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2007 Hennessy Hyperlight Backpacker A-Sym Hammock REVIEW

The Hennessy Hyperlight Backpacker A-Sym hammock is a refined backpacking hammock that incorporates full rain and bug protection, and has a convenient entry/exit system.

Hightly Recommended

Overall Rating: Highly Recommended

The Hennessy Hyperlight Backpacker A-Sym is a highly refined backpacking hammock. It is identical to the popular Backpacker A-Sym except it uses lighter 30d high-tenacity nylon instead of 70d nylon, cutting about 5 ounces off without sacrificing durability. It offers full bug and rain protection, has a highly functional bottom entrance, and sets up quickly. It offers an very comfortable night’s sleep and is compatible with aftermarket options that even make deep-winter hammocking possible.

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by Doug Johnson |

2007 Hennessy Hyperlight Backpacker A-Sym Hammock REVIEW

Introduction

Hennessy Hammock has been producing fully-featured backpacking hammocks since 1999, making them one of the most experienced companies in the business. The Hennessey Hyperlight Backpacker A-Sym is a refined and feature-rich hammock that weighs in at 1 pound 10 ounces. It offers full rain and bug protection, sets up quickly in places that a tent cannot be used, and provides what may be the most comfortable night possible in the backcountry.

What’s Good

  • Full-coverage rain fly and full bug protection
  • Bottom entry is very easy to use
  • Quick setup (with practice)
  • Asymmetrical cut flattens the sleeping position, increasing comfort
  • Saves 5 ounces over the Ultralight Backpacker A-Sym without sacrificing durability
  • Inconspicuous green color for true stealth camping
  • A wide range of aftermarket accessories from Hennessy, Jacks ‘R’ Better, and others including larger rain flys, under insulation, wind/vapor covers, and “Snakeskins” speed packing system
  • Reasonably priced at $219.95

What’s Not So Good

  • Limited to 3-season use without costly accessories
  • Quick setup takes practice
  • Less usable interior space than a tent
  • Requires more insulation than ground-sleeping systems to stay warm

Specifications

  Shelter

2007 Hennessy Hyperlight Backpacker A-Sym hammock

  Style

Solo backpacking hammock with rain fly

  Fabrics

Rain fly: 1.1 oz/yd2 (50 g/m2) 30D silicone nylon; Hammock fabric: 30D high tenacity, high thread count nylon taffeta with heavy duty ripstop; Mesh: 1.0 oz/yd2 (90 g/m2) 20D polyester No-See-Um netting

  Hammock Dimensions

100 in x 48 in

  Canopy dimensions

a parallelogram: long side 92", short side 65", long diagonal 122", short diagonal 105"

  Packed Size

4 in x 8 in x 7 (43 cm x 18 cm)

  Total Weight
(As supplied by manufacturer with all included items)

Measured weight 1 lb 10.3 oz (745kg), manufacturer specification 1 lb 10.0 oz ( kg)

  Trail Weight
(Includes minimum number of items needed to securely erect the shelter)

Measured weight 1 lb 10.1 oz (1.79 kg); includes hammock, rain fly, included guy lines, Tree Huggers, and two titanium stakes

  Protected Area

Varies by angle of rain fly

  Floor Area/Trail Weight Ratio

n/a

  MSRP

$219.95

  Included items

Tree huggers - 42 in long 1 inch wide webbing straps 1.8 oz (50g), stuff sack 0.6 oz (17 g)

  Options

Snake Skins (for quick setup, take-down and storage) 1.9 oz (54 g), longer Tree Huggers, larger Hex Fly

Performance

The Hennessy Hyperlight Backpacker A-sym is a lighter version of the popular Ultralight Backpacker A-Sym. The only difference between the two is that the Hyperlight uses 30D “high-tenacity, high thread count nylon taffeta with heavy duty ripstop” instead of the 70D nylon used in the Ultralight. By using this nylon, the Hyperlight shaves 5 ounces over the Ultralight without durability or failure concerns.

While not the lightest hammock in the Hennessy lineup (the 15 ounce Adventure Racer holds that honor and is featured here), the Hyperlight Backpacker A-Sym is the lightest fully-featured hammock. When compared with the Adventure Racer, the Hyperlight accommodates taller hikers (6’ 0” vs. 5’ 10”), has a larger rainfly, has an internal storage pocket, has Velcro closure in the entryway, and features the A-Sym cut for a flatter sleeping position.

