At the Fall MAHHA in October, I had an opportunity to "test drive" the newly debut Darien UL Hammock. The Darien UL is designed and hand-crafted in the USA by PapaSmurf of Dream Hammock. My initial good impressions gave way to an order that following week.
I was pleased to receive my new Darien UL last Thursday. My hammock (order 207) came from the very first lot commercially produced for sale. I took it out for a spin and wanted to share my initial thoughts/opinions. Note: While it was not put to a "real" backpacking test, I did set it up during a hike I took on Saturday in typical "Penn's Woods" backcountry.
Darien UL Summary
All in all, the Darien will see a lot of pack time. The Darien UL is simplistic, very light (13.4 oz), functional, well designed, has top shelf components, and looks great! The reverse suspension system is fast and easy to set up but the tree hugger straps need to be longer. Camo straps would compliment the system and add a nice "finished" look. The Darien lacks tie backs for the netting. The addition of ties would add little weight but would improve functionality when using the hammock as a chair in camp.
- First off, the quality is impeccable! I'm picky. If there is a flaw, I will find it - that's my life.
- At 13.4 oz. the weight seems imperceptible in my pack. Now my tarp weighs more than my hammock (I have to find a compatible lightweight tarp - maybe cuban from HG).
- The length and asymmetric design is perfect. I felt no noticeable hyperextension or calf pressure. The Darien UL felt well balanced in design.
- I like the SL and the stretch of the fabric is comfortable against my skin and is perfect for my weight (I am 5'10" and 170 lbs.). I do believe it is the most comfortable gathered hammock I own or test hung. I was not expecting that as I do not like most gathered hammocks due to the calf pressure and hyperextension issues (I just put up with it). Stretchy is good (for me).
- I love the stealthy digital camo color. It looks way better than the pics online.
- Love, love, love the Dutchware aluminum quilt hooks! Now my HG quilts will not slip off my shoulders in the middle of the night. As an unexpected bonus, the ridgeline organizer pocket contained a pair of plastic Dutchware quilt hangers (I was excited)!
- The reverse whoopie-Dutch hook suspension system with Dutch clips is extremely fast and easy to set up. It would be a perfect suspension system with the exception of . . . . the tree-hugger straps. As I suspected at the MAHHA debut, I had to hunt extensively, for two trees spaced just the right distance apart with just the right diameter. I finally found two "right-sized" trees that were on the wrong side of a steep incline - about 100 yards away from where I originally wanted to set up. I had to watch I didn't select trees that were undersized to accommodate the straps (if you suspend on undersized trees, they will bend and cause the hammock to sag too much). Those straps are way too short. I replaced the 47" huggers with 6' camo tree-huggers from whoopieslings.com. That bumped the weight up to 14.3 oz. (with the quilt hangers in the ridge-line organizer).
- The integrated suspension system will keep me from leaving (forgetting) my straps on a tree.
- The Dyna-glyde line used for the whoopies and ridge is very light and does not stretch. I like the fluorescent green color.
- The zippers have the standard pulls with florescent green Dyna-glyde line. Very cool. They are smooth operating and just the right size. As with any zipper system in an asymmetrical design, you need to grab the fabric in back of the zipper as you pull. I will probably clip off the metal pull tabs and replace them with Dyna-glide cord only.
- The netting is very light but seems durable if it is not abused. The Darien lacks netting tie-backs which is not a big deal but can be annoying if the wind blows.
- The cuban bishop stuff sack and ridge line organizer works. I had my doubts but they seem durable, functional and light.
The Darien UL is an exceptional hammock for backpackers who like a lot less weight, without sacrificing comfort and quality components. PapaSmurf has a winner!
The Darien UL is certainly going with me on the Black Forest Trail in the very near future!
Edit: PapaSmurf is sending me a longer replacement set of tree-huggers for free. Did I say anything about the great customer service!
MOD EDIT: Free-Range has posted pics on page 3 of this thread.