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  1. #1

    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Victoria, BC
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    Exped Ergo: First hang impressions from a tent guy

    I confess: I'm a 'tent guy'.
    I've spent a lot of nights in a series of 'great' tents over the years -Sierra Designs Glacier, Stephenson Warmlite, and now a couple of Hillebergs.
    Recently, I got interested in kayak camping. Here in the PNW, some kayak-accessible sites are either 'beach or bush'. I was recently camped on a rocky knoll with very poor tenting possibilities except for two nice trees...so my mind turned to hammock camping as a backup/alternative to the tent, when flat sites are in short supply.

    (Most kayaks can carry quite a lot of gear, and weight isn't much of an issue, usually.. so carrying tent+hammock is certainly a possibility.)

    Once I started reading about hammocks, though, I had second thoughts. Underquilt, top quilt - too much $$ and volume. The Exped Combi caught my attention since I could use my Exped pad under, and sleeping bag as a TQ. Adding 3-4 lb and a small stuff sac would double my site selection possibilities.

    Note: My previous experience with hammocks was trying to have a nap in the typical back-lawn hammock - uncomfortable and tippy.

    The Exped arrived in the mail a few days ago, and I set it up last evening (with tarp above) in the back yard - I'd watched some videos online, so it only took about 5 minutes to set it up. Once I'd weighted the hammock, I re-clipped the suspension carabiners to compensate for the stretch, and that was it.

    It's very comfortable even without the pad/air mattress in the pad pocket under the hammock. It feels very stable and I had no problem lying on my side or back. The suspension is 'from the sides' so the shoulder area is not tight, even without the pad.

    With the Exped 9 pad inserted, the hammock was very comfortable. I had a great night's sleep. I didn't feel I had to adjust my sleeping position for comfort, but when I did, it was very easy to do so. Exiting/entering is easy, even in the dark.

    This thing will definitely work 'out there'...
    I had a couple of other folks try the hammock out for a few minutes, and the both agreed that it was (surprisingly) comfortable and non-constricting.

    The tarp is very large and really protects the hammock. With the tarp guyed down and the end doors closed, the hammock would be protected from even a driving rain (unlike some of the setups in online pictures). There's also plenty of room for gear (hung from the suspension or on the ground) under the tarp. I could stand under the tarp at the ends without touching the tarp fabric.

    Tarp setup: The Ergo Combi 'instructions' are similar to others I've seen: Set up the hammock and then put the tarp over it. Have any of these folks actually camped in RAIN? Fortunately the Exped tarp is big enough that it can be put up on its own suspension, first, and then the hammock can be set up under the tarp's protection. I'll need to make a couple of web straps for the tarp suspension, but everything else needed for a separate tarp suspension is included with the Exped tarp.

    Included items: You'll probably want to put some stakes in with the tarp when you pack it. Perhaps you'll also want some guys for possible extra tarp tieouts in stormy weather. Otherwise, everything you need is included.

    Bugnet: I felt the bugnet was unnecessarily 'tight' on my hammock. I got the feeling that the bugnet is helping to suspend the hammock body. It came from the factory with the shock cord net suspension adjusted tight, with about 12" of slack shock cord hanging. Even letting out the slack (very cumbersome, as only one of the two suspension points is provided with a cordlock, so you need to 'work' the slack from one end through two toggles and the ridgeline) kept the bugnet too-tight. I'm going to replace the shock cord with a longer length, and add a 2nd cordlock.
    Exped did thoughtfully include a stainless mini-carabiner hung from the bugnet shockcord, so you could hang a light there.
    The bugnet zipper pull does tend to have trouble passing the suspension points.

