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Hennessy Hyperlite Asym Zip Hammock Review

Can a lighter, easier hammock hang convert this avowed tent user?

Hightly Recommended

Overall Rating: Highly Recommended

The Hennessy Hyperlite Asym Zip is exactly what a hammock system should be. It is very light - one of the lightest (if not the lightest) complete hammock shelter commercially available. It provides excellent shelter from bugs and the elements. The Hyperlite provides for exceptionally comfortable sleep and ease of use during the day. Aside from tying on a single piece of string, the hammock is ideal for ultralight backpackers and requires no alterations. If you’ve been on the fence about switching to a hammock, this could easily get you on the “hangers” side.

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by Brad Groves |

Introduction

Although hammock shelters intrigued me in the past, I never bought into the concept. Finding a level spot to sleep had never been an issue for me, and objectively speaking hammocks were heavier than tents. I could easily use a 3- to 3.5-pound tent, split between two people for a carry weight of 1.5 to 1.75 pounds. On the other hand, even the excellent and venerable Hennessy Expedition Asym weighs over 2.5 pounds. Frankly, I’d rather have the ease and convenience of a tent while carrying a pound less! But hammocks still called to me, and when I stumbled upon the Hennessy Hyperlite Asym Zip, I knew I finally had to give hammocks a chance.

Hennessy Hyperlite Asym Zip Review - 1
In this overview of the Hyperlite you can see the relatively flat lay and significant volume (shakin’ around room) of the hammock.

Specifications

The complete hammock shelter (hammock, netting, fly, and line), only weighs 1 pound 9 ounces! At that point, its weight is on par with my half of a tent... and lighter than most solo tents (single-wall tarp-ish shelters excluded). Based on weight alone this was a great hammock, but what also really caught my eye was the side zipper.

I’ve always liked the idea of using my hammock as a camp chair, but I didn’t like the need to unstake and invert other Hennessy models. I wanted to be able to leave my stuff in the hammock, and I wanted minimal fuss. With Hennessy’s introduction of zippered models, you can just unzip the side and plunk down your rear. That sounded comfy AND easy! I bought the hammock and waited impatiently for a chance to take it for a spin.

Item Measured Weight
Hammock Body/Lines 1 lb 3.1 oz / 0.54 kg
Fly/Lines 9.2 oz / 260.8 g
Tree Straps (Optional) 2.0 oz / 56.7 g
Snakeskins (Optional) 1.7 oz / 48.2 g
Stuff Sack (Optional) 0.6 oz / 17 g
Packed weight (without optional stuff) Claimed: 1 lb 9 oz / 0.71 kg
Measured: 1 lb 12.3 oz / 0.80 kg

Hennessy Hyperlite Asym Zip Review - 2
Comfy camp seating, with essentially no fuss!

Performance

The hammock was intuitively simple to hang and rig, although being new to hammocking it took me a few tries to figure out how far it would sag. (My solution: if in doubt, hang it higher.) As I unzipped the hammock, I noticed a bit of a glitch, or inconvenience perhaps, in the hammock instructions and actual use. The instructions said that the hammock had to be fully unzipped for entry and egress, but once in the hammock there was no way I could reach the foot-end zipper. I didn’t want to destroy the zipper, so pondered a few minutes and came up with an easy fix.

I passed a long-ish piece of reflective cord through the far zipper pull, then through a small plastic ring at the asymmetric point, and tied it off to make a loop. In use, the idea is much like the cord used to raise and lower kayak rudders. From a reclining position I can just pull on one “side” of the loop to unzip, or pull on the other side to close up for the night. I really like the reflective cord for being a cinch to find in the dark. It works just about perfectly and protects the integrity of the zipper.

Hennessy Hyperlite Asym Zip Review - 3
In this overview, the length of reflective cord I added to the zipper is clearly visible, and you can get a good idea of the loop it forms.

Hennessy Hyperlite Asym Zip Review - 4
A close-up of the zipper cord modification. Note the loop the cord passes through; it does the same at the foot end of the hammock.

