Ok, you caught me…a hammock is not a piece of gear that is primarily associated with kayaking. However, the Hennessy Hammock should be considered “required gear” by many three-season kayak campers! It’s my opinion that a hammock makes for the ideal kayaking shelter (when you are in regions with tress on the shoreline, of course) due to its comfort, versatility and packability.
The Expedition Asymmetrical Classic Hammock by Hennessy Hammock is my mainstay kayaking shelter. There are many features of this hammock that I really like. The asymmetrical shape allows you to lay flat in the hammock for a comfortable sleeping. The hammock can also be folded and pitched in various configurations depending on the type of shelter required. Set it up in the “jungle mode” and crawl inside to enjoy the protection of the built-in bug netting. Fold the shelter in half to enjoy a comfortable lounger or camp seat. Easily add or remove the rain fly to protect against rain and wind. The whole package weighs in at under 3lbs and the stuff sack fits easily in a day hatch lending credence to the “pack like a backpacker” motto in kayak camping.
Over the years I have learned a few tips that can greatly improve your night in a hammock. For starters, choosing an appropriate location can make all the difference. I typically look for two solid trees (>6in in diameter) at least 15 ft apart and arranged such that the prevailing wind is not hitting the hammock broad-side to prevent rocking and excessive convective cooling. If this configuration is available then pitch the hammock high and tight enough such that the bug net stay is taught and the opening is about waist high. If you cannot appropriately account for the wind then pitch the hammock lower and use brush as a wind block. Using a sleeping pad can further insulate your back from convective cooling.
Useful accessories include the larger rain fly, tree huggers, and snake skins. The larger rain fly is more versatile as it can be rigger to provide a larger wind block. The tree huggers make pitching the hammock faster, protect the tree from rope damage, and tend to hold tighter to prevent the hammock from slipping throughout the night. Snake skins slide over the hammock to keep it clean and aid in repacking. A couple of rock anchors (nuts) can solve the “two tree” problem if you are traveling in an area with a rocky coastline or minimal trees. It’s been my experience that the “two tree” problem is often solved with a little creativity and ingenuity.
I highly recommend that you give the Hennessy Hammock a try on your next kayak camping trip. You may end up leaving that big, bulky tent at home more often!
See also: “Adventures in my Hennessy Hammock” in “Other Outdoor Stories” for more inspiration.
More info at: http://hennessyhammock.com/catalog/#hammock
Pros: Comfortable, highly packable, versatile, easy manage
Cons: Can be cold if not pitched appropriately.
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