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Addison Page
(Nihilist_Voyager) - F

Locale: Down the Rabbit Hole!
Clarke North American Hammocks on 10/20/2011 13:24:08 MDT Print View

I don't hear very much about these hammocks, but I'm being drawn to the North American four season hammock as an option in the Northern section of the IAT. It comes with a tarp that I'll use for most of the United States and just have the hammock mailed to me when it gets colder.

I hear a lot of talk about Hennesey and Warbonnet hammocks, but I feel that the inability to close them off (CNA have mosquito netting and a rain shield for rougher weather) would make them ineffective in cold weather. Weighing a bit over 3 pounds, they aren't exactly lightweight but I'm wondering if that's worth it for the warmth and security.

I've never used a hammock for backpacking, so I'd appreciate so feedback.

Eric Lundquist
(cobberman) - F - M

Locale: Northern Colorado
Re: Clarke North American Hammocks on 10/20/2011 13:43:07 MDT Print View

The Warbonnet Blackbird has built-in netting that you move out of the way if you don't require it. You can also buy a variety of tarps to include doors to close it out more from the elements (Warbonnet makes one too). If you haven't already check out Shug's YouTube videos where he demos the bug netting stuff. He also camps in the winter down to ~0F so he knows a thing or two about cold weather hammock camping.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Clarke North American Hammocks on 10/20/2011 15:05:57 MDT Print View

The Clarks are well made, but heavy and expensive. You will need a bottom insulation system, so that should be a big factor in the hammock you choose. Clark makes a set of pads to go in the pockets and triangular insulators for the ends. Other hammock makers rely on under quilts using down or synthetic insulation--- basically like quilts made for tent camping hung under the hammock. For topside insulation, you can use your normal tent camping bag or quilt. Quilts are easier to live with and I recommend a left hand zip bag if you are using a Blackbird or Hennessy hammock.

With a little research you can get a tarp that will work for ground camping as well as hammocks. Hammock campers tent to use much larger tarps in the 12'x10' range. Zpacks makes an excellent Cuben version. Do look at the Warbonnet offerings too.

For a thru-hike hammock, I would get a Warbonnet Blackbird or one of the lighter Hennessy Zip models, a good lightweight underquilt that meets your temperature range, and a silnylon or Cuben tarp that has end door options. If you don't mind or need a separate bug net, the Warbonnet Traveler hammocks are a fantastic bargain and will save you some weight as well as dollars. Any accessories you add to a Traveler will work on other hammocks if you decide to change.

The Warbonnet strap suspension is a bit heavier, but dead simple to use. I have a Hennessy Expedition Zip that I converted to use Amsteel "whoopie slings" and tree hugger straps for the suspension. I would convert any of the Hennessy models to whoopie slings to save weight and simplify adjustments.

It's time for you to wade through the posts at hammockforums.net -- it is the BPL equivalent of hammock camping.

Check out my newbie's look at hammocks at http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=50874

I highly recommend Shug's series of videos on hammock camping on YouTube. Shug is quite the character and has produced a whole series that give you an excellent visual tour of hammocks and accessories. He is an experience UL hiker too, so he knows the difference. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d7NZVqpBUV0&feature=related (search "shug hammock" too).

Edited by dwambaugh on 10/20/2011 15:06:44 MDT.

Addison Page
(Nihilist_Voyager) - F

Locale: Down the Rabbit Hole!
Re: Re: Clarke North American Hammocks on 10/21/2011 00:30:28 MDT Print View

Dale, your post was incredibly informative and opened my head to a lot of the things I need to start thinking about while searching for hammocks and the like. Some stuff and important accessories I wouldn't have considered before reading. Thank you.

And I'm watching Shug's videos now. I work at Starbucks and I've never seen a man with that much caffeine (or god knows what) in him lol. But entertaining he is. :)

Another question, in general (although specifically I'm thinking winter packing, if the answer is different depending on the season) do the hammock set ups tend to be lighter weight or the same as tarps/bivvys/lightweight tents?

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Re: Clarke North American Hammocks on 10/21/2011 01:29:25 MDT Print View

Allison asked, "Another question, in general (although specifically I'm thinking winter packing, if the answer is different depending on the season) do the hammock set ups tend to be lighter weight or the same as tarps/bivvys/lightweight tents?"

Hammocks weigh a little more due to the hammock and the bottom insulation. Tarps are typically much larger than what an UL solo hiker would normally use. I guesstimate a 10oz-20oz weight increase for an ultralight hammock kit vs a typical UL solo ground camping rig. You still need a sleeping bag or quilt, so that is a wash.

You can use a CCF pad for insulation and save a lot of weight and money, but CCF pads aren't as comfy (or warm) as a well made under quilt. CCF pads work best with a double layer hammock. The Hennessy SuperShelter system is comfortable enough, but I rate it at about 40F and wouldn't try to push it any lower than 32F. It should be used with a space blanket as recommended. If you like the idea of an undercover-based system like the SuperShelter, I can expand on my experiences there.

See the Warbonnet web site for weights on components:

http://warbonnetoutdoors.com/blackbirds.php shows 20-27oz for the hammock body with suspension and integral insect net. Weights vary with single or double layer construction and fabric weight.

Check the same site for the range of tarp sizes and weights, and you can also get an overview of down under quilts. As with ground camping options, you can get silnylon, spinnaker, and Cuben fiber tarps and the same cost and weight issues. As I said before, with a little study, you can get a tarp that will work for ground camping too and extend your dollars.

Your body weight will make a difference in the options for the hammock body. The rest is simply what you prefer for weight of the components, temperature range and weather coverage. Hennessy makes some light backpacker-oriented packages for those under 200 pounds. You can go with the lighter Warbonnet models with single layer 1.1oz fabric too. If you are shorter as well, you can use the Scout model Hennessy which is really a bargain.

A shorter person can really capitalize on bottom insulation. I'm 5'10" and a 3/4 under quilt typically covers from shoulder to calf, so a smaller person can get more coverage for the same weight and cost.

Here is a breakdown of weight and cost of several hammock systems I put together for a forum member at hammockforums.net:

Here is a full hammock kit rated to 0F. I chose Warbonnet because it is accepted as quality gear and they make all the components for a complete system. Of course there are many other combinations...

Blackbird double layer 1.1 with strap suspension 27oz $175
(2) carabiners 2oz $15
Mamajamba Tarp 13oz $110
Winter Yeti under quilt 18.5oz $215
Mamba Winter top quilt 26.25oz $275.00
Total 86.75oz (5.4lbs/2.45kg) $790

.........

For an inexpensive 3 season system you could do something like this:

Grand Trunk Ultralight $18 (about 16oz with a re-worked suspension)
Amsteel whoopie slings $18.50
Tree huggers $14.00
2x Camp Nano carabiners $15

Papa Smurf bug net 2.5oz $50
Gossamer Gear Thinlite wide CCF pad 12oz $30
Chinook Guide Tarp (12'x9.5') 28oz $45
North Face Cat's Meow mummy bag 44oz $125 (typical 3-season/20F synthetic bag)
Total 102.5oz (6.4lbs/2.9kg) $315.50 (note the bag is a huge portion of weight and cost)


Closer to what I have for 3 season:
Hennessy Expedition Zip 48.5oz $149 Includes suspension and tarp
Wilderness Logics synthetic 3/4 UQ 26oz $115
North Face Cat's Meow mummy bag 44oz $125
Total 118.5oz (7.4 lbs/ 3.4kg) $389