Comfort

Once settled into the hammock, the first thing I noticed was how comfortable it is. You hear people talk about the asymmetric design, and how Hennessy designs allow you to lay flatter, but I think it’s hard to grasp until you crawl in one. Mind you, you’re not perfectly flat. But there’s just about the right amount of curve for me that I don’t need a pillow, and my weary feet get a little lift to drain. The other significant point of comfort comes from the side tie-outs.

Hennessy Hyperlite Asym Zip Review - 5
The hammock fully unzipped. Also note how relatively flat the pad is, how much space is available, and the gridstop pattern of the hammock body.

Just before buying the Hyperlite, I had tried using another company’s hammock for a couple of nights. It was a disaster! Turning over was a delicate balancing act, and the sides of the hammock squeezed tightly enough around my shoulders to compress the insulation of my sleeping bag to nothing. In contrast, the Hyperlite Zip was plenty stable for shifting around and rolling over to sleep on my other side. Another point of pleasure: the hammock sides stayed well away from my shoulders and feet, allowing my sleeping bag to loft fully and giving me unrestricted comfort.

This is not a small point. In other hammocks I’ve felt a bit like I was stuffed into a sausage casing, even when laying as cross-wise as possible. There was absolutely none of this feeling in the Hyperlite. In fact, I even had a little movin’ around room!

Hennessy Hyperlite Asym Zip Review - 6
An insider’s point of view... Plenty of room, even with a zero-degree bag and DownMat 9. The dangly thing center top is a storage pocket, handy for headlamp, glasses, etc.

With some futzing about I can get dressed and undressed in the hammock, but found it easier to change while on the ground. Inside, a small mesh pocket hangs from the ridgeline, ready for my glasses and headlamp. The sides of the Hyperlite come up just enough to give some wind and elemental protection, but are low enough to peer through the mesh while reclining. I liked that you can easily unzip the mesh on a nice day and flip it over the ridgeline for more airflow and a cleaner view. Of course, how much you can view is affected in part by how you’ve pitched the fly.

Getting the “Hang” of It

The shelter is ridiculously easy to pitch once you have things set, and getting it set just took a little playing around. What would require “setting” on a hammock? Just the tension and placement of the fly, really. A plastic hook attaches to a prusik knot on each end of the ridgeline; all you have to do is slip a plastic ring from the fly onto the hook and slide the prusik to adjust. Part of the adjustment is simply centering the fly over the hammock. Once centered, though, you can adjust the tension slightly to create more or less gap between the fly and hammock netting. I’ve found that it’s easiest to leave the system all together, so pitching just requires pulling the hammock out of my pack, tying off to a couple trees, and sinking two stakes.

Tying off to trees brought me a couple surprises. My standard method of rigging a tarp ridgeline is to use a trucker’s hitch on one end. When I did this with the line on the Hennessy, though, the sheath melted and stuck together. Using the supplied tree straps and tightening through them had similar results. Guess I should have read that part in the instructions! Not surprisingly, the best course of action was the one Hennessy recommends: Pass the line through the tree strap, then spiral wrap the line back on itself ~10 times toward the hammock, the same back to the tree, and pull the line through the loop. It works well, but don’t skimp on the wraps.

Hennessy Hyperlite Asym Zip Review - 7
Well, hello there!

For other hammock newbs out there, I’ve found that how you position the hammock between your hanging points can affect the hammock’s level. If the amount of line on each end is equidistant from hammock to tree, the hammock should hang pretty level. If, however, the line is significantly shorter on one end, that end seems to hang higher. If the line is particularly long on one end, that end seems to hang lower.

I love a good taut pitch, and as I stood back to admire the well-executed design of the Hyperlite fly something caught my eye a few times. The fly just looks too short, like it needs more length. It seems like the hammock barely fits under there. But then, this is the Hyperlite we’re talking about, and minimizing excess is the name of the game. More importantly, the fly has kept me dry in moderate rains... I haven’t experienced any other type of inclement weather with the hammock. I’m confident that despite the appearance, the fly provides good coverage.

