Advice and useful info about Hennessy camping hammocks
Originally designed to replace a standard tent by offering greater comfort, ease of use and a lighter carrying weight, the company's hammocks are rarely advertised. Why? Because they don't need to be, such is the number of word-of-mouth referrals these beds receive from campers, hikers, hunters, kayakers, cyclists and other outdoor users.
As founder Tom Hennessy puts it himself, with his beds it's all about "light hikes and restful nights".
Tom created the company after a friend failed to return him his much-loved World War II U.S. Army issue jungle hammock. Instead of devoting his energy to tracking down an identical bed, he decided to create a new ultralight hammock himself. With a bunch of perserverance and the loan of an old sewing machine loan from his mother, the first Hennessy Hammock was subsequently born.
Unlike his old Army hammock, Tom managed to make his Hennessy hammock wide enough to permit diagonal sleeping (avoiding the problem of an uncomfortably curved back). He also improved the netting to get more air flowing around and made the weather fly simple to adjust, keeping things airy in the heat and button-down cosy in cold weather.
Key FeaturesEach Hennessy hammock includes a raft of similar technical features. These features are key to the light weight, great design and reliability that Hennessys are known for.
Patented A-Sym shape
Hennessy hammock beds are built using a unique a-symetrical (i.e. 'A-Sym') shape. This means that instead of the hammock bed being rectangular it is slightly more diagonal, like a parallelogram. It is designed like this to get you sleeping on the digaonal - in other words more flatter and more comfortably.
Where are they made?Hennessy's ropes and crucial components are US-made. The rest of its models are made in China.
A ridge line is built inside a hennessy hammock. This supports the bug netting and weather fly, and it also means the hammock sets up exactly the same each time around - keeping your back straight when laying 'on the diagonal'. No flip design
A Hennessy hammock is designed never to flip and they don't (in all our research we've never found a Hennessy customer complain about flipping). This is possible thanks to Hennessy's patented center-balance design.
Bottom no-zipper entrance
Hennessy was the first camping hammock provider to dump the side zipper approach and replace this with a zipper-less entrance through the bottom of the hammock. This entry automatically snaps closed when your body weight is inside the hammock (i.e. your feet slide in last). Note: in 2010 Hennessy also began offering customers side-entry zipped versions of all its beds.
A hammock is not as useful as it could be if you cannot use it during the day and at meal times too. A Hennessy hammock folds easily into a sling chair (just unattach one of its guy lines), making it useful at social times of the day while still more comfortable than tent-style sitting on the hard ground.
A Hennessy bed can also be rolled up under its own rain fly (or stored into the company's newer 'Snakeskins', which are now free with each bed) to provide a small covered area that is protected from the elements by the rain fly above.
How To Set-Up A HennessyHennessy hammocks are, in truth, a little more complex to set-up than many hammocks. However the time you spend setting up the rain fly and securing the bed is what helps you keep stable, comfortable, and out of the weather.
Luckily Hennessy has a great range of video guides available to get you started. The video below is Tom Hennessy explaining how to set-up the Hennessy Ultralight Backpacker model (see further down the page for info on this).
4 Key Hennessy ModelsUnlike some of its competitors, Hennessy certainly doesn't limit its customers to a small range of products. At present it offers no less than 11 hammock variations (and that's not including the new Zip entry versions of all these beds).
To help you purchase the right Hennessy for your needs, below we highlight what we consider the top choice models for different types of trip. We also include details of how each model rates on Amazon and other online review sites.
Expedition A-symThe Expedition is Hennessy's classic single-person hammock. It is the company's most popular asymmetrical (ASYM) model and is designed with general camping in mind.
Featuring all the standard Hennessy features noted further up this page, including tree hugger straps (meaning the Expedition is ready to use right out of the box), it is particularly popular with teenagers who are heading off camping with family but don't want to be stuck in a tent with their parents.
A great choice for the avid camper moving from tent to hammock for the first time, the Expedition weighs 2lb, 12oz (1,230g).
Expedition users report that this camping hammock is extremely well built, super comfortable ("I will never sleep on the ground again", says one user, "it rivals home" states another), and pretty easy to set-up once you've gone through the initial learning curve.
They love how light this bed is compared to a traditional tent, they like that you lay very flat on it, and they report that the Expedition handles tough weather very well. (They also rave about the company's new Snakeskins - see down this page - which are now supplied with all Hennessy beds).
The one tip owners regularly offer is that you invest in some quality insulation to use in colder weather. This is really crucial for under your back and legs, where passing cold air can chill you to the bone if not careful. Look for a closed cell sleeping pad and/or check out Hennessy's own insulation accessories.
First-time hammock campers and general outdoor users, including parent-avoiding teens. (Hardcore weight-conscious trekkers should check out the Hyperlite Backpacker model below.)
Expect to pay: US $150
Where to buy it: find the Expedition on Amazon here
Scout ClassicThis starter-level camping hammock is the company's lowest-priced model, making it a great value choice for first-time hammock buyers, Boy Scouts and Girl Guides.
This bed does not feature the company's now-common ASYM design, instead it's symmetrical, which some buyers maybe might not like. However this does mean that Scout users have the choice of two diagonals to sleep on, rather than the one A-Sym beds are designed around. What the Scout does now include is a larger rainfly. This now measures 63" (160cm) wide.