2007 Hennessy Hyperlight A-Sym Hammock REVIEW - 1
The Asymmetrical cut of the hammock means that you sleep at a diagonal, flattening the body in a comfortable “sweet spot”.

A defining feature of the Hyperlight Backpacker A-Sym is the asymmetrical cut of the hammock. With this cut and by staking it at the sides, the hammock has a shape that is more trapezoidal than the traditional banana shape. Instead of sleeping in the typical hammock curve, you sleep at a diagonal, resulting in a much flatter position. When lying in the hammock, you quickly find a comfortable “sweet spot” that is much more horizontal than a typical hammock. The result is the most comfortable position in a hammock that I have ever experienced. In fact, this position led to the most comfortable nights that I have ever spent in the outdoors; sleeping in an A-sym Hennessy is an absolute dream compared to the experience of most ultralight ground sleepers.

Although the Hyperlight is cut for hikers up to 6’ 0”, I am 6’ 2” and fit in the hammock quite well. For those that are taller or surpass the hammock’s 200 pound rating, the Explorer line is both longer and more robust.

2007 Hennessy Hyperlight A-Sym Hammock REVIEW - 2
Looking down, you can see the asymmetrical cut of the hammock and rain fly.

The Hennessy Hyperlight offers full bug protection with an integral (and non-removable) canopy of No-See-Um netting. A rain fly made of 1.1 oz silicone nylon provides full rain protection. The rain fly extends well past the head and feet of the hammock and has an asymmetrical cut to cover the hammock without excess weight. In downpours, the fly did a great job of keeping the hammock dry and provided a dry space below for cooking and packing.

2007 Hennessy Hyperlight A-Sym Hammock REVIEW - 3
A Hennessy Hammock can be pitched in places where no tent could be pitched such as a wetland swamps (left) or on a 35 deg. slope (right). (Note the curve (right) that comes from a too-short pitch.)

Using a hammock means having the ability to camp in places you never thought possible. During testing, I pushed my conception of reasonable camping, pitching the hammock in wetland swamps, on steep hillsides, and in small groves of subalpine trees above boulders. As long as you have two trees, you can pitch the hammock in nearly any location. This means that a hammock user can camp far from other people for true stealthy solitude or to continue hiking past established campsite to get in a few extra miles. This is a real advantage of using hammocks.

For those times when trees are unavailable, it is still possible to use the hammock as a shelter on the ground but I didn’t attempt this setup.

2007 Hennessy Hyperlight A-Sym Hammock REVIEW - 4
The rain fly is attached to the main hammock line with an adjustable tensioner and a plastic clip (left). The hammock is attached to the nylon “Tree Huggers” with simple figure-8 lashing (right).

To set up the hammock, you find two trees that are spaced 12 to 25 feet apart and lay out the hammock for spacing. The “Tree Huggers” nylon webbing wraps around the trees and attach the Spectra reinforced rope using simple (and easy to untie) figure-8 lashing. Once this is done, the rainfly is tightened. You have to start out with the rainfly a little tight because laying in the hammock causes some loss of tension. Last, the hammock body and rainfly are staked out at the sides. It is possible to stake the hammock and the fly to the same stake but I found that two stakes per side was better.

In wet conditions, the attached rainfly makes it possible to pitch the hammock while keeping it dry.

With practice, I was able to quickly find an appropriate pair of trees and I can easily set up the hammock in less than 5 minutes. I never came across a place where I couldn’t set up the hammock.

2007 Hennessy Hyperlight A-Sym Hammock REVIEW - 5
Getting in and out of the hammock is easy, even with additional outer quilts attached.

Getting in and out of a hammock can be interesting. However, Hennessy has a brilliant solution to the problem - bottom entry. A Velcro slit at the bottom of the hammock allows easy entry and exit: you simply open the slit, climb in bottom first, pull your feet in and relax. Tension from the hammock closes the slit automatically. Although the Velcro is not actually needed, it does provide a more secure closure and keeps bugs out. Even with multiple underquilts in deep-winter usage, getting in and out of the hammock is simple.

2007 Hennessy Hyperlight A-Sym Hammock REVIEW - 6
A sliding storage pocket and two clips allow for convenient storage of small items.

One downside of hammocks in general is that you can’t have your pack or extra gear in the shelter with you. Instead, I put my pack in a waterproof bag and laid it by a tree or under the hammock. Small items in a hammock quickly find their way underneath you and must be stored above for easy access. For items that you’ll need through the night such as a flashlight, watch, or book, a sliding storage pocket provides storage that is easily slid above your head or near the foot area. Two additional clips are helpful for attaching other items.

