the trees and ground. I don't always need level clear ground, but I do need trees about 10' - 12' apart that are big enough and don't present hazards (see Storm Set Up).

2. Next I pitch the hammock and set up the sleeping area. I use the standard set up procedures, this only takes a couple of minutes. Then I put my pads and sleeping blanket in the hammock so it can loft up. I use a single bag for all my clothing, and this is my pillow.

3. If I didn't already do dinner earlier on the trail somewhere because I'm stealth camping. I set up the kitchen and cook dinner. In the rain this is under the tarp, when it isn't raining this is outside the tarp. If I need to use the underside of the tarp, I use the method shown in the vestibule tip. I can use my trekking poles to lift up the fly a little or just leave them leaning against a tree.


4. All that is left in my pack by now is a few odds and end like maps, first aid kit, LED light, journal etc. I put all this in the hammock stuff sack and hang it off the ridgeline so it comes out the door of the hammock. My shoes get tied together with a quick release half hitch and hang the same way.



5. After dinner I hang my food bag with my toiletry items, pots, pans, stove, and water containers except for a small bottle I keep with me. If you check my packing list everything is accounted for except my backpack, walking clothing and rain gear.

6. Walking clothes get hung on the support lines of the hammock in dry weather to air out. In wet weather they go over the net but under the fly. My rain gear usually gets left laying in the hammock near my feet just in case it's raining when I get up, but sometimes they go in the clothing bag too.


7. My backpack is the last consideration. If I'm using a normal pack, I either put it directly under the bottom of the hammock, or strap it to a tree with the pack cover on it. For my ultralight SGT Rock's Ruck, I use it inside my hammock to keep my pad under my feet by slipping it over the end of my blanket and sunscreen pad.



Every piece of gear accounted for, and it looks like this:

Not bad! A nice low impact campsite for ultralight stealth camping. And since it's in camouflage now, its ultra stealthy.

Tip #6 - Setting up in the rain

Setting up in the rail is simple all it requires is an extra 6' of cord. I carry a stake bag with some extra cord and my fly in an easy to get to place.

Tie tarp with cord first

Both sides up Stake out sides to make a tarp
1. Tie 3' cord to either end 2. Both sides out, pack centered on the ground, normally it would be under a pack cover. 3. Stake sides out and now you can work dry under the tarp.
Dont tie permanent knots yet Tie the hammock securely Tie up using the vestibule tip
4. Tie the hammock ends with quick releases until you get it set. 5. Finish tying the knots on the ends. 6. Tie off both sides of the hammock part to one side so you have a vestibule to work under.

If the storm is very bad, tie it off using the Storm Pitch.


Tip #7 - Tear down in the rain

Tear down the hammock in the rain in the reverse of setting up in the rain.

Pack most of your backpack Tie out the tarp ends Pack you backpack under cover
1. Pack the backpack most of the way under your tarp. 2. Use 3' cord on either end to tie out the tarp. 3. Pack the hammock without the fly. Make sure everything is in the pack except what you plan to wear and the tarp.
Take the stakes out Tarp over your pack Ready to roll
4. Take out the side stakes. The pack would normally be inside a pack cover. 5. When you take down the tarp, make sure it covers your pack. 6. Pack your steaks, cord, and stuff in the tarp and your ready to go.


Tip #8 - Tying the hammock knot

The instructions for the knot on the side of the Hennessy bag can be confusing.

Picture and instructions from Hennessy Hammock Web Site.

Knot detail

Detail of lashing to webbing straps using four figure-8 wraps around main supporting rope and behind webbing strap loops plus 2 half hitches. This is very similar to the figure-8 used when tying a rope to a cleat.


After some practice at doing it, this is my technique:

Tie the hammock step 1 Tie the knot step 2 Tie the hammock Step 3
1. Start by selecting your trees, preferably a tree that the "Tree Hugger" strap can wrap twice like so. 2. Run the cord thru the loop on the second end. 3. Loop the cord around the main line, then back behind the tree hugger strap as shown.
Tie the hammock Step 4 Tie the hammock Step 5 Tie the hammock Step 6
4. Pull it tight now. 5. Wrap the cord back under the outside strap and then back around the main cord from the bottom and back out the bottom. 6. After doing step #5 a couple of times, wrap the cord back around the main line and then wrap the cord back under itself as shown.
Tie the hammock Step 7 Tie the hammock Step 8 Tie the hammock Step 9
7. Finish off the knot with a quick release so it comes down easy. 8. If a tree is too big for two wraps, then try this method. Star the hammock knot the same way. 9. Wrap he cord around the main line then back to the tree. Take up all your slack now.
Tie the hammock Step 10 Tie the hammock Step 11 Tie the hammock Step 12
10. Tie using a figure 8 type wrap. The cord goes in and out on the same side. 11. The last loop brings the cord back around and behind the loop on the main line. 12. Finish off with a quick release.