Accessories

Hennessy has an accessory for their hammocks called “Snakeskins” and I tried the skins along with the hammock. You basically put a narrow but long silnylon windsock (a Snakeskin) on each end of the ridgeline. When it’s time to pack up you just roll the hammock up like you would a sleeping pad, then pull the Snakeskins over the hammock to keep it all together. You can rig the skins to cover just the hammock, just the fly, or both. I used it primarily to cover both. And let me tell you, it makes quick work of stashing the hammock! However, I found that packing the long, hard, snaked roll was inconvenient. I just couldn’t find a good way to stuff that big sausage shape into my pack in a way that was particularly space efficient... which bothered me, because I really liked the way the Snakeskins worked initially. I’ve found that it’s easier for me to just stuff the hammock straight into my pack.

Comparisons

We thought it would be interesting (and instructional!) to compare the Hyperlite with other complete hammock shelters on the market. Models chosen were the lightest options from those companies. Although many people say they choose to hang because of the light weight, for example, notice how several of the models compare to a two-person, double-wall tent with vestibule. The Bear Mountain is 32 oz/2 pounds heavier than the Fly Creek, and yet two hikers could split the weight of the Fly Creek, effectively making it weigh ~1 pound per hiker. Other factors, such as comfort or rough country hanging, can still make hammocks come out (ahem) on top. The Hyperlite is the lightest (and cheapest for weight) complete hammock shelter on the market... although the Warbonnet Blackbird is nipping right at its heels.

Manufacturer Model Fly and/or Net Weight Cost
Hennessy Hammock Hyperlite Asym Zip   25.0 oz / 709 g $230
Warbonnet Blackbird Single-Layer 1.1 Asym-Diamond 27.5 oz / 780 g $235
Big Agnes Fly Creek 2 2-Person Tent 34.0 oz / 964 g $350
Clark Jungle Hammock Ultralight   38.0 oz / 1077 g $340
Hennessy Hammock Expedition Asym   41.0 oz / 1162 g $150
ENO ProNest ProFly Sil/Guardian 42.0 oz / 1191 g $270
Jacks 'R' Better Bear Mountain Bridge 11x10 Cat 56.0 oz / 1588 g $330

Conclusion

So how about it? Is using a side zipper instead of bottom-entry Velcro an improvement? Is the Hyperlite actually, well, light? Is this thing worth considering instead of a solo tent?

Yes.

I liked being able to leave my stuff in the hammock, as well as the ease of having a ready seat. It’s a simple thing to unstake one side of the fly and flip it over the ridgeline, revealing a pretty grand and comfortable view (depending on your site location). The hammock is the lightest of its kind that I’ve encountered, and I feel that the ounces are well-spent on comfort, weather protection, and ease of use. There were some nights wiggling around trying to adjust things when I would have gladly just crawled into a tent... but this hammock has made me a part-time hanger.

Disclosure: The manufacturer provided this product to the author and/or Backpacking Light at a discounted rate for ownership by the author/BPL. The author/Backpacking Light has no obligation to review this product to the manufacturer under the terms of this agreement.

Citation

"Hennessy Hyperlite Asym Zip Hammock Review," by Brad Groves. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/hennessy_hyperlite_asym_zip_review.html, 2011-08-09 00:00:00-06.

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Hennessy Hyperlite Asym Zip Hammock Review
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Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Hennessy Hyperlite Asym Zip Hammock Review on 08/09/2011 13:30:55 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Hennessy Hyperlite Asym Zip Hammock Review

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Hennessy Hyperlite Asym Zip Hammock Review on 08/09/2011 13:47:41 MDT Print View

Brad - what is the weight recommendation for the Hammock? Body plus gear? Thanks,

Tohru Ohnuki
(erdferkel) - F

Locale: S. California
Re: Re: Hennessy Hyperlite Asym Zip Hammock Review on 08/09/2011 15:52:02 MDT Print View

Hennessy's website says 200 lbs.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
Hammock on 08/09/2011 23:23:36 MDT Print View

Great article. I'd like to try a hammock sometime.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Re: Re: Hennessy Hyperlite Asym Zip Hammock Review on 08/09/2011 23:32:10 MDT Print View

I had better lose some weight.