The inside tension line offers additional storage possibilities. I used this line to hang flashlights, tuck in gloves or water bottles, or even store a hammock pad in case of extra cold winter nights. While storing items in the Hyperlight requires some additional planning and isn’t as easy as when ground camping, it is certainly workable and having items above you makes them easy to access.

2007 Hennessy Hyperlight A-Sym Hammock REVIEW - 7
In addition to the storage pocket, the inside tension line allows for additional storage options.

Living with a hammock is different than living with a tent. Once you find that comfortable position, it’s not as easy to move around and get additional items out of your pack. Instead, you quickly learn to plan ahead before crawling into bed. Also, moving into a traditional sleeping bag or positioning a foam pad underneath your body is a real pain; that’s why most hammock users prefer quilts for inside the hammock and insulation that hangs under the hammock such as the Hennessy Supershelter or the Jacks ‘R’ Better Nest Under Quilt . That said, I often used a Gossamer Gear hammock pad inside the hammock and was able to position it without too much hassle.

It is more difficult to stay warm in a hammock than it is in a tent. Even with the fly staked down, breezes swirl inside the hammock, robbing warmth. While this is marvelous in hot conditions, it is definitely chillier when the temperatures drop. Further, the hammock compresses any insulation that is tucked to the side of the hiker. By using under-hammock insulation combined with wind covers and by selecting protected sites, I was able to use the Hyperlight Backpacker A-Sym right through the winter (even with 8 feet of snow on the ground). However, it is much simpler to use a hammock in 3 season conditions, where the joys of sleeping above the ground are really highlighted.

2007 Hennessy Hyperlight A-Sym Hammock REVIEW - 8
The optional Snake Skins ($19.95, 1.9 oz) make the hammock into one long tube, speeding up take-down and set-up and making hammock storage a breeze.

With this hammock, I also tested the optional Snake Skins. These sub-2 ounce tubes make take-down and set up of the hammock really fast and eliminate the need for a stuff sack. To use the Snake Skins you pull the side stakes and slide the nylon tubes down, concealing the hammock and rainfly in a long slender tube. One Snake Skin is found on each side and they meet in the middle. Once the hammock is rolled up, it is detached from the trees and the Tree Hugger straps can be slipped into the middle of the tube. After this you simply roll up the hammock tube and slip it into your pack. I would highly recommend buying this option when purchasing a Hennessy Hammock.

What’s Unique

There are other hammocks on the market, but none that balance light weight with superior usability and options like the Hennessy Hyperlight Backpacker A-sym. For 1 pound 10.1 ounces, you get full bug and rain protection, a simple entry system, and a super-comfortable diagonal sleeping position. There are a host of accessories and quilts available for the Hennessy as well, making it possible to use the shelter in virtually any conditions.

Compared to ground sleeping, the Hennessy offers comfort that the thickest sleeping pad can't match. The best nights of sleeping that I’ve ever had were in a Hennessy Hammock.

Recommendations for Improvement

This is a highly refined product and I can see only a few nitpicky areas of improvement:

  • I’d like to see adjustors added to the rain fly guylines for easier adjustments.
  • A slightly deeper interior storage pocket would fit larger objects like a paperback book.

Last, I tested a prototype Cuben fiber rainfly with the Hyperlight hammock that cut an additional 5.7 ounces from the weight of the hammock, bringing it to 1 pound 4.4 ounces. I’m sure it would be expensive, but I’d love to see this come to market as an optional fly.


Citation

"2007 Hennessy Hyperlight Backpacker A-Sym Hammock REVIEW," by Doug Johnson . BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/2007_hennessy_hyperlight_a-sym_hammock_review.html, 2007-12-19 02:00:00-07.

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2007 Hennessy Hyperlight Backpacker A-Sym Hammock REVIEW
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Benjamin Smith
(bugbomb) - F - M

Locale: South Texas
2007 Hennessy Hyperlight Backpacker A-Sym Hammock REVIEW on 12/18/2007 22:25:02 MST Print View

Companion forum thread to:

2007 Hennessy Hyperlight Backpacker A-Sym Hammock REVIEW

Brian Doble
(brian79) - MLife

Locale: New England
How much does the cuben canopy weigh?? on 12/19/2007 06:54:02 MST Print View

What is the weight of the cuben fiber prototype canopy? If I'm not mistaken, the original canopy weighs 8.25oz per Hennessy's site. So, shaving an addition 7.4 oz by replacing it with the cuben prototype would put the cuben canopy at under an ounce. I must be missing something. (I do know that MLD sells a 4.5 oz hammock canopy.)

