USA Today

Featured in USA Today‘s “Surf Report:  Lightweight Gear for Outdoor Adventures” by Alice Truong.

“HANGING IN NATURE

Ah, to relax in a hammock, surrounded by trees and nature’s tranquility.

Depending on where you’re heading, you can trade in the tent for a lightweight hammock on your next camping trip. Rated for 400 pounds, Eagle Nest Outfitters’ DoubleNest Hammock ($70) offers a relaxing hanging shelter. Though it’s said to provide enough space for two, in fact it’d be quite a squeeze for a pair of adults. Even as a petite person, I couldn’t see sharing this space with another.

Hammocks offer a number of advantages, including the ability to hang and set up camp in areas that are tent-unfriendly, such as rocky terrain, uneven ground or over streams. (I, myself, am not so brave for some of the more extreme scenarios shown in ENO’s marketing materials.) Ultralight backpackers like the weight savings of these alternative shelters, not only because a hammock is typically lighter but also because there’s a possibility they can forgo a sleeping pad, depending on how cold it is.

Keep in mind that while the DoubleNest weighs only 20 ounces (and packs down to the size of a cantaloupe), you have to factor in accessories. Straps aren’t included in this figure, and ENO offers three types, weighing 8 to 12 ounces and ranging from $20 to $30. Furthermore, its Guardian Bug Net ($60), an optional add-on designed to keep insects out of your living space and a must-have during certain seasons, adds a full pound to your load. In total, a hammock with all the bells and whistles comes closer to about 3 pounds, depending on what accessories you bring along.

Conveniently enough, the hammock and bug net both have built-in sacks that can double as storage pockets when deployed. However, the pouch for the bug net hangs on the outside and often ends up touching the ground. The hammock also includes a flap on each side to offer some protection from the elements, but because there’s no latch or zipper, they tend to get displaced when you shift your body throughout the night. Though the straps sold by Eagle Nest Outfitters are wide, helping distribute weight to avoid damaging tree bark, some parks and campgrounds don’t allow for hammocks — something to keep in mind in for your adventures. Of course, if your idea of an outdoor excursion is the backyard, this will do as well.”

photo by Alice Truong for USA TODAY

photo by Alice Truong for USA TODAY

 

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