Sunday, December 11, 2011


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 seemed to always be wadded up into softball destined to be tangled for an eternity. The reality is hammocks can be so much more than a piece of fish netting strung between two ropes and can be as or more comprehensive and comfortable shelters than many standard tents... enter 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.

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, had no poles, but most importantly was significantly more comfortable than laying on the ground.

Later in life he began missing that hammock and decided to duplicate it with some improvements including 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 and 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 Hammock 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 I purchased.  First off the Hennessy Hammock is not just a hammock, you can buy just a hammock anywhere.  What Tom succeeded in doing was to build a hammock which provides all of the advantages of a tent with the hammock’s comfort of not sleeping on the hard ground. The Hennessy Hammocks combine the hammock, no-see-um netting, in tent storage, easy setup, and a supplemental rain fly for all weather protection into the design.  You end up with comfort and complete tent protection from the elements and bugs.

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, standard hammock, just by flipping the rain fly to the back and laying/sitting on the Hennessy like any other hammock. Climbing inside nets complete protection from the bugs. I have camped many times before in a hammock and the biggest problem was always the bugs and second to those pests was the weather.  The Hennessy design addresses both these primary issues and is what allows it to completely take the place of a tent. At first I was skeptical of the bottom velcro entry, however in reality it feels like you put on a big shirt and then lay back into it and is equally fast getting back out. It provides more stable and safer hammock entry and exit than other designs, because are are entering the hammock and centering your weight, versus the strategic body-roll required to enter and exit a traditional hammock. Getting in is as simple as opening the large Velcro entry at the foot of the hammock, pulling it over your head and sitting down.  At this point your weight is centered safely on the hammock and you just pull your legs into the hammock.  The Velcro closure automatically closes behind you... really a smart and slick design.  Once you are in, you are not only protected from bugs and rain, if your have the rain fly in place, but if you are an active sleeper the Hennessy prevents you from rolling out in the middle of the night... which I unfortunately have done more than once.  
Inside the Hennessy you are 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 gives a nice place to store your wallet and cell phone. Getting out is just as easy. 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 and then hang them from the tensioning line and slip them out the Velcro closure for storage of your shoes outside. This keeps your hammock cleaner, is more comfortable for your, and provides dry storage storage of your shoes off the ground all while limiting the probably of other creatures from camping out in them.  The cut of the hammock also allows you to lay diagonally which provides for a very flat laying position 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. Hennessy also makes 1lb 9oz hyper-light weight models for hikers with 250lb weight limits and other models all the way up to this model which has a 300 lb weight limit.  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.

Hennessy has many models varying in weight, colors, rain fly size and options.  The Survivors Woodland model I choose is available in two camo colors and in a China made Non-GSA or US/Canadian made GSA listed models. This provides two price point options about $50-$100 apart depending on model for those that want to either buy domestic or are on a budget.
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.  Along with seating as a chair, lounge/recliner, standard hammock, due to the design, once inside you can really spread out and lay cross ways for an almost flat sleeping position. It provided the most comfortable camping bed I have yet to sleep in.  Did you know adults fall asleep 30% faster when they are gently rocked add in the cocooning feel and you will have the best camp sleep you have experienced.  I was certainly out like a light, during my testing.

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 rainfly attaches simply to the hammock support lines or the Tree Hunger strapes and the 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.

Out of the bag the Hennessy Survivors Hammock was a breeze to set up, however the SnakeSkins are pure genius. No more tangles ever with the SnakesSkins.  These are basically nylon tapered socks which after your are ready to walk away from camp or pack up, simply slip from each end to meet in the middle and cover the entire hammock.  You could store them in the SnakeSkins and my Survivors model still fit back into the stuff sack after the Hennessy was stored and coiled in the SnakeSkins.  If you have any brand of hammock, especially a net version, you need to grab a set of SnakeSkins to provide the fastest tangle free hammock setup and storage ever.
A friend of mine had the old GI Jungle hammock and it was not the simplest piece of equipment to set up. Tom’s redesign work is apparent in the now sleek elegantly executed design, diamond shape with integrated ropes and tensioning lines. All those little details that make a huge difference in comfort and use were addressed such as a ridge line was built into the hammock providing a support for the netting, internal convenience pockets, weather-fly, and more importantly, ensuring that the hammock would set with exactly the same curve each time it was set up.  The most innovative feature was to nix the side zipper in favor of a Velcro entrance through the bottom of the hammock which provided extremely quick entry and exit.  

The Hennessy hammocks take the place of a tent with all the advantages but with less weight, no poles, and far more comfort. Don’t forget 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. Tom Hennessy has never stopped developing and even has a 4-seasons winterizing option for the tents to keep you toasty even in very cold weather camping conditions.  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
  • Stuff Sack: Logo and set up instructions printed on ripstop polyester bag (43 g / 1.5 oz)
  • What's Included: All Hennessy Hammocks come complete with attached mosquito netting, detachable rain fly, support ropes, and stuff sack with set up instructions on back.
  • Complimentary standard 42" long "Tree Hugger" webbing straps to protect the bark of trees
  • Direct orders include SnakesSkins (for a limited time)
  • Because these accessory webbing straps and SnakeSkins are complimentary, they are weighed separately from the hammock.
Hennessy Hammock

1 comment:

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