Martin Wood
(18Bravo) - F
RE Guylines on 12/19/2007 11:43:38 MST Print View

I added adjusters to my guy lines at 0.5 gm each I felt it was worth it, a bigger lighter fly would be great though.

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: How much does the cuben canopy weigh?? on 12/19/2007 11:58:59 MST Print View

Brian,

You are right- my weight on the cuben fly was off. I've corrected the review to show the correct weights. Here they are:

stock fly: 8.2 oz
cuben fly: 2.5 oz (that is LIGHT!)
difference: 5.7 oz

Stock hammock: 1 lb 10.1 oz
hammock with cuben fly: 1 lb 4.4 oz

Thanks for bringing this to my attention!
Doug

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: RE Guylines on 12/19/2007 12:01:36 MST Print View

Yes Martin- I've since done the same. Especially on the fly guylines, that's a great improvement.

I've also played around with the Hennessy Automatic Fly Tensioner and Water Collection System. It's a great product that adds tension as it collects rainfall. It's a great idea that works nicely.

Richard Perlman
(montclair) - MLife

Locale: Metro NY
book storage on 12/19/2007 13:19:51 MST Print View

Doug wrote: "A slightly deeper interior storage pocket would fit larger objects like a paperback book."

I find the simplest way to store a book is to drape it over the ridge line, along with my reading glasses and most everything else I bring inside. If it's not draped over, it's clipped to the mitten hooks or mini 'biners I add. I find that I don't use the pocket too much.

I choose to use a 8 x 10 silnylon fly instead of the supplied fly. (I bought my Hyperlight without the fly.) I also like to string a clothesline under the fly to hang my socks, clothes, shoes, pack, hat, etc.

Pamela Wyant
(RiverRunner) - F - M
Tensioning the guylines on 12/20/2007 00:52:08 MST Print View

I just tie tautline hitches & haven't had any trouble tensioning the fly guylines.

Also, I like to attach the fly separately to the tree above the hammock with a length of cord, which keeps it higher over the hammock, allowing better ventilation & if the silnylon stretches during the night it still isn't directly on the hammock netting.

In past use I did not find the snakeskins very durable (the stitching usually eventually worked loose on the wider end). I find I like to just roll the hammock up, leaving one end tied as I roll the other end up toward it, then untie the final end when I reach it. I stow the fly separately, so if it's raining when I need to set up, I can put it up first.

I've found a platypus sport with a small loop of cord tied around it's neck will hang neatly from the glove clips on the ridgeline. To keep it out of my way at night, I push it to the very end, shoving it outside the hammock body with the cord extending through the Velcro. To get a drink at night, I just unfasten the top of the Velcro & pull it in. I do my shoes similarly sometimes.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Tensioning the guylines on 12/20/2007 02:18:13 MST Print View

Hi Pam

> I just tie tautline hitches & haven't had any trouble tensioning the fly guylines.
From this I infer that you are using nylon string for your guylines. Tautline hitches work fine on nylon, although the nylon does stretch a bit in the cold and wet (like overnight).

However, don't rely on tautline hitches when using Spectra, Dacron or Dyneema strings. Those fibers are too hard and slippery for the hitch to work reliably. Try it for yourself to see.

Cheers
Roger

Stewart Riley
(strategic) - F
Re: cuben and fly tensioning. on 12/20/2007 20:12:25 MST Print View

I was a very early adopter of the Hyperlight and love mine dearly. I'll never go back to being a groundling.

The Cuben fiber fly at that weight (2.5oz) is perfectly plausable. That's a good seven square feet of fly if you use the CN1K08 cuben (at .33oz sq/yd) which translates to a hex fly about 130" x 92" (about midway between a MacCat Standard and Deluxe.) That's a very roomy fly (much more than the stock tarp) and worth even the $150-200 it's likely to cost, given that CN1K08 is now running $19.60 a meter (at 48" wide) from North Sail (who bought Cuben Fiber Corp.)

For the tarp tensioners, that's an easy one. Figure 9s by Nite Ize (the smallest size) are the answer. Lightweight lines of all kinds hold great in them and they're quick and easy to use and come in at 3.6g each. What more could you ask?