    So, I'd give the Exped a 8/10 rating, so far. Poor instructions and a few 'mystery connectors' and some suspicions about the bugnet are the main drawbacks. Otherwise, it seems a fine piece of equipment, and AFAIK it's the only hammock around with the 45-degree sleeping orientation fully thought-out and engineered.
    The eyelet line suspension (with webbing straps for trees included) and the great tarp, along with the sleeping position and 'suspension bridge suspension are the strong points.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Jul 2013
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    Victoria, BC
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    I've got a bunch more nights outside in the Ergo now (couple of short kayak trips) and still think it's excellent.

    BTW, it's easy to put the tarp up first (unlike the method in the YouTube vids I've seen) to keep gear and hammock dry in the rain. Toggle the tarp ridgeline into the suspension close to the trees.

    Add a plastic bag to your hammock sac for stowing the wet tarp in the morning, without getting the hammock damp by contact.

  3. #3
    Senior Member WV's Avatar
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    Good first thoughts. Thanks for the detail. Some questions: Which pad are you using? What temps have you experienced? How tall are you? Do you see any sign of strain on the fabric and stitching near the suspension cord attachment points?

  4. #4

    Join Date
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    Exped Ergo
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    Quote Originally Posted by WV View Post
    Good first thoughts. Thanks for the detail. Some questions: Which pad are you using?
    I'm using an Exped 9 - quite thick. I use a 'Schnozzle' stuff sac to inflate it- pretty quick. It would be on the limit for most backpacking trips because of packed volume (about 8" diameter x 12" long???), I think, though it fits in the kayak OK.
    Quote Originally Posted by WV View Post
    What temps have you experienced?
    Just moderate summer temps in PNW - perhaps down to 40-45*F early morning.... Most of the time I had the down sleeping bag - rated 32F and up- partly off my body. A lighter rated bag is on my list.

    Quote Originally Posted by WV View Post
    How tall are you?
    I'm 5'11. 160#. I have both the current (longer?) Exped and another that is 'last years model'. I've slept fine in both though the current version is more comfortable as there is no feeling of pushing out the hammock with your feet to get comfortable (if that makes sense).

    Quote Originally Posted by WV View Post
    Do you see any sign of strain on the fabric and stitching near the suspension cord attachment points?
    I'm keeping my eye on the stitching, but it seems OK. The side panels are more like a knit than real woven ripstop in texture, and they seem to stretch a bit to equalize the pressure. I'm definitely not tempted to use the hammock as a trampoline!!

    WV: Thanks for the questions. It seems we are in the very small minority of 'angle hammock' enthusiasts here?

  5. #5
    Senior Member WV's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by VictoriaGuy View Post
    WV: Thanks for the questions. It seems we are in the very small minority of 'angle hammock' enthusiasts here?
    Don't despair. There was quite a lot of interest when the Ergo first came out, and a few bad reviews cooled things down - perhaps more than was warranted. I felt the same thing about insulated hammocks. Few others seemed interested for a couple of years, but lately they've caught on and are gaining popularity.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Victoria, BC
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    I just noticed online that Campsaver has the Exped Ergo Combi on sale (25% off), if anybody is interested. (I have no connection with Exped or Campsaver, unfortunately! )

    Spent another night out last night (kayak camping) in my Ergo - that LARGE Exped tarp is great. It rained all night with some wind and everything (me, hammock, and all my gear) stayed bone dry under the tarp. It was nice breaking down everything and packing up under the tarp, and it came down and packed quickly.

  7. #7

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Victoria, BC
    Hammock
    Exped Ergo
    Tarp
    Exped Combi
    Insulation
    Sleeping bag+pad
    Suspension
    Eyelet line+ biner
    Posts
    1,440
    Quote Originally Posted by dakine View Post
    Thanks for that reminder.
    That video gives a pretty accurate picture of how the hammock behaves.
    The hammock in the video is an early model (prototype?). A couple of differences with my 2013 hammock:
    -There's a printed 'landing zone' marked 'SIT HERE' on the inside of the hammock.
    -The current suspension kit is based on a 1" strap + the eyelet cord.
    It's a great hammock/suspension/tarp combo!

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