John McAlpine
(HairlessApe) - M

Locale: PNW
Cuben Fiber Fly? on 08/10/2011 09:14:19 MDT Print View

I assume you can drop the weight even more with a cuben fiber fly. I see them on Joe's site at zpacks......oh...I have nothing to do with zpacks, that was the first site that came to my mind.

Douglas Frick
(Otter) - MLife

Locale: Wyoming
cheap test hammock on 08/10/2011 10:29:43 MDT Print View

If you're interested in trying a hammock, but don't have a buddy with a Hennessy or othe asym hammock to borrow, the Byer of Maine/Amazonas Moskito Traveller (15.3 oz, no tie ropes or tarp) is available cheap on the 'net. I picked one up for under $20, and I often loan it out. It's not near as comfortable as my Hennessy, but it's an easy way to get the general idea (and nice in the summer in the back yard, too).

Thomas Preston
(tppreston) - F
Hammock Fun on 08/10/2011 10:55:10 MDT Print View

Weight-wise, my Hennessy can't compete with my H.S. Contrail tarptent. But hammocks are very comfy and are fun to tinker with. Hennessy offers hammocks in two sizes: 1) if your height is up to 6 foot and 2) if your height is up to 7 foot - along with different weight restrictions. Check out their website for details.

Check out http://www.hammockforums.net/ to learn about different manufacturers and methods of hanging.

Roche

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Hennessy Hyperlite Asym Zip Hammock Review on 08/10/2011 11:49:40 MDT Print View

Nice to see a hammock review!

Yes, Cuben tarps will help drop the weight and increase the coverage-- that doesn't happen often!

The suspension lines can be converted to Amsteel Blue 'whoopie slings' to drop weight and they are much easier to adjust. They connect to the tree straps via carabiners or toggles.

Insulation is the dirty little secret with hammocks. The insulated air mattress is a possibility and wide CCF pads work, but any internal pads detract from the comfort and support of the hammock surface. 20" wide ground-camping pads are too narrow for hammock use and need some extra help from shoulder to hip. There are several cottage manufacturers turning out down or synthetic under quilts that hang outside the hammock on shock cords and come in a range of lengths for partial or complete coverage. They do add considerably to weight and cost, but provide a warmer and more comfortable hammock experience. Hammock campers have taken on Minnesota winter nights of -26F comfortably.

Another method of insulating hammocks is the Garlington Insulator which is basically a light trash bag with a crumpled and folded space blanket inside. The insulator is used with an under cover to hold it in place and provide an additional barrier to wind and rain. I had a custom silnylon poncho made to do double duty as an under cover.

Two interesting Hennessy accessories are the SuperShelter insulation system and the Cat Cape rainfly that doubles as a hoodless poncho/cape.

The SuperShelter is a silnylon under cover with an open cell foam pad for insulation. The pad is used along with a standard space blanket. There is an accessory top cover to use for colder conditions.

The Cat Cape rainfly is an asymmetrical silnylon tarp with zippers to allow use as a hoodless poncho or cape. The Xl model provides a bit more coverage than the standard Hennessy tarp and weighs 11.8oz.

As to tarps, many hammock users go with larger tarps in the 10'x12' range. They provide much better weather coverage and many pitching options for camping outside the hammock, like cooking or dressing. Again, the cottage manufacturers have stepped up with the features and offer silnylon, spinnaker and Cuben fabric models. Zpacks offers a nice 11'x8.5' Cuben hammock tarp that is just 5oz.

