Thoughts on HH Explorer UL + SS after 3 years in a WBBB
After several years and many nights in my HH Explorer UL early in my hammock career, with the exception of one night, I have been using a WBBB for the last 3 years. Last weekend I reverted to my HH to save weight and space in a new pack I have started testing. Part of the equation is even after many years I have not laid out the cash for an UQ, so have been using pads with my 1.7 DBL WB. Throw in an 8x10 tarp and you have some weight and bulk. I often get asked about HH vs WB, so thought I'd throw out a few observations:
- It took one hang for me to get used to tieing the HH hitch again after 3 years with the WB ringbuckles & webbing straps. Took a few tries on night one to get the tension right, but by night two it went up easily.
- I had forgotten how warm the SS+SB is. After 3 years of Cold Butt Syndrome it was nice to be toasty at all corners. It is amazing what that little bit of OCF pad + mylar sheet + UC will do. It got down to about 40F at Manning Camp, but I never even needed to zip into my mummy bag all night.
- It was such a joy to only carry and pound in two stakes instead of 6-8 for the WB+tarp. Here in Arizona that can be a big deal, as the ground is either hard granite or soft sand.
- I am not a perfectionist when it comes to a taut tarp pitch. It was great to not have to hassle with pitching the tarp once the hammock was up, just adjust the prussics and good-to-go. OTOH, on night two I was kept awake for quite a while with a light breeze flapping the tarp ridgeline around. I finally got up and tightened down the side tieouts and was fine after that.
- Nothing breaks down faster in the morning than an HH in snakeskins. The only thing I pack separately is the OCF pad in a silnylon sack.
- The WBBB is more roomy and comfy with the big footbox, but by night two I had acclimated to the HH and slept great.
- I actually like the bottom slit entry over side zippers. Bombproof, and no zippers to search for in the middle of the night. Just put my legs down and I'm out.
- I saved maybe 8 ounces on weight, but quite a bit in bulk. The OCF pad compresses down pretty well.
- I didn't really miss the WB shelf. I just don't keep that much stuff inside my hammock at night, and the HH ridgeline mesh bag was plenty big for the iPod, etc.
- Tom Hennessy is a genius. When you consider when this hammock was designed, and the reliability of the system as a whole it is pretty amazing. No whoopies to mess with, no zippers, no quilts to adjust, everything just keeps working. OTOH, I had forgotten how obsessed he was with elastics: side tieouts, UC cords, OCF loops -- this thing is held together with rubber bands. Mine are starting to show their age, and sooner or later one is going to snap, but I know that if I'm out in the backcountry I can just tie the pieces together and keep going.
Picture of my setup at Manning Camp in Saguaro National Park:
So which is better? YMMV of course. They are both great pieces of gear. For comfort and roominess I do like the WBBB and will use it again on trips where I'm not trying to save ounces or a few cubic inches. I'm looking into getting a netless hammock, as here in AZ bugs are not the issue they were in Minnesota. Most trips I don't need a tarp: when the weatherman says "0% chance of rain" here in Tucson he really means it! Took me about a year to have the courage to venture out tarpless.
Anyway, that's my story. I'd appreciate hearing from others who also have bounced between the two and compare notes.