Size-wise the Hennessy Scout measures 100 inches (254cm) long by 48" (122cm) wide, and while it doesn't use Hennessy's lightest fabric, this means instead that it is extra durable, making it perfect for withstanding boisterous younger sleepers.
TipIf travelling by car (so weight's not an issue), pack extra tent stakes for tying guy lines when there are no trees/bushes.
Owners report that this hammock is indeed perfect for kids and holds its stated weight perfectly well. One owner weighed a little over the 200lbs quoted but still reported the bed held and supported them fine.
Users also love its low-priced value and 100% agree with Hennessy that this is a great starter camping bed. Just one reviewer mentioned that they thought the included tree straps a little too small for many trees (larger straps are available to order).
Cash-strapped campers, kids, Scouts and Guides, plus lighter individuals up to 5' 10" (178cm) in height and weighing up to 200lbs (90kg).
Expect to pay: US $100-110
Where to buy it: find the Hennessy Scout here
Ultralite Backpacker A-symThe Ultralite does what its name implies: offers camping nuts a featherweight hanging bed, the weight of which won't slow them down on the trail.
Hennessy pitches this bed as offering the best balance between its durable and comfortable Backpacker family and its super-light Extreme Light Racer, as the Hyperlite weighs just 1lb 15oz/860g.
In short, for 'normal' hardcore campers who are not racing inclined, the 'coyote brown' Ultralite Backpacker is the lightweight, usable Hennessy of choice.
Like all Hennessy's models it is supplied with mosquito netting (this is sewn-in and doesn't need attaching separately), a detachable rain fly, ropes, tree hugger straps and a hammock stuff sack with the Hyperlite's installation instructions printed on the back. You also now get the company's ultra-useful Snakeskins for free too; use these to roll up the complete hammock for quick daytime storage or quick take-down.
User of the Ultralite generally rate it very highly. They love its very low weight, its build quality all-round and versatility. They also coment that while it is 'snug' for a full-sized adult male, there is still easily enough room.
One reviewer also mentioned (and we see this mentioned of many Hennessy beds) that they liked the flexibility the A-Sym approach brings too: in addition to lying on their back, they commented that this diagonal approach lets them lay comfortably on either side. something that is not always viable with more traditional, 'straight' rectangular beds.
Some other users, as with the Hennessy Scout above, suggest the tree straps could be longer by default (longer versions are available to buy). A couple of Ultralite users also admitted slight niggles with getting their sleeping pads to stay fully under their bodies during the night (causing cold spots where the body touches the hammock bed when the temperature is low). There is a good sleeping pad positioning guide at ThePlaceWithNoName.
Serious trekkers and hikers who need a very light hammock system but still require it to be durable enough for sustained long-term use.
Expect to pay: US $210-230
Where to buy it: find the Ultralite Backpacker here
Safari DeluxeHennessy's huge Safari Deluxe hammock was developed for buyers who need a bigger bed. The company's deepest and widest bed, it is therefore well suited to larger folks or couples who like to camp and sleep cozily together.
The Safari Deluxe includes a double-width hex-shaped rain fly for keeping the weather off, and its overall weight is a chunkier-than-normal 3lbs, 14oz (1,760g). What's important is just that your combined weights do not exceed 350lbs (159kg).
Because of its heavier packed weight, this bed could be a little too hefty for long-range trekking. However for car camping, boating/kayaking trips, or even just hanging in the yard, it could be just the bed you and your partner need.
While there are less reviews of the Safari available online than the beds above, users that have reported on it use rave about the same key benefits - comfort, no flipping, quality construction etc. (everything in fact but very low weight). One reviewer comments that due to its size and space, the Safari is truly "the condo in the land of hammock apartments".
Heavier users, day trippers and cozy couples.
Expect to pay: US $229
Where to buy it: find the Safari Deluxe here
Each Hennessy Hammock Includes...In terms of standard features and accessories, every new Hennessy hammock is supplied as standard with:
- Mosquito netting (attached)
- Easy-to-remove rain fly
- Support ropes
- Stuff sack (featuring installation istructions on the back)
- 'Tree Hugger' webbing straps to protect a tree's bark (not to be confused with the Tree Hugger hammock brand). These straps are not included in the
- hammock weights given above.
- Snakeskins (see below)
SnakeskinsSnakeskins are an ingenious new Hennessy accessory and, very generously, now come free with every new Hennessy bed. (If you are an existing owner they will cost you around US $25 per pair.)
So what are they? Well they're kind of an advanced stuff sack. Comprising two nylon tubes, they cover and protect your pre-assembled hammock. You roll your hammock up to the main ridgeline, then the Snakeskins slide over it from both sides. Simple!
This way you can get your bed out of the way in seconds flat, clearing camp space but still ensuring you don't need to re-build your bed again the next night - instead when the time comes to crash, you just slide back the Snakeskins and pull it down.
As one user comments on backpackgeartest.org, "An additional benefit is that with the body stowed in the Snakeskins, the hammock makes a good morning clothesline for airing things out."
Also take a look at this excellent Snakeskins user guide.
Where to buy them: find Snakeskins on Amazon here