My current UL hammock is 15.3oz for hammock and suspension and I use one of the Hennessey XL Cat Capes at 11.8oz. The lightest insulation option I have is a 25"x50" CCF pad at 9.5oz. I am still working on insect protection for this one. Full coverage insect net options range from 3oz on up to a pound.

I also have a Hennessy Expedition Zip model that is 41.6oz with suspension. I can use the CCF pad or the SuperShelter pad at 8.5oz and my poncho under cover at 9.5oz, or a Kick Ass Quilts synthetic under quilt at 17oz. My current tarp options are the Cat Cape at 11.8oz or the Hennessy Hex tarp which is 10'x12' PU coated nylon that is 23.8oz with Dynaglide guy lines and a mesh stuff sack. The lightest combo comes to 4 pounds-- about the same as a light double wall tent and pad.



It is possible to make your own hammock very easily. If you can make a tarp, a hammock is a very quick project. Most are using 1.1 to 1.9oz ripstop nylon.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: cheap test hammock on 08/10/2011 11:58:27 MDT Print View

The Grand Trunk Ultralight is another good inexpensive hammock. I have been eying the Hammock Bliss No-Seeum No More. The GT UL is $18 at Campmor and the Bliss is $60. Both need to have the suspension re-worked and tree straps added.

Matthew Perry
(bigfoot2) - F

Locale: Oregon
Hennessy Hyperlite Asym Zip Hammock Review on 08/10/2011 12:10:14 MDT Print View

I've used the Hyperlight and i'm 6'2" tall, 225 lbs...no problem. It's the lawyers who make up those weight limits.
Next time, ditch the pad, get an under quilt and open that sleeping bag up as a top quilt and you'll be even more comfy!

UK Hammocks has a SUL hammock model called the Woodsman Light that comes in at 6.5 oz. in it's stuff sack (whoopies included!). I have one and they are great for winter when you do not need a bug net.

www.UKhammocks.co.uk

Kevin Babione
(KBabione) - MLife

Locale: Pennsylvania
UL Hammock Setups on 08/10/2011 12:56:14 MDT Print View

I've posted this before, but it never hurts to put it out there again. Here's my current setup:

- Grand Trunk Nano-7 Hammock - 10.8 ounces
- Lawson Equipment HexaLite 11'x9' Cuben Tarp - 10.4 ounces
- DB Bugnet - .7 ounce (yes, just 19 grams)

Total: Just under 22 ounces!

The hammock weight includes the full suspension: two 6-foot 7/64" Amsteel Whoopie slings, a Dynaglide Structural Ridgeline, and two 1" poly tree straps (one 6-foot and one 8-foot), two toggles for the Marlin Spike Hitch, and three cordlocks (one lighted) on the ridgeline for the bugnet.

The tarp weight includes all the guylines with linelocs (8' on the ends and 6' on each of the four corners) and four LE Ti stakes.

The weight of the bugnet includes a sandwich-sized Ziploc that I keep it in.

I know there are tents out there that are lighter, but this tarp is huge. I had Lawson put grommets at each tie-out point so I can use my trekking poles to hold it up for better visibility when I'm in the hammock (at least on one side). It would be very easy for four people to be completely covered by the tarp in a storm. Try that in a 1-pound tent!

One other note...I'm not a small guy: 6 feet tall and 260 pounds. The Nano-7 is the smallest hammock in which I've slept (I also have a Speer, a couple of Byers, and a GT Ultralight) but it's still very comfortable.

My UL ground setup is a Gatewood Cape and a GG TorsoLight pad. I seem to sleep better in ANY hammock than I do on the ground anymore.

Joe Kuster
(slacklinejoe) - MLife

Locale: Flatirons
Hennessy Hyperlite Asym Zip Hammock Review on 08/10/2011 13:32:01 MDT Print View

It's good to see the HH evolving. I've been a long time hanger (expedition for a few years first then upgraded to the original hyperlite). As previously mentioned insulation is the biggest challenge.