Andy Peredery
(avperede) - MLife
windy nights on 12/20/2007 23:42:29 MST Print View

only comment is that on windy nights the fly tends to flap around a bit more than on a tent. makes for a noisy night for light sleepers like me :-)

William Kline
(BillyBob58) - F

Locale: SE US
loose/noisy tarp on 12/21/2007 15:02:54 MST Print View

Great and useful review. Thanks!

I have gone back and forth from the stock HH tarp used as designed, attached to the hammock suspension ropes, and using a larger tarp tied to the trees. It looks to me like it was used by Doug Johnson as per originally designed in the review. So, what tricks did you use to overcome the slack that occurs when you get in the hammock and the hammock sags closer to the ground, taking the tarp with it? Because naturally, if your tarp was tight, it is now loose. It can be very loose.

I have tried hanging weighted stuff sacks from the lateral tie outs ( that is actually what the little plastic hooks at the tarp left/right asym tie outs are for). I have tried first over tightening the tarp to the ground, with the tarp pulling down on the ridge-line causing some "pre-sag", and then tightening the ridge-line. I have tried these two together or with bungees. They all work to varying degrees and all have their drawbacks and are quite a bother. But they are better than nothing. Because rain coverage is much better if you are attached to the suspension, because you stay close to the tarp ridge-line, as they sag together. But at the cost of a loose, flapping, noisy tarp.

So, Doug and others, how did you handle this? I'm always searching for a way to better use the original tarp, without having to use a larger tarp tied to the trees. If you tie that stock tarp to the trees, you probably aren't going to have much sideways rain coverage after your hammock sags.

But despite minor problems that need to be overcome, ain't hammocking wonderful and restful after a long hike?
Bill

john Tier
(Peter_pan) - M

Locale: Co-Owner Jacks 'R' Better, LLC, VA
Tie to the trees on 12/22/2007 06:03:57 MST Print View

BB58, et al,

To eliminate HH Fly sag and get necessary protection.

First pick a protected site, lee of the ridge, behind wind block rock or bushes etc.

Second, tie to the trees, with tarp centered perfectly over the hammock...... The real key is to tie at a point on the trees 6-10 inches below the point where the HH suspension lines are tied..... This will put the fly tight on the ridge line when the hammock is unladen.....When you get in the hammock only will sag and the fly will be 4-5 inches above the ridge line....

Third stake the two asym corners....use max downward angle and make them tight....Personally a slippery tautline works best ... YMMV based on knot chosen and line selection.

Pan

William Kline
(BillyBob58) - F

Locale: SE US
tieing to trees on 12/22/2007 10:15:52 MST Print View

Thanks Pan.

Doug, as I look more closely at some of the pictures, the ones where the tarp appears nice and tight, it looks like you tied the tarp to the trees. Or in one pic, it looks like you are maybe tied to the hammock on one end and the tree on the other. Though it's kind of hard to tell for sure. Is that the case? Or did you find a way to use the tarp as directed- tied to the HH rope prussic(sp?)clips- and still keep a tight tarp?

The first picture in the snake skin segment shows a tarp that is pretty saggy. Don't know if that's with the tarp tied to the ropes and you in the hammock?

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: tieing to trees on 12/25/2007 17:39:18 MST Print View

Hello all,

Good points about the fly. You are right that weighting the hammock adds slack to the tarp.

If you want the fly to remain taut, you have to over tension it to begin with so that it remains taut when weighted. This takes a little practice but is entirely possible.

As you've noticed in my review, I played with other solutions a bit. In one picture I have the fly attached to the hammock on the foot end but tied directly to the tree on the other. This minimised the sagging but I only did it once- over tensioning to begin with was good enough.

I also reviewed a load of accessories with this hammock: Hennessy Supershelter, JRB No Sniveler, JRB Nest, JRB, Old Rag Mountain, and also the JRB hammock tarp.

The JRB tarp is suspended completely seperate from the hammock and this completely eliminates the sagging. This larger tarp is excellent in heavy rain or snowfall conditions and I used it when pushing the hammock into the deep winter.

Last thing- the picture with in the Snake Skins sequence had been intentionally slackened. This is not how it ever looked in use.
dsfdeeeeeee
Here's a pic of the Hyperlight in deep winter with a full spread of JRB quilts and a JRB fly. This is above 8 feet of snow!

Merry Christmas!

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Hammock on 01/03/2008 07:41:28 MST Print View

If I only lived somewhere that had trees.............