Hammock camping for two?
Some of you may have seen my intro post in the "Introduce yourself" forum, regarding sleep system weights (ground vs. hammock) for couples who share all gear.
Not being quite ready to abandon hammocking in favor of the lighter weight of a ground system when TWO PEOPLE SHARE ALL GEAR, I'm interested in hearing what other folks, who backpack with their significant others and share most gear, do.
So far the most promising direction is to get 2 hammocks on 3 trees, along with a lighter hammock than what we currently have, and use a single large tarp. But, truth is, very little of the weight of a hammock setup is in the tarp-- most of the "additional" weight of a hammock is in the bottom insulation and rigging.
It's probably somewhat important that I point out me and my wife's commitment to sub-10 pound baseweights, if possible. (current midwest summer base is 7.5 pounds when using a ground setup).
Should also mention our current hammock setup, 2 of all the following (because nothing can be shared):
Hennesy Ultralight Backpacker
JRB 8x8 Tarp to replace the stock tarp
JRB top quilt.
By the time we carry 2 of all the above, the hammock system weighs over twice what our 8x10' tarp, Bug net, single 2 person quilt and torso length foam pads weigh. (9 pound hammocks (2), 4.3# ground).
We found we got cold at about 70deg at night using foam pads. This is a common summer night time temp here in SW Michigan, so I don't consider leaving the bottom insulation home realistic. Thus the Nests we bought, which we haven't even tried yet, given the comparabe step up in weight in bulk.
Any thoughts regarding hammocking for couples, while trying to stay as light as possible?
A quandary, to be sure.
I often hammock with my family. We stack hammocks, hang side-by-side, and do the triangle technique. All work well, but it is true that sharing hammock camping gear like straps, hardware, and insulation is difficult.
The only time I've shared my insulation has been when my kids have wanted to jump into my hammock. At that point, I'm sharing everything, except for my comfort, which I forgo in favor of getting the "You're A Great Dad" sticker later in life.
As for sharing insulation, I'm not a big fan. I've never had success with sharing sleeping quilts or bags with my wife as it ends up a tug-o-war between two Quilt Hogs. Honestly, I can't imagine how anyone makes this work unless you can both sleep like mummys all night long.
I know there are some long-distance hikers who've claimed to be successful in this, but my recommendation is to share things that share best: food, kitchen items, tarps, and hugs.
You can both get lightweight base weights and not really have much of a weight penalty. The only time I can see sharing insulation as an option is when you're doing some mega, multi-month long-distance trek where every scrappy ounce is worth saving, like Erin McKittrick and Bretwood Higman did in their trek.
I just can't see the advantage for even a week-long backpacking trip.
There is the Vertex from Clark Jungle Hammock. It's heavy, but it is one of the best "real" two-person hammocks on the market. Clark has some unique insulating pockets that work by trapping air and keeping you warm without adding extra insulation.
If you are committed to really going lightweight, you can do it, without sharing, but it would require re-evaluating your gear to get lighter options.
The Hennessy is heavy in comparison to other hammock options.
For the lightest weight, the best way is to modularize your system instead of going for an all-in-one system. Don't get me wrong, I love Hennessy and all the other kit manufacturers, but all of them have a lot of bells and whistles and extra construction that adds just that much more weight. If you're ultralighters, you'll know that every extra strap, extra label, and extra-long draw string adds weight. Be brutal about your system if you really want to cut weight.
Super light Cuben fiber tarps, while expensive, are insanely light for the amount of coverage. Stormcrow has a new cuben tarp, complete with storm doors, that's half the weight of some of my small cat-cut silnylon tarps.
You can always use torso pads in your hammock (I have). There can be a weight savings there and for most 3-season camping, they work fine.
Anyway, point is, there are ways to cut the weight and compete against ground dwellers while still being comfortable (and not sharing your insulation!) :)
Forum members like SGT Rock have turned out some really lightweight hammock systems (13 oz for EVERYTHING--tarp, insulation, straps, hardware, hammocks, stuff sacks, etc.). Do a quick search for ultralight with and you'll get more ideas.
Water Monkey has a great post about a low weight hammock setup that is very informative and well thought out.
Give it a gander, it's good stuff.
Thanks for the links, all, good stuff.
Looks like if my wife and I are going to stay with (switch to, really, considering we returned to ground after our first heavy, bulky (becuase of the full-length and 'winged' foam pads we tried), and cold outing with our Hennesy's, minus the JRB insulation, which we bought after that night but never used... yet), we'll probably need to look at other options, like the Nano 7, Cuben, etc. Can't see any real reason not to stay with the JRB stuff for insulation-- I've found I get cold at 70 or below when I tried using a foam pad in the Hennesy.
Not terribly excited about spending more $$ at this point, unless I could sell the Hennesy's.
My wife and I have no issues sharing our 2 person Ray-Way quilt when using our ground setup... for the most part. The design makes it pretty easy to stay covered. Plus, when it's cool and windy, we end up cuddled for warmth anyway.
Anyone know what the Speers Hammocks weigh? They seem very simple, and are available in kit form, which I really like.
The Clark 2 person is impressive. But probably a bit heavier than we're interested in. The ad mentions that it uses 3 suspension points. I wonder if that means different trees? If so, there would seem to be no advantage to this over doing the same thing with our existing Hennesy's.
I'll keep thinking/experimenting before I give up...
A conundrum indeed. Back in the day when I was married we had a shared set up like you're describing and it worked great for me since carrying too much weight was a problem for my small size. So after we split I had to quit the backpacking gig for a while and go with the carry it in a boat or on a motorcycle method. The best solution I've found in backpacking now since becoming a hammock hanger is, no more pads, all down insulation, a UL backpack, and as light a hammock & tarp as possible. Spinn and Cuben are super light if you can afford it and you could share one tarp. Keep experimenting and let us know! The lightest set-up I have is 17.1 with 2-1/2 days of food. Still working on it of course!
Don't give up!
If you like cuddling, you may like getting a huge hammock and sleep together. Some people have tried it successfully, but you really, really need to like cuddling. :)
You don't need to buy a kit to make a hammock, although Speer's kit makes it easy. Just buy yourself some ripstop nylon and aim for a 10x5 foot finished size (bigger if you want to share). You can sew channels or whip the ends. Knotty has a great tutorial on making your own hammock. It's really inexpensive!
There are other threads here on gear choices that won't break the bank, and lots more if you like to make your own gear (and speaking of Ray Way, it sounds like you do!).
Unfortunately, my wife doesn't like cuddling + sleeping so we wouldn't be able to make it work, but if it did, I'd get me a big hammock and hang it with a 45° angle so you get a nice, deep and flat lay.
I'll try not to reiterate what others have said about light weight options, but as to being able to sell your Hennesey Hammocks on the fourms here. How do I put this....
Does everything taste better with bacon?
Thanks for the continued support/links/suggestions, all.
I may consider making a large hammock for 2, and see what that's like. My wife and I are pretty cuddly, but I'm not sure we're THAT cuddly, particularly when it's hot and humid and our legs are are twitchy and restless from a long hiking day.
I find rigging even a single hammock and tarp difficult and tedious enough (I'm new at it) that I'm not sure I want to mess with trying to string up 2 hammock under a single tarp.
While you can certainly do the ultralight weight hammock setup (look at the Sgt. Rock thread in the stickies), the main purpose of hammock camping for most is to increase comfort while out in the woods. There are 2 person hammock setups that can be obtained, but they would be heavier than having 2 separate lightweight hammocks.
Good luck with setup.