Friday, August 17, 2012 Jungle Hammock - Review

"Many a good hanging prevents a bad marriage." -- William Shakespeare 

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to take my Jungle Hammock from for a test drive. In short I am extremely pleased with it and slept very well in it. Rather than put the money towards a hotel room for two nights, I opted to purchase a Jungle Hammock and have a more adventurous weekend.

During my last camping trip, I came to the conclusion that sleeping on the ground sucks. I don't recall the last time I have had a restful night sleeping on the ground, even using a sleeping pad. Since this trip to the woods was coming up, this was a perfect opportunity to try something different and give hammocking a shot. That was a good choice on my part. Those two nights were probably the most comfortable nights I've ever spent out in the woods.

Unfortunately I did not have a camera with me during the trip but if you look around at the page, there are plenty of good pictures to show you what the set up looks like. If anyone really has a desire for a picture of something specific about the hammock, please post it in the comments and I would be happy to get it out and shoot some pictures.

Set up it pretty straight forward. There are a couple of knots that the site suggests that you use but if you are handy with knots and rigging the possibilities are endless. I do suggest trying to use knots that you can undo with just a pull of the rope, otherwise takedown can become difficult since everything tends to tighten up once you lay down inside (or slip and fall apart if you do it wrong, ask me how I know). The hammock is a side entry design, and one of the first things I did was to add some 550 cord to the zippers to help make them easier to find and manipulate in the dark. You can use sticks to create stakes for lashing the tarp down and giving structure to the mosquito netting. I opted to get some aluminum stakes and bring a couple wood dowel rods for the netting so I wouldn't have to try and find materials for it and have an increased chance of them breaking on me. One less thing to go wrong during the middle of the night when it is cold out.

After a bit of reading, something I learned about hammocks is that one of the difficulties is keeping your backside warm. Since you are elevated the air tends to circulate beneath you and robs you of heat. There are several solutions to this problem including sleeping on a foam pad, or using an under quilt which is something else that you must string up beneath you. One of the really great features about the Jungle Hammock is that there are two layers to the bottom portion and that allows you to slide in a foam pad for insulation. I used a Thermarest RidgeRest pad and it fit inside that pocket perfectly. It also stayed put reasonably well when I was changing positions inside the hammock.

The rest of my sleep system consisted of a North Face sleeping bag and a Grand Trunk pillow. The temperatures in that area were pretty mild, it never got below 50F at night. I stayed plenty warm in the sleeping bag and wearing a set of thermal underwear. The weather was fair and clear so I can't really comment on the wind and/or rain shedding qualities of the tarp. Given that this system was designed to work in a jungle environment, I would expect it to handle foul weather pretty well. The pictures and commentary on the website also suggest as much.

The built in bug netting also made this setup an attractive choice. There were definitely skeeters buzzing around in the area I was in but I felt no evidence of them chewing on me while I slept. The netting uses some light weight shock cord in order to keep the net suspended. This cord seems extremely fragile to me but it could easily be replaced with 550 cord if need be.

The price tag for this hammock looks like a lot at first but if you price out all of the components to accomplish the same things that this system can do, it is actually priced quite reasonably.

So far my only complaint was that the hammock seemed to fold up on me like a taco more than I expected it to, but that might have been because of the location I had chosen. If those trees were thicker, than maybe it would have laid more flat. Or maybe I didn't have it strung tight enough. I'm not really sure. Since I'm a newbie at hammock sleeping it isn't really fair to blame the product when the problem is more likely my ignorance. It wasn't unbearable and being a side sleeper helped in that respect.

Overall this is a really good choice for someone who is interested in giving hammock sleeping a try. It is a good middle of the road choice in terms of price and several people out there will tell you that the Jungle Hammock can hold it's own against the more expensive products out there. There are also cheaper hammocks on the market but they do not have the same capabilities that this system does. This is a very well rounded and thought out sleep/shelter system.

Please feel free to post any questions you might have about the Jungle Hammock and I will do my best to answer them. Thank you for reading.

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