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Hammock Comfort-- Asymm vs. Symm Hammocks?
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Dane Fliedner
(dfliedner) - F

Locale: North Texas
Hammock Comfort-- Asymm vs. Symm Hammocks? on 08/01/2006 12:44:12 MDT Print View

I use a HH UL- Backpacker Asym, but continue to struggle with some
issues, despite different sags, insulations etc. My problem seems to
be... I just can't seem to get that comfortable in it, and find that
I am tossing and turning all night. My issues/ questions:

1. I generally am a stomach- side sleeper, and so in the HH
generally lay on my side(s). What I find, though, is that on the
diagonal I feel that my face is right at the bug net to the left and
that I have way too much material on the right (almost like to
hammock tilts to the side when on my side). So, when I on my left
side, it's OK, but then if I try to go to my right side (still
keeping on the diagonal, as much as possible), then I have all that
material in my face. Also, I find that it is harder to find the
sweet spot on my right side. I can seem only to be in the sweet spot
mostly when on my back, but I can't do anything more than dose off
in that position.

2. The assymetry seems to put assymetric coverage with my JRB Nest
(looks ok when I get out, nice and wrapped up as I don't use the HH
tie outs to allow it to taco around better) but when I am going side
to side, it seems to have poor coverage again when on my right side.

3. The velcro closure seems to form a large wedge (with the weight
of my body when occupied) at the foot end that when I move from side
to side feels like it puts pressure on my lower legs and I have to
sort of lift then over the wedge, instead of being able to slide
around, which sounds petty but can bee a pain in the butt when doing
it all night long.

Seems like alot of these issues may be due to the asymm design and
the bottom entry, and so was "designing" my Speer- hammock in my
mind the last night I was sleeping in my HH. But it made me
wonder... does/ did anyone else have similar experiences, and have
there been folks that have actually preferred a symmetric design
over the asym design? It seems like everyone raves about their HH,
so makes me wonder "What's wrong with me? (Well, sorta, if you get
my drift). So, any people who have ditched a HH in favor of a Speer
style hammock? (I have Ed's webbing and book in anticipation of making an
insulated hammock, but thought I'd ask for expert input here before
I fired up my sewing machine, and used a lot of time and $$ making something that may not be any better).

I have also posted this question on the Yahoo Hammock Groups, but there is so much activity on that blog that it gets buried quickly. So, if you read both, I'm sorry for the repetition. Thanks in advance for the input-- I'm getting to the point of deciding whether or not just to give up on the hammock idea...

Ron Bell
(mountainlaureldesigns) - F - M

Locale: USA
hammock asymetry on 08/01/2006 14:53:17 MDT Print View

One plus of the symmetrical cut is it tends to reposition you in the center as you roll around on your side or even stomach. One possible down side is that with the body in the center, the hammock can sag a bit more and cause the back sleep position to be more of a V shape head to toe wise DEPENDING on the fabric and CUT. I chose the Epic fabric for the hammock bed for a lot or reasons but one is that it (the one I use) is a 30d X 40d weave. (generally, d = denier or threads per inch) The 40d is in the long orientation and the 30d is side to side. So, more stretch side to side where you want it for hip and shoulder comfort and less the long way to keep the bed flatter head to toe. If you are doing a DIY project, get some misc $1 a yd nylon or polyester at wallyworld and try that for the pattern, lenght, fit, etc. and then you could get the Epic, same as I use, from Good luck. I won't gieeve away all my secrets, but suffice to max. comfortable symetrical cut requires a lot or curves/geometry in the bed design - just knotting the ends of a rectangle won't sleep so great.

Patti Binder
(quiltbinder) - MLife

Locale: Southwestern Indiana
Hammock Comfort on 08/01/2006 22:18:03 MDT Print View

If you make a test hammock out of cheep fabric and knot the ends, then you can expieriment with how much you take up the sides and/or center of the fabric. If it doesn't work, just untie the knots and try again. I personally didn't like the high sided-center sleep hammocks. Prefer sleeping diagonally in a flat hammock. If you make your own without asym attached bugnet, you can switch to the other diagonal, when you turn over, although I find it even harder to find the sweet spot that way, and have just gotten used to sleeping on the same diagonal as the HH. When side sleeping I'm most comfortable with my underneath arm straight down at my side under me, and not bent out next to me or over my head. My top arm goes either straight along my top side or bent in front resting on the hammock or on something rolled up to support it. On my right side, I need to bend my knees and hips a little more for stability. I usually fall asleep on my back and then turn to my side for better breathing.

I use a homemade underquilt and make the elastic suspension lines about 6 inches shorter on the corners where my head and feet stick out.

