Summer holiday has ended and what a summer has it been. As unconventional travel was to the world, as conventional it was for me.
The Covid-19 pandemic kept us bounded to our own country. We had to reinvent our holidays and find a new way of travelling. For us belgians this translated into two options, the sea or the belgian Ardens.
I truly saw this on the trail in both a positive and negative way. Where the trail used to be abandonned you now saw lusty hikers, day-hikers and families enjoying nature. Walking, mountainbiking, climbing, picknicking, camping, wherever you went, there was always life around you, enjoying everything nature offers us. But where there is human activity, there is also waste. So for everyone who reads this, this is a warm calling, keep our playground clean.
For me the summer holidays were covered in a new theme : “Hammocking”. Hammocking was new to me and to be honest I was a bit sceptic about it. I have been used to a bivi bag all those years or in some cases a tent. When I hear the word hammock I instantly think of an island and 2 coconut trees.
I received the Snugpak Jungle Hammock somewhere in the beginning of spring and it had been laying there for months. Work was very time consuming so I never took the chance to try it out. Summer holidays did not come a day to soon.
First thing I noticed was the weight and packsize, a very pleasant weight to carry around. With only 900 g/ 32 Oz I halved the weight of my old setup and we all know 900 g is quite a drop on the trail. The hammock is made of 100% nylon to make it lightweight without losing strength.
Packsize made the biggest difference in my summer setup. With dimensions 23 cm x 17 cm x 10 cm (9″ x 7″ x 4″) it had the same dimensions of my gore-tex cover so I saved all the space my matress used to take. “This is getting interesting”, was my first tought. Now I can take additional food, water and gear without feeling the difference.
After a great day of walking up and down, up and down, up and down we fond a great spot overviewing the vally. Perfect place for unboxing my new piece op equipment. Altough I never used it, installing was easy. There is a little guide that comes with it but you will probably not need it.
The Snugpak Jungle Hammock comes with a suspension attachment system. It is made out of “550” paracord. For the people who don’t know, it is called “550 Paracord” because it has a breaking load of 550 lbs. (249 kg). The paracord has spaced out knots to allow for various attachment points and distances from the tree. This allows a super fast setup which comes in great after a long day of walking. No more knots to make, but more important for people who are not aquianted with knotting, no more knots to untie !!! Saves the swearing . The system is also provided with tree protectors to avoid the paracord cutting in the three. Big thank you here to Snugpak UK keeping the trees as they are !
The Hammock is supplied with two steel carabiners to attach easy to the suspension system.
The big difference between the Snugpak Tropical Hammock and the Jungle Hammock is the built-in mosquito net, keeping the bugs out. On another trip my friend had an open hammock, he “felt” the difference. The mosquito net has 1000 mesh per squaire inch to keep even the smallest mosquitos out. There are four elasticated guy ropes that come with the hammock to keep the net in place but only two are needed.
So now the biggest questions are : How is sleeping in it? Is it comfortable? Is it warm? Is it safe?
First of all, I am a very bad sleeper. I wake up a lot during the night, even when very tired. The hammock gave me sort of a tent feeling, probably because of the mosquito net. I layed very comfy in it but I have to admit the first 10 minutes were strange because it was new to me. Getting in it ready to sleep was a bit of a challenge because of my rookie mistake. Be sure to open your sleeping bag before hopping in to the hammock. Saves you a lot of moving around and a lot of laughing. That being said, I had comfortable nights and I have spend numerous of nights in it since.
As for insulation, you dont need a matress since you are off of the ground but wind is a great factor in terms of warmth. Wind can blow under you now but with a good sleeping bag there is no problem at all. With my Softie Elite 3 sleeping bag I had no insulation problems and temperatures dropped to around 8°C at night. Notice that there are some great extra modules available at Snugpak. For instance the Hammock Under Blanket, to insulate you from the cold winds and the Hammock Quilt. The quilt is a layer of warmth for inside your hammock made out of 3 sorts of polyester, Micro Diamond for the outside layer, Travelsoft for insulation and Paratex antibacterial fabric on the inside of the quilt. The same materials are used for the Under Blanket. a Third option is the Hammock Cocoon to tackle the problem of a sleeping bag and clothing insulation compressing under the tension from the hammock. This system fully encases the hammock and has a full length zipper for easy acces in and out. Same fabrics as the quilt and under blanket are used.
So how did i experience the Jungle Hammock ?
I found it very easy and fast to set up, it saved me a lot a bagspace and weight and it provided me a good and comfortable sleep. As for insulation, I myself had no problems with wind or cold but know that this is a common problem with all hammocks available on the market and that there are various options to tackle this problem. Thank you Snugpak for sending me this great piece of kit and push me out of my comfort zone, it will be used more than frequently!
Stay safe and happy trails !