I've tried about every option and even spent the $$ for the "supershelter" upgrades, and every other "cheap" option but in the end I opted for a Jacks R Better down quilt. It's really no comparison, the various pads helped, but I never could stay warm enough in them since I'm a cold sleeper. The down underquilts completely solved the issue.

te - wa
(mikeinfhaz) - F

Locale: Phoenix
Re: Hennessy Hyperlite Asym Zip Hammock Review on 08/10/2011 13:45:50 MDT Print View

a picture says a thousand words.. snow on the ground with a stock Hennessy? reminds me of that famous movie line "You're gonna need a bigger (boat) tarp". you HAVE to block wind.. that's an understatement!

Douglas Frick
(Otter) - MLife

Locale: Wyoming
Bigger than stock tarp? on 08/10/2011 14:09:22 MDT Print View

>"You're gonna need a bigger...tarp"


The stock Hennessy tarp does just fine in a blizzard. I stake the tarp a lot closer than I normally would, and I don't get any significant spindrift (it's also warmer that way). There's a picture of my Hennessy in a blizzard in this (quite old) thread, which describes cold-weather hammock gear. I've had my Hennessy UL Explorer out in -25F and windy.

I do occasionally use a Jacks R Better 8x8 tarp instead, but mostly in the summer when I want to hang it much higher than is possible with the stock tarp.

Edited by Otter on 08/10/2011 14:13:51 MDT.

Russell Biser
(rbiser) - F
Height on 08/10/2011 14:11:25 MDT Print View

We have a vote for 6'2" being ok, anybody 6'4" or taller used the Hyperlite ok?

Joe Kuster
(slacklinejoe) - MLife

Locale: Flatirons
Hennessy Hyperlite Asym Zip Hammock Review on 08/10/2011 15:14:00 MDT Print View

Honestly, I'm only 5'11" and I find the HH a little cramped. I'm pretty broad shouldered though so it means I don't fit in the taper as well as taller skinnier folk. My older expedition model was more comfortable, but the hyperlite is adequate.

Matthew Duchow
(Duchow) - MLife
Nice Review on 08/10/2011 19:10:26 MDT Print View

Thanks for the good review. I just may become a convert.

todd harper
(funnymoney) - MLife

Locale: Sunshine State
Re: Height on 08/10/2011 19:46:34 MDT Print View

I think 5'11" & taller only works for those who don't mind sleeping in somewhat of a banana shape. I'm 6'1" and found the UL Backpacker too short...the Explorer UL fine. (sold it, though when I got my JRB Bridge - ahhhhhhh - flat!

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: Hennessy Hyperlite Asym Zip Hammock Review on 08/10/2011 20:05:32 MDT Print View

Hey, gang- thanks for the interest and feedback!

Thomas mentioned that his Hennessy couldn't compete w/his Contrail... that's the great thing about THIS Hennessy... it's only, by claimed specs, a half-ounce heavier than even the Contrail! (Although my measurements indicated about 3 more ounces on the Hyperlite.)

Several people mentioned insulation. Yup, it's important. (It's important when you're sleeping on the ground, too!) The Exped Downmat visible in several photos is a Downmat 9 LW, the 25 x 77 model with R-8... 3.5 inches of down insulation under me. Love it! And while exploring the realm of hammocking, I decided to just use equipment I have on hand before investing in (or more likely making) an underquilt. I've been thinking about trying an Exped Multimat in the hammock this summer, the price sure is right, & I like the width.

The Grand Trunk Nano 7 is the other hammock I mentioned. I love the hammock, and I (GASP!!!) even take it with me on some backpacking trips when I'm already carrying a tent. I think mine weighs 6.7 ounces, IIRC. But I HATED sleeping in it. Small, compressed too much on the sides, far less stable feeling than the Hennessy. I guess I'm just not man enough to spend my nights in the Nano. BUT... that said, even with a custom cuben fly and bugnet, the setup Kevin described is only 2 or 3 ounces lighter than the Hyperlite. That's impressive specs for something "off the shelf!"

Happy hangin!