I have a HH that I don't use much anymore due to it's weight, but I don't remember the wedge issue. I have noticed that pressure from a body part will make a ridge, so it's more comfortable sleeping diagonally with body parts unaligned on the longitude.

Sleep in a hammock as much as you can to get used to it. At home I sleep in a hammock year round, either in my bedroom or on my back porch. I sleep so much better than in a bed.

I don't know what Epic fabric is like, but I made my backpacking hammock from 1.9 oz. DWR ripstop nylon. It's buttery soft and a little stretchy and I love it.

Hope something here helps and hope you can find a solution that's right for you.


Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Hammock Comfort on 08/02/2006 16:06:29 MDT Print View

I started out with an HH... the old symmetrical one before the assymmetrical design was introduced and have never felt comfortable in it. Just like you I am a side sleeper. I also tend to toss and turn a lot at night. I ended up wrestling with the sleeping mattresses and the walls of the hammock itself.

I then went to making my own Speer type hammocks... have now made seven of them, each one changing as I get more experience and understanding of what my body needs. I'm still not satisfied with hammocks because I've yet to have a night of comfort in one, but my latest iteration... (a very altered Speer type of hammock with spars, epic fabric, and a quite a flat sleeping surface, but none of the tippiness normally associated with spar-type hammocks, a design I am very excited about that took an entire notebook of sketching and lots of prototype trials in the nearby park to finally work out)... allows me to move about the way I am comfortable. I'm giving it a go next week and it may end up being what works for me. If not, I'm giving up on hammocks.

Dane Fliedner
(dfliedner) - F

Locale: North Texas
Re: Re: Hammock Comfort on 08/02/2006 16:42:11 MDT Print View

Thank you. This is exactly the kind of info I am seeking, from folks who maybe have not had luck with them... I almost feel "guilty" about not loving my HH since they are well made, and I love the IDEA of the hammock, but am making myself crazy in PRACTICE. I also do not have the $$ or time (or patience, for that matter) to make 7 or so hammocks deciding whether or not to stick with them-- my wife would probably leave me if I did :). So, I am hoping to learn from the collective wisdom on these boards to "steepen" the learning curve and make a more educated decision to pursue them at all costs, or just abandon them and go back to the ground. Any more insight is greatly appreciated...

Richard Matthews
(food) - F

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Re: Re: Hammock Comfort on 08/02/2006 17:34:53 MDT Print View

I also use a HH and it took three nights for me to get comfortable. On the ground it seems that you have to sleep either on your side or your back. In a hammock I sleep at about a 45 degree angle with my knees bent. On my back my knees hyperextend. On my side it seems that I have to fight for breathing room around my face.

Now I look forward to catching up on my sleep during hiking trips.

John Carter

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Re: Hammock Comfort on 08/03/2006 17:14:07 MDT Print View

I've had exactly your experience. I really, really wanted my HH Asym to work, everything seemed so brilliant and it solved so many issues, but I just couldn't get comfortable in it. Aside from the same issues you have had, I just couldn't get comfortable with the way the hammock sides pushed on my arms and shoulders; it felt like I was being smashed, and I couldn't just lay my arms out to the side a bit.

Also, after a time, I had a strange difficulty in breathing, as if the hammock wrapping around me was suffocating me, preventing my lungs from fully inflating. This might be in part due to the sides pushing in on me. I just felt a bit claustrophobic with all the squeezing going on.

I tried sleeping with an undercover, a foam pad, a Thermarest Prolite 3, and a Big Agnes Insulated Air Core pad. While each had their strenghts and weaknesses, I could not find a 'sweet spot.'

The final deciding factor for me was, after a few frustrating hours of tossing and turning, I finally lay my Big Agnes pad out on my concrete patio. I felt I could finally breathe again, let my arms stretch out to the side, flip to my stomach; I knew immediately the BA on the ground was the better choice for me.

Lastly, I took a long, hard look at my backpacking habits, and decided that I mostly prefer to sleep at or above timberline when I can. While a hammock on the ground is acceptable for this, I felt that my GoLite Hex 3 shelter was more appopriate for high winds and mobility in drawn-out storms.

I haven't completely given up on hammocks yet, though. my dirty little secret is that I am 6'2", 210lbs, and my Asym was only rated to 6'0". I would like to assume a longer hammock would solve alot of my comfort problems, but I haven't gotten around to purchasing a large one, and I'm not looking forward to adding the extra weight. I am also interested in Ron Moak's new design, but with an 8 week shipping date, I don't see that happening anytime soon.

For now, I am consigned to dealing with the mud, and spending more time looking for level campsites.