Hennessy Woodland Survivor Hammock
Major Pandemic 08.13.13
When we think about hammocks, we all think about that hammock we had tied up in the back yard or the fish net hammock that always seemed destined to be tangled for an eternity. The reality that is hammocks can be so much more than a piece of fish netting strung between two ropes, and can make shelters that are as comprehensive and comfortable as many standard tents. Take the Hennessy Hammock, the ultimate hammock-based sleeping and shelter system. I picked up the Hennessy Woodland Survivor Hammock, which I believe is the finest camping hammock/tent I have ever used.
About Hennessy Hammocks
The Hennessy Hammock was designed by Tom Hennessy, an industrial designer living in Canada. During his youth, he biked everywhere and slept in his WWII Surplus US Army jungle hammock. It was perfect for his needs because it was light, packed small, and had no poles, but most importantly it was significantly more comfortable than laying on the ground.
Later in life he began missing that hammock and decided to duplicate it; along the way he added some improvements, like more space for resting or sleeping on the diagonal without curving your back. The netting had to be increased to improve air circulation and provide a more roomy feel. The weather fly needed to be adjustable and removable to create an open and airy feeling during good weather, yet close up for protection at night or during inclement weather. Six years and many refinements later we now have the the best camping hammock available. This is such a great hammock that several of the Hennessy Hammocks are GSA listed and many militaries now use them.
This is obviously a hammock engineered by a user, and the six years of development show in every detail of the Hennessy Woodland Survivor Hammock. First off, the Hennessy Hammock is not just a hammock — you can buy just a hammock anywhere. The Hennessy provides all of the advantages of a tent along with the hammock’s comfort of not sleeping on the hard ground. All told, the Hennessy’s design combines a hammock, no-see-um netting, in-tent storage, easy setup, and a supplemental rain fly for all weather protection into one design.
The Hennessy Hammock has two main components; the hammock and the rain fly. Starting with the rain fly, this is a high quality parallelogram tarp used to provide shelter from rain, wind, and sun. The Rain Fly quickly attaches to the hammock support lines and is perfectly sized to provide complete coverage over the hammock even if you are in the middle of the heaviest of downpours. The rain fly could easy pull double duty as a backup ground and camp tarp. The best part is the Rain Fly is easily removed when the weather turns nice and you want to be able to camp under the stars.
The Hennessy hammock itself provides a lot of utility seating as a chair, lounge/recliner, and standard hammock, just by flipping the rain fly to the back and laying/sitting on the Hennessy like any other hammock. The biggest problems with camping are always the bugs and the weather.
At first I was skeptical of the bottom velcro entry, but in reality it feels like putting on a big shirt and then laying back into it; it’s equally fast getting back out. In all, the design provides more stable and safer hammock entry and exit than other designs, because you’re entering the hammock and centering your weight, versus the strategic body-roll required to enter and exit a traditional hammock. The velcro closure automatically closes behind you — really a smart and slick design. Once you’re in, you’re not only protected from bugs and rain if your have the rain fly in place, but the Hennessy prevents active sleepers from rolling out in the middle of the night (which I’ve unfortunately have done more than once in a traditional hammock).
Once inside the Hennessy, you’re cocooned in the smooth tafita and no-see-um bug netting. Included is a net storage pocket hanging on the tension line that can be repositioned and that gives a nice place to store your wallet and cell phone.
Getting of the hammock is easy: you lean forward, open the Velcro entry with your hands, and drop your legs through. With this system you can also do some cool tricks such as get into the hammock, remove your shoes, hang them from the tensioning line, and then slip them out the velcro closure for storage of your shoes outside. This keeps your hammock cleaner, is more comfortable, and provides dry storage storage of your shoes off the ground all while limiting the probably that other creatures will camp out in them.
The cut of the hammock also allows you to lay diagonally which provides for a very flat laying position and which allowed me to sleep on my side — not perfectly flat, but good enough for me to totally konk out.
The complete hammock and rain fly body only weight 3lb and are made from a lightweight and breathable 70D U.S. made woodland camo nylon. The Hennessy hammocks comes complete with all the cordage and accessories you need for fast setup and take-downs, including pre-attached two 10’ ropes and the internal tensioning line. All the ropes are pre-attached to the separate rain fly as well, so when rain strikes, attaching the rain fly is quick. Hennessy also includes a great stuff sack with permanent directions printed on the back, “tree hugger” straps to protect the trees, and for a limited time orders via their website also include their SnakeSkins for quick hammock storage and deployment.
Fit and feel
This is without a doubt the most comfortable hammock I have ever used and slept in, and certainly was the most comfortable outdoor camping environment I have experienced. I would certainly qualify this as the Roles Royce of hammocks. The quality is top-notch and the silky nylon material is very comfortable.
Setup is simple: wrap the “Tree Hugger” straps around two trees 9’-25’ apart, secure the hammock support ropes via the included knotting instructions, and tension the hammock to about neck height. Once secure, test the hammock with your weight and climb on in. The Hennessy hammocks also have side lines which spread the hammock out, and although they are not required they do improve comfort and prevent any significant swinging of the hammock.
The rain fly attaches simply to the hammock support lines or the Tree Hunger straps, and its side lines can be staked to the ground at the same point as the hammock side lines or further out depending on your needs. My non-raining preference was to hang the rain fly over a higher mounted paracord line about 1-2 feet above the hammock support lines for a weather and sun shade whether I am in the hammock on using it as a chair/lounger. This promoted more ventilation and provided less of a claustrophobic tent feel.
The SnakeSkins are pure, no-tangle genius. These are basically nylon tapered socks that you slip on from each end to meet in the middle and cover the entire hammock. You could store the hammock in the SnakeSkins, and my Survivors model still fit back into the stuff sack after the Hennessy was stored and coiled in the SnakeSkins.
The Hennessy hammocks take the place of a tent, with all of a tent’s advantages but with less weight, no poles, and far more comfort. The Hennessy is so comfy you don’t need to carry a ground mat or sleeping back. Getting off the ground may even give you better protection when things get really wet and cold. Considering the price of your typical quality tent, the Hennessy hammocks are a great value at $99 – $299 depending on models and options. If you are considering a tent, I would encourage you to look at these hammock instead, as I have found them to be much more practical, lighter, and comfortable than any tent I have slept in.
- Height limit: 7′ tall / 213 cm
- Weight limit: 300 lbs / 135 kg
- Packed Weight: 3 lbs / 1380 g
- Packed Size: 5″ x 8″ x 12″
- Hammock fabric: 70 D nylon taffeta, 160 x 90 high count
- Hammock dimensions: 108” long x 56″ diag. wide
- Mesh: 20D polyester No-See-Um
- Suspending ropes: Two x 10′ long 1800 lb. test polyester ropes
- Webbing straps: 2″ wide by 42″ long polyester
- Rainfly weight: 23 oz / 650 g
- Rainfly fabric: 70D Polyeurethane coated Rip-stop polyester
- Rainfly dimensions: parallelogram short side 70″, long side 120″, short diagonal 128″, long diagonal 140″
- Color: Woodland Camo