Side shock cords To make the hammock easier to tie out, I also have permanently put a loop into the shock cord. This way you just pull out the sides and stake them quickly and reduce wear on the shock cords from friction.




Tip #9 - The Snake Skin:

The question was asked and addressed a while back about setting up or taking down the hammock in the rain. I covered that in Tip #6 and Tip #7, both are still useful. Unless you have a new accessory called the Snake Skin. The Snake Skin is basically two sil-nylon sleeves that fit over your hammock cords and slide down over the hammock - replacing your stuff sack. Since they are sil-nylon, they make a handy waterproof cover for the hammock, and since they stay on the hammock, they are very beneficial. The best part is you can't loose them and they are always where you need them.

Set Up:

1. Select your trees and then start tying the hammock up, use loose slip knots until you center it. 2. Tie the hammock up using figure eight knots and tighten. Ensure you have same length of rope on both ends. 3. Push down on the center of the hammock with all your weight. As a general rule of thumb, it shouldn't sag below your waist.
4. Pull the sleeves back to revel the hammock, if you packed it right, only the fly will be exposed - keeping the hammock part dry. 5. Pull the other sleeve back until the hooks are exposed on the main line. A good idea is to mark which sleeve covers the foot end. 6. Unfurl the tarp.
7. Tie out one side, leave some slack. 8. Tie out the other. Center the tarp over the hammock and make it tight. Then tighten the tarp on the main line. 9. The sleeve is pulled back and make sure only the outside is out, so the inside can stay dry if possible.


Tear Down:

1. Pull out the stakes and let the tarp drape over the hammock. 2. Wrap the corners of the tarp around the hammock. Once is enough. 3. Tuck in the side ties for the hammock, then use wrap the tarp strings around to make it neat.
4. You should end up with an efficient little roll. 5. Now just pull the head sleeve back over the hammock. 6. Pull the the other end over as well.
7. There should be a little overlap for the two skins. 8. Now just take down the hammock. The sleeping part never hits the ground. 9. Wrap it in a nice ball to put in your pack.

As a note to this: There is the option to replace your tarp with an ID Sil Poncho, or have something similar custom made. In that case, place the skin between the hammock and the string for the hook. Then you can tie up the hammock while still in the skin, hook on the poncho and set it up, then slide the skin back for the hammock. If you think about the moisture the tarp could get inside the skin, this could actually be a better option.

You may not find them listed on the Hennessy Hammock Web site yet, but just call and order them. They are being sold for $19.00 for the set.


Tip #10 - Poncho/Tarp for a fly

Poncho/tarp sketchWhen I saw the Hennessy A-Sym hammock with it's new rain fly, one of the first thoughts I got was why not make the hammock have an optional poncho/fly? I was working with Moonbow on another project and got them to make me a custom poncho off this plan:


I based it off the A-Sym tarp and the  ID Sil Poncho, but with a little of my own ideas from using Army ponchos for years as a tarp.

The results looked like this (note: the hammock shown is my original Ultralight, not the A-Sym):

Original Hennessy Ultralight (not the A-Sym) tarp over my poncho. Using it a s a poncho. Using it as a poncho and a pack cover. Using it as a tarp for the Hennessy Hammock.

The poncho itself only weighed 9.4 ounces, 10.6 after seam sealing it. It cost me $90 because I needed extra material to make the diagonal seam. To make it work with the hammock, I bought 4 of these 0.2 ounce mini carabineers and put some light nylon string on two of them so I can hook and un-hook them based on my needs.

So, for 11.4 ounces I have a tarp, poncho, and pack cover.  If your interested in once, contact Moonbow.

I haven't had a chance to try it in the rain yet, but I will post the results here later.



Ernest Engman